Miss-Lou ag industry sees success, little growth

Published 12:01 am Monday, August 1, 2011

NATCHEZ — Whether it’s picking blueberries at Second Creek Blueberry Farms, watching how cotton is picked at Frogmore Plantation or tasting wine at the Old South Winery, the Miss-Lou’s agritourism industry has enjoyed plenty of success, with very few residents jumping on board.

In an area full of resources, Adams County Extension Service Director David Cater said the agritourism industry could grow to be a vital part in the Miss-Lou’s economy.

“That is one thing all the cities are missing out on — the natural environment,” he said. “We don’t have a ton of agritourism in the area, but we could.”

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That’s why a few locals will be attending agritourism sessions at a regional tourism summit from Aug. 9-11 in Oak Grove, La.

“This is something that is new to the AgCenter,” LSU AgCenter Concordia Parish County Agent Nan Huff said. “They are trying to promote agritourism, and I will be attending to learn all I can, so that I can bring back what I learned and share it with the parishes.”

Representatives from the LSU AgCenter, that Atchafalaya National Heritage Area and Louisiana North will be on hand to provide information to those in attendance about agritourism, and Huff said anyone wanting to attend the event is eligible to go.

“A lot of farmers may have something on their land that they can expand on to bring tourists in,” she said. “There are a lot of different opportunities for agritourism.”

Carter said agritourism can involve many different things, but most people don’t know what the industry entails.

“Some are educational, some are for luxury and some are just for observation and entertainment,” he said.

Carter said a pay-to-fish-area a pumpkin patch and a corn maze are all different forms of agritourism.

“The biggest untapped resource we have in our area is our wildlife and outdoors,” he said. “Hunting, fishing, canoeing and kayaking are all untapped gold mines we have in the Miss-Lou.”

Carter said one of the biggest agritourism forms going on right now is building bird sanctuaries.

“It may not seem like they would be, but people really love bird sanctuaries,” he said. “St. Catherine Creek’s bird sanctuary is one of the best one’s around.”

Along with agritourism, the summit will also feature information on many other ways to bring tourists to your area.

Delta Music Museum Director Judith Bingham and Natchez Convention and Visitor’s Bureau liaison Sally Durkin will even be giving presentations on how to promote tourism during the summit.

The cost of the summit is $150 for all three days or $75 for one day. Anyone wanting to attend can register at www.srdc.msstate.edu/misslou. Anyone wanting more information on the trip can contact Huff at 318-336-5315.