What do Quilt Gardens in northern Indiana and Farm Art in southern Wisconsin have in common with Barn Voyage! in Bucks County, PA, and the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s Driving tour in southern West Virginia? They are all the result of rural communities developing new tourism offerings and branded experiences that feature the unique heritage of their area. They clearly illustrate that if you don’t have it, make it!
The Quilt Gardens are made up of more than a million vibrant blooms, gigantic gardens planted to resemble the quilts that are painted on local barns. Together, they have created an award-winning visitor experience available from May through September. For 10 days every year, farmers in Reedsburg, Wisconsin feature their hand made gigantic cows, farm machinery with stained glass windows, flying pigs made of straw, pasture performances, and roadside poetry.
Butler County in rural western Pennsylvania realized the community had 15 unique barns, the oldest dating from 1805, that would enable visitors to smell freshly cut hay, hear cows mooing in the pastures, and see tractors tilling fields, all on a leisurely Sunday drive in the county.
Rural Bucks County took things one step further with a Covered Bridge Trail, Historic Stone Homes Trail, and a Quaker Meeting House Trail, along with Barn Voyage! to get visitors out to deliver economic impact to small towns throughout the county.
There’s no end to the experiences that can be created. San Diego has a 59 mile Follow the Seagulls Trail, Maryland, a Frederick Douglass Driving Tour, Georgia, an Antebellum Trail, and Texas, a massive network of trails featuring the heritage of every region of the state.
All these great examples clearly point out if your community doesn’t have enough to attract more visitors, new offerings can be created by combining the resources and assets that are available. In fact, visitors will appreciate that you have done their research for them and created new experiences that let them get out, enjoy, and relax, without a lot of work on their part.