By: Yvette DeLaGuardia, Staff Member
The Warrior Dash is a 5k event organized by Red Frog Events, a Chicago based company.[i] The Warrior Dash is described as “the world’s largest obstacle race series”[ii] in which registered participants compete in maneuvering a muddy obstacle course full of obstructions, such as “muddy mayhem,” “warrior roast,” “barricade breakdown,” and “petrifying plunge.”[iii] Many participants or “warriors” also look forward to celebrating the event with food, live music, funky costumes, and a complimentary beer after completing the race.[iv]
As the obstacles names seemingly indicate, the Warrior Dash is particularly attractive to adventurous, risk-taking, and adrenaline seeking individuals. These individuals certainly may be competitive athletes, but what about some other type of competitor? What about farmers?
Recently, some farmers have gravitated toward the Warrior Dash because it presents the opportunity to host an event that allows farmers to market their farms to thousands of people and thus engage in and promote “agritourism.”[v] At least this was the position of the Stevens Family[vi] of Barre, Massachusetts, owners of the Carter & Stevens Farm[vii] located in Central, Massachusetts. Concerned with the adverse impact the Warrior Dash could have on the farmland, Massachusetts state officials, however, were not initially receptive to the Stevens’ assertion that the Warrior Dash an appropriate agritourism attraction.[viii]
Specifically, Massachusetts officials were worried allowing the Carter & Stevens Farm to host the Warrior Dash event would conflict with the 1979 Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) law.[ix] The effect of the APR law is to protect farms from being used for nonagricultural development by allowing “farmers to collect cash payments from the state equaling the difference between the agricultural value of their land and the fair market value of the land”[x] in return for their promise to avoid using the land for nonagricultural purposes.
If “agritourism” means “the act of visiting a working farm or any agricultural, horticultural or agribusiness operation for the purpose of enjoyment, education, or active involvement in the activities of the farm operation,”[xi] then the farmer’s assertion seems unfounded. While Warrior Dash participants of the event held at the Carter & Stevens Farm can say they ate “grass-fed beef hamburgers prepared and sold by the farm,”[xii] the nexus between running through a muddy obstacle course and enjoying, learning, or participating in the operation of a farm is extremely attenuated.
[i] Warrior Dash, http://www.warriordash.com/ (last visited July 15, 2013).
[v] Lisa Eckelbecker, Rethinking the state’s agricultural preservation law, Telegram.com (July 14, 2013), http://www.telegram.com/article/20130714/NEWS/307149990/1237.
[vii] Carter & Stevens Farm, http://www.carterandstevensfarm.com/ (last visited July 15, 2013).
[viii] See note supra 5.
[xi] UC Small Farm Program, http://sfp.ucdavis.edu/agritourism/Definitions/ (last visited July 15, 2013).
[xii] See note supra 5.