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The Shepherdstown Visitors Center celebrates West Virginia Day in a new way

By Staff | Jul 6, 2018

Shepherdstown Visitors Center Director Marianne Davis shows off the West Virginia Day sticker in front of the centers visitor map. Davis said visitors may be posting social media photographs with the stickers from as far away as Europe

Every June 20, the Shepherdstown Visitors Center honors the anniversary of West Virginia’s founding in 1863.

While in recent years the center drew attention to the state’s anniversary by visiting one of the nearby I-81 welcome centers and talking about the anniversary with passersby, this year the center had a reason to celebrate the anniversary for the first time in its current location on South Princess Street.

“This year, it seemed important to capture the attention of people already in Shepherdstown,” said SVC Director Marianne Davis.

The celebration drew about 40 visitors and community members throughout the day, who learned about West Virginia’s history and shared milk and cookies, baked by Shepherdstown Sweet Shop Bakery, with SVC representatives.

One unique feature of this year’s West Virginia Day celebration was developed by the West Virginia Tourism Office, to encourage West Virginia pride across the state and around the world.

“After the success of last year’s #AlmostHeaven campaign, the Tourism Office has put together an exciting new social media campaign to continue the momentum in celebration of our state’s big 155 on June 20, 2018,” said West Virginia Tourism Commissioner Chelsea Ruby in a statement.

“The campaign, ‘155 Years of #AlmostHeaven,’ is a social sticker-sharing campaign, designed to celebrate West Virginia’s birthday by spotlighting the attractions and businesses that make it ‘Almost Heaven,'” Ruby said. “This year, we’ve decided to take our online campaign out on our country roads to help boost local economies and generate tourism spending in the process.”

The campaign featured newly-designed free commemorative stickers, which were given to 200 participating tourism partner locations across the state, including the SVC and Shepherdstown Sweet Shop Bakery. The partner locations gave the stickers to visitors, who were asked to “visit and explore West Virginia’s summer scenic vistas, activities and events” and publish photos of themselves with their stickers and #AlmostHeaven on social media over a two-week period.

Out of the 7,200 photo submissions, Governor Jim Justice unveiled the winning photographs — the top 11 of which won $500 for each photographer.

The photos were intended to be used by the tourism office on June 20 to compile a list of 155 ways to celebrate and enjoy the summer in West Virginia, but the office soon realized the campaign should continue, due to its popularity.

According to Davis, although the contest is over, the tourism office will continue to resupply its partner locations with stickers past June 20. Davis now hopes the campaign will last through the end of the summer.

“I think that we live in a state, about which a lot of people have terrible judgements. Some of their conceptions are based on fact, but West Virginia is lively, with a rich and deep culture, and a rich and deep history, and it’s important to celebrate that. We need to meet people where there conceptions are, and show them where they are wrong,” Davis said.