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Play, Learn and Grow at the 2010 Georgia Agritourism Conference Nov. 3-5 By April Reese Sorrow

The 2010 Georgia Agritourism Conference, “Play, Learn, Grow,” will be held Nov. 3 - 5 at the Dillard House in Rabun County, Ga.

Educational breakout sessions and networking opportunities highlight this year’s event. Dan Cathy, chief operating officer of Chick-fil-A, has been invited to end the conference with a keynote address Friday, Nov. 5, at noon.

The conference celebrates the newly formed Georgia Agritourism Association and will include the organization’s first official meeting.

The conference will begin after lunch on Wednesday, Nov. 3. Sessions and exhibits will include current information from agritourism experts. The schedule is designed to teach entrepreneurs the basics of building and sustaining agritourism enterprises including business planning, insurance and liability, budgeting, financing options, estate planning and legal issues facing agritourism operations. A session on the use of social media to effectively build business will also be offered.

Marketing specialists from the University of Georgia Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development will discuss effective marketing strategies. Free marketing resources, like Market Maker, will be presented as well as information on loans and financing programs.

Barbecue and a bonfire are planned for a casual Wednesday dinner.

Thursday afternoon tours of Rabun County agritourism sites will include visits to the Kudzu Factory and Persimmon Creek Vineyards, among others. Georgia’s agriculture and tourism industries will host newly-elected legislators for a “Georgia Farm-to-Table” dinner on Thursday night.

Early bird registration is $125 before October 22 and $165 after. Registration includes meals, tours and materials. Organizations can exhibit for $250, but limited space is available. Varying sponsorship levels are available. Visit www.areg.caes.uga.edu for online or mail-in registration and sponsorship information.

A special conference-lodging rate of $89 per night, which has been extended through the weekend, is available by calling the Dillard House at 1-800-541-0671 or by visiting www.dillardhouse.com .

The conference is hosted and sponsored by the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, the Georgia Resource Conservation and Development Council, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission, Georgia Farm Bureau, Georgia Center for Agriculture Innovation, Georgia Center for Local Government, Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, UGA Cooperative Extension, Georgia Department of Economic Development Tourism Division, the Rock Ranch, Jaemor Farms, Hillcrest Orchards, AgGeorgia Farm Credit, Rabun County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Northeast Georgia Mountains Travel Association, Georgia Agribusiness Council and C7 Marketing and Sales Solutions.

(April R. Sorrow is a science writer with the University of Georgia Public Affairs Office.)

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