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Festival brings New Green Economy to Waynesboro

It was an interesting time to be thinking anything positive about the river that cuts through Downtown Waynesboro. The memories of two major floods nine months apart in 1996 were still raw, but the people behind Waynesboro Downtown Development Inc. saw the river doing more than threatening us every time it rained.

The Virginia Fly Fishing Festival that was spawned out of their efforts is now in its ninth year with the 2009 Festival on tap for this weekend.

“Who says conservation doesn’t pay?” Festival director Beau Beasley wrote in a guest column published in the April 2009 edition of our sister New Dominion Magazine, citing the economic impact of the event at $375,000 and counting, with an estimated 1,500 annual attendees coming to town from all over the country.

The Festival to me is a sort of living laboratory for what you often these days hear called the New Green Economy. Waynesboro is unique in having a river cutting a swath through the heart of its city, and with that comes a lot of good with the occasional very bad. Three so-called hundred-year floods in seven years – the two in ’96, the most recent one in 2003 – will tend to get people thinking about the very bad first and foremost, but the Festival, I think, is giving us a new paradigm downtown.

The on-again, off-again, now on-again South River Greenway linking downtown to the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive offers even more promise for a New Green Economy future, as does the work that could link a refurbished Crozet Tunnel to the Parkway and the Drive.

Planning in the early stages, meanwhile, on a revamped downtown layout called Riverfront Commons could mitigate or completely eliminate the flooding factor.

These are exciting times in Waynesboro, indeed. And don’t forget – it started with this Festival.





What: Virginia Fly Fishing Festival

When: Saturday, April 18, and Sunday, April 19, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day

Info: For a full schedule of events, speakers and presentations, go online to


– Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press