Travelers are visiting Shenandoah County more and things are starting to feel more “normal,” town and industry representatives agreed during Tuesday’s monthly Shenandoah County Tourism Council meeting.
Many industry representatives on the Tourism Council agreed that the Juneteenth holiday, which is sandwiched between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, led to an extended weekend with prosperous results.
“This year, it all seems to be coming back. We’ve surpassed where we were in 2019,” said Joe Procter, vice president and general manager of Shenandoah Caverns. “Our weekends have been good since late winter, early spring. Last weekend would rank up there with what a Fourth of July weekend would have been like.”
The holiday, combined with nice weather, afforded out-of-town travelers as well as county residents to get out and enjoy some of the county’s offerings, such as the caverns and other local restaurants, shops and attractions.
Lynn St. Clair, who owns Swover Creek Farms Brewery and will represent the craft beverage industry on the council once she’s approved, said more and more out-of-towners, including some from New York and New Jersey, have been visiting her business.
John Boor, who owns the Curtain Call Coffeehouse Cafe and represents the Town of Mount Jackson, sent along a note to the meeting that he’d also seen plenty of visitors in the area and that Airbnbs in the area have been mostly full in recent weeks.
It’s been nice, those gathered both virtually and in-person for Tuesday’s meeting said, to see smiling faces out and about and hear that businesses were reporting good weekends.
Town representatives reported much of the same, with many of those in attendance Tuesday commenting on the success of events or how well event planning has been going.
Amber Smoot, who represents the Town of New Market on the council, said two recent town events had to be rescheduled due to rain, but that she wasn’t going to let that “rain on her parade” because of how the schedule was filling up.
“It’s a good problem to have when you’re so busy with events that you don't know where to reschedule an event,” she said. “That’s great to have that problem.”
Edinburg Mayor Dan Harshman, who represents the town on the council, said that June has been a strong month, after following a solid May. Olivia Hilton, who represents the Town of Strasburg, said the town is “surviving and thriving” and that events and planning have created a positive buzz around the area.
Some towns even reported that folks planning to visit the area have gotten wind of certain events and have been calling town offices about them so they can add them to their summer schedule.
In other news at Tuesday’s meeting:
• The council’s new bylaws were adopted by the county Board of Supervisors on May 25 and are now in effect, which means new members will be added to the council.
St. Clair will represent the craft beverage industry while Barbara Adamson, who operates the Shenandoah County Historical Society, will represent attractions in the area, including museums. They were expected to be approved Tuesday night.
The new bylaws also stipulate the council needs five members to obtain a quorum.
• The council continues to be satisfied with both its print and digital marketing efforts, which have been focusing on phrases such as “open spaces” and “Find your way back.” The council continues to host writers for blogs and other articles to accompany and complement ads throughout the region.
• The county’s 250th birthday celebration is in the planning stages, and the tourism council will play a role in helping generate ideas and other aspects of the events that will take place around the county next year.
Initial plans include a 250th birthday celebration on March 25 at the Virginia Museum of the Civil War, an Independence Day celebration throughout the county from July 1-4 next year as well as a Cultural Heritage Festival in September next year. A website for the celebration has been set up at sc250.org.
• The Faces of Tourism program remains ongoing with face-to-face tours of local businesses. Recently, 10 people attended a tour of Woodbine Farm, which included several new residents as well as current residents.
The program will continue with monthly events that will consist of a “familiarization tour” of a local hospitality business for a “behind-the-scenes experience.” The next tour is scheduled for July 12 at Suzanne’s Studio in Woodstock.
To register, contact Brenda Black at BBlack@shenandoahCountyVA.us or 540-325-0069 by the first of each month. Tours are capped at 20 participants.
- Attending Tuesday’s meeting were current members Smoot, Procter, Harshman and Hilton; and future members Adamson and St. Clair.