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    Grand Ole Opry Sets Stage for Vidalia Onion Winners

    Harvey’s Hanks earns top prize for ‘sweet’ display

    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., which enabled him to win the Ultimate VIP Trip to Nashville.

    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 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 runners-up -- including produce manager Laina Chastain of Harvey’s in Grey, Ga., and store owner Pam Coy of Viking Village, Inc. in Reedsburg, Wis. -- featured unique farm twists, with a front-end loader dragging bins filled with the famous Georgia sweetie through an “onion field, a and a detailed rendering of the Grand Ole Opry, respectively.

    VOC executive director Wendy Brannen 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.”

    The contest, Brannan continued, provided produce retailers an opportunity to have fun and be creative with colorful country music themed POS and packaging provided by the VOC.

    Winners were chosen 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.

    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, meantime, will receive goodie baskets from the VOC that include CDs from some of the campaign’s featured country artists.

    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.

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