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Wednesday,  May 22, 2024 4:48 AM 

Culture, cuisine served up by Virginia

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  •   03-13-2015  10:28 am

Culture, cuisine served up by Virginia

Benjamin Fiore-Walker, Alexandria town crier & Jane Lammay, international marketing, Virginia Tourism CorporationThe many sides of Virginia tourism were highlighted during an event on Mar. 11, from its political and military history to culture and cuisine.

Several travel partners from the cultural region in northern Virginia were on hand, including representatives from the communities of Fairfax County, Arlington, Prince William County, Alexandria and Loudoun.

The region’s cuisine was also front and centre during the event, with a menu by Chef Matt Hill (featuring the state’s famed peanut chowder) and wines from the region by winemaker Sebastien Marquet, who came to Virginia by way of Burgundy, France.

According to Jennifer Buske-Sigal of Visit Loudoun, home to more than 40 of the state’s 250 wineries, the region’s burgeoning reputation as a wine destination has been slowly building in recent years, with a recent story by Bloomberg Business cementing that designation. This recent development is entwined with local history, with many wineries springing up in historic homes and buildings, including one on the former grounds of a Civil War hospital. A growing craft beer scene is also taking root in Virginia, she said, with eight breweries in Loudoun alone.

Currently, a number of savings are being offered to Canadian travellers for different attractions and sights as a way of enticing tourism from Canada during the weakened state of the loonie. These promotions include a ‘Key To the City’ museum pass for nine historic sites in the region, available to Canadians who show their passport to admissions staff.Winemakers Sebastien Marquet & Isabelle Truchon

With communities such as Arlington and Alexandria located just outside of Washington D.C., the partners noted that such communities boast plenty of accommodations for travellers seeing the sights of the U.S. capital, but at a fraction of the cost of staying right in the city.

The region is inextricably tied to U.S. history and politics. Visitors to Prince William County can not only see the home of George Washington but also dine in an historic tavern where the first U.S. president is said to have spent time.

Military history is also a major tourism draw in the area, with the 600-acre Arlington National Cemetery drawing countless numbers of travellers each year.

The Museum of the Marine Corps in Prince William County, which is free to visit, is currently undergoing a seven-year expansion project, said representative Nicole Warner. She explained that while the museum currently details Marine history up to Vietnam, the expansion project will eventually cover the history of the service until the present day.

Chef Matt Hill prepares a peanut chowderHistory is tied into the region’s arts and culture as well. Arlington representative Cara O’Donnell said that many historic buildings have been repurposed as art galleries, bearing names such as The Torpedo Factory and The Candy Factory hinting at their former uses. Additionally, Virginia’s Wolf Trap Performing Arts Centre – the only U.S. National Park dedicated to performance – draws many top-billed acts, with performers such as Santana and Sheryl Crow scheduled for this summer.

And with much of the region’s historic architecture still intact, Claire Mouledoux of Visit Alexandria said that the downtown districts of the local communities within the cultural region have evolved into modern shopping and dining destinations boasting an historic charm, known to draw President Barack Obama on the occasional weekend out.

Getting there

Currently, Porter Airlines offers round-trip service from Toronto to Washington-Dulles Airport three times a day, with a fourth flight scheduled for the summer, according to Porter’s Brad Cicero.

PHOTO: Chef Matt Hill; Mark Kowalewski, director of sales, Prince William & Manassas; Jane Lammay, international marketing, Virginia Tourism Corporation; Wendy Ferrigno, tourism marketing manager, Visit Loudoun; Nicole Warner, marketing and communications specialist, Prince William & Manassas; Jennifer Buske-Sigal, media relations manager, Visit Loudoun; Cara O'Donnell, public relations manager, Arlington; Melissa Ritchie, destination manager, Alexandria; Benjamin Fiore-Walker, Alexandria town crier (seated); Claire Mouledoux, director of communications, Visit Alexandria; Brad Cicero, director, communications & public affairs, Porter Airlines; Sana Keller, president, Pulse Communications; Ali Morris, destination marketing specialist, Fairfax County; winemakers Isabelle Truchon and Sebastien Marquet.