Collins takes Tourism Corporation on field trip

Front Royal attorney David Downes hands out a synopsis of the future beer museum he's planning to Judy Watkins, special projects manager for Virginia Tourism Council, on Thursday during a tourism meet and greet sponsored by 29th District Delegate Christopher E. Collins. Fifteen members of the Virginia Tourism Council met with local tourism partners in Winchester and toured six area tourism businesses in Frederick and Warren counties. The proposed Virginia Beer Museum, located beside his law office on Chester Street in Front Royal, is planned to open in late September. Rich Cooley/Daily

WINCHESTER – Chris Collins, delegate for Virginia’s 29th district, led a delegation from the Virginia Tourism Corporation on a Thursday tour of several area tourism businesses.

The goal of the tour was to share information and exposure about area businesses. Several beer- and wine-related stops included Winchester Brew Works, Backroom Brewery in Middletown, James Charles Winery in Stephens City and the future home of the Virginia Beer Museum in Front Royal. Also included were the Old Court House Civil War Museum in Winchester and The Inn at Vaucluse Spring in Stephens City.

Collins and the Tourism Corporation representatives were ferried around the area in a trolley provided by Candy Hill Campground.

Delegate Collins explained the idea behind the tour.

“Basically what we found in Richmond was we were trying to get dollars for tourism for the region,”‘ he said. “Talking to secretaries and talking to members of the Tourism Council, what we were doing in Winchester, Frederick County and Front Royal wasn’t real well known.”

Kenny Burkhardt, tourism relations manager at the Interstate-81 Welcome Center in Winchester, samples a craft beer at the future Virginia Beer Museum on Chester Street in Front Royal during the Virginia Tourism Corporation tour Thursday in Frederick and Warren counties. Rich Cooley/Daily

Increasing awareness of these Northern Shenandoah Valley tourism draws was one reason for the delegation, among others.

“We decided that having a tourism-type thing like you’re seeing today would be a good way to showcase that, look we have a lot of things to show people around the state and around the nation,” Collins said. “We’re not just a battlefield and Civil War re-enactment area. We actually have museums, we have wineries, we have breweries, we have eateries and things of that nature and that we should encourage more tourism dollars and more investment in our tourism here in this area.”

Justin Kerns, executive director for the Winchester-Frederick County Convention and Visitors Bureau, explained how the Virginia Tourism Council delegation will use their new knowledge in their work.

“What this does is it’s familiarization… There is a slew of Virginia Tourism Corporation people here today. These representatives will go back and apply what they’ve learned here… Everybody that’s here is experiencing this in through their own lens.”

Collins explained the reasoning behind why the tour’s six destinations were chosen.

Tim Smith, tourism coordinator for Front Royal/Warren County Visitor Center, speaks to a delegation from the Virginia Tourism Corporation on Thursday outside the proposed Virginia Beer Museum on Chester Street in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

“Right now, I think that from a tourism standpoint, breweries and wineries are drawing a lot of people, particularly from the Northern Virginia area. They come out this way on a Saturday or Sunday and go tour some wineries… These places were able to give us some time and show us some things… The idea was to showcase those things that are really Winchester, Frederick County, Warren County and Front Royal-specific with these wineries and breweries that are being brewed right here with locally grown products.”

Collins said he was pleased with how the tour came together and hopes to do something similar in the future.

“I can certainly see doing this again,” he said. “I think this was a very successful day. We had a lot of partners in this today… It’s something that I think a lot of people are interested in because they recognize that tourism dollars for this community and for this area are important to our economic growth.”

Kerns was also pleased with the tour and touted the variety of the businesses that were visited.

“I’m happy that it wasn’t just Winchester,” he said. “I’m happy that it was a larger region. We had Front Royal and Warren County because that’s how we see things as regional. We’re working really hard to develop the Shenandoah Valley and our place in it. I’m very happy that we had all the different experiences.”

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com

Front Royal attorney David Downes shares his vision for the Virginia Beer Museum on Chester Street with members of the Virginia Tourism Corporation. Rich Cooley/Daily

Chris Collins