Attraction Profile

The farm parks and attractions market is incorporating more and more ride and attraction technology into its mix, with some of the more successful parks investing heavily in licensed IP and new features in a bid to extend their appeal and grow their catchment. Ronnie Dungan stuck on his

wellies to speak to a number of well-known farms and check the lie of the land….

“The farm parks and rural attractions sector is growing as more and more people discover the delights of a family day out at a local farm park. NFAN has 200 farm and rural attraction members who welcome millions of visitors each year and host thousands of school visits. NFAN members come in all shapes and sizes including farm shops, garden centres and other rural venues who have play areas and farm animal enclosures. NFAN welcomes members who are thinking of developing the visitor attraction side of their business.”

Get on my land! D

espite the poor market conditions, pressure on pricing and changing retail habits, creating an upsurge of farmers moving out of agriculture and into

the attractions market over the last 20 years or so, the concept of the farm attraction is by no means a new thing. Generally considered to be America’s oldest theme park, Knottsberry Farm started off as a farm in the 1920s before transitioning over a 20-year period into a fledgling public attraction and is now one of the country’s best established parks. Here in the UK there are an estimated 400 farms and rural

attractions bringing in 20m visits annually. It’s a booming business and it may yet become an option for many more farmers who are likely to be affected by the disappearance of their subsidies once the UK walks away from the EU.

David Leon of trade association the National Farm

Attractions Network (NFAN), says the body has been helping to establish best practice for the sector since it was established in 1996 and in 2012 created an industry code of practice. “The National Farm Attractions Network assisted the HSE

in creating the Industry Code of Practice, which provides guidelines on how visitors to farm and rural attractions should interact with animals. The NFAN now help members interpret the guidelines with workshops and one-on-one member discussions. NFAN has also produced a helpful video demonstrating best practice. The body also has an active trade members section and

organises an annual conference and trade show each year for suppliers to the industry to showcase their products and services to members. But the leap from working farm to working park attraction is not inconsiderable and while in many cases it may have been born out of necessity rather than choice, it’s not an easy transition from one completely unrelated industry to another. Zoe Wright, head of marketing at Folly Farm in Wales,

explains how it came to make the change: “Milk quotas in the 1980s were placing a strain on the dairy farm and so diversification was considered into an educational attraction where visitors could see the cows being milked. The attraction went from strength to strength and in the early 2000s the farm business was scaled back. “In the late 1990s we started adding fairground rides

largely because the director was a fan and loves the idea of restoring these old rides but also because we recognised the need to offer something a bit different to extend the day and provide something undercover. We started off small with one barn with a couple of rides and then slowly added

28 APRIL 2017

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