PAOLA — With 33 registered agritourism sites, Miami County is making a name for itself throughout the state as a destination for those looking for entertainment in a rural environment.

Sue Stringer, state Byways and Agritourism Manager, told Paola Rotary Club members during their Jan. 30 meeting that Miami County actually had more agritourism sites than any other county in Kansas until recently being passed by Douglas County.

Stringer, who grew up southwest of Lane and has family who lives in Paola, said agritourism continues to grow in popularity as people living in the Kansas City area realize they don’t have to travel far to experience farm life in places like Miami County.

That can mean big bucks for the local economy, she said, especially if visitors spend the night.

“On average, overnight travelers spend $355 during their trip,” she said during her presentation.

Stringer encouraged local agritourism operations to register with the state to gain advantages, including a layer of limited liability protection. Operators can register their business, and view those already registered, online at www.kansas agritourism.com.

Stringer talked about elements of a good agritourism business, including using signs and displays to educate visitors.

Offering something unique also helps. Stringer used the example of zombie paintball, which has become extremely popular in Hodgeman County, Kansas.

A few local agritourism business representatives attended the Paola Rotary Club meeting to listen to Stringer’s presentation and ask her questions.

Jana Barcus of Better Equine, Scott Shappell of Netherfield Natural Farm, Mike Hursey of Casa Somerset, and Sara Schram, who would like to start a maple farm on her rural property north of Lewis-Young Park, all took advantage of the learning opportunity.

Editor and Publisher Brian McCauley can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or brian.mccauley@miconews.com.

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