State grant will boost local battlefield

Posted: January 4, 2014

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — A state tourism grant could bring up to $25,360 to the Shenandoah Valley Battlefield Foundation’s (SVBF) efforts to market a local Civil War battlefield.

The New Market-based organization will receive the money through the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s (VTC) Marketing Leverage Grant program.

The grant is on a two-to-one matching basis, meaning the SVBF must spend at least $50,720 on marketing to receive the full amount.

The foundation plans to spend sufficient funds on marketing to receive the full grant amount, and most of the efforts will go toward advertising the Third Battle of Winchester and its upcoming 150th anniversary, according to SVBF Executive Director Denman Zirkle.

The foundation is working on a $2.2 million project to help preserve 567 acres of the Third Winchester site — near the Interstate 81 and Martinsburg Pike (U.S. 11) interchange, just north of the city. The battle took place on Sept. 19, 1864.

Events will be held on Sept. 19-20 to commemorate the battle’s anniversary, according to Terry Heder, SVBF director of interpretation and communications.

“A major part of the grant is to bring visitors to the battlefield and to help make [it] a visitor destination,” he said on Friday.

Planned uses for the marketing funds include guides to the Third Winchester site and the surrounding area, according to Heder.

“Part of the goal of the guide is to help people understand how big and important the battle was,” he said.

Third Winchester was one of the largest and deadliest engagements in the Shenandoah Valley during the Civil War. It involved about 55,000 combined Union and Confederate troops, with 8,630 casualties.

The Union forces emerged victorious, marking the beginning of the end of the Confederacy’s presence in the Valley during the war.

The battle also included the largest cavalry charge to take place on U.S. soil, according to Zirkle.

Heder said the foundation hopes to have the guides available by mid-March.

“[The anniversary is a] huge opportunity to bring visitors to the area,” he said. “We want to make sure we help them discover the story and find [an anniversary] program they’d like to see.”

The SVBF has received about $39,000 in similar grants in recent years, Heder said.

The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival could receive as much as $25,000 this year through the grant program, which is providing up to $750,000 in matching grant funds to 42 local tourism initiatives, according to a news release from Gov. Bob McDonnell’s office.

Additional information about the SVBF is available at shenandoahatwar.org.

— Contact Matt Armstrong at marmstrong@winchesterstar.com