Walking down the barn aisle

An American ag group promotes on-farm wedding venues

By Jim Algie
Better Farming

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture wants a bigger slice of the US$72-billion American wedding industry spending to be directed to local farms. So, the agency has kicked off an active campaign to encourage publicity for the state’s 650 agri-tourism destinations.

In early April, Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles announced the first “Kentucky Proud” wedding contest with a $5,000 grand prize for couples posting a qualifying photo or video on social media by June 30. Entrants must post photos with the hashtag #KYProudWeddings and tag a “Kentucky Proud” vendor or member.

The grand prize winner will be announced in July, an agriculture department statement said.

Kentucky Proud is the state’s marketing program for agricultural products. It provides farm and vendor members with access to marketing advice and promotional assistance through grants and promotional spending, a heavily promoted logo and website listings. The wedding contest, announced April 10, highlights the state’s Kentucky Proud Weddings website.

The site, launched in February, features over 80 venues ranging from market gardens to horse farms, distilleries and wineries.

farm wedding
    tomtom022/iStock/Getty Images Plus photo

At Evans Orchard, a fruit and vegetable operation on a former tobacco farm in Georgetown, weddings are among many events provided by Kevan and Sue Evans and their daughter, Jenny, for over 10 years. A barn renovated in 2014 provides 4,300 sq. ft. of space and banquet-style seating for 200 guests at a basic package price of US$5,000.

Lexington-area horse breeder and trainer Bob Coleman has a wedding chapel on his Smokey Valley horse farm. He offers horse-drawn carriage rides and has a 30-stall barn near riding trails for equine-inclined couples.

At Jeptha Creed Distillery near Shelbyville, distiller Joyce Nethery and her Scottish-educated daughter, Autumn, make vodka, whisky and moonshine from crops produced on the adjacent Nethery Family Farm. The family also offers wedding rental space in their 1,760 sq. ft. clubhouse and 5,000 sq. ft. patio.

“We are excited about this opportunity to raise awareness of all the great products and services that Kentucky Proud members have to offer,” Quarles said in his April 10 statement. BF

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