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September 17, 2013

Tourism reps eye fall color

Temperatures are dropping with autumn’s official start just days away, and along some area hillsides, trees are hinting at changing leaf color.

“They’re starting to pop out,” Patricia Szarpa, executive director of the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce, said Monday. “If the weather stays decent, I’m hoping for a good weekend for PumpkinFest.”

Today’s forecast for the area calls for temperature highs in the lower 60-degrees, with sunny skies, the National Weather Service in Binghamton said, and mostly cloudy skies and possible showers on Saturday and Sunday, with high temperatures reaching the lower 70-degree range Saturday and in the upper 60s Sunday.

While Mother Nature will determine the timing and extent of this year’s autumnal foliage display, tourism officials in Delaware and Otsego counties said area businesses and organizations are gearing up for travelers. The first day of autumn is Sunday.

The state’s I Love New York tourism program reported Wednesday that the first signs of foliage color were spotted in the Adirondacks, with projections for this past weekend of about 15 percent color transition, and in Saugerties in Ulster County at up to 20 percent in pockets.

The remainder of the state reported 10 percent or less color, which local officials said reflected the area. The Empire State Development Division of Tourism’s fall color reports are issued on Wednesdays.

Cooperstown and other Otsego County attractions and businesses are looking to be busy until Columbus Day, a three-day weekend, and into mid-October, Szarpa said, and operators individually and as chamber members are looking to capitalize on the fall tourism season.

“It’s one of our shoulder seasons,” she said. “It’s extremely important.”

Train rides, hikes, driving along area roads or paddling in a canoe or kayak are among many options in the region to catch a glimpse of landscape color. Associated activities include harvest festivals, apple picking and visiting museums.

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