W. Va. Department of Agriculture accepting agritourism nominees

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. — The West Virginia Department of Agriculture is seeking entries for the 2014 agritourism media awards.

These annual awards celebrate and recognize excellence in advertising and promotion of West Virginia agritourism destinations and attractions. Deadline for submissions is Feb. 14. There is no entry fee.

Winners will be honored at the West Virginia Small Farms Conference at The Waterfront Hotel in Morgantown, Feb. 27-March 1.

West Virginia Agriculture Commissioner Walt Helmick says development and recognition of agritourism as a niche farm market is critical.

“The economic impact of tourism in West Virginia was $5.1 billion in 2012. Interest in attractions, events and activities associated with our farms and rural communities is high,” he said. “We have seen investment, growth and development in the agritourism sector and celebrate marketing excellence throughout West Virginia.”

Media categories include brochures, rack cards, photos, websites and social media campaigns. Ribbons will be presented during the conference luncheon Feb. 27.

Qualifications

Examples of qualified West Virginia agribusiness awards include pick-your-own and orchard operations, wineries/breweries/distilleries, agricultural fairs or festivals, hay mazes and bed and breakfast operations.

New competition categories this year include “West Virginia Bed & Breakfasts” and “Excellence in Agritourism Social Media Campaigns.”

“The addition of bed and breakfast operations acknowledges their contribution to the agritourism economy and the social media campaign category highlights the importance of this marketing tool to enterprise success,” Helmick said.

More than 38 percent of travel planning now takes place online. Agritourism operators need to consider this a critical component of their overall marketing plan.

Entry materials should be mailed to WVDA Parkersburg Field Office, 1412 Blizzard Drive, Parkersburg, WV 26101, and be postmarked no later than Feb. 14. Entries will be displayed for the duration of the Small Farms Conference and submissions and ribbons will be mailed back afterward.

For entry forms or additional information, contact WVDA Marketing Specialist-Promotions Debra Gard at 304-483-4027, or emaildgard@wvda.us. For more information about the Small Farms Conference, visit http://smallfarmcenter.ext.wvu.edu/conference.

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