Agritourism destinations across America and Canada are dealing with shutdowns, capacity limits, and mask mandates. These large outdoor destinations that have acres and acres of outdoor space for fruit picking, flower field photos, corn mazing, and more are some of the safest destinations in the world, offering social distance fun, sunshine and wide open spaces. But many state governors do not understand these family owned farm businesses. In some cases they make the mistake of lumping them into the same bucket as traditional entertainment venues forcing them to comply with over zealous mask mandates and capacity limits. Consider that during Spring 2020, Americans could go to Walmart or their local grocery to buy fresh flowers or their weekly produce without a mask, yet many Agritourism locations were prevented from opening as they were NOT deemed as “essential”.
In the face of these mandates, farmers are becoming creative. Adapt or die seems to be the best advice the government can give. Many farmers are abandoning traditional fall money makers for creative ideas that they hope can keep the doors of the barn open. Mapleside Farm in Brunswick, Ohio for example is creating a drive-in Halloween experience called “The Magic of Halloween”. On their website they describe the event as “a BRAND NEW, drive-up, multi-sensory experience features digital characters interacting with YOU, the audience, through state-of-the-art projection mapping, enveloping soundscapes and dazzling pixel lighting.”. Guests can even prepay for a package of farm food favorites of popcorn and apple cider donuts.
Stocker Farm’s nighttime attraction called Stalker Farm in Snohomish, Washington is working on a drive-thru haunted attraction. Washington State has had some of the most strict and dare we day draconian regulations. Governor Inslee clamped down on Agritourism activities with an executive order on August 21st, only to backtrack and update the regulations one week later after outcrys from farmers and guests alike. The level of micro regulation and management of these outdoor businesses in unprecedented in the United States. It is designed in such as way to deliver a crushing blow to these large outdoor venues. The full detail of the guidance can be found here.