Rowan County spots among state’s best for field trips
By Steve Huffman
Three Rowan County sites are among the state’s top 25 when it comes to field-trip destinations.
The Lazy Five Ranch in Mooresville, Dan Nicholas Park outside Salisbury and Patterson Farm and Market Tours in Mount Ulla were all included in Carolina Field Trips magazine’s annual list of North Carolina’s most popular sites for field trips.
The Lazy Five ranks number two on the list while Dan Nicholas checks in at number four. Patterson Farm is number 20.
The most popular field-trip destination in the state is the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh. The N.C. Zoo in Asheboro ranks third.
Sam Rogers, publisher of Carolina Field Trips magazine, said the downturn in the economy has in some ways helped the state’s centrally-located tourist destinations.
“Everyone wants to cry gloom and doom as far as the tourism industry is concerned, but if you’re operating a business that is easily accessible, it helps,” he said. “People want to travel closer to home.”
Rogers said that greatly helps Rowan County, which is located near the center of the state.
“You’re located in a very convenient location,” he said.
Rogers also noted that all three of the Rowan County destinations that made his magazine’s list are quality operations.
“They’re well run,” he said. “They provide a lot of return for the money.”
The survey that determines the state’s top field-trip destinations is an annual one. This one determined turnout for the 2008-2009 school year.
Field-trip attendance for the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences totaled 132,906 this past year. More than 119,000 visited the Lazy Five Ranch through field trips in the past school year. Turnout at Dan Nicholas was more than 106,000.
The number of field-trip visitors to Patterson Farm was 26,437.
While the N.C. Transportation Museum in Spencer has in years past cracked Carolina Field Trips magazine’s list of top 25, it didn’t manage to do so this year. Rogers said the State Historic Site just missed making the list.
It was displaced by two new attractions ó the Catawba Science Center in Hickory and the Neuseway Planetarium Park and Nature Center in Kinston.
Attendance numbers for the survey were provided by each attraction and include day-care students, public and private schools from grades K-12, home-school students, parochial students, schools for the handicapped, church groups, Scouting and collegiate groups and more.