(Updated at 2:05 p.m. on 9/13/2023) The Commonwealth of Virginia will take center stage at Tysons Corner Center this Saturday (Sept. 16).
The first annual Celebrate Virginia festival will enliven the Plaza at Tysons Corner Center from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with beer and wine tastings as well as live entertainment, an artisan market and a mural painted in real time.
“We are excited to bring the community together at our inaugural Celebrate Virginia event, which highlights everything that makes our home state special,” said Jesse Benites, the director of property management for the mall’s owner, Macerich. “We will be showcasing small Virginia-based businesses, artists, and talent and are thrilled with the support and collaboration from our public officials and community partners.”
Some of those officials are slated to make appearances, including Rep. Gerry Connolly, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay, and representatives of the county’s police and fire departments and George Mason University.
Organized in partnership with Visit Fairfax — Fairfax County’s official destination marketing agency — and the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC), Celebrate Virginia will be generally open to the public and free to attend.
The only exception is the V.I.P. Wine and Wellness Tent, which requires $40 tickets. The tent will offer tastings from eight different Virginia wineries and access to a pop-up from the five-star resort and spa Salamander Middleburg, where attendees can create a personalized aromatherapy oil.
Proceeds from the ticket sales will go to the Merrifield-based nonprofit Food for Others.
As for the free attractions, there will be beer tastings from five breweries, including Chantilly’s Strange Fruit Brewing, Smartmouth Brewing from Hampton Roads and Brother Craft Brewing from Harrisonburg.
The musical line-up will feature:
- 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. — DanYko (Alexandria)
- 1-2:30 p.m. — Tejas & Felix (Fairfax City)
- 3-4 p.m. — Zac Quintana & Shawn Cody (Manassas)
The Artisan Makers Market will be similarly stacked with vendors based in Virginia, including many in Fairfax County:
- Inner Loop Coffee Roasters (Falls Church)
- Mother Cluster’s (Fairfax)
- Snugabutter (Annandale)
- Nordic Knot (Reston)
- River Sea Chocolates (Chantilly)
- The Humble Hustle Company (Roanoke)
- Trupti’s Craft: Quilling Gifts (Fairfax)
- Alyssa Mae Crafts (Tysons)
Throughout the day, visitors can also help paint a community mural with Loudoun-based artist Kevin Bednarz, whose work mixes street art, graphics and “original styles,” according to Tysons Corner Center.
“The design will be pre-sketched, and event attendees will be able to paint and bring the mural to life throughout the event,” the mall said. “The final product will be a large piece painted by the community to be exhibited within the shopping center.”
There will also be a “Spin the Tysons Wheel” with limited edition “Virginia is for Shopping Lovers” custom shirts, beanie hats, picnic blankets and other merchandise as the prizes.
“Virginia’s artisan, craft beer, and wine industries have become important drivers of Virginia’s tourism economy, making the Commonwealth an ideal destination for travelers who are seeking authentic, experiential attractions,” VTC Director of Communications Andrew Cothern said. “This event will provide an excellent locally made experience of everything Virginia has to offer firsthand.”
Visit Fairfax President and CEO Barry Biggar said in a statement that the agency is “thrilled” to help celebrate “talented artisans, makers and musicians” from Fairfax County and across the state.
Organizers hope Celebrate Virginia will become a recurring occasion. It will likely return annually to Tysons Corner Center, which was the “brainchild behind this event,” according to a Visit Fairfax spokesperson.
“We hope residents and visitors alike will come out to see what this amazing destination is all about and even take home a unique piece of Virginia,” Biggar said.
With the summer tourism season in full swing, Virginia’s “LOVEworks” marketing campaign has traveled beyond the Commonwealth’s borders for the first time.
Last week, Fairfax County ventured up the I-95 corridor to give a sign to Philadelphia, launching an effort to draw the denizens of the City of Brotherly Love to the home of the first U.S. president, among other attractions.
Unveiled outside the Philadelphia Fashion District shopping mall on June 28, the new sign is the first one permanently gifted outside Virginia, according to Visit Fairfax, the county’s official tourism agency.
“On behalf of Fairfax County, we are so excited to welcome Philadelphians to our vibrant destination, and we hope this new campaign will inspire them to explore the many historical, cultural, natural and whimsical treasures found here,” Visit Fairfax President and CEO Barry Biggar said. “Whether it’s a quick weekend getaway or a lengthier family vacation to the National Capital Region, this campaign indeed highlights how easy it is to get to Northern Virginia and just how much this region has to offer.”
According to Visit Fairfax, Philadelphia already represents “major” source of tourism for the county based on visits, spending and website traffic.
However, the LOVE sign, which will be on display in Philly throughout the summer, is part of a new “multi-faceted, comprehensive and integrated” campaign that the agency has planned in conjunction with the statewide Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC).
Funded with money from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the campaign will highlight connections between Virginia’s largest county and Pennsylvania’s largest city, Visit Fairfax says in a press release:
Campaign elements showcase the unique parallels between Fairfax County and Philadelphia and include digital display at Fashion District Philadelphia, traditional out of home, streaming audio and video, social media, and other in-market activations throughout the summer months. The campaign creative features iconic Fairfax County attractions that share a synergy with beloved Philly symbols, such as George Washington’s Mount Vernon paired with Independence Hall; Mason Neck Wildlife Refuge as the first to protect bald eagles paired with Philadelphia’s favorite football team; and Macerich-owned Tysons Corner Center, paired with its sister property, Fashion District Philadelphia; among others.
Visit Fairfax notes that the sign “complements” Philadelphia’s long-standing “LOVE” sculpture by artist Robert Indiana. The two installations are located less than a mile apart.
“We are definitely feeling the ‘love’ here at Fashion District Philadelphia,” Fashion District Philadelphia Property Manager Ryan Williams said. “…Northern Virginia is a wonderful visitor destination with so much to offer Philadelphians — the good feelings between our two East Coast regions are certainly mutual!”
The LOVEworks signs stem from the “Virginia is for Lovers” slogan adopted by the VTC — then called the Virginia State Travel Service — in 1969. The ad campaign attempted to appeal to younger generations in the hippie and free love era, according to the VTC’s website.
“These signs are very popular with travelers coming to Virginia and are often the backdrop of visitors’ engagement photos, weddings, or other special occasions,” VTC Director of Communications Andrew Cothern said. “We hope residents of Philadelphia will see the LOVEwork in Fashion District and be inspired to plan a vacation in Virginia.”
The D.C. area house-hunting series will take its hosts, Washingtonians John Begeny and Christine Louise, on a tour of Vienna’s history, landmarks and residential real estate offerings in an episode set to air Monday (Feb. 13).
While the show is now in its third season, the producers say Vienna has long been on their radar as a potential destination.
“We have folks on our film crew that live in Vienna, so they were thrilled to see it on our list for Season 3,” executive producer Jeffrey Eagle said. “It’s also a place that’s often mentioned as being wonderful for families and a community that’s connected through outdoor spaces, local events and a Main Street that feels both cozy and historic.”
Launched in February 2021, “If You Lived Here” brings its hosts together with local realtors to guess the list prices of local houses and visit attractions in neighborhoods around the D.C. region.
The show’s team researches each location extensively before visiting, according to series producer Paige Smith Lee, who cites local news outlets like the Washington Post and DCist as good resources. They also often get stories and tips once they start contacting interview subjects.
“Each individual area…has a history to share and a great community spirit,” Louise said in a statement. “When we tour the individual homes, we are digging even deeper into specific neighborhoods learning what makes each special from the folks who live there and work in each.”
Vienna is ready for its close-up! Monday, Feb. 13 at 9 p.m. is a must-see TV moment for the Town of Vienna! That's when the town will be featured on the popular @PBS program #IfYouLivedHere on @wetatvfm channel 26. Click here for more details: https://t.co/uBsd4d4Xo9. pic.twitter.com/weLzrzISZr
— Town of Vienna, VA (@TownofViennaVA) February 8, 2023
For Vienna, the team wanted to highlight the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad, since the tracks — now the W&OD Trail — ran through the heart of the town. The train will give the show a way to discuss how the local population has grown and changed over the years, Eagle says.
“The Freeman Store and Museum was an easy choice to make as one of our stories,” Eagle said. “The conversion of those tracks to the W&OD walking and bike trails also meant the chance to see residents on the go, exercising and in their daily lives.”
Led by local real estate agent Lex Lianos, the episode will feature tours of three houses: a “fixer-upper” in Stonewall Manor, a renovated home sitting on an acre lot, and a modern home built in 2020, according to WETA.
Not everything filmed during the show’s three-day shoot last spring made it into the final cut. Smith Lee says she found the history of the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department “really interesting,” but it didn’t fit into the episode’s 28-minute runtime.
The episode will air at 9 p.m. on WETA PBS and 8 p.m. on WETA Metro. It will also be available to stream on the PBS app.
“If You Lived Here” will return to Fairfax County for its penultimate episode this season, which will focus on Annandale and air on March 6.
Local artists could get their work seen by tens of millions of people under a new partnership between Tysons Corner Center and Fairfax County’s official arts agency.
Property owner and developer Macerich announced yesterday (Tuesday) that it has teamed up with ArtsFairfax on an initiative to enlist individual artists and groups “to activate several spaces” in the mall with temporary installations.
The selected artwork will be on display for at least eight weeks, according to the press release:
The goals for this initiative are to create unique and interactive art environments, echo Tysons Corner Center as a contemporary and creative destination, and most importantly, to showcase the talents of local artists and arts organizations.
This unique collaboration will enable the more than 22 million yearly visitors who explore Tysons Corner Center’s retail and entertainment offerings to discover the diversity, creativity, and quality of visual artists from the Fairfax region.
The submission period opened on July 7, and contracts will be awarded on a rolling basis through Dec. 31, according to ArtsFairfax.
Applications can be filed through ArtsFairfax’s website, but they’re being evaluated solely by Macerich.
Tysons Corner Center also announced yesterday that it has recently acquired a permanent installation: a 6-foot-tall, 7,000-pound “LOVE” sign.
The sign comes from the Virginia Tourism Corporation as part of its ongoing “LOVE works” campaign, which has placed more than 300 similar signs across the state. The Tysons Corner Center sign will be just the third in Fairfax County, joining displays at Reston Station and the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton.
“The steel display features a uniquely designed ‘V’ that represents the shopping center,” Tysons Corner Center said in the press release. “This installation also has a QR code in which, upon scanning, visitors will learn about tourism in Fairfax County and things to do in the surrounding area.”
The mall says the installation was funded with a grant from the VTC’s DRIVE Tourism 2.0 plan, which is the state’s blueprint for promoting travel and tourism, and “was made possible through a partnership with Visit Fairfax and Virginia Tourism.”
Visit Fairfax is exploring the idea of a tourism improvement district, which could mean an added fee to hotel stays and other amenities.
The tourism organization’s president and CEO, Barry Biggar, said the proposal could go to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for a vote this September. The fee would go toward marketing the region, in accordance with a General Assembly law passed last year.
Biggar says southern Fairfax County will be targeted for the district, which would act on its own authority and set fees that could vary for different business types. It would mark a first for the county and could be a model for other areas, he said.
“That money then is collected, accumulated and used purely for the purpose of marketing, promoting the area…which collects the money, but also capital development and capital improvement,” Biggar told FFXnow.
The move could generate an estimated $1 million per year from hotels and restaurants, Biggar said.
It comes amid a county effort to revitalize and rebrand the Route 1 corridor. So far, that push has brought promises of bus rapid transit and a “Potomac Banks: Explore Fairfax South” tourism campaign with a discount pass for historic sites, partnering businesses and more.
“Only the hotels here in the area would be included, so that wouldn’t be added to a Tysons hotel,” Biggar said of the possible fee. “For a hotel, they may go, ‘We’ll do a dollar a room per night.’ For a restaurant, they may go…a half a percent of the total bill. For an attraction, you know, maybe 50 cents per admission.”
Just in time for the summer tourist season, Fairfax County is stepping up its efforts to promote the amenities in its southeastern area, providing a discount pass for admissions and more.
County and tourism officials, along with staff of George Washington’s Mount Vernon, touted a new digital pass yesterday (Wednesday) that gives visitors at historic sites and other destinations 20% off admissions and other deals.
Launched last December, the branding campaign is called “Potomac Banks: Explore Fairfax South” and was developed by the digital marketing agency Streetsense. It was showcased during a media event outside the first president’s mansion overlooking the Potomac River.
“Fairfax South is the place to be,” said Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck, who started the Mount Vernon Tourism Task Force in 2019 that led to the branding.
Storck, who was a President Abe Lincoln re-enactor for 25 years, said his love of history was a driving force in showcasing the region’s amenities.
An original marketing push rolled out in February 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic soon took hold in the U.S., particularly damaging the hotel and restaurant industries, Storck said.
The effort also includes one year of marketing with a business development campaign, said Barry Biggar, president and CEO of Visit Fairfax, the area’s official tourism organization.
“Now the real work begins,” he said.
Savings pass launched to promote region
The pandemic-induced delay meant the marketing effort could include a new feature: the Potomac Banks Savings Pass, a $46 pass that gives discounted admission to partnering sites, including George Washington’s Mount Vernon, George Mason’s Gunston Hall and Woodlawn & Pope-Leighey House.
The pass, which has a $25 version for kids ages 6 through 11, also provides deals on tours, gifts and activities at sites such as the National Museum of the U.S. Army, the Workhouse Arts Center, G34.3 Brewing Co., Woodlawn Press Winery and Historic Huntley.
The pass is valid for 90 days, but once it’s first redeemed at a site, it lasts for seven days.
While Washington’s historic property has weathered the pandemic and had buses of visitors there yesterday, other sites will be able to cross-promote.
— Mount Vernon (@MountVernon) May 18, 2022
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said teachers and textbooks are amazing, but nothing can replace experiencing history in person, and there are historic assets right in people’s backyards to enjoy that people from across the world come to visit.
Biggar said there are plans to create the county’s first tourism improvement district in southern Fairfax County. He said it could be a model for the rest of the region.
According to Biggar, Fairfax County’s tourism dollars generate the most revenue for the Commonwealth of any jurisdiction. The county’s tourism industry generated more than $3 billion in 2019, and he projects it will reach $4.5 billion in five years.