Colorado's newest crop is agritourism
The Colorado Tourism Office and Colorado Department of Agriculture have teamed up to boost opportunities for travelers, and to capitalize on the boom in agritourism. Currently, there are only two states in the U.S. that do not offer agritourism of some kind--Alaska and Nevada. Colorado is the first in the nation to pair heritage tourism and agritourism.
"Colorado is ahead of the game," declared Laura Grey, CTO program director for the heritage and agritourism program.
A 2007 Colorado State University study reported that 75 percent of travelers participated in at least one agricultural, food or heritage activity on their trip. There is tremendous growth opportunity for agritourism. The 2007 Census of Agriculture reported that of the 37,054 farms in Colorado, only 679--fewer than 2 percent--reported agritourism income. This revenue was gained from traditional hunting, outfitting and horseback rides to the now trendy farm dinners, cheese making classes, ranch stays, and canning classes.
In a move to capture the potential, the CTO has contracted with Walden Mills Group in Denver to craft a strategic plan. Judy Walden, president, notes interest in food has exploded across the country. Her team includes Amy Webb, who has been a leader for 18 years in the nationwide development in heritage tourism; Kelli Hepler, who organized the model Delta County Agritourism Program, now in its seventh year; and Dan Hobbs, a founding member of the Arkansas Valley Organic Growers that delivers locally grown foods direct to restaurants and schools in Colorado Springs and Pueblo.
Seven regional strategic planning sessions are scheduled around the state to educate potential providers about the benefits of getting in the game and to glean valuable feedback from those currently involved in agritourism.
"This is a big tent, with room for everybody who wants to play" said Al White, director of the Colorado Tourism Office.
Dates and locations for regional meetings
Nov. 5--Alamosa, Ramada (formerly Inn at the Rio Grande), 333 Santa Fe Avenue
Nov. 6--Lamar, 4-H Building at the Prowers County Fair Grounds, 2206 Saddle Club Drive
Nov. 7--Pueblo, El Pueblo History Museum, 301 North Union Avenue.
Nov. 12--Ignacio, Sky Ute Casino, 14324 Hwy 172 N
Nov. 13--Ouray, Ouray Community Center, 320 6th Avenue
Nov. 14--Rifle, Garfield County Public Library in Rifle, 207 East Avenue
Nov. 26--Ft Collins, Fort Collins Welcome Center, 3745 E. Prospect Road, I-25 at Exit 268.
Nov. 28--Sterling, CSU Engagement Center, 304 Main Street
Nov. 29--Denver, History Colorado Museum, 1200 Broadway