The rise of agritainment/agritourism

We got our start in the agritainment/agritourism industry back in 1994 when we were approached by a dairy farm in Massachusetts about developing an agritourism destination for them. Our feasibility study was positive and Davis Farmland, a children's discovery farm, was born a few years later. It started small and we've worked with them every year since to grow their business. Davis Farmland has continually expanded and grown to become a major destination for families with young children in the western Boston area. In 1998 Davis Mega Maze was born across the street from Davis Farmland and last year it was transformed into the Davis Mega Farm Festival, a beer, wine, food and music festival. These two agritainment businesses now support the Davis's entire 7th generation farm.

Davis Farmland and Davis Mega Farm Festival are just two examples of what has become a large and diverse farm- and ranch-based leisure and hospitality industry. Agritainment, which is used to describe business that are more local in nature and agritourism, which is part of the tourism industry, include a wide variety of farm-based consumer businesses including:

  • Fall corn mazes & pumpkin patch
  • Farm markets
  • U-pick
  • Children's discovery farms
  • Fishing and hunting
  • Farm bed-and-breakfast
  • Horseback riding
  • Farm-to-table dinners and tastings
  • Farm festivals
  • Farm tours
  • Farm concerts
  • U-cut Christmas trees
  • Halloween haunts
  • Wineries
  • Cider mills
  • Farm milking & production tours

According to the most recent USDA Census of Agriculture, 2012 agritainment/agritourism revenues exceeded $2.0 billion. However, based on its rather narrow definition of agritainment/agritourism, the survey misses a substantial portion of the revenues. Actual revenues would be multiples of that amount if a broader definition were used and would easily indicate an industry as large as the bowling industry.

Entertainment-oriented agritainment has become a big business in the fall with in excess of 1,000 corn maze/pumpkin patch farm venues that contain multiple attractions in addition to their corn mazes, u-pick pumpkin patches and hay rides. That part of the industry alone may well exceed $2.0 billion in revenues. Many of these Fall agritainment venues attract hundreds of thousands of admission-paying customers and gross millions of dollars in less than the two months before Halloween.

Our company has had the privilege to work with many different agritainment/agritourism farms of all types on just about every aspect of developing, operating and growing the business including feasibility, master planning, design, food and beverage, branding and marketing. We've had the opportunity to work with a number of the largest and most successful agritainment/agritourism farms throughout the U.S. over the past 24 years. We continue to be amazed at how entrepreneurial, creative and what great business operators farmers are.