By Tim Leeds/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
A program designed to promote cultural tourism in north-central Montana is receiving some publicity in advance of the publication of its first guidebook.
The Deseret Morning News in Salt Lake City, circulation about 70,000, featured Hands of Harvest at the top of the "Globetrotting" page of its "Travel & Leisure" section Sunday after the Montana Department of Commerce featured Hands of Harvest in a news advisory.
"I'm really excited about all the positive stuff going on," said Vicki Warp of Missoula, president of Hands of Harvest.
Warp, a Havre High School graduate, and Cindy Kittredge of Great Falls, vice president of Hands of Harvest, helped create the program to promote cultural tourism in north-central Montana after hearing Becky Anderson, executive director of HandMade in America, speak at a workshop held in Missoula in 2002. HandMade in America is a cultural tourism program created in North Carolina in 1993.
The people from north-central Montana who attended the Missoula workshop held another workshop with Anderson in Fort Benton in October 2002 in preparation for creating Hands of Harvest.
Cultural tourism markets craft and cultural businesses that tie into the heritage of an area, like artists' studios, bed and breakfasts, farms and ranches, and events like powwows and rodeos.
Warp started a Web site for Hands of Harvest last week and had it online in time for the Deseret Morning News publication. She expects the first printing of the guidebook to go to press by the end of March.
The Web site features information from the Hands of Harvest brochure, first printed last fall. Warp said the Web site will be updated regularly, including adding pictures of attractions in the guidebook.
Hands of Harvest and cultural tourism will be featured at the Governor's Conference on Tourism, set for April 5-6 in Billings. Warp and Kittredge will talk about their program during the conference.
Warp said Hands of Harvest will hold a meeting in May for all people whose businesses are listed in the guidebook and anyone else interested in cultural tourism.
"We're hoping we can get new people there, and get new people interested at the governor's conference," she said.
The first edition of the Hands of Harvest guidebook will list about 100 attractions on five routes in north-central Montana.
HandMade in America has published three editions of its guidebook with about 200 craft and cultural locations in North Carolina added each time.
Anderson said today she is working with Hands of Harvest and many other groups around the country to help promote cultural tourism. Warp and Kittredge plan to attend a training session HandMade in America will hold in North Carolina in September.
"We do a lot of training with people," Anderson said.
Hands of Harvest received top billing in the spring 2004 edition of "Untold Story Leads From Montana," a tourism news advisory the state