Riding the momentum of its burgeoning farm-to-fork reputation, Sacramento has landed the International Food Bloggers Conference – and all of that potential exposure in cyberspace – for July 2016.
The conference, which attracts 300-plus attendees who routinely blog, tweet and use other social media to chronicle their food experiences, is considered the latest coup for the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau.
While Sacramento’s restaurant reputation is expanding, it was the farm angle that may have lured the conference to Sacramento. For the past three years, the conference has been held in Seattle. Prior to that, the bloggers convened in Santa Monica and Portland, Ore.
For the conference, which runs from July 29 to 31 and is headquartered at the Hyatt Regency downtown, expect to see more foodies than ever hovering with their cameras over plates of food.
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“We’re going to roll out the green carpet with food,” said Mike Testa, chief operating officer of the convention and visitors bureau, noting that an outdoor farm-to-fork dining event for bloggers, albeit not on a major urban bridge, is already in the early planning stages.
For the past three years, the bureau has aggressively marketed Sacramento as “America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital.” Along with the gala dinner on the Tower Bridge and a host of farm and food events, the slogan and supporting evidence have attracted plenty of interest from large media outlets.
Rodney Blackwell, known for his local, widely read Burger Junkies blog, has attended two International Bloggers Conferences and says he realized the potential boon for Sacramento when he learned the 2016 edition would be coming to town.
“I think it’s a big win.” Blackwell said. “In the food world, it might be almost like getting the Olympics in town. It’s nice to have recognition from outside the city. It’s going to spread the word exponentially. All of those people are going to be writing about their experiences in Sacramento and about everything Sacramento has to offer. I think those in Sacramento are already behind the food movement, but it will be but it will be nice to show people from outside the city what Sacramento has going on with food.”
Sheri Wetherell, co-founder of the bloggers conference and chief operating officer of Foodista.com, said Sacramento’s farm-to-fork reputation was a major selling feature.
“We did a search for the next conference and said, ‘You know what? Let’s do something more farm-to-fork and go to Sacramento.’ We wanted to get closer to the issues we are all writing about, and that’s the source of where our food is coming from,” Wetherell said.
Beyond the appeal of getting new and experienced food bloggers to visit Sacramento is the potential to further enhance the reputation of the city’s food scene well beyond the region. This year, attendees hailed from the U.S. and seven other nations.
Further encouraging more publicity for Sacramento, a two-tiered pricing system gives participants a hefty discount off the base conference price of $495 if they write three blog posts about the conference. The price then drops to $195.
“This is such a departure for us, so we don’t really know what to expect,” Wetherell said, when asked about projected attendance in 2016. “Already, people are chatting about it on social media and getting excited. I’m thinking, ‘Wow! This could be bigger than we expected.’”
She added, “We’re going to work hard to make sure Sacramento gets lots of attention.”
In announcing the conference on Foodista, organizers wrote, “We are extremely excited about bringing the conference back to California and to Sacramento for the first time. All previous editions of the International Food Blogger Conference have been held in great food cities known for their restaurants and local culinary scenes: Seattle, Portland, New Orleans, and Santa Monica. However, every foodie in America and worldwide knows a great culinary scene is dependent on outstanding farms. We selected Sacramento in large part because of its location at the heart of California's farming and agricultural industry.”
And if that’s not enough, two weeks after the food bloggers visit, wine bloggers will attend a conference in Lodi from Aug. 11-14.