The winners of this year’s best farm and rural attractions were announced at the National Farm Attractions Network (NFAN) annual conference and awards ceremony held in Liverpool last week. NFAN is the trade association for the farm attractions sector with over 250 members.
Delegates at the conference heard from Sharon Orrell head of research and insights at Visit England on how the farm attractions sector as a whole is a winner, having outperformed all other attraction types over the last decade with the biggest reported growth in visitors.
Colin Evans, NFAN chairman said, “This year’s annual conference and trade exhibition has been the biggest in the association’s 20 year history. During a visit to the Ice Cream Farm in Cheshire as part of the conference we saw at first-hand the spectacular new £5million redevelopment which is just one example of investments taking place at farm attractions around the country, offering visitors new experiences and creating jobs.”
The NFAN annual awards, the Farm Attraction ‘Oscars’ were held at a glittering dinner during the three day conference, hosted by Liverpool Radio City presenter Rossie. The Winner of the Large Farm Attraction of the Year (over 75,000 visitors pa) was Cannon Hall Farm near Barnsley, South Yorkshire. The winner of the small Farm Attraction of the Year (under 75,000 visitors pa) went to Cantref Adventure Farm in Brecon, South Wales.
There was a standing ovation as the late Joe Henson from Cotswold Farm Park was named recipient of the Lifetime Achievement award. A short BBC Countryfile tribute piece was played to the room and his son, Countryfile presenter Adam Henson, paid a touching tribute to his late father in a video message saying; “As many of you know my dear father Joe Henson passed away in October 2015, but before he died he was aware and absolutely delighted that he’d received the National Farm Attractions Network Lifetime Achievement Award. The Cotswold Farm Park was the first of its kind in the Country and I know that dad was very proud that there are now hundreds of open farms all over the country educating the general public.”
Other winners on the night were The Pink Pig in Scunthorpe who won Best Food & Beverage. Park Hall – The Countryside Experience won Best in Education, Odds Farm Park in Buckinghamshire won Best Digital Presence and Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm near Bristol won the Innovation Award for their environmental innovations including rainwater harvesting for the animal wash and Elephant pool. The Best trade supplier award went to Innovative Leisure.