What do you call some farms? ‘Regional fall destinations’
The weather Saturday and Sunday was ideal for the first of two ‘Get Down on the Farm Days’ weekends, a new promotion by the Harrison County Convention and Visitors Bureau that invites residents and visitors to sample ‘agritourism destinations’ here.
Sean Hawkins, community development manager for the CVB, said last week he wasn’t sure how the promotion would work out this first year. But, ‘It’s a good chance to draw a lot of visitors to our county,’ he said.
Participants were Richmer Farms, Turtle Run Winery and The Fun Farm, all in the Lanesville area; Alpacas at Flatwoods Farm and Apple Valley Greenhouses, both near New Salisbury; Churchill Countryside Farm east of Depauw, and Scout Mountain Farms on Blue River west of Corydon.
Yesterday, Hawkins said the event sparked a ‘considerable amount of interest. It’s a positive sign that we have put something good together,’ he said.
Stating that it takes time to introduce anything new, Hawkins said the hope is to promote Harrison County as a ‘fall regional destination.’
‘The county is beautiful in the fall,’ he said. ‘We have the caves, the downtown (Corydon) looks great, and we have lots of festivals.’
But the group still has work to do.
‘I find that a lot of Harrison County residents don’t know about these places,’ Hawkins said.
Many do, though. Most of the customers at Richmer Farms on Saturday morning were Harrison Countians who visit the fifth-generation farm at least once a year. Richmer Farms was named a Hoosier Homestead Farm in the early 1980s.
Don Richmer was pleased with the number of visitors he had.
‘All in all, it was a good weekend,’ he said, although customers ‘trickled’ in, often one or two at a time. ‘It stayed steady. The weather seems to make a difference.’
Richmer, 45, offers four sizes of potted mums, an assortment of gourds, pumpkins of various sizes, and Indian corn. (In late spring, the farm offers strawberries.)
He encourages people ‘to get off the beaten path’ and visit places they’ve never been to before.
‘I’m probably one of the fastest, most convenient places to get to once you come across the bridge’ from Louisville, he said. The farm, located on Lazy Creek Road, is eight-tenths of a mile from the Crandall-Lanesville Road and about two miles from Corydon Ridge Road.
‘I’ve never been worried about people making the drive,’ Richmer said.
With the county’s growing interest in land preservation, Richmer said, ‘If people want their communities to stay this way, they need to get out here and support the farmers.’
Richmer’s wife, Debbie, and their children, Steven Coogle, 18, and Jessica Coogle, 13, help with farm duties, as does Don Richmer’s brother, David, and their parents, Wilbur and Helen Richmer.
Oscar and Mary Ann Blank of Lanesville have been going to the Richmer farm for about 10 years, buying produce. On Saturday, they were purchasing several containers of mums.
‘That’s our entertainment,’ decorating their property for the fall, said Mary Ann Blank. They also have a lot of container plants in the spring, she said.
Hawkins said Margaret Speaker of Apple Valley Greenhouses reported at least 40 new people visited their businesses south of New Salisbury over the weekend. Most said they heard about it through various promotions by the CVB, which included about 3,500 mailings, newspaper coverage and a TV appearance by Speaker and Hawkins on a morning show Friday.
While some of the participants in this new promotion are open during the week, all seven destination sites will be open the weekend of Oct. 2 and 3, which is also billed as ‘Get Down on the Farm Days.’
Richmer, who praised Hawkins for spearheading the new promotion, is encouraging the participants to meet together in late fall to discuss what worked about the promotion and how to better prepare for next year.
‘I think this is something the county could really build on,’ Richmer said.
Success of the program isn’t going to happen overnight, he added.
For more information about this promotion, call Hawkins at 738-2138.