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Kansas Department of Commerce to host Kansas Agritourism Conference in Great Bend

Agritourism operators invited to learn from tourism, economic development professionals, business owners


The Kansas Department of Commerce is inviting all Kansas agritourism vendors and agricultural producers to attend the 2009 Kansas Agritourism Conference on March 25 and 26 in Great Bend.

Attendees will learn about all aspects of owning and operating an agritourism business, including insurance, direct marketing, customer service, staffing, retail sales, pricing, business planning and more. Guests will be able to build connections with fellow agritourism operators, tourism experts and economic development professionals while enjoying great speakers, Kansas-made products and a fun, educational conference agenda.

Featured speakers include:

--Darren Schmall, "The Pizza Farmer," a noted agricultural marketing expert and principal with California-based AgPro Marketing.

--Tim and Jan Vala of Vala's Pumpkin Patch in Gretna, Neb., who have been in the pick-your-own "agri-tainment" business for nearly 25 years.

Registration is $75 per participant before March 16 and $90 per participant from March 17 to 23. Walk-in registrations will not be accepted.

Visit KansasCommerce.com to download a complete conference brochure.

Agritourism is typically defined as the crossroads of traditional agricultural production and tourism and can help traditional Kansas farmers expand their business by making it a tourist destination. Farmers across Kansas are realizing the benefits of tailoring their operations to tourists, who are increasingly longing to visit a working ranch, rope a calf, ride a horse, pick their own apples or tour a winery. These activities provide lifelong memories for tourists and additional revenue for Kansas farmers who host them.

The Department of Commerce's involvement in the agritourism industry dates back to the Agritourism Promotion Act of 2004, which was intended to promote the growth of agritourism by: creating a registration process through which the Department of Commerce can assist in the promotion of agritourism operations; limiting liability through signage; and creating a tax credit to help offset the expense of agritourism liability insurance for existing and new operations.

For more information, contact Sarah Larison with the Department of Commerce at 785-296-3737 or slarison@kansascommerce.com.

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