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Valley to Boost Agritourism with "Fields of Gold" Campaign - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Valley to Boost Agritourism with "Fields of Gold" Campaign

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Agritourism is big business for the Shenandoah Valley, bringing in an estimated $35 million a year, and jobs for more than 800 people.  Those figures come from a new economic impact study. 

The question is, how can the valley build on those numbers?  The answer to that question may be "Fields of Gold."

It's a regional agritourism campaign that's getting state support, in the hope of luring new visitors to some 135 different attractions and experiences in the Shenandoah Valley.

Barren Ridge Vineyards in Fishersville is hosting a "harvest jubilee" for the Fields of Gold initiative.  The event will feature the release of a private consultant's study, which says the valley could see a 9 to 12 percent increase in agritourism revenue each year.  Getting there will require some farms and businesses to learn how to cater to visitors.

"Customer service - that's a big thing, said Bonnie Riedesel with the Shenandoah Planning District.  "You have to enjoy the public if you want to invite them onto your farm, and there's some training and some techniques that go along with that."

Agritourism destinations run a wide spectrum from wineries and breweries, farmer's markets, activities like corn mazes and cut-your-own Christmas trees and farm-to-table restaurants.    

One of the next phases for the Fields of Gold campaign is to create a dedicated website with interactive features for visitors and budding entrepreneurs.  A state grant should help launch that site in the coming months.

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