Got a free afternoon that needs filling? Say hello to an emerging form of entertainment: “agritainment.” Guaranteed to get you outside, soaking up the sun and enjoying some pastoral scenery, this fun way to spend a day is steeped in wholesome Americana. If this sounds idyllic to you, pull up a chair — let’s explore agritainment and, in a broader scope, agritourism.
When you think of a farm, you probably think of rows of corn, seeds popping through the soil, farm animals, and the men and women who work the fields. Historically, farms have existed in a largely utilitarian sense. Their main goal has been to produce healthy crops or raise animals to feed the population while, naturally, making a living at the same time.
However, with advances in technology, the agriculture industry has become more and more industrialized. So, modern farms have had to adapt to offset any loss of income. And one way some farms are doing so is through agritourism.
What is the difference between agritourism and agritainment?
According to the University of California’s Small Farm Program, agritourism is defined as “a commercial enterprise at a working farm, ranch, or agricultural plant conducted for the enjoyment of visitors that generates supplemental income for the owner.” Agritourism, as the name suggests, attracts a large number of tourists. For example, a guest ranch experience would likely bring out-of-towners to a farm.
What is agritainment, then? Well, it’s a variation of agritourism that is designed to draw locals in with various attractions. The sky is really the limit here — outside of any pertinent rules and regulations governing local business, a farm can get creative. Popular agritainment options include things like u-pick fruit and veggies, corn mazes, hayrides, pumpkin patches, petting zoos, and cooking classes.
Many farms capitalize on holidays to ramp up their agritainment enterprise, offering Christmas markets or haunted houses.
What are some examples of agritainment destinations?
Schnepf Farms — located 45 minutes southeast of downtown Phoenix, Arizona — epitomizes agritainment with year-round attractions. Every Thursday through Sunday in October, they host a “Pumpkin & Chili Party,” which includes fall activities like a 4-acre corn maze and fall-themed food. In February 2020, they’ll host a sky lantern experience inspired by the traditional Thai Lantern Festival (yes, like the scene in Tangled). And each Easter, they hide hundreds of eggs for a massive hunt.
Plus, you can almost always stop by for a sweet treat from the bakery, some fresh produce, and your fill of farm-fresh-air. Their motto? “We grow fun here.”
You’re probably more familiar than you realize with one of the country’s most iconic agritainment locales: Knott’s Berry Farm in Southern California. Yep! It’s hard to believe it from the size of the amusement park today, but it started as a traditional u-pick berry farm offering basic attractions before growing into a major entertainment destination.
Farms are still vitally important to communities, so it’s in everyone’s best interest for them to thrive. But given today’s industrialized agricultural climate, family farms need to supplement their profits (in order to keep the farm running). Per the Penn State Agriculture Extension, more than 50,000 farms with receipts of nearly $1 billion in earnings reported last year that a portion of that income came from agritainment.
From a consumer standpoint, it gives us all a chance to step away from whatever screen is hijacking our attention span. We have the opportunity to learn something new, get our hands a little dirty, and have fun in a way that has less to do with “being connected” and more to do with actual human connection.