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Guide to Appalachian food and farms unveiled

By By Marta Tankersley
Staff writer

Dozens of locations in West Virginia will be part of the Bon Appetit Appalachia map-guide, which was unveiled at the Capitol Market on Tuesday by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and others.

The map-guide, accessible in print and online at visitappalachia.com, is designed to help tourists discover the food, farms and flavors of Appalachia and encourage economic development throughout the region.

Complied over the past year through a nomination process in cooperation with the Appalachian Regional Commission, the state Division of Tourism, the state Department of Agriculture and local convention and visitors bureaus, the print version “features over 282 locations within Appalachia -- 21 of them are in West Virginia,” West Virginia Tourism Commissioner Amy Shuler Goodwin said.

“It showcases farms, farmers markets, and culinary destinations,” she said. “People come into an area and want to know, where’s the best place to eat. This map-guide helps answer those questions.”

The interactive guide, with about 650 destinations and the recent subject of a Food Traveler magazine feature article, has information from 13 Appalachian states in several categories including craft breweries and spirits, farmers markets, farm-to-fork restaurants, festivals and events, and wineries and vineyards.

“We know that these maps work,” said Appalachian Regional Commission Federal Co-Chairman Earl F. Gohl at Tuesday’s event. “This isn’t our first rodeo.”

Gohl cited the success of the Civil War Trail and Drive Appalachia map-guides which increased tourism and promoted economic development.

“They identify opportunities and venues for tourists,” he said. “The idea is to grow the food economy -- farm to table -- and promote local entrepreneurs who are taking the risks and promoting jobs.”

Map-guide search tools on the website allow users to narrow their results down to one state and one category. A click on a map-guide icon, and the name and address of the establishment pops up. Click again, and a description, contact information and hours pop onto the screen.

“These maps are easy to read and easy to use,” Goodwin said.

Maps will be inserted into the summer issue of Food Traveler magazine and will be available nationwide. They will also be available at welcome centers in each of the 13 Appalachian states, Gohl said.

“Tourism is big business,” Tomblin said. “According to Mandala Research, nearly 80 percent of all leisure travelers list dining and other culinary activities as a top priority.

“Agri-tourism is a way to attract tourists to the state where they can experience our homegrown products,” he said.

Reach Marta Tankersley at marta.tankersley@wvgazette.com, 304-348-1249 or follow @MartaRee on Twitter.


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