Gov. Evers celebrates Agricultural Tourism Week
AMERY, Wis. (WEAU) - Gov. Tony Evers visited Amery and Rice Lake Monday to kick off Wisconsin Agricultural Tourism Week.
He first visited the Farm Table Foundation in Amery. He then stopped by Mommsem’s Harvest Hills Pumpkin Patch in Rice Lake.
“It’s a very very important part of our tourism,” Evers said. “People love to be out on the farm and love to be able to interact with the people that do farm and I just think it’s just going to grow significantly going forward.”
He said the state doesn’t have exact numbers outlining the impact of agricultural tourism but he estimates it’s worth millions of dollars.
Sylvia Burgos Toftness is the Vice President of the Wisconsin Agricultural Tourism Association and a Polk County farmer.
“Agricultural tourism is something that anybody does whenever they step on a farm to buy and apple, to buy apple cider, to pet an animal, a baby animal at the zoo, sit amongst the vines to have a glass of wine, go through a corn maze or go through a pumpkin patch,” she said.
As a farm owner, Burgos Toftness knows it’s not always easy turning livestock into a profit. That’s why people visiting her farm has become an important source of income.
“Outsourcing tourism cannot be done,” she said. “When you have tourists on your farm, you are actually helping them experience a sense of place that can’t be duplicated anywhere else in the world. And when they bring their enthusiasm and their activities and their dollars to a place like Amery, Wisconsin, it really is important to the local economy.”
Evers said agricultural tourism is even more important as the pandemic continues because it’s mostly outdoors.
“One of the kind of prerequisets around that is to make sure that people are safe and healthy and being outdoors is absolutely one of them. It’s been one of the key go-to things that we’ve had throughout the pandemic,” he said.
The Wisconsin Department of Tourism estimates direct spending by travelers was down about 30 percent in 2020. Direct spending still amounted to $9.8 billion.
Tourism officials said they expect direct spending to rebound and agriculture tourism should be a big part of that.
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