November 30, 2021

Zombie Walk precedes Halloween, promotes restaurants

Undead roam streets

Colin Spencer/Staff Reporter

Bonnie Quackenbush, second from left, leads a group zombie-walking Saturday evening on Tompkins Street with her husband, Michael DiMattei, far right.

Halloween-themed food and drinks were on the menu for Saturday night’s zombie walk in downtown Cortland.

Bonnie Quackenbush and her husband, Michael DiMattei, of Cortland, led a group zombie-walking their way from the 1890 House museum on Tompkins Street to Main Street businesses Hairy Tony’s, Brix Pubaria, Community Restaurant and The Finger Lakes Tasting and Tap Room for local food and drink tastings.

Food and drinks included “bloody” tomato soup, “puking” butternut squash and, appropriately, Bloody Marys.

The idea for the walk came two years ago when Quackenbush wanted to find a way to get locally sourced food into the community. Her son, Bob Southworth, also helped inspire the walk, as he liked zombies. She combined the two to create the walk.

Quackenbush would buy locally sourced food from Cortland Downtown Farmers Market, Trinity Valley Dairy, Anderson’s Farm Market and bring it to Cortland eateries.

She came up with the current idea of leading groups in a zombie walk to local eateries that would have food waiting for the groups to try.

Last year’s event, the first year of the walk, attracted 15 people. This year’s walk in Cortland initially attracted four before the group left.

Angela Gellatly, one of the group members, said before leaving, “It would be something that if you could get more people to do it, it would be a cute idea.”

Quackenbush and DiMattei added a second walk in the village of Homer this year to attract more people.

“I’m hoping this grows,” DiMattei said. “We just need to get the word out there.”

Cortland County has about 18,700 households, U.S. Census data show. If each were to spend $20, or $20 more, on local foods, that would generate $19.4 million a year in the local economy.