Lodi by the Numbers

Lodi Historical Building

Lodi Historical Building, aka 1 of 2 de-consecrated churches

Thinking about what the different Lodis of the world might be like got me wondering how our Lodi would stack up in the statistical analysis.

Here are the cold, hard facts about Lodi, New York

Population: 1476
Number of libraries: 1
Number of post offices: 1
Number of bars: 1
Number of museums: 1
Number of ice cream shops: 2
Number of de-consecrated churches: 2
Number of active churches: 1
Number of de-consecrated churches for sale: 1
Number of wineries: 5, Kings Garden Winery, Lamoreaux Landing, Wagner Vineyards, Silver Thread Vineyard, Shalestone Vineyards
Number of gourmet restaurants: 2, Suzanne Fine Regional Cuisine, Dano’s Heuriger on Seneca
Number of craft breweries: 1.5 (Wagner Valley Brewing Company and rumour has it that a store front on Main Street of Lodi is going to be a brewery, but that rumour’s been going on for at least 2 years)
Number of empty store fronts on Main Street: 5
Number of boat slips at Lodi Point State Park: approx. 18
Number of annual bluegrass festivals: 1, Pickin’ in the Pasture
Number of Blue Moon Festival (precursor to Pickin’ in the Pasture) t-shirts my brother owns: at least 4
Cost of annual membership in the Lodi Historical Society: $10
Number of different kinds of meat on the menu of the Lodi Rod and Gun club breakfast: 3
Number of Lodi residents named Jim Covert including my Dad (until a few years ago): 3
Number of sheep, cows, horses, chickens and barn cats combined: hard to know, but my guess is that it rivals the number of humans
Number of blogs about Lodi, NY: 1

Are there any factoids I missed?

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All the Lodis of the World

Lodi, California

Lodi, California

Last night while having a drink with some good friends who visited Lodi in the dog days of summer last year we developed a fabulous plan: I should visit all the Lodis of the world. Ok, fabulous may not be the right word… how about ambitious? Single-minded? Hare-brained?

Lodi is a relatively common name for U.S. towns. I once counted at least 13 in a U.S. atlas.There are Lodis peppered across the country: in New Jersey, Ohio, California. It makes you wonder if that many settlers were familiar with the Lodi in Italy that I assume is the original Lodi for which the rest are named.

I do have a bit of a head start on this project: I’ve already been to Lodi, New Jersey. Sadly I saw no more of it than the road sign on the highway as I was driving into New York City, and perhaps that was enough? I’m not sure that the part of New Jersey near New York City would be considered to exemplify the state motto as the Garden State.

On one of my Great American Road Trips of the last 8 years I’m sure I’ve been to at least one other Lodi, but I really can’t remember where. Ohio? Indiana? Wisconsin? Clearly this Lodi didn’t make a huge impression on me either.

Seeing as it’s mid-January in Ottawa, I’m happy to do some California dreaming and imagine a trip to Lodi, California, that of the famous song. Being stuck in Lodi, California might not be that bad seeing as we have another 3 months of winter ahead of us here. Sigh…

Of course the capper to this whole project would be a pilgrimage to the mothership: Lodi in Italy, where it all started. I don’t know too much about Lodi, Italy, except that obviously a lot of people left it. But the Italian Lodi is sure to be chic, fashionable and replete with delicious food around every bend, at least more so than the Lodis I’m already familiar with.

To be fair, I think I will give myself the rest of my life to accomplish this and thus avoid the pressure of a time limit. That being said, perhaps a summer road trip hitting several of the most *fabulous* Lodis is in order…

The Lodi Historical Society

Lodi Historical Society

Lodi Historical Society

The Lodi Historical Society is one of the main cultural organizations in Lodi, and does more than just the name suggests. The Lodi Historical Society aims to preserve the history of our town, but also organizes events, concerts and is the social glue of the community to a certain extent.

When I was young we would always participate in Lodi Historical Society events with my grandma, as she was heavily involved in the organization. Some of my fondest Lodi memories are of the “Dish-to-Pass” suppers in the Lodi Historical building where people would come together with their signature potluck dishes and the food and conversation would flow. My grandma would often bring a large slab cake and jello with fruit and/or vegetables in it: nectar of the gods!

The Lodi Historical Society events are a large part of their year-round activities in Lodi. Concerts by the Finger Lakes Chamber Ensemble occur a few times a year, and the annual art show and artisan show are very popular as well.

The Lodi Historical Society building is a gorgeous former church with a raised stage, seating for hundreds and a fully restored Hook Tracker Organ, as well as reception areas for more casual meetings. It’s a great venue for weddings in the heart of Finger Lakes wine country and frankly a steal at $400!

In the interest of full disclosure I should explain that my dad is the co-president of the Lodi Historical Society but I can assure you my opinions stated here are completely unbiased. And let me tell you, the perks of being the daughter of the co-president of the Lodi Historical Society are numerous… to numerous to go into here, really…

The Lodi Historical Society is a great example of a volunteer-run organization that has been around for many, many years that keeps the life of our little town going with recurring activities that are both for Lodinians as well as being a way to attract new visitors to Lodi.

To become a member of the Lodi Historical Society, visit their website to learn more.

On being far from home…

I’ve been missing Lodi the last few weeks after an intense spring and summer of work on the garden, the properties and of course visiting with friends and family. Now that I’m back into the city swing of things I feel far from the comfort of Lodi and the feelings of home.

I’ve never lived in Lodi though I consider it my home town as much as my real hometown, St. John’s Newfoundland where I was born and raised and Ottawa, my current home base. It’s a bit odd, but I guess in this scenario I’m always away from my Lodi home, which does make me feel nostalgic and wistful.

a Ford Fiesta like we used to have

a Ford Fiesta like we used to have

When I was little and for many years we used to drive from St. John’s to Lodi. Yes, drive. If you’re wondering what that was like, let me paint you a picture: a family of four + enough supplies for 2 summer months activities + a 1980s-era Ford fiesta (canary yellow). I know you’re picturing an overstuffed roof rack as well, and piles of baggage piled between the two children so they couldn’t possibly whack each other. Oh, and take that mental picture and stretch it over four travel days. Four days. Four people. Two ferries. One Ford Fiesta.

The Ambrose Shea

The Ambrose Shea

I remember loving those trips, though I’m sure I was miserable at some point if not for the entire four days. But certainly the highlights were the two ferry rides we had to take: one to get from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia which took 18 hours in those days. The other ferry took us from Nova Scotia to Maine and then we were in the home stretch. We used to take the sturdy and dependable Ambrose Shea to take us across the tumultuous Atlantic. The ferry was not glamourous but I loved it nonetheless. There was shuffleboard on the upper deck, James Bond movies in high rotation and a cafeteria that feautured endless combinations of things that could be smothered in gravy.

All of this travelling made the arrival in Lodi all the more sweet. We loved getting there but we loved being in Lodi for the whole summer much more. I’m much closer to Lodi now, only about 4.5 hours from Ottawa, but it still feels like a slog to get there. That feeling of arrival remains as sweet as ever.

Oh Lord…

Creedence Clearwater Revival

Creedence Clearwater Revival

You know the song, right? The chorus goes “Oh Lord, stuck in Lodi again.” It’s catchy, it’s recognizable and somehow it always seems to express the sentiment applicable to being in Lodi, whichever Lodi you may be describing.

When I mention that my family’s from Lodi or my cottage is in Lodi people often respond with a blank stare or a furrowed, confused brow, which is fair enough. Sometimes this is followed swiftly by a glimmer of recognition and a recollection of an old tune from the 60s. “Oh yeah! Like the song!” they might say.

The song, simply called “Lodi”, is by Creedence Clearwater Revival and isn’t necessarily as well known as some of their really big hits like “Bad Moon Rising” and “Down on the Corner”. It does make it on their Greatest Hits compilations, however, and has certainly worked its way into popular culture.

As it turns out, the song was written about a Lodi in California, not our Lodi. The song is about a young musician who is trying to make it in the music business but unable to raise enough money to leave this town which doesn’t seem to have a whole lot going for it.

As it also turns out, there are a lot more Lodis in the U.S. than you might think. I once counted at least 13 Lodis in the US atlas. I’ve been through Lodi, New Jersey and perhaps whizzed past another Lodi at some point on a road trip.

Our Lodi is probably amongst the smallest with a population hovering around 350. In that there are not many businesses or much commercial infrastructure you can see how someone might express resentment about being stuck here. You could almost see how they could write a song about it. In that is is the beginning of the gorgeous Seneca East wine trail, home to stunning historic architecture and a thriving, supportive community atmosphere you can see how it wouldn’t be too bad to be stuck here, really.

Hurd’s of Lodi, a prominent local business and hardware store located on Lodi’s Main St. for many years used to sell a t-shirt emblazoned with the slogan “Lodi, NY: Where it All Happens”. This sentiment seems to go hand in hand with that of the CCR song. We love to poke fun at the places we come from or get stuck in from time to time.

What do you think? Do all Lodis inspire the statement “Oh Lord, stuck _here_ again?”

Local Food and Farmers’ Markets




Tomatillos

Originally uploaded by j-co

Lodi could be considered a hub of the local food movement, only because there’s always been a local food movement in this area. It’s just never been cool before.

Of course I’m exaggerating: Lodi’s not really a hub of too much, to be honest, but there’s no exaggerating the vibrancy of local produce growers and farmers’ markets in the Finger Lakes.

There’s a lot of agriculture around Lodi, but the large industrial crops are almost exclusively soybeans and feed corn. In recent years small farms offering CSAs have boomed, and more farmers markets have developed offering people the chance to feel closer to the food they eat and who produces it.

Throughout my childhood during the summers in Lodi you could count on the farm stands that dot the country roads and highways providing much of your summer meals. With delicious sweet corn that explodes in your mouth to perfectly ripe peaches whose juice drips down your chin to the ubiquitous zucchini, there has never been a shortage of great local produce. It’s always one of the best things about being in Lodi in the summer.

The Ithaca Farmers Market has been around for years and never disappoints with the great variety of produce as well as the diverse international food vendors and live music. This summer I became enamored of the Trumansburg Farmers Market which is much smaller by comparison but is off the charts when it comes to friendliness. Almost all of the vendors, which range from a goat dairy to cinnamon buns to specialty garlic in addition to the requisite produce are happy to engage in conversation, offer advice to novice gardeners and actually want to know what you think of their food.

One of the best produce finds of the summer were the tomatillos from the Ithaca market pictured here. I had no clue what to do with them but the kind vendor offered me a salsa verde recipe which was to die for. Now I’m hooked on tomatillos and am determined to grow them in the garden next summer. Salsa verde for all!

Summer Visitors




Tomatoes from the garden for dinner

Originally uploaded by j-co

This summer has been the summer of visitors to Lodi. I don’t know why, but we’ve been lucky enough to have a steady stream of friends visiting Lodi for summer mini-breaks over the last month or so.

Most recently we had a house full of 8, including 2 kids, and we had a wonderful time lounging about the house, poking around in the barns, swimming in the lake and touring around the area.

My friends said they had no idea the Finger Lakes were so close, which I think is part of the reason people love coming here: it’s still a relatively unknown little hidden gem of a vacation spot. It’s odd because it is so close to many larger cities: only 5 hours from both NYC and Toronto, 4.5 hours from Ottawa, 6 or so hours from Boston.

I love to show my friends around Lodi and the area. There is so much family history that the stories are amazingly realistic when you can say “My grandfather’s Wallpaper store was right there, across the street”. I feel proud and happy to have the luxury of being so clearly connected to my ancestors and their lives.

Most fun, of course, is showing off the natural beauty of the Finger Lakes with the rolling hills, vineyards and amazing lake views. The wineries are always enjoyable to visit and so convenient with 20 or so within a 20-mile stretch of Route 414 near Lodi. There are fabulous restaurants featuring ingredients procured from local farmers. And there’s always the outlet mall for a little retail therapy, if that’s what you need.

But best of all is gathering together with friends and infusing this house that’s seen so much of my family history over 100 years with the laughter of children, the smells of great meals cooking with ingredients picked fresh from the garden and the enjoyment of warm, wonderful friendship.

So, when are you coming?

Breakfast at the Lodi Rod and Gun Club

Dad at the Rod and Gun Club Breakfast

Dad at the Rod and Gun Club Breakfast

This past Sunday the entire Covert clan headed up for the Lodi Rod and Gun Club Breakfast. The breakfast itself is delicious and plentiful, but the experience is more than a straightforward meal. It’s a great way to meet friends old and new and get caught up on all the local comings and goings.

Now let me start with the setting: this biweekly breakfast feast is held at the Lodi Rod and Gun Club, which is a lodge and meeting place for members of this club. As is logical, the room is decorated with various taxidermied wildlife, trophies of the club members. It’s a big, open room with lots of tables and when we arrived it was packed and noisy with entire family units with the full range of ages.

I had heard about this famous breakfast and I’m thrilled to report that it lived up to its reputation completely. One of the major features of the breakfast is the fact that you can select a number of different breakfast items or simply check the box “select all” for the entry price of $5.50. We’re talking eggs, pancakes, toast, hashbrowns, bacon, sausage, bicuits with sausage gravy OR ALL OF THE ABOVE. I was tempted to select all, just to see if I could do it, but my common sense prevailed and the delicious breakfast I chose lasted me straight through to dinner.

I have clear memories of similar breakfasts taking place on a regular basis when I was little. These Pancake Breakfasts were put on by the Lodi Historical Society that took place on Sunday mornings. I even remember being a “waitress” at these breakfasts, training for my very short-lived and mistake-laden career as a waitress that never managed to extend much further than the Lodi Historical Society Pancake Breakfasts, much to the greater health and well-being of the diners of Eastern North America.

More than just a meal the Lodi Rod and Gun Club Breakfast is a community experience. This kind of a community meeting and communal eating place is the something I miss living in the city most of the year–we just don’t do things like this that often. The tradition continues every second Sunday through to the middle of October and I will be there as often as I can.

Oh, and Vegetarians? You might want to stay home.

The Infamous Eagle Hotel




Eagle Hotel

Originally uploaded by j-co

Lodi is a small town with a population under 400 year-round. If you’re travelling on Route 414 in the North-South direction you don’t even have to stop at any point as you travel through Lodi. Many people don’t even slow down much.

There isn’t much commerce on Main St. in Lodi. There’s a Post Office, an ice cream stand, a printing shop and a den of ill repute: the infamous Eagle Hotel.

The Eagle Hotel is a building with an incredible amount of history–it’s been around as long as Lodi itself. The Eagle is a bar with a dining room that’s open on Fridays and Saturdays but those two areas are worlds apart, as far as I can tell.

I have been to the dining room a few times for the Friday Night Fish Fry which was great. The ambiance is set with a woman playing old-timey music on the piano as you enter the building. The rest of the experience is just about as old-timey; the food is good and the service friendly.

I have never–and proabably will never–set foot in the bar portion of the Eagle Hotel. This is the kind of place that has regulars, a horseshoe pit out back and neon signs blinking incessantly. There is no really good reason that I couldn’t go in there, except for the fact that I’m not sure it’s really my kind of place. It’s just that I can’t imagine what my grandmother would say if she knew I’d done such a thing (she passed away 15 years ago).

My grandma was Temperance Union and abhorred alcohol in her house (sorry Grandma, that rule’s been broken!). The Eagle Hotel represented a repository of all that was unacceptable in my grandmother’s eyes–or at least that’s how I remember it from when I was little. You could often, and still can, hear the Eagle’s loud, pulsating music from our house a block away and hear the revellers getting into all sorts of mischief. It all just seemed like a *bad* thing when I was little.

Often when my friends come to visit they really want to go to the Eagle to get some local flavour and enjoy a cheap beer. My brother’s had the same experience. But if they are able to get up the nerve to go we refuse to go with them. I just can’t! I can’t bear to think of Grandma’s reaction, looking down from wherever she might be!

Main Street, Lodi

Lodi Museum on Main Street

Lodi Museum on Main Street

We have some friends from Lodi visiting us in Ottawa this weekend and it was great to show them the sights like the Tulip Festival and the Parliament buildings. But it’s also great to catch up on everything that’s going on in Lodi from thier perspective, to get the news and hear about what’s been going on recently.

Now there’s always lots going on in a small town, but what’s funny about Lodi is that there is not much in terms of commerce on our Main Street so you don’t neccessarily see the activity on of the town on the Main Street. Apart from the post office, there aren’t a lot of chances for people to meet in town to see each other and chat, like a coffee shop or a diner or a grocery store.

Over the years there have been lots of different businesses that have come and gone on Main Street of Lodi of course. My dad remembers when he was little and there was a large dry good store and hardware store on Main St. I remember when I was little there was always a little corner store on Main St. where you could pick up milk, bread, the newspaper etc. Actually, when I was little the main things I was getting at the store were Atomic Fireball candies and Italian Ices.

There are curently no businesses on Main St. except for the Post Office and the Eagle Hotel, which is a bar and serves a fish fry on Friday nights and other dinner items on Saturday nights. The bar and the dining room are in different areas of the building, and in fact the hotel portion is no longer in operation, but it’s one of the oldest establishments in Lodi. There are several other store fronts, one of which is now occupied by the Lodi Musuem, which was opened last year. It’s a lovely little building stuffed with local lore and artifacts.

There is a building that was recently purchased which we all beleived was being turned into a microbrewery. They did a lovely job of redoing the facade but it has sat empty for a few years now. We were speculating as to the reasons, but no one knew for sure what’s going on there. It would be so cool to complement the great wineries in the area with a microbrewery and to draw more people to Main Street.

Tonight we all agreed that locals could really benefit from having a small grocery store or corner store. The nearest store is at least 5 miles away, which is not far, but a bit of a pain nonetheless. It would also be lovely to have a little coffee shop or bakery, maybe a gift shop where you could pick up Wine Trail information… so if there are any budding entrepreneurs out there, think of Lodi as a prime spot, ready for some local businesses!

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