Tourist attractions across the Mansfield and Ashfield area have enjoyed a surge in visitor numbers as the summer sunshine continues to beam bright.
With temperatures soaring people from across the district have been keen to get out and about, with Farnsfield’s impressive White Post Farm one of the many places to have benefitted.
And being a lover of animals myself, I ventured with my wife for our first ever visit to see what the farm had to offer.
The impressive 25 acre site, which started life as a pig farm in 1988 before developing into a tourist attraction, has just 12 full-time staff.
But, despite having such a small staff, the farm boasts plenty of animals with many different species on show, from your regular animals such as sheep, goats and pigs to the more unusual specimens, including an impressive 14ft Burmese Python and rare lizards.
There is also plenty on offer for the kids, with play areas, mini golf and character visits nicely complimenting the educational aspect to any visit.
And the visit by youngsters is something of massive importance, according to operations and marketing manager Anthony Moore.
“We get a really diverse range of visitors, with plenty of school groups coming through the door as well as young families,” said Anthony. “No matter what the age people always love to see animals and especially the ones that are small and cute.
“School groups keeping coming back each year and we get to know the regular teachers and helpers. We have groups coming from Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and South Yorkshire.
“The kids are very important to us and we are very proud of the level of education that we offer.
“It is great to see the smile on the kids faces, especially the kids from an inner city environment who may not have been to a farm before and are really enjoying the experience.
“Once we have captured their imagination we hope that they will keep coming back. Visiting White Post Farm gives the children some wonderful memories and is really important for their learning and personal development, it is something we are very proud of.”
The popular attraction spends around £90,000 on food and a further £240,000 on animal care meaning every penny generated is vital for the overall success of the farm and its inhabitants.
And, like any tourist attraction largely reliant on good weather and the summer months to bring the visitors through the doors, the White Post Farm has had to diversify to help create a more year round revenue stream.
Such attractions include Hallowe’en events, a Santas Grotto, themed days with special visits from children’s tv characters as well as a range of other revenue-raising schemes such as a farm shop selling home grown products, a pet hotel and a pet shop.
Anthony added: “We have a lot of good discounts available now to get people through the door and are very active on our twitter and Facebook pages, through which we promote the special events we have going on throughout the year.
“We are feeling very positive about this year, it has been very good with the weather and that has really helped our visitor numbers.
“We are aiming for 100,000 visitors this year and are currently on track to achieve this.
“White Post Farm is a half indoor and half outdoor attractions to try and take the weather into account. We have been very lucky with it this year.
“There is a lot of work for us all year around. We have to feed and care for the animals all year so there is no point in us closing to visitors.”
Bosses at the Mansfield Road attraction are now exploring new ways to build on their current success and expand the range of animals and attractions available to the public.
“We try to offer something new every year and to develop the farm as much as we can,” said Anthony.
“We are currently looking at new and different animals that we can bring to the farm and have worked hard to diversify in recent years. If we had stayed as we were we would have struggled.
“Our aim for next year is to build on the success that we are enjoying this year.
“We really need people to take advantage of our annual pass, there is a lot on offer for all year round and some great discounts to take advantage of. We need more people to come through the door to help us thrive even more.”
For a 20 per cent discount on entry to White Post Farm for up to four people, see next week’s Chad (24th July).