Wisconsin promotes agricultural tourism in roadside campaign

To promote Wisconsin’s farmers, the Wisconsin Agricultural Tourism Association announced a new roadside campaign to promote everything.
Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 6:43 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Spring is coming, and so is growing season. To promote Wisconsin’s farmers, the Wisconsin Agricultural Tourism Association announced a new roadside campaign to promote everything from wine growers to petting zoos to berry patches.

Large red signs equipped with QR codes will start popping up at rest stops as part of the campaign. The code will direct visitors to nearby farms and other agricultural tourism experiences.

At the campaign kickoff on Thursday, the state and the farmers shared excitement for the promotion of agricultural tourism, hoping tourists will learn more about everything Dairyland has to offer.

“We were in agri-tourism before there was a word agri-tourism,” Don Schuster, co-owner of Schuster’s Playtime Farm in Deerfield.

For 30 years, the Schuster family has hosted interactive tourism experiences at their farm from hay rides to corn mazes.

“I’m a fifth generation farmer from Dane County,” Schuster said. “The farm probably wouldn’t be a farm if it wasn’t for agri-tourism.”

Sylvia Burgos Toftness, co-owner and farmer at Bull Brook Keep, a Clear Lake grass-fed beef farm, agrees.

“Farmers are looking for other types of revenue stream,” Burgos Toftness said. “Agriculture tourism is a main one on my farm.”

Now these agri-tourism spots will be highlighted and promoted to interstate travelers through a partnership between Wisconsin’s Department of Transportation, the Agricultural Tourism Association and the Disability Service Provider Network.

“As a farmer, this campaign makes me really glad because travelers will be able to find our farms more easily. They’ll have a direct line to us,” Burgos Toftness said.

Farmers say the partnership will also help farmers come together, and create a collective platform.

“[My wife] and I spent many years fighting many politicians to get to the spot where we are today. Having an organization like this, we’re not so out there hanging by ourselves,” Schuster said.

The state says the partnership will also bring more traffic through Wisconsin’s 28 different rest stops.

“Wisconsin is fairly unique in that we keep these facilities open and operating 24/7,” Paul Hammer, deputy secretary of Wisconsin’s Department of Transportation, said.

CEO of the Disability Service Provider Network, Lisa Davidson, says that’s possible because of the employees from DSPN.

“You wouldn’t think of a Disability Provider Service Network being connected to Roadside Service Facilities, but we are and we are the linchpin to making sure that there are adequate teams in place to maintain the facilities, to keep them clean and welcoming,” Davidson said.

Wisconsin’s Agricultural Tourism Association wants Badger Land to be known as America’s Agricultural Tourism Destination, celebrating the stories behind Wisconsin’s producers and an industry that brings in $104.8 billion to the state every year.

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