Meeting brings agritourism ventures together

Mary Ann Van Osdell, St. Romain, Rose Anne, Pilcher, Dr. Cynthia F., Hatch, Dora Ann

News Release Distributed 08/13/09

MARKSVILLE, La. – Museums should attract, entertain, arouse curiosity, preserve history and culture and serve as a social resource for meetings, said Cliff Deal, director of museums for the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office.

“If you do nothing else, tell a story,” he said.

Deal was one of the presenters at the Miss-Lou Rural Tourism Association summit Aug. 11-13 that brought together representatives of businesses and local governments to explore marketing their rural communities as destinations for regional tourism.

As part of the meeting, participants toured the Louisiana 4-H Museum in nearby Mansura, La.

Rose Anne St. Romain, Louisiana 4-H Museum coordinator and a member of the board of the Miss-Lou Rural Tourism Association welcomed the group to the museum that officially opened July 18.

St. Romain said the museum’s artifacts represent the intangible attributes of 4-H that have molded youngsters into adults. Displays include vintage images and documents combined with high-tech exhibits.

The fourth annual agritourism event brought together about 80 individuals interested in promoting tourism in rural communities along the Louisiana-Mississippi border, said Dr. Cynthia Pilcher, LSU AgCenter community economic development agent.

The conference provided community and tourism leaders with skills they need to identify resources, create attractions and market rural tourism in the region, Pilcher said.

Dora Ann Hatch, LSU AgCenter community economic development agent, explained a new voluntary certification program to mitigate potential hazards and limit liability for certain Louisiana agritourism ventures.

The LSU Ag Center reviews the operational plans for Louisiana agritourism ventures and forwards them to the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry for certification, Hatch said.

The plan can be completed online at The Web site also includes an agritourism blog and newsletter, Hatch added.

Dwight Landreneau, associate vice chancellor of the LSU AgCenter and former assistant secretary of Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, described his work with establishing the Audubon Golf Trail in Louisiana. And other speakers discussed how they started the Kite Fest Louisiane in Port Allen and the Johnny Cash Flower Pickin’ Festival in Starkville, Miss.

“The South is more than New Orleans. Rural communities have a lot to offer,” said Lonnie Bridges, vice president of organizational and executive development at Paragon Casino, where the event was held.

“Don’t change your environment,” Bridges said. “Keep those things intact and showboat them. People come to Louisiana to see the South.”

The summit, which focused on the “Miss-Lou” area of eastern Louisiana and southwestern Mississippi situated along the Mississippi River, was sponsored by The LSU AgCenter, Mississippi State University Extension Service, AT&T of Louisiana, Avoyelles Parish Tourism Commission, Avoyelles Parish Police Jury, City of Marksville, Entergy of Louisiana, Kelone’s Catering, Le Bicentenniare de la Ville de Marksville Committee and the Southern Rural Development Center.

Louisiana parishes in the region include Avoyelles, Catahoula, Concordia, East Carroll, East Feliciana, Franklin, Madison, Point Coupee, Richland, St. Helena, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Tensas, Washington, West Carroll and West Feliciana.

Mary Ann Van Osdell

8/14/2009 1:40:59 AM
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