Connecticut tourism officials are turning to technology in an effort to woo summer vacationers to attractions around the state.
For the first time this year, the Connecticut Office of Tourism is advertising on video billboards that make use of an interactive video technology. Cameras mounted on video billboards along Interstates 95 and 84 take note of weather conditions, triggering advertisements for 24 different types of weather appropriate vacationing experiences, said Randy Fiveash, director of the state’s tourism office.
“If it’s raining out, the billboards will display indoor activities,” Fiveash said. “We done billboards before, but not with this level of technology and sophistication.
Connecticut tourism officials also make heavy use of social media, including Snapchat for the first time this year as well as e-mail newsletters sent out to interested travelers, he said.
Three quarters of the state’s annual tourism advertising budget goes toward bringing in visitors from out of state, he said. Connecticut’s advertising dollars are primarily focused on trying to attract tourists from the New York City and Boston areas, according to Fiveash.
While the state’s tourism effort become increasingly high tech and research driven, Fiveash said his office hasn’t abandoned old school techniques that work. And perhaps the best example of that is Connecticut Open House Day, a program that is now in its 15th year..
For one day each year, tourist attractions across the state welcome visitors with discounted or free admission, giveaways, special offers and hands-on activities for children. This year’s Open House Day in June 8.
One of Connecticut’s most unique tourism attractions is The Glass House in New Canaan. The house, which is literally all glass, was built between 1949 and 1995 by architect Philip Johnson. The home is a National Trust Historic Site and include 13 other buildings on the pastoral 49-acre landscape.
In addition to the home and other structures, there are two art collections on display at the Glass House, according to Christa Carr, a spokeswoman for the non-profit that oversees the historic complex. One includes a permanent dsiplay of well paintings and sculptures by well known artists, while the second collection is brings in travelling art exhibitions, Carr said.
“I think people are attracted by the beautiful country setting we are in,” she said when asked about the part of the appeal of The Glass House.
The Glass House is open May through November and last year, Carr said there were 13,000 visitors, she said.. The complex is also open for private tours during the December through April period.
Another cultural attraction in western Connecticut is the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art in Ridgefield.
The museum was opened in 1964 by Larry Aldrich, an American fashion designer and art collector. Since 2004, the museum been housed in a 17,000 square-foot facility that features two floors of exhibition galleries and a space for learning and making that overlooks a two-acre sculpture garden.
“The Aldrich was one of the first museums dedicated solely to contemporary art in the country and remains the only contemporary art museum in Connecticut,”said Emily Devoe, a spokeswoman for the museum. “It has a long history of giving the first ever institutional shows to important emerging contemporary artists and supporting women and underrepresented artists.”
This summer, the museum is presenting three solo exhibitions by women artists, Devoe said. The museum’s campus and sculpture garden will also play host to four large-scale sculptures during the the summer months. These works are free and open to the public to view and engage with and are sited throughout the Museum’s grounds.
The large-scale sculptures include a thirty foot high recreation of Harlem’s iconic Apollo Theater sign with a twist and a twenty-foot high white-tailed deer pays homage to Ridgefield’s natural setting.
Connecticut’s stature as tourism destination for foodies is also growing.
There’s the Connecticut Beer Trail, which includes the Stony Creek and Thimble Island breweries in Branford and 30 Mile Brewing Company in Old Saybrook.
The is also home to a number of farm-to-table dinners, meals in which award-winning chefs produce lavish meals using foods from local sources.
One such offering is Dinners at the Farm, which is a summertime project of Jonathan Rapp, owner of the River Tavern Restaurant in Chester. Rapp began producing the dinners in 2006 and now holds them at Barberry Farm in Madison and White Gate Farm in East Lyme.
This year, Barberry Farm will host the dinners on July 24, 25, 26 and 27. White Gate Farm will host the dinners on July 3, Aug. 1, 2 and 3
The Aldrich is also hosting a farm-to-table dinner of its own in June. The dinner event, A Place at the Table, will be held in the Museum’s Sculpture Garden on Friday, June 14. .