1 March 2002

HAVE YOU GOT A WINNING FARM-BASED ATTRACTION?

Do you have a farm-based attraction thats open to the public? Then enter

the NFAN/farmers weekly/LloydsTSB Farm Attraction of the Year competition.

David Cousins explains whats involved

THERES nothing new about opening up your farm to the paying public. Some entrepreneurial types started doing it decades ago. But what was once a minority sport has now became a widely-practised way of boosting farming income or employing keen family members.

There can be little doubt theres a market for rural attractions. Survey after survey has shown that Britains mainly urban and suburban population likes nothing more than to get out in the countryside.

The huge increase in numbers of operators has made it difficult for the public to know whos offering a really good farm-based attraction and whos only playing at it.

Which is where this competition comes in. If you think youre doing a good job and the feedback from visitors is good, then make sure you enter this competition.

Weve called it the Jim Keetch Farm Attraction of the Year competition in memory of the man who founded the National Farm Attractions Network 20 years ago, but sadly died in 1998.

Whos it open to?

Farm attractions are difficult things to categorise, but the competition is basically aimed at any farm-based attraction thats open to the public. It could be a farm park, farm shop, rare breeds farm, vineyard, tearoom, restaurant, childrens adventure area, educational facility, golf-course or 4×4 track.

It doesnt matter whether youve been operating for 20 years or 20 weeks, whether youre large or small. It doesnt matter whether youre a member of the NFAN or not either.

To make things fairer, weve divided the competition into three size categories – big (over 50,000 visitors/year), medium (20,000-50,000 visitors/year) or small (under 20,000 visitors/ year).

The competition is open to all farm attractions in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

What will I be judged on?

When the time comes for the judging, well be looking for the following:

&#8226 How well laid-out is your farm attraction?

&#8226 How well is the safety of visitors looked after?

&#8226 How good are the facilities like cafes, washing areas and toilets?

&#8226 How well looked after are the animals, whether theyre rabbits, cows, owls or llamas?

&#8226 How helpful are the staff?

&#8226 How good is the parking?

&#8226 How much evidence is there of a professional and innovative approach?

&#8226 Above all, how enjoyable and informative an experience is it for the public, whether theyre adults or children?

Who are the judges?

Jackie Vinden, who with her husband Steve, runs Odds Farm Park, Beaconsfield; Tracey Fountain, past manager of Bowmans farm, London Colney; Phil Barker, Lloyds TSB; David Cousins, features editor of farmers weekly; and David Stanbridge from the English Tourism Council.

What is the prize?

There will be a winner and runner-up in each of the three categories. All six will receive a plaque and framed certificate as a record of their achievement at a presentation ceremony.

Will it cost me anything to enter?

No, just fill in the coupon on the bottom of this page and send it to NFAN, Victoria House, 31-33 Victoria Street, Kettering, Northants NN16 0BU . Please also include six copies of your brochure. Closing date is Mar 15, so youll need to move fairly quickly.

The National Farm Attractions Network represents UK farm attractions of all sizes and types. It provides a voice for this increasingly important part of the rural sector and represents farm attraction operators in negotiations with DEFRA, the tourism industry and statutory bodies. It also operates an advice line that provides guidance on accountancy, business rates, marketing, health and safety and planning. It can be contacted on 01536-513397.

ENTRY FORM

Id like to enter the Jim Keetch Farm Attraction of the Year Competition

First name …………………………….. Surname ……………………………………

Name of attraction ……………………………………………………………………..

Address ……………………………………………………………………………………

………………………………………………….. Postcode ……………………………

Tel no …………………………………… Web-site ……………………………………

Size category: Less than 20,0000 visitors/year

20,000-50,000 visitors/year

More than 50,000 visitors/year (tick one box)

Tell us briefly why your attraction should be Farm Attraction of the Year

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……………………………………………………………………………………………….

……………………………………………………………………………………………….

……………………………………………………………………………………………….

……………………………………………………………………………………………….

……………………………………………………………………………………………….

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We obviously need to ensure that all winners are doing it by the book, so please fill in the following:

Do you have: Yes No Not relevant

Public liability insurance?

Employers liability insurance?

Zoo licence?

Environmental health certificate?

First aid certificate?

Please send your completed form to: NFAN, Victoria House, 31-33 Victoria Street, Kettering, Northants NN16 0BU. Please also include six copies of your brochure. Closing date is Mar 15.

The popularity of farm-based attractions has never been greater.