by Jenn Gregory, August 13, 2019 [link]
“Farm to table” has become a national trend, but in Starkville, Mississippi, it’s been happening for years – it’s part of what makes the city unique. Residents and visitors have come to expect locally owned restaurants to push the envelope with unique menu items, locally sourced ingredients, and unusual partnerships. This is large part due to a rebranding and marketing campaign that the City’s Visitors & Convention Council and the Starkville Main Street Association collaboratively launched in 2010 to reposition the community as a culinary destination.
One of the cornerstones of this effort has been the Starkville Community Market, the city’s certified local farmer’s market. Named the Best Farmer’s Market in Mississippi by Mississippi Magazine in 2015, the Starkville Community Market has not only provided access to locally grown and made goods, but it has also acted as a business incubator, with at least two market vendors creating brick and mortar businesses based on their success at the market. It’s common to see local restaurateurs shopping every week with farmers and growers at the Starkville Community Market. It’s part of the character of their restaurants and their business plan – to support local.
To further leverage this strong local food culture, Starkville Main Street launched Savor Starkville, a multi-faceted promotional campaign aimed to highlight the authentic farm to table characteristics of the city’s locally owned restaurants, the entrepreneurial spirit of the community, and the true economic impact of the Starkville Community Market. The campaign employed a variety of strategies to promote the culinary industry in Starkville. They created hand-illustrated culinary maps of favorite Starkville dining spots, produced an Emmy-nominated video that aired in major markets around Mississippi, and placed custom media kits in hotel rooms of ESPN and SEC Network broadcast talent visiting the community for football games. They even hosted a live farm to table dinner event.
The campaign has also created a true economic benefit. Restaurant Business Magazine’s August 2015 issue ranked Starkville fifth nationally in its “Best Places to Open a Restaurant” market index.Jenn gregory
Tourism and Main Street entities collaboratively built on this brand with a culinary display and promotional pieces at the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival. Parts of the Savor Starkville campaign were recognized with the Outstanding Creative Fundraising award from the Mississippi Main Street Association and with the Tourism Promotion of the Year award by the Mississippi Tourism Association.
The campaign has also created a true economic benefit. Restaurant Business Magazine’s August 2015 issue ranked Starkville fifth nationally in its “Best Places to Open a Restaurant” market index. Alongside larger beach and resort markets on the list, Starkville was one of two small towns gaining prominence as one of the best markets for restaurant growth. The list was part of the 2015 Restaurant Market Index, an annual ranking of growth by market compiled by Nielsen, a global provider of data insights.
hosted by Jenn Gregory
September 5, 2019