Alain D’Aoust is seeking businesses to join the Eastern Ontario Agri-Food Network’s summer farm and art tour, scheduled for Sept. 5 to 7. Van Dusen photo

L’ORIGNAL – The Eastern Ontario Agri-Food Network is getting a head start on its new September attraction by promoting its 2020 Agri-Art Tour at various events this winter.

Based in l’Orignal, the Prescott-Russell counties seat, the network has decided to combine past independent farm and art tours into one big production covering Prescott-Russell, Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry, Ottawa, Cornwall and the Mohawk Community of Akwesasne. The event is set for Sept. 5, 6 and 7.

The objective at this stage, said network staff member Alain D’Aoust, is to search out and sign up farm and food business hosts for the tour at a registration fee of $150 each. D’Aoust described the network and tour concept while manning a booth at the recent Eco Farm Day in Cornwall.

The agri-food network is a non-profit organization dedicate to coordinating development of the agri-food sector in the eastern region while fostering dialogue between members and partners and increasing marketing of their products.

Tour hosts must be prepared to greet visitors for the long-weekend event, including offering activities resulting in an “unforgettable experience that will serve to promote the region’s food assets.” In partnership with hosts, vendors and artists will set up in the various sites to form a “market-style” experience.

A tour map will be published identifying each destination and products available at each. The agri-food network will act as marketing coordinator and, in conjunction with tourism agencies, will work to attract visitors from outside the immediate area.

The network has set down criteria for hosts, vendors and artists. Along with farms, suggested compatible hosting businesses are craft breweries and restaurants. Participating hosts will receive visitors at no charge, act as primary liaison with the network, be listed on the map, erect roadside signs, recruit vendors, artists and volunteers, provide bathrooms and an entrance kiosk, and donate a $20 gift certificate for a series of draws.

Meanwhile, vendors will be responsible for equipment required for their stations, work under direction of their host, and provide a $20 gift certificate. Participating artists – including musicians and actors – will also provide the gift certificate, display and sell their products, engage in live art and music demonstrations, and work under direction of their host.

D’Aoust said the network is hoping the tour is well received and becomes a major promotional tool for members.

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