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Visitors Center ready for summer tourism, theater festival

By Staff | May 18, 2018

Tabitha Johnston/Chronicle The Shepherdstown Visitors Center is ready for a summer full of events, such as the Contemporary American Theater Festival and Food Month.

The Shepherdstown Visitors Center is gearing up for a summer filled with tourists exploring Shepherdstown’s history, festivals, and dining and shopping experiences.

Along with the Contemporary American Theater Festival at Shepherd University, visitors and locals can look forward to new and returning events, like Street Fest, the Back Alley Garden Tour and Tea, and Food Month, which will be an organized effort highlighting local restaurants during CATF.

“Tourism is one of those things where people come and spend money, and fall in love, and then come back with more money. It doesn’t require people to move here,” SVC Director Marianne Davis said. “It really contributes to the life of the town, and many of our favorite restaurants and shops require that tourism so that they can remain in business for us to enjoy during the slower months.”

According to a report by Dean Runyan Associates, the Eastern Panhandle draws in 23 percent of the state’s tourism revenue, and in 2016, Jefferson County alone drew in $805 million.

“We try to meet the weather where it is, and try to meet the visitor where he or she is. We get all kinds of visitors-bikers, anglers, hikers, all sorts of people who love the outdoors. But we also have a lot of history buffs,” Davis said. “People are discovering we were not only part of Civil War, but we also had a lot of people here in 1776. One rifle regiment marched 450 miles from Shepherdstown to get to Cambridge in 1775.

“Culture buffs love us, not only for Two Rivers Chamber Orchestra, CATF, Appalachian Heritage Festival, The Appalachian Writers in Residence, Over the Mountain Studio Tour and The Black Box Arts Center, but also because we have ghosts,” Davis said. “People love to come to the site of the place that is considered the most haunted town in America.”

Davis said volunteerism is a big part of what makes Shepherdstown special to him.

“My favorite thing about being director is working with the volunteers, because they are fabulous,” she said, adding that SVC has about 30 volunteers on various committees and events. New volunteers are always welcome, no matter their personalities or backgrounds.

“We have a volunteer in her mid-80s who is the funniest, most irreverent woman,” Davis said. “We have another volunteer who’s a little younger than her, who’s the most spiritual person and into astrology. We have scientists, we have a retired librarian, we have artists, we have a retired nurse, we have a volunteer who’s a student at Shepherd.”

To find out more about SVC or to volunteer, visit SVC@shepherdstown.info or call 304-876-2786.