The fifth annual Virginia Agritourism Conference will enable interested agritourism entrepreneurs, economic development staff, and local government leaders to explore different facets of Virginia agritourism, a growing industry recently shown to generate more than $2.2 billion in economic impact. The April 3-4 conference at the Hotel Roanoke in Roanoke, Virginia, will provide access to expert insights and hands-on exposure to the industry.

This year, speakers will provide a look at successes and challenges within Virginia agritourism. They will also offer their perspectives on various subjects, including the development of an agritourism operation, best practices in customer service, tactics for marketing an operation through multiple sources, measures to ensure farm safety, event hosting, networking with agritourism farms, and the path to building a regional approach.

“Participants told us that the networking alone was worth their investment of both time and money,” said Martha Walker, community viability specialist for the Virginia Cooperative Extension, of last year’s event. “The 2019 conference will offer an exceptional lineup of people who understand Virginia agritourism and are well-prepared to share their knowledge. Anyone working with agritourism will want to be in Roanoke for this conference.”

Farm tours will take place during the first day of the conference in Botetourt, Roanoke, Franklin, and Bedford counties. The tours will offer guests the opportunity to visit agritourism venues related to orchards, wineries, festivals, and local products. Venues will include Layman Family Farm, Johnson’s Orchards and Peaks of Otter Winery, Homestead Creamery, Braeloch Farms, Ikenberry Orchards, Amethyst Acres, Twin River Outfitters, and Jeter Farm.

The conference is sponsored by Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tourism Corporation, Virginia Tech, Virginia State University Small Farm Outreach Program, Farm Credit, Virginia Association of Counties, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Virginia FAIRS, Virginia Farm Bureau, USDA Rural Development, and Virginia Agribusiness Council.

Register online by visiting the conference website. The registration deadline is Friday, March 22. You may register for one day ($105) or both days ($135).  For more information, contact Martha A. Walker of Virginia Cooperative Extension at 434-766-6761 or walker53@vt.edu.  No refunds are offered after registration deadline.

If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services, or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact Martha A. Walker, Central District Office, at 434-766-6761 during business hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations at least five days prior to the event.  *TDD number is (800) 828-1120.

Written by Suzanne Irby