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   "Grand Ole Opry" Sets Stage For Victory In Vidalia Onion Display Contest
by The Vidalia Onion Committee
Posted: Thursday, November 3, 2011 at 1:29PM EDT

Vidalia, Ga. – The Vidalia® Onion Committee’s (VOC) 2011 “Sweet Vidalias & Country Music” promotion featured a retail display contest that drew more than 100 entries from around the country. The winning display entry came from Store Manager Charles Hanks of a Harvey’s store in Tallahassee, Fla. As a result, Hanks has won the Ultimate VIP Trip to Nashville, the Music City.

Hanks and his staff built a massive “Grand Ole Opry” stage in the produce department with Vidalia Onions as the “featured act.” The display came alive with guitars and dancing Vidalias that Hanks and his son drew out by hand on plywood and constructed. Hanks reported the display was so popular that they had trouble getting a snapshot of it without a mob of customers. He also cross-promoted Vidalia products and had several secondary displays throughout the store.

The first runner up featured a unique farm twist: a front end loader dragging bins filled with the famous Georgia sweetie through an “onion field.” The second runner up also erected a very detailed rendering of the Grand Ole Opry. The contest was an opportunity to have fun and be creative with colorful country music themed POS and packaging provided by the VOC. A judging panel made up of Vidalia onion marketers determined the winners based on size and location of display, creative display techniques, quality of display, use of POS materials and signage, additional security displays, and proper stacking of loose onions or bags.

Vidalia Onion Committee Executive Director Wendy Brannen was among the judging panel and said the top three immediately stood out. “We were truly in awe of the top three. To say they were creative doesn’t do them justice. I cannot imagine being a consumer and not stopping to buy some Vidalias with those displays there.” Brannen says the honorable mentions were also very fun and clever.

Hanks’ grand prize includes round trip airfare for two, hotel accommodations for two nights, Grand Ole Opry tickets, and Nashville’s official VIP Backstage booklet that contains a number of saving offers on entertainment, dining and recreational activities. His display and those of the other winners will be showcased on VidaliaOnion.org through 2012.

The runners-up, Produce Manager Laina Chastain of Harvey’s in Grey, Ga., and Store Owner Pam Coy of Viking Village, Inc. in Reedsburg, Wis., will receive goodie baskets from the VOC that include CDs from some of the campaign’s featured country artists.

Honorable Mentions include:

Specialist Patti Helf and Produce Manager Mark Collard of Homeland in Muskogee, Okla.
Specialist Patti Helf and Produce Manager Iva Weber of Homeland in Sand Springs, Okla.
Produce Manager Mike Oliver and Assistant Manager Bill Kleppe of Pennington Market in Pennington, N.J.
Produce Manager Lequitte Perry of Food City in Louisa, Ky
Produce Manager Peggy Hurley in Food City in Vansant, Va.
Produce Manager Loretta Wilson of Food City in Galax, Va.
Randall Havens of Bruno’s in Mobile, Ala.

In 2011, the “American Favorites: Sweet Vidalias & Country Music” promotion was featured on thousands of retail store displays and Vidalia onion packages as well as in radio advertising, print ads and social media, and included free song downloads in addition to the jingle contest. Vidalia packaging and marketing featured some of country music’s biggest stars, including Vince Gill, Billy Currington, Gary Allan and Ashton Shepherd. The VOC will continue the promotion in 2012.

The Vidalia Onion Committee was established in 1989 as Federal Marketing Order No. 955. The order authorizes production research, marketing research and development, and marketing promotion programs. The VOC administers the order locally and consists of eight producer members and their alternates and one public member and an alternate. More information about the Vidalia onion industry may be obtained at VidaliaOnion.org.

Source: The Vidalia Onion Committee

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