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Agritourism conference to focus on growing business Nov. 3-5 in Dillard
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The 2010 Georgia Agritourism Conference, "Play, Learn, Grow," is set for Nov. 3-5 at the Dillard House in Rabun County. The conference celebrates the newly formed Georgia Agritourism Association and will include the organization's first official meeting.

Educational breakout sessions and networking opportunities highlight this year's event. Dan Cathy, chief operating officer of Chick-fil-A, will be presenting the keynote address at the conference at noon Nov. 5.

The conference will begin after lunch Nov. 3. Sessions and exhibits will include relevant, current information from agritourism experts.

The schedule is designed to help entrepreneurs learn the basics of building and sustaining agritourism enterprises including business planning, insurance and liability, budgeting, financing options, estate planning and legal issues facing agritourism operations. A session on the use of social media to effectively build business will also be offered.

Marketing specialists from the University of Georgia Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development will discuss effective marketing strategies. Free marketing resources such as Market Maker will be presented as well as information on loans and financing programs.

Thursday afternoon tours of Rabun County agritourism sites will include visits to the Kudzu Factory and Persimmon Creek Vineyards, among others.

Barbecue and a bonfire are planned for a casual Wednesday dinner. Georgia's agriculture and tourism industries will host newly-elected legislators for a "Georgia Farm-to-Table" dinner Thursday night.

Early bird registration is $125 before Oct. 22 and $165 afterward. Registration includes meals, tours and materials. Organizations can exhibit for $250, but limited space is available. Varying sponsorship levels are available. Visit online or mail-in registration and sponsorship information.

(Thanks to April Sorrow, news editor with the UGA College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences.)

Billy Skaggs is agriculture agent and county extension coordinator for the UGA Cooperative Extension in Hall County. You can contact him at 770-535-8293, His column appears biweekly on Thursday's Business page and at