• John McGary, Woodford Sun Editor

Woodford businesses recognized nationally

Three Woodford County businesses were recently awarded Traveler’s Choice awards by TripAdvisor.com – and Woodford Tourist Commission Executive Director Emily Downey said they earned them with good customer reviews. The awards went to A Storybook Inn bed and breakfast on Rose Hill Avenue, Heirloom restaurant in Midway and Sun Valley Farm on New Cut Road. “So it really is a high honor,” Downey said, “because it’s people who have come and actually had the experience and are rating them based on their experience. So word of mouth is still some of the best marketing you can get …” Downey said it was also significant that the businesses are in three different categories. “We knew we did things well, but now they’re actually being nationally recognized, which is nice,” she said. Downey said the awards are a great marketing tool, especially because they’re based on customer reviews. “As a lodging business, we competed for the Traveler’s Choice Award in a category where we are competing with and compared to thousands of other inns and hotels around the world, and only the top 10 percent ever achieve the Travel’s Choice Award,” Elise Buckley, owner of A Storybook Inn, said in a Tourist Commission news release. “Heirloom is pleased for have won such a prestigious award! We have an awesome team and that’s what makes Heirloom so special,” said Mark Wombles, chef and owner of Heirloom, said in the release. “Getting this is affirmation that our visitors think that we’re a great place to spend their afternoon,” said Jan Butzer, coowner of Sun Valley Farm. Butzer credited her son, Brett, for his work with visitors and for putting together “virtual visits” that allow people to meet the new farm foals during the pandemic quarantine. As for Downey, who was named the Tourist Commission’s executive director only months before the coronavirus pandemic cut travel – and tourism – significantly, she called her job not more difficult, but rather, more interesting. “We have had a lot of clarity, I would say, on where our strengths are – the green space, the rolling hills, everything that we do well with our signature industries here. We have really been able to put those on display, because people are searching for safe outdoor things to do with a lot of space, and socially distant, and we can offer all of those here through all of our experiences,” Downey said. Downey said she and the other members of the commission are working harder these days – and so are the people who run and work at local businesses, and their customers. “It made us turn to our locals. Our locals are our best ambassadors. They’re our best raving fans and multipliers (two marketing terms), and so that was an opportunity for us to really hone in on, ‘Shop local, eat local, support local,’” Downey said.

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