Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch has announced that the nation’s foremost agritourism convention is coming to Indiana in 2019. Hosted by the Indiana Office of Tourism Development (IOTD), the Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) and Hamilton County Tourism, the North American Farmers’ Direct Marketing Association, Inc. (NAFDMA) convention will take place February 1-7, 2019, and consist of educational sessions, workshops, a business exchange, and farm tours around the state. Agritourism operators attend NAFDMA to get critical tools, tips and information to help them better market and grow their businesses. Their membership is comprised of u-pick fruit and vegetable farms, wineries, farmer’s markets, destination dairies, tree farms and the like.
“We are excited to welcome NAFDMA to the Hoosier State,” said Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch. “I’m privileged to serve as Indiana’s Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development and oversee the Office of Tourism Development, and today’s announcement emphasizes the value we place on this sector. Agritourism is a vital part of our state’s economy and appeal and we look forward to the opportunity to host the 2019 convention.”
NAFDMA is a membership-based association dedicated to advancing farm direct marketing and the agritourism industry. As the association’s flagship event, the annual convention will take place at the soon-to-open Embassy Suites Conference Center in Noblesville and bring together agritourism operators from all over the United States and Canada. “Given our rich agricultural heritage and the rise in demand for experiential travel among consumers, we recognize the tremendous growth potential of agritourism and believe our state is well positioned to deliver unique farm-based and food-based experiences,” said Mark Newman, IOTD’s Executive Director. “After attending the 2016 conference and engaging in extensive conversations with staff and board members, it became clear that NAFDMA and Indiana’s priorities aligned. Activities that bring authentic local flavor experiences and working landscape experiences to consumers are important to both of us.”
The 2018 convention will be held in Orange County, California. In an effort to ensure members get a glimpse of businesses located all over North America, the convention moves to a different region each year. Last year over 400 NAFDMA members attended the convention in Mystic, Connecticut. “NAFDMA’s decision to choose Indiana, and Hamilton County, for its 2019 meeting underscores what a player the state and Central Indiana are in agritourism,” said Brenda Myers, President/CEO of Hamilton County Tourism. “Central Indiana is home to a number of agriculturally-themed attractions that pay tribute to our state’s heritage. We are thrilled this prestigious group will bring some of the nation’s biggest and best agritourism operators to the state for sharing.”
This announcement comes on the heels of the recently launched Indiana Culinary and Agritourism Strategy, which was developed by IOTD and ISDA to advance culinary tourism and agritourism as an economic driver for Indiana. According to ISDA, Indiana has more than 300 farms across the state that engage in some form of agritourism.
Interim ISDA Director Melissa Rekeweg said, “Agriculture is part of our state’s identity and legacy, which is why we’re thrilled to host the nation’s foremost agritourism convention in Indiana in 2019. Our agritourism destinations continue to bring together farmers and countless families across the U.S., and having this convention in Indiana not only allows us to showcase these operations, but also discover new ways to grow this important sector of our rural economy.” Rekeweg added that the timing of this announcement is particularly exciting since it follows the recently released Indiana Culinary and Agritourism Strategy, which was developed by ISDA and the Indiana Office of Tourism Development to advance culinary tourism and agritourism as an economic driver for Indiana.