This time of year I like to fill my calendar with trips for the upcoming months. Planning ahead and finding out what options are out there is fun and gives me something to look forward to as the snow flies and winters pall wears on.
For the first time, I am trying something new, I am attending the Chicago Travel & Adventure show (http://travelshows.com/shows/chicag) January 23-24 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL.
While there, I hope to learn about wonderful places within a gas tank (or two) away. As a farmer’s wife, I love agritourism stops, museums, harvest festivals and tours of places and things not found in my neck of the woods.
Patrick Reinsma of the Wisconsin Dept. of Tourism said, “While at the show, stop by the Wisconsin Tourism booth to learn about Wisconsin’s amazing agri-tourism opportunities. Cheese, cranberries, cherries, vineyards, and micro-breweries, are just a sampling of locally produced food and drink found in Wisconsin. Our travel counselors look forward to assisting show goers with advice and material for planning your next Wisconsin adventure.”
I want to check out some of the things he outlined like some of the Swiss heritage and ethnic cuisine, or the colorful festivals, and tasty local brews paired perfectly with award winning cheeses, to Amish farms, barns and wineries. The Tourism Dept. has put together sample stops that help tourist find things to do like and places to go like Country Ovens Ltd. the producer of “The Original Door County dried cherry.”
One specific area of Wisconsin also on the agri-tourism radar is Door County. Jon Jarosh, Director of Communications & PR for the Wisconsin Door County Visitor Bureau said, “During the mid-20th century, Door County was the largest producer of tart cherries in the U.S, now we’re #4 in the country, producing 8-12 million pounds of tart cherries annually. Cherries were so tied to Door County’s identity that at the height of production the area was known as “Cherryland USA.”
I have always wanted to check out some of the orchards and may take time this summer to try some of the ten favorite destinations Door County Tourism came up with like taking an orchard walk, meandering down the wine trail. The Door County Wine Trail, has 8 wineries and more information is available at www.DoorCountyWineTrail.com.
Another thing I have never done is try tours offered from farmer’s markets. Bob Lukens, the Community Development Director of Muskegon County, Michigan said, “Our new, downtown Farmers Market coordinates Agri-Tours in Muskegon County to farms within the county and in nearby counties.”
This area offers more than a half million acres of agricultural growing and production on approximately 3,400 farms in Muskegon and the three surrounding counties of Newaygo, Oceana and Ottawa counties. The counties have teamed up to offer agri-tours.
“We are pleased to bring you the experience of learning where your food comes from, how it grows, gets harvested, prepared and preserving,” Lukens said. The tours feature demonstrations on food preparation and cooking as well as tasting and showcasing Michigan crops.”
These are just a few of the agri-tourism ideas that I am looking into. A much longer article profiling these areas will be in an upcoming issue of Farm World and hopefully I will check out some of these ideas and find many more at the show to blog about down the road. See you there!