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Coteau des Prairies

Joe Breker stands on the wide porch of Coteau des Prairies Lodge, leaning against the log railing and squinting to survey the wide open plains below. As the patriarch of the Breker family, which owns and operates the lodge, he sees opportunity on the horizon.

"(At Coteau des Prairies Lodge), you can get away from it all in the middle of the countryside with a great view," explains Brecker. "You don't hear trains or truck traffic anywhere nearby. We are far enough off the beaten path. You are out in the prairie and farmland of southeastern North Dakota." The lodge is built of ponderosa pine harvested from southwestern North Dakota, creating a rustic environment that is a true expression of the state. Visitors have come from as far away as Russia to enjoy the ambiance, hearty meals and wide open spaces offered at the Coteau.coteau.jpg

Tourism is booming in North Dakota, ranking as one of the state's top three economic drivers. In 2012, North Dakota ranked #1 in the U.S. for travel expenditure growth (up 15 percent). Visitors are expressing interest in agritourism destinations, and Coteau des Prairies fits the bill perfectly.

"We like to share our farming experiences with the public," says Breker. "We've had other agricultural groups visit our farm over the years and they've said, ‘Wow, there's so much more going on here than we realized.' From livestock, crop production, and having bees on the farm, to the geology and history, there's just a lot of stuff going on in rural America that I think most people would find interesting." The Coteau's interpretive tours of modern farming practices are popular, but it's not all work on the farm; hayrides and winter sleigh rides are also part of the Coteau farm experience.

Development of Coteau des Prairies was supported in part by the North Dakota Department of Commerce, using a tourism grant to help with website development and marketing materials, along with an expansion grant for construction of lodge amenities.

"We have been so delighted with the input we've gotten from the Commerce Department, North Dakota Tourism and the Bank of North Dakota," says Breker. "Everybody has just literally stopped what they're doing to help us in our process of getting where we are today, through financing and grants, and more than that, through sharing where they think we can be in the market of agritourism and lodging in a rural area. It's been great."

For more information on tourism grants and other business development programs available from the North Dakota Department of Commerce, visit NDTourism.com/industry.
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