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IOWA TOURISM: Focusing On The Food

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Producers, growers and restauranteurs are coming together to make Iowa a food destination and they are taking tips from a Canadian on how to make it work.

“There is really only one thing every tourist does three times a day regardless of why they come to your destination, and that is to eat. And if you can give them a taste of place, you’re creating a great memory that adds value, for whatever reason they’ve come, it’s going to add value to their experience. That may encourage them to linger longer and ultimately spend more in the state of Iowa,” says Rebecca LeHeup of the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance.

LeHeup was the keynote speaker at the Iowa Culinary Tourism Summit in Ankeny Thursday. She’s known around the world for developing food tourism.

LeHeup emphasized connecting local agriculture to tourism to showcase food as part of the culture. She says that covers food trucks to fine dining to craft breweries.

Kurt Garretson operates an elderberry farm south of Mt. Pleasant. He also offers wine tastings and farm tours. He’s looking for more ways to share his products with Iowans.

“It makes me exited. I like to talk about elderberries anytime I can. Just to have people come out and see the farm, what we are doing, there are a lot of things out there like corn and soybeans, just seeing alternative crops like that is really exciting so when they see something at the grocery store they’ll know what it is,” says Garretson.

One way LeHeup says to create culinary tourism, is to have more local ambassadors showcasing the foods of their communities.


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