A high-tech treasure hunt will begin in Chautauqua County on June 1, with two major goals - to have fun and to raise awareness of all the assets the local area has to offer its residents.
The Chautauqua Region Community Foundation and the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation are co-sponsoring the Amazing County project, an interactive adventure game in which players will be asked to solve clues and complete tasks that challenge them to learn more about Chautauqua County. June Diethrick, CRCF executive administrator, said that the social media-based challenge will be broken into four one-month contests, the first of which will be held during the month of June.
The theme of the first contest will be the arts, history and culture of Chautauqua County.
Amazing County is an online treasure hunt set to begin June 1 which aims to raise awareness to all the assets Chautauqua County has to offer. The interactive game will have participants learning more about the area by answering questions, solving puzzles and completing tasks related to locations around the county, earning points in the process.
''It's going to highlight places that people can go and do things this summer - they're destinations,'' Ms. Diethrick said.
Nineteen organizations from across the county have volunteered to be a part of the first contest, including the Chautauqua-Lake Erie Wine Trail, Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center, Martz Observatory, the 1891 Fredonia Opera House, Lily Dale Assembly and the Dunkirk Lighthouse.
Each will be the subject of at least one clue, puzzle, video or trivia question over the course of the month that will be posted daily on the amazingcounty.org website as well as on Twitter and Facebook. Those participating in the contest will accumulate points for daily, weekly and special event prizes. In addition, a grand prize will be awarded at the end of the month to a random regular participant.
''For the grand prize, it doesn't go to the person with the largest number of points - we want to make it for the casual person who can come in and come out,'' Ms. Diethrick said. ''There will be a threshold, and those names will be pulled from a hat - it doesn't have to be the person who was on every day.''
The grand prize of this first contest with be a Chautauqua County ''Stay-cation'' valued at $500, Ms. Diethrick said. It will include a weekend stay at an area bed and breakfast with a package designed at the winner's choosing, plus many other amenities.
Future contests will be themed on topics including local animal life and local health and emergency services, Ms. Diethrick said. The program was made possible by a challenge grant received from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation of Miami, Fla., awarded for what Ms. Diethrick called the ''great idea'' of two recent graduates of the Incubator at the State University at Fredonia.
The project is among 24 winners of $4.3 million in total grants from the foundation in this second year of a five-year series of Knight Community Information Challenge Grants. The goal of the projects is to focus upon meeting America's information needs, the foundation says.
According to Ms. Diethrick, the value of social media in the Amazing County project will be to draw the county together and make younger residents aware of what is available to them in all corners of the county, not just in their own neighborhoods - unifying the county somewhat in the process.
''Our goal is to turn a lot of things that are upside-down a little bit rightside-up in this county,'' she said. ''The user, in the guise of going out to have some fun with this game, doesn't necessarily have to know that - we just want them to discover all the assets in the county.''