2024 Virgo Awards

Established in 2009, the Virgo Awards recognize and celebrate the success of destination marketing organizations along with their respective staff members and volunteers. 

VIRGO is a Latin derivative of our state’s name “Virginia” and related to the Roman Goddess you see in the Virginia State flag “Virtus.”  With “VIRGO” being an astrological sign and one of the largest constellations in the sky, it was used by early settlers and explorers as they “visited” new worlds, and it is a way that VADMO can honor our “brightest stars.”

"Each year, VADMO honors the best and brightest in Virginia's tourism industry. Whether it is an innovative marketing campaign, a wildly successful destination event, or a top-notch tourism professional; the Virgo Awards showcase the immense talent and dedication of VADMO's members.  It's a friendly competition that provides an excellent opportunity for statewide recognition, as well as peer assessment for our destination marketing organization."

- Theresa Earles

Tourism Development Manager, City of Suffolk

& VADMO Virgo Program Chair

Judging Criteria

All entries were to occur or be completed between January 1, 2023 - December 31, 2023. The entries were graded on a 100-point scale, based on the following criteria areas:

Entry Presentation—10 points

This includes entry nomination design, innovation, and thoroughness of presentation and application. Nominations also adhered to entry procedures and respond to specific criteria outlined in the judging criteria.

Quality—30 points

Entries were judged on quality of design, concept, execution, and the materials or medium of the project. Creativity in project design, development, implementation, message delivery, and originality.

Efficiency—30 points

This includes effective use of materials, manpower, resources, and budget. Describe the purpose and various elements of the program, activity, or campaign.

Community or Economic Impact—30 points

Entries were only required to meet either community or economic impact,

Community—Impact of the program on the community regarding community pride, involvement and enhancement.

Economic— Impact of the program on the community in terms of new business, revenue, exposure, etc.

VADMO Recognizes the following organizations and campaigns at the 2024 Spring Symposium:

ADVERTISING & PROMOTIONS: DMO budgets more than $1 Million

The category recognizes advertising and promotion projects, with budgets of more than $1M, which engage the visitor prior to and during their visit to a destination.  This includes: Brochures, magazines, newsletters, supplements or ads (including print ad campaigns), and Online and eMarketing: Digital campaigns, pay-per-click, e-mail, e-Newsletters, social media marketing, and a combination of these advertising media.

Visit Williamsburg is the recipient of the VIRGO Advertising and Promotions Award for budgets more than $1 Million with the Life At Your Pace campaign. 

Visit Williamsburg’s 2023 integrated advertising and marketing “Life. At Your Pace.” strategy shattered traditional practices as it sought to increase awareness and overnight visitation through expanding its exposure to reach new audiences. The campaign was recharged across all its platforms of broadcast, CTV, print, and display, as well as its digital channels. In fact, the campaign took a bold step by further expanding its reach via its social channels and its WilliamsBLOG through fresh content that not only focused and delivered the right story to the right audience but built personal trust and credibility by consistently providing valuable, authentic narratives that engaged followers in key markets to look at the destination with a modern, fresh perspective.

The “Life. At Your Pace” campaign reenergized its message in 2023 with a keen focus on telling a compelling, more detailed, story of what a visitor can expect when strolling the destination’s brick paved streets. The campaign relayed the modern discoveries they would make while linking to its past. Advertising and social content narratives spanned across Black history themes, family travel, holiday celebrations in Williamsburg, relaxation and wellness, food and beverage, outdoor activities, distilleries and wineries, couples travel, LGBTIQA+ travel, and multi-generational travel.

ADVERTISING & PROMOTIONS:  DMO Budgets Less Than $1 Million

The category recognizes advertising and promotion projects, with budgets of more than $1M, which engage the visitor prior to and during their visit to a destination.  This includes: Brochures, magazines, newsletters, supplements or ads (including print ad campaigns), and Online and eMarketing: Digital campaigns, pay-per-click, e-mail, e-Newsletters, social media marketing, and a combination of these advertising media.

Harrisonburg is the recipient of the VIRGO Advertising and Promotions for budgets Less Than $1M for the Harrisonburg Rockingham County Trail Guide.

Harrisonburg’s Trail guide highlights Harrisonburg as the Outdoor Recreation Capital of the Shenandoah Valley showing their proximity to Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive, and the Appalachian Trail to the East and the more remote George Washington Forest to the West. They wanted to highlight our outdoor recreation culture and amenities to avid outdoor enthusiasts within a drive area. Harrisonburg focused on people in the D.C. metro area and beyond who want authentic experiences but prefer to stay in a comfortable hotel and have a great meal and a craft beer at the end of the day. They saw increased visitation at the Visitor Center and also significant visitation to trail guide pages on the website. For the first time, area trails were in the Top 10 and Top 20 most popular pages month after month on the website. This has also led to a collaboration with the local Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition. Harrisonburg is partnering with them to improve and expand area trails and are also partnering with a Gear Library who is translating the guide into Spanish. Trek Travel put several gravel cycling excursions in their course catalog and bring cyclists to Harrisonburg for the first time. (The trail guide includes five trails for bicycles as well.) This resulted in hundreds of new room nights booked.


Creative and successful tourism initiatives that showcase a destination’s niche tourism market. This Award may include but is not limited to the following types of tourism: Eco/Adventure; Culture/Heritage; Photographic; Religious; Arts & Music; Special Interest/Other.

This year’s recipient of the VIRGO Niche Tourism Award is: Smithfield Isle of Wight for their BOB FEST; Smithfield Wine & Brew Fest; and Bacon Bourbon Fest

Target audience/market for all three events are food, spirits, wine and brew aficionados. The project goals of the events are to:

  • 1.     Feature food and beverage items that highlight Smithfield as well as Virginia by focusing on Smithfield pork products; local oysters; local and Virginia Wines; local and Virginia brews, local and Virginia bourbons.
  • 2.     Take volunteerism to a whole new level. SVAE uses about 300-400 volunteers at every festival and all of them raise funds for their organization or favorite charity. SVAE works with non-profit groups, civic organizations, military organizations and corporations that have foundations or businesses who want to volunteer and donate to their favorite cause. As many local charities, non-profits and organizations look for ways to fund their projects, SVAE offers them a chance to earn organizational dollars by assisting at each event. Each volunteer group's manpower hours earn their charity, non-profit or organization $10-$12 per hour for fest work in preparation for, during or after each event. This model has enabled many groups to earn far more money and do far more community good than ever before.
  • 3.     Economic Impact! All the events but particularly BOB FEST in January promotes and increases tourism and economic impact in shoulder and low seasons for the almost 100% locally owned and operated small businesses in Smithfield and Isle of Wight.


Tourism works best when partners collaborate. In a difficult economy it is crucial to leverage all marketing dollars and what better way than to partner with those nearby stakeholders, each sharing in a region’s success.

The REGIONAL MARKETING INITATIVE category awards two or more cities, counties or towns that have established a program, event or campaign that markets a region as a consolidated tourism destination.

Pulaski County is the recipient of the Regional Marketing Initiative Award

The future of Visit NRV is bright! The DMO received a VTC MLP grant in the Fall that is providing funds to design an updated regional trail guide. The new trail guide will include representation from each of our localities. The brochure will also be 4x9 with a folded 8x9 open layout. It will be in color and include contact information for all partners and logo for Virginia is for Lovers.

This rack-card sized, multi-pages, full-color trail guide will highlight foot, horse, water, and

cycle trail opportunities throughout the Visit NRV area. Each locality will feature 3-5 trails.

Information on safety, visitation, partners will also be included. They will produce 18,000 copies with this budget as well as a digital format that can be included on the website.

Since launching the official brand and website, Visit NRV has seen great success. In May of

2023, a launch event was held to promote Visit NRV’s new logo and website. This event

was strategically held during National Travel & Tourism Week.  Pulaski has also seen an increase in their social platforms engagement and following with Facebook 83.6K reach and 516 link clicks (since launch of website) and Instagram 2.4k reach and 1.4k followers.


Events that showcase the treasured assets of our state and result in bringing visitors to Virginia are an integral part of the tourism industry in the Commonwealth.  The Destination Event of the Year category includes events, festivals, sports tournaments, concerts, reenactments, and shows that generated a significant number of visitors.

Pulaski Tourism is the recipient of the VIRGO DESTINATION EVENT OF THE YEAR Award for “Pulaski Tourism Camping World SRX Race Series

Pulaski County hosting the Camping World SRX Race was part of a strategic plan to not only create an over the top tourist attraction and boast Pulaski County’s tourism assets during the live ESPN broadcast, but also highlight Pulaski County Motorsports Park as a world-class destination for auto racing and as a premier outdoor recreation and events venue.
The SRX Race brought more than 10,000+/- people to the Pulaski County Motorsports Park. In addition to those sitting in the stands, 391 million viewers tuned in to watch the race live on ESPN. Pulaski County residents were having viewing parties in their backyards to watch their local community sit in the spotlight on national television for one night. Viewers also got to see commercials the Pulaski County Tourism Team produced that masterfully highlighted Pulaski County as a prime destination for outdoor recreation and adventure.


In Virginia, we are fortunate to have a vast array of tourism assets.  But our resources don’t sell themselves. To market these assets and to get groups of people to come here requires Best in Class staff and leaders. This Award honors the hard work and success of a tourism professional or team that has greatly affected their destination through creativity, teamwork, leadership, exceeding expectations, etc. This individual or team may be in marketing, sales, event planning, visitor services, fundraising/sponsorship, etc.

Gloucester County is the recipient of the VIRGO Award for Tourism Team of the Year.

The Gloucester Parks, Recreation & Tourism team provides year-round support for increased tourism efforts in Gloucester County. The staff at Gloucester PRT continues to provide above excellent services to visitors at our parks and during county sponsored events. Without our team, large events like the annual Daffodil Festival, which annually brings in over 20,000 residents and visitors to Main Street, would not be what they are today.

The Gloucester Parks, Recreation & Tourism team, even though smaller than most, is a powerhouse of motivation and ever evolving ideas for tourism here in Gloucester.


They are the face of your community. Behind those rack cards and maps is a person leading a team of volunteers and staff welcoming visitors to your community. They must be an organized and knowledgeable. They need to encourage visitors to spend more time and money in your community with a smile. We celebrate these important people with the Visitor Center of the Year award.

Gloucester County is the recipient of the VIRGO Award for Visitor Center of the Year.

The Gloucester Visitor Center continues to provide outstanding tourist services for our

area. Located in the historic courthouse circle on Main Street, our visitor center is the first

stop for visitors to the area or locals wanting to learn more about the area. The Visitor

Center provides an upgraded experience for tourists and residents alike. This is the

perfect spot to stop for local information or to find that unique gift for that hard to buy for


The Gloucester Visitor Center is also operated by dedicated volunteers 7 days a week and managed by a hardworking visitor center coordinator, Amy Steele. We believe that local volunteers bring the best guidance to our visitors as most of them were born and raised here.

VADMO Thanks and Congratulates these honorees for creating such exciting initiatives in Tourism.

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