Joining Shenandoah’s 75th celebration

Event ‘endorsement’

An application form (due Jan. 1) and guidelines will be emailed back to interested parties by Laura Overstreet at the Office of Tourism to anyone who sends a request to info@visitrappahannockva.com.

The park’s anniversary Web site is celebrateshenandoah.org.

Representatives of the National Park Service briefed a sparse Rappahannock audience — which included County Administrator John W. McCarthy — at Washington’s Town Hall Monday night on the year-long 75th anniversary celebration of Shenandoah National Park, urging the community to participate by applying for “event endorsement.”

“It’s important for people to see the park come out of the park” and reach into local communities, said SNP management assistant Karen Beck-Herzog. The mission of the celebration, she said, “is to inspire the public to value the park resources . . . and infuse surrounding communities . . . with a sense of ownership and pride in the park and region.”

The Nov. 5 launch of the Shenandoah event continues anniversary celebrations that began last year in the Great Smokey Mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway, among other National Park Service venues. The Shenandoah celebration will end with a rededication of the park at Big Meadows on June 25, 2011, and a November 2011 wrap-up symposium on “The Next 75 Years.”

“We hope that through the legacy of this celebration we will better engage and partner with our surrounding communities and create a sense of ownership and pride in the park and the region,” Park Superintendent Martha C. Bogel wrote in a September letter to Laura Overstreet, Rappahannock’s Office of Tourism consultant.

Despite being well-publicized, the meeting only drew eight Rappahannock residents. Overstreet would like to “encourage our local organizations to become involved with the celebration by incorporating the park’s 75th anniversary themes into their events and by applying to become official [sanctioned] events” through a streamlined, one-page application form due Jan. 1 (see box).

Submission guidelines state that applicants are “encouraged to submit a local, community-based event to be included in the ‘official’ 75th calendar for 2011” and “communities can utilize existing events or develop a new one.” The invitation for Monday’s meeting stated the park hopes neighboring communities host “local events that will incorporate the park’s messages of history, land stewardship, wildlife conservation and other similar themes.”

The Park Service will eventually send out a press release with “all sanctioned events,” Beck-Herzog said, and “while the concentration [of the event] is about regional focus . . . we certainly are going for national media [attention],” such as NBC’s “Today” show.

Rappahannock is already somewhat involved in the celebration, Beck-Herzog said, in that local artist Kevin Adams has donated an original painting from which a limited edition series of prints will be signed and sold during the year as a fundraising effort for the Shenandoah National Park Trust. Local glass artist Eric Kvarnes has created a special medallion that will also be sold as a memento.

After Monday’s meeting McCarthy, who also chairs the celebration’s finance committee, expressed disappointment with the meeting’s low turnout. “The 75th is a great opportunity for bringing local businesses to market but also for the whole community.”

As for the sensitive issue of the past resettlement of homes under the administration of then-Governor Harry C. Byrd, McCarthy said: “It’s a tangled history. Some got hurt. But we should remember them while building the future of the park.”

Shenandoah National Park, he said, is “an extraordinary resource that many people sacrificed to give us.”