Farmers Look To Boost Tourism Sales - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Rogers, AR

Farmers Look To Boost Tourism Sales

ROGERS, AR - Some Arkansas farmers are relying on tourist dollars to make ends meet.  With the number of farms on the decline, growers are learning to expand into new areas, and that includes satisfying travelers who want to get away from city life.

Jane Eckert, chief executive officer of Eckert AgriMarketing in St. Louis, says the bottom line for farmers is the need for more revenue, and tourism can provide that.  Eckert spoke to a group yesterday at the Governor's Conference on Tourism in Rogers.

She said demand is rising across the country for farm and country-style getaways.  Arkansas has such variety in terrain and agriculture that the trend could open a new segment of tourism in the state.  The state has wineries, orchards, row crops, vegetable farms, trout and catfish farms and cattle ranches.

Darrell and Ellen Dalton, owners of Pumpkin Hollow at St. Francis (Clay County), started their farm in 1969.  Sixteen years ago the couple began offering hay rides, pig scrambles, corn mazes and gourd decorating.  Ellen Dalton said the farm now draws 15,000 to 20,000 visitors a year.

She said she and her husband were shocked to discover that even kids in largelry rural northeast Arkansas had never seen where a pumpkin grows, or a cow, or a horse, or a pig.

She said tourism accounts for half of the farm's annual income.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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