Appetizers

Food bloggers’ convention to return to Sacramento in 2017

Rich Collins, left, founder of California Endive Farms, talks to bloggers about endive, which is grown on shelves in a dark room at the Rio Vista facility on July 29, 2016.
Rich Collins, left, founder of California Endive Farms, talks to bloggers about endive, which is grown on shelves in a dark room at the Rio Vista facility on July 29, 2016. rpench@sacbee.com

The International Food Bloggers Conference, held for the first time in Sacramento over the weekend, will return to town in 2017.

“The Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau has been the best partner of any city we have ever worked with,” said Sheri Wetherell, co-founder and CEO of Foodista.com, the Seattle-based website that founded the conference. “And I am sorry to say that (includes) my own city, Seattle.”

The conference, the eighth edition of which took place July 28-31, mainly at downtown’s Hyatt Regency, had been held several times in Seattle, as well as in Portland, Ore., Santa Monica and New Orleans before arriving in Sacramento. This year’s installment drew 350 food bloggers from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

The Convention & Visitors Bureau had lobbied to bring the conference to Sacramento, where it could highlight its “farm-to-fork” marketing and education initiative to writers who could then spread the word through blogs.

The four-day conference offered talks by local food-community notables, an al fresco “Farm-to-Fork Feast” on 13th Street and bus excursions to farms in the Capay Valley and Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

“I feel like we have only scratched the service of what Sacramento has to offer,” Wetherell said. She said conference organizers want to do more with UC Davis, representatives and other local food-industry experts next year.

The SCVB spent $30,000 to produce the 2016 conference, for which 260 rooms were booked at the Hyatt.

The conference “delivered the hotel rooms we thought it would,” said Convention & Visitors Bureau chief operating officer Mike Testa. It also appeared on track to meet the bureau’s projections that it would inject $250,000 into the local economy via lodging, meals and other services.

“That’s part of why a conference like this is so important,” Testa said. “You get the immediate economic impact, but you get the long-term marketing as well.”

To encourage bloggers to get the word out about Sacramento’s food scene, conference organizers reduced registration fees from $495 to $195 if attendees agreed to write three blog posts tied to the conference.

“A lot of those bloggers have thousands of people following them, and (their posts) go into cyberspace and live for a long time,” Testa said. “It’s not just a one-hit thing.”

The blogger convention’s second trip to Sacramento will be two months later in the year, from Sept. 29-31 – around the time of Sacramento’s annual Farm-to-Fork celebration.

This year’s Farm-to-Fork activities will run nearly three weeks, kicking off Sept. 7 and culminating in the free Farm-to-Fork Festival Sept. 24 on Capitol Mall and the Tower Bridge Dinner the next evening.

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