Editor's corner: welcome to Agritainment Today

Welcome to our inaugural issue of Agritainment Today. For our new readers who are not familiar with our company, the White Hutchinson Leisure & Learning Group, we specialize in feasibility, design and consulting for location-based leisure and learning facilities, many of which are family-oriented agritainment and agri-tourism attractions.

We have been working in the agritainment and agritourism attraction industry for over 12 years from our headquarters in the heartland, Kansas City, Missouri. During those years, we have seen a continual growth in the agritainment industry. As many traditional farming operations have become unprofitable, some farmers are switching from producing commodities to producing and selling farm experiences to the public. Our work with agritainment facilities has likewise grown. For years we have produced our Leisure eNewsletter for the location-based entertainment industry, which includes what are referred to as entertainment farming, agritainment or agritourism attractions. That ezine has grown to be a highly read and respected newsletter in the location-based entertainment industry. Much of our coverage in that ezine has been just as applicable to agritainment as it has been to more traditional entertainment-oriented facilities. However, there are many issues that are unique to agritainment attractions that we can't cover in the Leisure eNewsletter. So, to better serve the agritainment industry, we have decided to launch this e-newsletter.

We hope to publish on a quarterly basis. To keep our independence in offering you unbiased advice, we accept no advertising in our e-newsletter and maintain our company policy of not selling products or accepting commissions or rebates from suppliers. As such, Agritainment Today is a labor of love, as are our other free e-newsletters. Accordingly, publication is dependent on our work schedules and my travel schedule, as the majority of my writing is done at about 35,000 feet.

We hope you will find Agritainment Today of value. If you don't wish to receive future issues, there is a simple opt out link at the very bottom of this ezine. And if you do find it of value, we hope you will tell your colleagues. They can sign up at

www.whitehutchinson.com/subscribe/agrinews/

Among articles in this first issue is in-depth coverage about the safe design and operation of animal petting areas. The recent E. coli 0157 outbreak at three Florida fairs has received wide press coverage and fueled parents' concerns about their children's contact with animals at petting zoos and farms. An outbreak at an agritainment facility can result in dire consequences for its owner, as parents can boycott the facility and possibly put it out of business. Furthermore, every outbreak increases parents' fears and reluctance to visit agritainment facilities that have animals, and this hurts the entire industry.

There is probably no more popular agritainment attraction for young children than animals they can interact with. Petting animals can be safe if the animals are housed in properly designed and operated areas. However, I continue to be shocked at the lackadaisical attitude of many farmers about the possibility of an E. coli 0157 outbreak at their facility. Their failure to follow recommended standards to avoid such an incident could have disastrous consequences to their business, as well as some of their guests, especially young children.

What every agritainment operator needs to recognize is that just one farm outbreak of E. coli can hurt the entire industry. That is why we feel it is so important to feature the article. All our agritainment clients operate very successful facilities, and they all have petting animals. We don't want to see some substandard farm petting area result in damage to their businesses, as well as the industry as a whole.

Agritainment Today is also available by RSS (real simple syndication, see story below).

We would love to hear your thoughts on our first issue. Please don't hesitate to contact me.

Randy White
Editor
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