Here’s a roundup of news briefs from around Southwest and Southside. Send yours for possible inclusion to

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Southwest Virginia tourism awards announced

Friends of Southwest Virginia has announced its annual Southwest Virginia Tourism Awards.

The contest was open to tourism organizations, tourism and economic development individuals, and tourism-related businesses located within the 19 counties and four cities of the Southwest Virginia region.

Winners were chosen by a panel of tourism industry professionals from across the Southeastern U.S.

Excellence in tourism leadership:

  • Rising Star: Grace Cooper, Patrick County Tourism
  • Shining Star – outstanding tourism leader: Dylan Locke, Floyd Country Store
  • Outstanding destination organization leadership award: Tonya Triplett, Visit Abingdon
  • Outstanding tourism leader: Peggy White, Pulaski County 
  • Outstanding hotel manager: Catrina Mullins, The Sessions Hotel
  • Outstanding tourism partner: The Bristol Hotel
  • Outstanding visitor center employee: Shannon Ford, Chamber of Commerce of Smyth County

Excellence in tourism marketing awards:

  • Best visitor guide: Visit Wytheville, 2022 Wytheville Visitor Guide
  • Best rack card or brochure: Floyd County Tourism, Floyd Outdoors; Smyth County Tourism Association, Smyth County Visitor Guide
  • Best print ad: Blue Ridge Institute & Museum, 50th Anniversary of the Blue Ridge Folk Life Festival; Patrick County Tourism, Virginia Living – wine ad
  • Best magazine guide: City of Norton, The High Knob Adventure Guide; Patrick County Tourism, Patrick County Magazine (Fall 2022)
  • Best short video: Grayson County Tourism, “Grayson County – Elevated By Nature”
  • Best long video: Scott County Tourism, “Find Your Wanderlove in Scott County – Stay a Week. A Month. A Lifetime.”; Visit Wytheville, “Get Lost and Discover Wytheville”
  • Best video series for an attraction: Burke’s Garden Artisan Guild
  • Best video series for a destination: High Knob Regional Initiative/UVA Wise, “Growing Smart on High Knob”
  • Best video for an event: Grayson County Tourism, “Grayson County, Virginia: Natural Rhythms”
  • Best new website for an attraction: Carter Family Fold
  • Best new website for a locality: Big Stone Gap; Visit NRV
  • Best social media campaign: Franklin County Economic Development, Franklin County Shines; Birthplace of Country Music, Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion
  • Best overall destination marketing campaign: Visit Wytheville, Get Lost in the Moments … Not the Crowd

Excellence in tourism partners awards:

  • Outstanding visitor center: HL Bonham Regional Tourism Center, Smyth County
  • Outstanding meeting venue: Rural Retreat Depot Foundation; Wytheville Meeting Center
  • Outstanding hotel: Trinkle Mansion Bed & Breakfast
  • Outstanding attraction: Sinkland Farms
  • Outstanding new tourism businesses: Primitive Coffee – Antique Market & Bakery; Marion Outdoors
  • Outstanding one-day event: Wytheville Wine Festival; New River Valley Sheep and Goat Festival
  • Outstanding festival with two or more days: Blue Highway Fest; FloydFest; Old-Time Fiddlers Convention

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Lynchburg announces unveiling of Thornhill statue

Lynchburg will unveil its new Mayor M.W. “Teedy” Thornhill Jr. statue at 10 a.m. Aug. 19.

The statue is at the Fifth Street Roundabout (Fifth and Federal streets). The program will include guest speakers, music and light refreshments. It will be held rain or shine.

Murrell Warren “Teedy” Thornhill Jr. was Lynchburg’s first African American mayor and a civil rights activist. He served on the Lynchburg City Council from 1976 to 1990 and was mayor from 1990 until 1992.

Thornhill also was president of the Lynchburg Voter’s League for more than 40 years and was president and owner of the Community Funeral Home.

He died in 2016 after a long illness.

The life-sized statue was cast by Carolina Bronze of Seagrove, North Carolina.

For more information, visit or

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University of Lynchburg to offer outdoor leadership program

The University of Lynchburg is launching an outdoor leadership certification program.

The program, which is independent of the university’s academic programs, is made up of eight courses and is intended to prepare students for a career in the outdoor industry. Classes can be completed in as little as one year but must be completed within three years, according to a news release about the program.

The certificate prepares students to sit for the Wilderness Education Association Certified Outdoor Leader exam.

The program includes five core courses, and students also choose three classes from a number of electives including rock climbing, fly fishing and paddle sports.

Courses are held in evenings and on weekends. The total cost of the program is $2,800 for tuition-paying University of Lynchburg students, $3,200 for students from other colleges and universities, and $3,600 for non-college students and members of the general public.

For more information, email Tim Slusser at

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Moss Arts Center announces 2023-24 season performances

The Moss Arts Center in Blacksburg has announced its 2023-24 season, and tickets are now on sale.

The season features Broadway productions, jazz and global music, innovative dance and theatre works and classical favorites. A special collection of programs examines the impact of climate change.

Among the scheduled performances are Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, Meshell Ndegeocello, Deantoni Parks, Javon Jackson with Nikki Giovanni and Nnenna Freelon and Winona LaDuke. The full season lineup is online.

Tickets for individual performances can be purchased online; at the Moss Arts Center box office, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday; or by calling 540-231-5300 during box office hours.

Subscriptions for the 2023-24 season offer discounted prices, priority seat selection and first access to major events. Student and youth tickets are always $10 per performance, including in subscriptions.