UNION COUNTY — A tour that gives the public the opportunity to enjoy the arts while also learning about agriculture brought more than a thousand tourists to Union County over the course of a weekend in June.
Established in 2012, the South Carolina Ag + Art Tour is a free, self-guided tour of farms and artisans that gives the public the opportunity see where the food they eat comes from and learn more about rural life as well as enjoy live bluegrass and folk music and watch artists creating their works of art and even purchase those works.
A total of 11 counties participated in the 2017 Ag + Tour including Union County. The tours were held on the weekends in June taking place in different counties on different weekends. In Union County the tour was held the weekend of June 24-25 and included Fowken Farms, Jackson Farm Garden, Jonesville Veggie Patch, Piedmont Physic Garden, Three Horse Millling Company, Union County Farmers Market, Elle Bell Cafe, and Union County Carnegie Library. The activities offered at the different sites ranged from an Open Air Celebrations SC Beer Garden; demonstrations of horse-drawn grits and cornmeal grinding; and artisans performing music or working with various crafts.
Taken together, the sites on the tour and the activities offered for public enjoyment drew more than a thousand tourists during that weekend according to Ag + Art Chair Elise Ashby.
In a presentation to Union County Council Tuesday evening, Ashby reported that a total of 1,400 people took part in this year’s Ag + Art Tour in Union County. Ashby said that in most cases those attending signed in and put in their zip code, allowing the commission to determine how many visitors were from Union County and how many were from outside the county. She said that 600 of the tourists were Union County residents and 800 were from outside the county with a total of 33 zip codes represented.
Ashby said that counties participating in the tour had to pay a participation fee and that Union County’s fee was $3,514. She said this translated into Union County spending $2.51 per person who participated in the tour, a figure that she said will decrease as the tour continues to grow and attract more visitors to Union County.
In concluding her briefing, Ashby looked toward the future of the tour and new additions for next year.
“We’re looking forward to next year,” Ashby said. “We will be including Clemson Extension and their 4-H program. We will have more artists and, of course, the Union County Quilt Pattern Mosaic.”
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.