Agritourism Workshop helps South Dakota producers identify opportunities
BROOKINGS — Opportunities in agritourism for South Dakota farmers and ranchers were shared at the Agritourism Workshop held Feb. 20-21 in Pierre.
The event was co-hosted by SDSU Extension and the South Dakota Department of Tourism and sponsored by the Rural Electric Economic Development (REED) Fund.
“Adding an agritourism enterprise to an operation can add an additional source of revenue for farmers and ranchers and also provides a way for producers to share what they do with consumers,” says Peggy Schlechter, SDSU Extension community vitality specialist and one of the event coordinators. “The Extension system in the United States is taking the lead in agritourism across the country and there has been significant interest from producers in South Dakota. With workshops like this, SDSU Extension is facilitating opportunities for producers in our state to learn more about the logistics in offering agritourism venues.”
The program featured presentations on marketing, photography, social media, liability considerations, taxes, licensing, pricing, farm safety and hospitality training. Attendees also had the opportunity to visit existing and aspiring agritourism businesses near Pierre, including Prairie Paradise Farms, Snake Den Lodge, and Antelope Creek Horses and Horseback Riding.
“It was exciting to see the opportunities out there,” says Marlajean ‘MJ’ Waters, conference attendee. “The conference was very educational about how to get started with an agritourism business and several producers shared that their agritourism efforts have multiplied more than they ever dreamed.”
Waters ranches with her family near Winner and attended the conference to learn more about agritourism and the opportunity it could provide to add an alternative source of income to their operation.
For Beth Simonson of Highmore, going on the farm tours and seeing how others operate agritourism businesses was a highlight of the event. Simonson and her husband currently operate the Hyde Out Bed and Breakfast and are considering expanding to include tours of their farm.
“We’ve realized that people want to take the backroads and have rural experiences,” says Simonson, who is involved in an effort to create agritourism along South Dakota Highway 14.
Tom Barnes and his wife, Susan, own Pleasant Valley Farms and Cabins in Custer where they offer farm tours and stays. He said the conference provided insight to help him fine-tune his existing agritourism venue, which focuses on meat goat production, pigs and sheep.
“We have focused on educational experiences for urban visitors and have plans to accommodate larger tours in the future,” Barnes says. “At the conference we gained ideas about how to better prepare for handling larger tour groups, as well as tips for promoting and marketing our business, expanding to senior audiences and extending into the shoulder tourism season.”
If you are interested in learning more about agritourism in South Dakota, contact Peggy Schlechter at 605-394-1722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.