The Enquirer-Journal provided a well-written article by Heather Smith in its May 14 edition, entitled “Farming and Tourism.” Martha Glass, agritourism director for the N.C. Department of Agriculture, added her knowledge by offering personal comments to define the meaning of agritourism. She was quoted as saying agritourism “activities range from simple pick-your-own berry farms, to farm tours, to two or three days spent working on a farm along-side other tourists.”
I have personally spoken with Martha Glass on more than one occasion about how rodeos fit in agritourism. Glass skirted my question to the best of her ability, which I must say was very poor, but did finally say the word “rodeo” needed to be defined in the N.C. General Statute concerning agritourism. This is agritourism as defined by NC General Statute § 99E-30: “Any activity carried out on a farm or ranch that allows members of the general public, for recreational, entertainment or educational purposes, to view or enjoy rural activities, including farming, ranching, historic, cultural, harvest‑your‑own activities or natural activities and attractions. An activity is an agritourism activity whether or not the participant is paid to participate in the activity.”
People must stop and think where this so-called new word “agritourism” originated. Competition in different methods of handling cattle and horses came about from boredom during cattle drives and ranching activities in the western part of our country more than 200 years ago. There were cowboys (just as today) that believed they excelled much above their counterparts in horse and cattle handling skills. This is where the challenges began, first between cowboys within the particular ranch they worked for, then moving to ranch between neighboring ranches.
I feel sure money changed hands during these competitions, but mainly it was bragging rights. No, this was not called agritourism, per se, but was definitely where this word originated: spectators (other cowboys) coming to see their friends and neighbors compete in different skills of everyday ranching activities.
I find it extremely hard to understand why the county would go to such a great extent to control farm property, such as the case with Mr. Pinky Marsh and Mr. Jay Brown. As taxpayers, we have allowed our county officials to waste in excess of $100,000 in attorney fees attempting to keep Mr. Marsh from using his bona fide farm property in a manner described as legal by written law in the State of N.C. The taxpayers should be questioning county officials’ motive for their actions?