The Wisconsin Agricultural Tourism Association today unveiled a roadside campaign to help interstate travelers find agricultural tourism opportunities all across the state. The announcement was made in partnership with the Department of Transportation, Disability Service Provider Network, Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and other agencies.
The signage campaign features large, red signs placed at rest areas across Wisconsin to point visitors to farms offering a wide range of outdoor and indoor experiences. Measuring 30 inches by 20 inches, the metal signs include a URL and QR code and are easily visible in heavily traveled spots at the rest areas. Their placement was made possible in collaboration with WisDOT, WATA and DSPN.
“Hundreds of farmers, wine growers, petting zoos, orchards and berry patches, and event barns welcome tens of thousands of visitors every year,” says WATA Executive Director Sheila Everhart. “They provide travelers with a chance to enjoy wonderful food, fun, education, relaxation and adventure. More and more, people want to know where their food and beverages, timber and fiber come from. Our farmers eagerly host them on their land and operations.”
Speakers also recognized the hardworking staff who maintain and operate more than two dozen rest area facilities across Wisconsin.
For more than three decades, WisDOT has partnered with DSPN to employ nearly 350 people to provide roadside facilities management services throughout Wisconsin. DSPN manages a statewide program consisting of 20 different local area service providers. Each service provider performs custodial and landscape maintenance at Wisconsin roadside facilities across the state.
“We’re grateful for our partnership with DSPN and the wonderful staff who work every day to maintain and operate our Wisconsin highway facilities,” says WisDOT Deputy Secretary Paul Hammer. “The traveling public rely on these facilities as a safe and convenient reprieve during a trip. Our facilities have a national reputation of being well maintained and safe thanks to the great work by these men and women.”
“I am so proud to join WisDOT, WATA and other agencies to acknowledge the teams working at Wisconsin roadside facilities,” says DSPN Chief Executive Officer Lisa Davidson. “Our network of service providers are on the front lines of enhancing tourism and commerce throughout Wisconsin. The Roadside Facilities program employs people of all abilities who maintain that great first impression of Wisconsin hospitality to millions of travelers. Their pride in these facilities is evident to all who visit Wisconsin, “America’s Agricultural Tourism Destination’.”
Across Wisconsin, there are 28 rest areas, 13 Safety Weight Enforcement Facilities, and 90 seasonal sites which includes: park and rides, parking turnouts, waysides, table sites, scenic overlooks, Historical Markers and Welcome Signs. Four rest areas include Convention and Visitors Bureaus within the building –Dickeyville, Grant County; Kenosha, Kenosha County; La Crosse, La Crosse County and Beloit, Rock County.
“Today, we thank the service providers who work at Wisconsin’s highway facilities as well as our partners who helped this roadside campaign become reality,” says DATCP Deputy Secretary Aileen Switzer. “Wisconsin’s agriculture industry contributes $104.8 billion annually to our state’s economy, and this roadside campaign will help share the story of our state’s producers, processors, and industry professionals.”
WisDOT takes pride in establishing pollinator and prairie areas at Wisconsin roadside facilities. Farmers need insects like monarchs and bumblebees to pollinate crops such as cherries, apples, and veggies. Much of our food relies on pollinators. The prairies at some Wisconsin rest areas contain more than 30 species of grasses and flowering plants including milkweed, Black-eyed Susans and purple coneflowers. The deep roots of these hardy native plants also provide superior erosion control and stormwater management while reducing maintenance costs.
Today’s news conference launched WATA’s two-year program to raise the visibility of Wisconsin as “America’s Agriculture Tourism Destination.” In July, the nonprofit organization will celebrate 30 years of serving its members through marketing, education, networking and advocacy on the local and state level. Visit wiagtourism.com for additional information and to find your next ag-adventure.
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