May 17, 2018

The 2019 Commemoration, American Evolution kicked off the summer travel season by bringing the keepers of Virginia’s history and heritage tourism together for the Statewide Partner Summit, May 14-15 in Richmond.

The attendees were welcomed to Richmond by Mayor Levar Stoney and  Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. The purpose of the event was to bring together ambassadors from the organizations represented in the Virginia History Trails app, and provide them with the necessary materials to leverage the commemoration for their own site’s tourism efforts. Many regions of the state were represented at the conference.

The Virginia History Trails app, a customized digital platform, is the smartest way to explore Virginia history. The app features 20 trails and 400 stories. The meeting attendees were given tools to use the Virginia History Trails to promote their organizations and stories.

Luncheon speaker Rita McClenny, President & CEO of the Virginia Tourism Corporation, assured attendees that they were on the front lines of commemoration and the promotion of Virginia as the birthplace of America.

“Virginia’s stories are something we celebrate every day, making it easy for us to show travelers why Virginia is for History Lovers,” McClenny said. “But we certainly couldn’t do that without each of you, and the important work you do every day to preserve and promote Virginia history.”

Members of the American Evolution team also presented the marketing tactics, educational programs, and ongoing campaigns that partners could utilize to their advantage. Following each presentation was a Q&A to receive feedback, and hear new ideas directly from the trail sites.

“It’s so nice to come together with other tourism organizations around Virginia and share our ideas,” said Ashley Abruzzo, representing Germanna Foundation. “It really helps us recognize diversity and everything Virginia has done for the nation.”

After the presentations, many of the attendees said that the Commemoration would add value to their site, and the American Evolution programs were a good fit for their organizations.

“It will boost our statewide and other initiatives, and help save sites that would otherwise be forgotten,” said Ashley Ramey from Preservation Virginia, “The historical elements of the commemoration really brings to the forefront all the other issues that we are confronting as a nation.”

Kathy Spangler, American Evolution Executive Director, charged the attendees with joining the commemoration’s efforts and helping turn the eyes of the world on Virginia.

“If we all work together, and hop on this Ferris Wheel, we are going to make an impact on not just Virginia, but the entire country.”