SPRINGFIELD – Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka recently honored more than a dozen Illinois organizations and businesses for their work in promoting agritourism, and noted the critical importance of the business market for the state economy.


Pictured from left to right are Darius Dixon, Section 8 FFA President, State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, Chris Steppig, State FFA Reporter, and Alex Russel, Section 19 FFA President. The calf, Charlie, is a 1-month-old Holstein bull calf from Oertel Farms (Brighton).

As part of the Office of the Comptroller’s “Agritourism Day” at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield, Topinka presented Agriculture leaders from throughout the state with proclamations celebrating their achievements and continuing dedication. Topinka specifically congratulated (Springfield), Baxter’s Vineyards & Nauvoo Winery (Nauvoo), Country Corner Farm Market & Pumpkin Patch (Alpha), Discover the Flavors of Jo Daviess County (Galena), East Central Illinois Wineries (Effingham), Eckert’s Country Store and Farms (Belleville), Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch (Rantoul), Heritage Tractor Adventure (Joliet), Horse and Buggy Museum (Biggsville), J-H Bison Ranch (Trenton), Marcoot Jersey Dairy and Creamery (Greenville), Northern Illinois Wine Trail (Belvidere), Southern Illinois Culinary Destination Project (Carbondale), and the Western Illinois Tourism Development Office (Macomb).

 “It is incredible to have these businesses and events continue to support agriculture year after year,” Topinka said. “Events like these go a long way in educating the public and promoting tourism for our state, and I thank the many people who work so hard to make it happen.”

 Agriculture is the number one industry in Illinois, contributing more than $8.85 billion to the state’s economy annually. The state’s 72,500 farms utilize 75 percent of Illinois land, including some of the most fertile soil in the world. Agritourists promote agriculture and tourism through a wide range of activities, including picking farm products, riding horses, learning about wine and cheese-making, and shopping for local and regional produce or hand-crafted gifts.