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Tourists Roll Up Their Sleeves


These days there are all kinds of tourists. People don't just visit hot spots like Las Vegas or the theme parks of Florida.

Historical tourists take leisurely trips across the country and pull off the highway to read roadside historic signs and photograph monuments. And they meander into tiny historical museums in small towns along the way.

There are also adventure tourists who don't just look at stuff but do things, strenuous things. They climb mountains, hunt animals, hike across deserts, scuba dive, maybe go to sports camps. A couple of tourists have even paid big money to ride with astronauts into space.

But one of the most curious forms of tourism is called agritourism. People pay rural families for the chance to move in for a few days and learn firsthand what farm life is all about. The families make a few dollars, and the agritourists learn such skills as making butter, slopping pigs, cleaning out horse stalls, even cutting Christmas trees and baking cookies.

The last of those chores was especially popular during the holiday season just past, when lots of people moved in with Midwest farm families. Often, adult agritourists take their children along as a sort of object lesson: Look here, kids, this is what real work is all about!

One agritourist, from the big city of St. Louis, Mo., told the Associated Press, "I thought farmers had it easy in the wintertime: no crops, nothing to do. Now I realize they work harder in the winter than in the summer."

Maybe that tourist would change his mind if he stopped back at the farm at planting or harvest time, but he came away impressed, for sure. By the way, some parts of a farm visit — hog butchering and deerskinning, for example — are strictly optional activities!

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