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Ag Tourism Hits Fever Pitch This Month

Ag Tourism Hits Fever Pitch This Month
Farmers near big towns cash in on willing customers.

There are fall pumpkin patches (some u-pick and some not) corn mazes (some haunted and some not) and other kinds of farm tours all over Indiana this month. October is the prime time for families to visit farms. All you need is the manpower to run tourism activities while you keep your eye on harvest and livestock.

One of the farms that makes it work and has done it for several seasons is Kelsay Farms near Whiteland. Only 25 minutes from Indianapolis and within 3 miles of an interstate exit, their 500-cow dairy is a perfect destination for someone wanting to introduce their kids to farm life and buy a pumpkin and maybe drink a milk shake all at the same time.

Real farm fun: Former Lt. Governor Becky Skillman was a strong proponent of ag tourism and visited Kelsay Farms several times.

The farm is open on weekends. It's also open during the week this week and next week since many schools on balanced calendars have one or two complete weeks off for fall break. Amy Kelsay, who manages the ag tourism while the rest of the family keeps daily farm operations going, knows that not everybody goes on long trips. She hopes to attract a family just looking for something to do on one of the days of fall break.

Kelsay's operation features a corn maze, tours of the milking operation, straw bales, pumpkin sales, and several snacks, including milk shakes. They typically hire high school students and other part-time help to work their activities. Admission is $8 per person, and covers everything but snacks or pumpkins if someone chooses to buy them.

While it's a good side business, coupled with spring tours for school children, it's also a way to tell the public about farming by getting them on a real farm. Amy Kelsay was one of the three farmers featured in the Soybean Glass Barn 'Meet a Farmer' virtual discussions at the Indiana State Fair this year.

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