MERCED — Thousands of tourists drive through Merced County every year, most of them on their way to Yosemite National Park.
Agriculture and tourism promoters want travelers to learn more about the county by picking up an audio tour that follows the main road to the park — Highway 140.
"Our target audience is people from other states and other countries," said Maxwell Norton, farm adviser for the University of California Cooperative Extension office in Merced. "We want people to realize the San Joaquin Valley has a lot to offer in itself. It's not just a place to get through on your way to Yosemite."
He's part of a group that links County Ventures, a nonprofit organization that promotes Merced County tourism, and California Women for Agriculture.
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They have two goals: bringing more visitor-related dollars into the county and increasing people's knowledge of agriculture.
They put up bright yellow signs alongside field crops and orchards, naming the fruits or vegetables being grown on each plot. The tour also tracks historical markers.
Norton said CDs are being prepared that will be given away from the California Visitor Center Merced. For now, people interested in the tour can download the CD for free from the Country Ventures Web site.