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Festivals, events awarded marketing funds to boost overnight visitors to Virginia

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As the official start to summer kicks off this summer, the Virginia Tourism Corporation wants to encourage visitors to stay awhile. In an effort to boost overnight stays through 2025 in Virginia, VTC has announced marketing grants awarded to localities and festivals throughout the state.

In total, $3.27 million in matching grant and sponsorship funds has been awarded to 268 tourism programs. The funding programs are designed to leverage local marketing dollars with matching state funds to increase visitation and traveler spending through 2025.

This funding cycle, local partners will commit more than $9.2 million to match the VTC funding, providing more than $12.5 million in new marketing and event production activity focused on increasing overnight visitation to Virginia.

“VTC’s marketing and sponsorship programs are powerful incentives creating tourism partnerships across Virginia that are a robust part of Virginia’s economic ecosystem,” said Virginia. Gov. Glenn Youngkin. “Across the Commonwealth, the tourism industry recognizes the importance of having inventive strategies to showcase all that Virginia has to offer. These grants will support those efforts and help draw thousands of additional visitors to the Commonwealth to experience everything that makes Virginia so special.”

VTC’s tourism marketing and sponsorship programs are designed to increase visitor spending by leveraging limited marketing dollars, to stimulate new tourism marketing through partnerships, and to extend the “Virginia is for Lovers” brand to drive visitation.

“The VTC grant programs continue to inject critical funds into communities across the Commonwealth, helping to make Virginia the best place to live, work and raise a family,” said Caren Merrick, Secretary of Commerce and Trade . “The tourism industry in an incredible employment on-ramp for high school and college students, part-time workers, and those interested long-term hospitality careers.

“From kitchen line cooks to regional executive hotel managers, these funds support a robust hospitality workforce by inducing tourism demand and increasing overnight visitation,” Merrick said.

Local marketing programs and funding amounts

  • Queen City Mischief & Magic, Staunton, $20,000
  • City of Waynesboro, Waynesboro’s Art Doesn’t Just Hang in Galleries, $16,000
  • The Blackburn Inn & Conference Center, Stay. Ride. Relax., $13,000
  • Red Wing Roots Music Festival, Augusta County, $10,000
  • Wayne Theatre, Virginia Chili Blues & Brews Festival, $10,000
  • Waynesboro Fall Foliage Art Show, $9,000
  • Staunton Music Festival, $9,000
  • Heifetz Institute’s 2024 Festival of Concerts, Staunton, $9,000
  • Art in the Park, Staunton, $8,000
  • Heifetz International Music Institute, Mozart in the Mountains, Staunton, $7,627.50
  • Harmony Harvest Farm, The Valley Comes Alive at Exit 235, Augusta County, $6,135.35
  • Grindstone Trail Running Festival, Augusta County, $4,000

View a full list of awards online here.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.