INDIANAPOLIS — A hot topic at the recent Indiana
Horticultural Congress and Trade Show was agriculture and culinary tourism
around the state.
Mark Newman, the executive director for the Indiana Office
of Tourism Development, said tourism in general in Indiana is a $10.1 billion
“Indiana is sixth in tourism. It takes 382 visitors to fund
one job, which is pretty significant considering there are 70 million visitors
who travel in and out of the state,” he said.
When discussing ag and culinary tourism, he said one should
talk about them together because they connected.
“It’s hard to talk about one without the other,” Newman
said, adding that both of the industries connect Indiana’s regions, communities
More than 300 Hoosier farms, he noted, generate money for
“The state has built a reputation on ag and culinary
tourism,” Newman said, adding that 78 percent of people choose leisure travel
destinations that combine activity with food.
He said that close to 83 percent of people enjoy learning
about the local culture and cuisine of the destinations they visit.
“It’s not just about great food — it’s about having a great
food in a great place,” he said.
Some places and activities that draw visitors to Indiana,
Newman said, include the 31 covered bridges in Parke County, the persimmon
festival in Lawrence County, where the focus is all things persimmon, and Bell
Aquaculture in Albany, which is the largest producer of yellow perch.
Another huge agritourism site in the state, he said, is Fair
Oaks Farm, where people who are several generations removed from farming can
witness a calf being born and then walk over to the café and enjoy a freshly
made milkshake and grilled cheese sandwich.
Along with the addition of the Legacy Farm Pig Adventure, he
said Fair Oaks has its eyes set on ventures with hens and beef cattle.