Community Agriculture Alliance: Taking advantage of cultural heritage tourism opportunities
Steamboat Springs — What does visiting a historic site, eating a freshly baked muffin made from Yampa Valley wheat and sipping on a locally brewed beverage have to do with economic development? Quite a bit, it turns out. These are sought-after activities for heritage tourism, which is defined by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as traveling to experience the places and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past and present.
As the Colorado Tourism Office’s strategic plan for heritage tourism states, “Tourism is big business in Colorado, generating $7.3 billion in visitor spending and directly employing 138,400 residents throughout the state. Heritage travelers make up a healthy share of Colorado’s visitors and represent some of the most desirable tourists available; by spending money in localities off the beaten track, heritage travelers help spread economic benefits to rural areas.”
The Hayden Granary recently was featured on a panel at the Colorado Governors Conference on Tourism called “Activating Historic Places.” The session focused on how historic buildings and landscapes enable visitors to experience and discover connections to a place. Ideally, stories from the past — along with historic ranches, facilities and places to explore — combine with local food and beverages to satisfy all five senses.
Our Yampa Valley is poised for this travel trend, which particularly is appealing to international visitors. This is something our family has witnessed when foreign visitors have explored our ranch and granary. The highlight of their travels often turns out to be discovering an egg under one of our hens or learning how grains were mixed from the massive, wooden storage bins. We have treasures right here in our region that need to be showcased and stories that need to be told.
The Community Agriculture Alliance spearheaded the Northwest Colorado Cultural Heritage Tourism program, a five-county, regional effort that explores the places, activities and food of our part of the state. We consider the Yampa Valley and its agricultural heritage as a premier niche for the heritage traveler. The more we can connect our local food producers to visitors touring our region, along with providing opportunities such as overnight ranch stays and agricultural tours, the more we can utilize assets that already exist to leverage the attraction of heritage travelers to our region.
It’s hard to imagine that international travelers would love to pay to help us fix fences, pick strawberries and feed livestock, but we have what we need right here to capture this emerging travel trend.
Tammie Delaney is an adviser to the Community Agriculture Alliance board of directors and past Community Agriculture Alliance co-chair. The Delaneys own and operate the Hayden Granary and Wild Goose Coffee at the Granary.
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When Steamboat Springs Middle School band director James Knapp saw a production of “Matilda” performed on Broadway, he knew he wanted to bring a version of it to town.