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Local farms prepare for fall agricultural tourists

Published: Sep. 19, 2021 at 11:40 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The Wisconsin Agricultural Tourism Association says interest in fall traditions like pumpkin patches is growing annually, and after a tough 2020 farms in the Badger state are ready for picking.

But challenges from the pandemic still loom over the state’s agritourism industry, including at family owned and operated Schuster’s Farm in Deerfield.

“The biggest change has been rethinking how we do business,” said Sarah Schuster, whose parents own the farm.

She says one of the biggest blessings to the farm and agritourism in general is that most attractions take place outside, allowing them to stay open to tourists during the pandemic. But they have still adjusted, from moving the pumpkin patch so people can walk to it instead of having to take a wagon ride there; to serving concessions through window service.

Each year, Schuster says the farm sees between 20,000 to 40,000 guests, but they family isn’t sure where tourism numbers will fall this time given the number of attractions that are back open.

Just down the road from Schuster’s, Badger Farms is in the thick of the wedding and growing season. The farm grows marsh hay -- used for construction industry fiber and horse food -- but supplements their income with an event space for rent.

Owner Dave Muehl says wedding sizes have diminished since the start of the pandemic. He says wedding parties usually range from 160 to 140 people, but he’s been booking parties of a 120 or less. Badger Farms has also made changes to accommodate guests from far and wide, spacing out chairs and requiring masks.

As Agricultural tourism week approaches, these family farms hope people will engage in safe visits and learn about the robust agriculture industry the state has to offer.

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