From Pulaski County
Pulaski County Tourism received a total of five awards at the annual Southwest Virginia Tourism Awards held in Wytheville, VA on August 22, 2022. These awards, presented by the Friends of Southwest Virginia, recognize the region’s tourism and marketing efforts.
The judges panel included professionals from outside of the Southwest Virginia region. The judges were Daniel Cook, the Director of Marketing and Communications for Visit Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, Maryland; Meagan Jolley, Senior Manager of Public Relations and Social Media at See Rock City Inc.; Hayley Musson, a communications and marketing professional who had worked globally; and Jill Thompson, who is the Executive Director at Greater Knoxville Hospitality Association.
In the “Excellence in Tourism Marketing” category, Pulaski County won awards for Best New Website and Best Social Media Campaign. When Pulaski County Tourism became an official department in January of 2021, they began working with 5 Points Creative, a creative marketing agency based in Roanoke, to strategically create a brand that would accurately represent tourism in Pulaski County. Through these efforts, the tourism website, visitpulaskiva.org, had over 5,000 visitors from May 2021 to January 202, and Pulaski Tourism social media accounts saw a 70% increase in average engagement.
“We’ve worked so hard this year,” said Pulaski County Tourism Director, Peggy White. “The challenge was not finding things in Pulaski County to market—we already have a multitude of activities for visitors to enjoy. The challenge was finding the best way to market all that Pulaski County has to offer.”
Thee Draper Village received the award for “Outstanding Tourism Partner of the Year”. The “Play Outside” design, which was created by The Village’s marketing team, became a staple part of the Pulaski County Tourism brand. Thee Draper Village sold shirts, mugs, bags, and stickers that included the “Play Outside” design and donated 50% of the profits from those items to Pulaski County Tourism.
“I am grateful to be doing business in a county that has the foresight to see the benefits and opportunities that tourism brings to a community,” said Debbie Gardner, owner of Thee Draper
Mercantile. “It makes all of the investment dollars we’ve made and endless hours over the years feel appreciated. We’re proud to be part of Pulaski County and will continue doing what we can to support this area.”
Pulaski County Administrator, Jonathan Sweet, won the Shining Star Award for Tourism Executive of the Year. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Sweet saw an opportunity to create Pulaski County’s Tourism Department. Since the start of the department on January 1, 2021, Sweet has continued to be a key supporter and encourager for tourism efforts in Pulaski County.
“I am genuinely honored to have received such a prestigious recognition amongst so many worthy executives across this half of the Commonwealth, and moreover to share the stage with Thee Draper Village and our Tourism Team”, said Jonathan Sweet, County Administrator. “I am simply encouraged that we made the sound business decision to advance tourism in Pulaski County to the next level. It was the Board who invested in this strategic focus and the talents of Peggy White and Shelby Vandergriff that worked with our world-class business community to elevate tourism and generate the impressive returns on our investments.”
In addition, Pulaski County Tourism also received the “Outstanding One-Day Event of the Year” award for the Winterfest festival. The first Winterfest, held in December of 2021, attracted over 3,000 attendees consisting of locals, visitors, businesses, and industry. Various toys were donated by Phoenix Packaging and Lowe’s Fairlawn Woodworking Workshop, which were a highlight for the kids attending. Pulaski County High School Students, Pulaski County Parks and Recreation, and others helped bring the community closer together by participating in Winterfest.
Pulaski County Tourism is excited to continue to work closely with members of the community and local leaders to promote the area to visitors. Check out the award-winning website at: visitpulaskiva.org or follow along on social media @visitpulaskiva