The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Progress 2012

April 7, 2012

Entering a new field

Growing industry of agritourism how farmers, ranchers can sustain a traditional way of life

ENID — Agritourism is a growing industry throughout the state, allowing farmers, ranchers and producers to stretch their bottom lines by offering a glimpse into their everyday lives.

Stan Ralstin, rural development specialist with Garfield County Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension Center, said agritourism in Oklahoma encompasses many specialties the state has to offer, from wineries and vineyards to hunting and fishing venues and farmers markets.

“It’s an opportunity for farmers and ranchers to utilize resources in an additional way, generate additional income and allow people to come out to farms and ranches, hunting and fishing venues,” he said. “It’s another way to use the resources they have and assets they have to share with other people and have a chance to make money.”

Fast-growing industry

Agritourism in Oklahoma has more than 500 venues, and Ralstin said it’s quickly becoming an industry in the state.

Twelve categories are listed on Oklahoma’s Agritourism website: vineyard and winery; hunting; guest ranch; trail riding; U-pick farms and gardens; maze; country stay; specialty crops or products; exotics; museums, farm and ranch attractions; farmers market; and birding.

“There’s just tons and tons of opportunities out there.”

Most operations began as farmers and ranchers attempting to make more when traditional incomes fell short, Ralstin said.

“There are some people that invested in a farm or a ranch just strictly for tourism,” he said. “Some are actually investing just for the opportunity, for the tourists.”

Old West outside Ames

From April through October each year, the Island Guest Ranch opens its gates and welcomes visitors seeking a taste of the Old West.

The ranch in Ames is run by Carl L. White and his family. They are a fourth-generation ranching family spanning more than 100 years of Oklahoma history.

They’ve been in the tourism business about a third of that time.

“We opened the guest ranch almost 30 years ago,” said Jordy White, Carl’s daughter.

She said guests to the ranch can take part in whatever activities and become as involved in the operation as they please. White said the ranch offers horseback riding, fishing, swimming, hiking, trap shooting, western dancing and trolley rides.

“Guests can really get in the thick of working on a ranch, or they can sit by the pool if they prefer,” she said.

The ranch offers all of the amenities of home, Jordy said, and doesn’t force anyone to rough it as the old cowboys once did.

“It allows guests to experience the West and western lifestyle without leaving the comforts of home,” she said. “We’ve always prided ourselves on the fact when people come our for the holidays or a vacation we don’t rush them. We absolutely want to provide a fantastic vacation on whatever level you want.”

Guests from around the world visit the ranch, located on an island in the Cimarron River between Oklahoma highways 8 and 132.

White said the family heavily advertises the ranch overseas and has hosted guests from as far away as southwest Asia and the Middle East.

“People who come in and really want to get into the cattle work, building fences, roping and really get into the thick of it, can,” she said. “We take basically everyone at any skill level from all over the world.”

Those at the ranch for an extended stay are just limited to the amenities the Whites can offer.

“When they do come to the ranch, they don’t have to stay just here,” White said. “We take them basically all over the state.”

She said visitors are taken to museums and other sites across the state.

“They get a really good feel for Oklahoma by the time they are finished with their vacation,” White said.

For those not on extended stays or vacations, other services are available.

“We’re not only for the guest ranch,” she said. “We offer weddings, as well, conventions and meetings for groups or family.”

Island Guest ranch can be reached by calling (800) 928-4574 or at

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Progress 2012
  • onlineheader.jpg 2012 ON THE HORIZON

    The News & Eagle puts out an annual progress edition. This year's 2012 On the Horizon focuses on developments now and in the future. The stories in text format are available by scrolling down this page.

    Links to pdf format: Economic Development I Health and Wellness I Education I Northwest Oklahoma I Family I Faith I Agriculture and Energy I Community Service


    February 18, 2012 1 Photo

  • cover.jpg Community Service

    Enid News & Eagle's 2012 On the Horizon edition concludes with the role of community service.

    Click HERE for text version of the stories.

    Click HERE for pdf version of the edition.

    April 15, 2012 1 Photo

  • Chisholm vs Okeene_6_BV.jpg Chisholm seeks consistency

    August 19, 2012 1 Photo

  • Karen Vanover_Bass Hospital Volunteer_2_BV.jpg A positive interaction

    Karen Vanover and A.Z. Callicoat are past volunteers of the year at their respective hospitals, Vanover at Integris Bass Baptist Health Center and Callicoat at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center.

    April 14, 2012 2 Photos

  • Sandbox Learning Center_Ella Mae Loggins_BV.jpg Foster Grandparents: The solver of all problems

    “It’s something to get up for in the morning." — Foster Grandparent Ella Loggins

    April 14, 2012 2 Photos

  • Hedges_Carmen Ball_3_BV.jpg Hear this

    Hedges is committed to improving communications skills for those in need in northwest Oklahoma.
    Executive Director Carmen Ball said Hedges is the only full-service speech and hearing center in northwest Oklahoma.

    April 14, 2012 3 Photos

  • Stephanie Ezzell_BV.jpg Doing their part for the community

    Stephanie Ezzell is active in the community in a number of capacities, including the popular Farmers Market, on the southeast corner of Grand and Garriott.

    April 14, 2012 1 Photo

  • Keepin' Enid Green_1_BV.jpg Sorting out the service

    The curbside recycling business began after Chris Feeney of Oklahoma Employment Securities’ Material Recovery, a recycling venture, repeatedly was asked why the option wasn’t available.

    April 14, 2012 2 Photos

  • ESL_Emmanuel Baptist Church_4_BV.jpg Learning the language

    Volunteers at Emmanuel Baptist Church stepped up to fill that gap with free ESL instruction last January, and now they have hopes of expanding the program to better serve the community.

    April 14, 2012 3 Photos

  • First Presbyterian Church Mentoring_1_BV.jpg Tutoring joy

    Each Wednesday after school, church members pick up students — there are 23 in this year’s group — and take them to the church building for a snack, some fun and plenty of homework help.

    April 14, 2012 3 Photos