W.Va. can make a great first impression

West Virginians sometimes forget how much we have to offer visitors. We take for granted the many things that make our state wild and wonderful, and it never occurs to us that travelers might consider those things worth visiting, and spending money.

An initiative by the state tourism bureau to create a West Virginia Food and Farm Trail highlights something that is so much a part of who we are, most would never dream that someone in, say, California or New York, would travel to be part of it. But they will.

“Our research has shown that travelers seek out real food and farm experiences – whether it’s picking your own fruits and vegetables at an area farm or enjoying dinner at a restaurant that uses fresh, locally sourced ingredients in its dishes,” Commissioner of Tourism Amy Shuler Goodwin said. “This new trail will highlight the authentic culinary experiences and growing agritourism industry that make our state unique.”

What the state needs now is “industry partners with food and farm related events, attractions and/or destinations” to submit applications to participate. Think outside the box on this one, folks. It may seem silly or strange – why would anyone want to drive 400 miles to pick apples at our orchard? – but Goodwin is right. Travelers are looking for experiences that do not match their daily lives. West Virginia has plenty that will seem downright exotic to people from other parts of the country.

A Food and Farm Trail in the Mountain State is a fantastic idea, and local farmers, restaurateurs, festival organizers and other business owners should consider applying to participate. A visitor to a local farm and restaurant may need to stay in a hotel, maybe go shopping for a bit and take in a show. Once they are here, travelers will find any number of things to make them want to come back.