Promoting local arts, food and culture with rural driving tour

Since 2011, Michigan State University Extension has played a vital role in the development and continued success of the annual Arts and Eats event.

October 1, 2017 - Author: Mindy Tape

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Arts and Eats is a free self-driving tour of Allegan and Barry counties and the surrounding rural region. Partner organizations collaborate to bring tourists quality experiences in art, local food and agriculture in those little out-of-the-way places that beg to be discovered.

Since 2011, Michigan State University Extension has played a vital role in the development and continued success of this annual event. The tour has since expanded and now includes a tour passport and evaluation program to track visitors’ site satisfaction as well as a “Best Eats” competition featuring seasonal ingredients. There has been increased marketing and promotion of the tour, and resource development through grants, sponsorship and advertising.

MSU Extension has also taken the lead on development of a long-term strategic plan for tour sustainability and future expansion of the model to other regions across the state. The 2016 Arts and Eats tour:

  • Recorded over 1,000 sites visits.
  • Welcomed thousands of travelers from over 65 Michigan zip codes as well as from Wisconsin, Florida and Connecticut.
  • Included 25 art studios and galleries, four central venues, 14 eateries and eight farms.

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