For the last 5 months Teri and I have been scratching out of the dirt a business idea that was the whole time simply a concept. From what we have learned, no one else has ever done it, we haven’t experienced anything quite like it, and we had the brilliance to kick off a tourism venture in a county that consistently ranks in the bottom 10, out of 72 counties in Wisconsin. Brilliant! (More on that later.)
For some time privately I was referencing to Ridge and Valley Tours as “The Fyre Festival of Richland County”. (For those who don’t know this reference, you HAVE to check out the Netflix show, “Fyre, The Greatest Party That Never Happened”.) Teri didn’t appreciate that I was doing that but up until last week, we had many shared characteristics with the Fyre Festival.
As I mentioned, this past Saturday that all changed. We actually took a group of 12 brave souls on a trip through the Driftless Area of Wisconsin to visit a dairy farm, a goat dairy, a cheese factory, a winery, and a micro-brewery. We actually had our own shuttle to accomplish this, with a paid employee. Therefore, I have promised to never refer to us in the “Fyre” context again.
We learned much during the tour, a few of those items;
We must have a time limit on the farms. If we left our guests to determine how long we spent with the calves and young goat kids on the farms, we would still be at one of the farms today. I still feel like that parent at a McDonald’s Playland dragging the crying kids out because they were not at all ready to leave.
There are some points of interest along the way that the guide needs to become more familiar with. (Yes, this is a self-improvement demand.) At least twice people asked me “What is that _____ ______ _______ along the tour route?” and my less-than intelligent answer was, “I don’t know.” Mind you, I was born and raised along the route, I thought I had some basic knowledge of pretty much everything you could possibly throw at me, but obviously I have more “learn’in” to do.
Install a visible map in the shuttle, with tour stops noted. Yes, I was born and raised in this area of twisting, turning, and double-backing roads of the Driftless, I am very familiar and have a fairly strong sense of direction. Very few of our guests have been raised in the area and even those who are familiar with the area are not familiar with the whole county.
While these are a few of the things we learned that might need improvement, we did learn one thing positive. We are on to something.
The reaction to the farm visits with the calves and kid goats was priceless. The imagery of the group sitting around the big dinning table at Hillsboro Brewing all talking to each other about the experience, each other, and sampling the beer; that is the vision Teri and I saw 5 months ago. It is a real thing, and judging by the comments following this initial tour we aren’t too far off.
I look forward to meeting more of our guests and introducing this Driftless Area experience to them. We have a very special offering coming up the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend. For any active military member, or veteran, their spouse, or family, we are offering a 50% discount. We are a military family, we have spent many holidays apart due to our daughter’s military commitment. Therefore, we understand the importance of supporting not just the military member but the family as well. We hope to see a full shuttle of military families enjoying a Ridge and Valley Tour on the 25th. For the discount code just enter Memorial50 .
You can see more about that tour here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ridge-valley-tours-west-coast-may-25-memorial-day-special-for-veterans-and-families-tickets-56659400793