Highland County Chamber Receives Tourism Marketing Grant


Hi, this is Chris Swecker Executive Director of the Highland County Chamber of Commerce.

Governor Glenn Youngkin recently announced that the Highland County Chamber of Commerce received $20,000 from the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) Regional Marketing Program.  In total, VTC awarded more than $3.2 million for 236 local and regional tourism marketing programs across the state to help increase visitation and revenue for Virginia’s localities through tourism.

The Highland County Chamber received the $20,000 Virginia Special Events and Festivals Program Grant for promotion of the Highland County Maple Festival.  The Chamber supplied over $13,600 in matching in-kind and cash marketing and production funds.  The Chamber partners with local organizations like Highland County Public Schools, the Stonewall Ruritan Club, and Highland Tourism Council, as well as many others, for various aspects of the county-wide event annually.

Grant funds will be used to market the 64th Highland County Maple Festival, as “Virginia’s Sweetest Event of the Year!”    The festival is set for March 9-10 and 16-17, 2024.  Since 1959, the festival has celebrated pure Virginia maple syrup with sugar camp tours, arts & crafts vendors, and delicious food.  In addition to digital, print and radio advertising, funds will allow the Chamber to update the festival’s large welcome banners and to produce professional photography.  In 2022, a complimentary marketing campaign known as “Sweet Deal Days” provided visitors the chance to show their festival entry keychains at participating local businesses for discounts during certain dates of the year; additional monies from this grant will be used to promote upcoming Sweet Deal Days in 2023.  We’re hopeful to have our first Sweet Deal Days of 2023 starting in June.  Finally, a visitor shuttle service will be explored as part of the festival in 2024.

The Chamber is really excited at this opportunity to reach even more travelers in the region and beyond to let them know that maple syrup is produced in Virginia.  We know from a 2022 economic impact study that the festival not only brought 26,500 visitors to the area, but that it generated between $1.36 and $2.02 million in direct spending in Highland County.  We are once again humbled to receive the support of the Virginia Tourism Corporation to share our corner of the Commonwealth’s culinary treats and rural charm with thousands more next year.   As we like to say, “Virginia is for Maple Syrup Lovers!”

To learn more about Virginia Tourism Corporation’s Marketing Leverage and Regional Marketing Programs, you can go to www.vatc.org/grants

If you’d like to learn more about the Highland County Chamber of Commerce and the Highland County Maple Festival, you can visit www.highlandcounty.org or call 540-468-2550.

For Allegheny Mountain Radio, this is Chris Swecker.


Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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