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Greene County Prepares for ‘Discover Virginia’ Festival - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Greene County Prepares for Tourism-Boosting ‘Discover Virginia’ Festival

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Greene County is gearing up for one of its largest events of the year, the Discover Virginia wine and food festival.

The county says this event is critical for increasing tourism and boosting revenue, which is exactly why it's revamping its marketing strategy.

May 11 and 12 will mark the ninth year of the festival - and each year it grows. The county says taking the festival to the next level means going beyond central Virginia.

For Greene County's tourism department, the Discover Virginia festival is in many ways its bread and butter for boosting foot traffic and money into the county. The focus this year is using the festival to cast a wider net.

"A new real energy here in the county. We are targeting some companies in other areas: Northern Virginia, Maryland, areas that don't really know a lot about Greene County to really show off that side of Greene, the cultural side of Greene," said Tony Williams, Greene County's director of economic development.

The county is rolling out an aggressive marketing campaign using social media and bringing on a new event planner to attract more vendors and help the festival stand out in a competitive wine market.

"One of the great things about our location, we are truly one of the gateways to the Blue Ridge, to the Shenandoah National Park, so how we sell the event, you have access to the park being able to go up and see some spectacular views," Williams said.

"We had visitors from 32 states in the last six months, so there's a wide range of people coming through," said Michele Metz, with Greene County Tourism.

Despite its social media push, perhaps the strongest tool the department has is its volunteers - and more are needed. Not only because it's practical for a tight budget, but also because it gives insight on how to improve tourism outreach.

"They're knowledgeable. Most of them have lived here and even if they aren't, it brings a new perspective, information from other areas, the ability to share that information with our visitors," Metz said.

For the next 30 days the tourism department is giving away wine glasses and T-shirts from previous festivals for any new likes to its Facebook page, or for people who sign up as volunteers.

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