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We've got 'passionality'
Virginia Tourism Corp. officials get a first-hand look at Fredericksburg-area attractions and restaurants that residents are passionate about

 Meredith Beckett gives a dessert demonstration to Virginia Tourism Corp. members at The Kitchen at Whittingham in Fredericksburg.
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Date published: 10/5/2008


Fredericksburg's tourism staff thought they had great candidates for the state's latest tourism promotion.

But the Virginia Tourism Corporation didn't pick any for its "Live Passionately" campaign, which features Virginians sharing their enthusiasm for the state's food, wine, history, music and opportunities for adventure.

Rather than mope, the city's Economic Development and Tourism office invited people from the Virginia Tourism Corp. to visit the area's new and unique attractions last week.

"We just think that personally visiting and experiencing things gives them a stronger frame of reference when working on projects and promotions in their own office," said Karen Hedelt, the city's tourism development manager. "It's always good to have exposure."

On Thursday, 18 people drove up from the tourism office in Richmond to spend two days getting a firsthand look at attractions and eat at local restaurants in Fredericksburg and Stafford County. Spotsylvania County declined to participate.

"We've hosted individual members [of the tourism office] before, but this is the first big concerted group visit like this," Hedelt said, noting that most expenses were donated by the sites on the itinerary.

The first stop was a tour of the National Museum of the Marine Corps at Quantico, followed by lunch at the Globe & Laurel, a well-known restaurant with a loyal following among Marines and law-enforcement officers. It recently moved to Stafford from Prince William County.

Owner Rick Spooner, an 82-year-old retired Marine Corps major, evidently caught the tourism folks' eye with his love of U.S. military history, said M.C. Moncure, Stafford's tourism director.

"He just exudes it. He's got red, white and blue in his veins," she said. "I heard whispers that he'd be great for the 'passionality' campaign."

Thursday's tour also included Potomac Point Winery in Stafford, which Richard Lewis, spokesman for the Virginia Tourism Corp. said he's been pitching to travel writers since it opened last year but never visited.

"On the Web site, the one thing that's missing is the people, and that makes a difference," he said. "They were so friendly and courteous."

He also gave kudos to Potomac Point's wine, its olive-oil bar and "Coyote Wine Cave," so named because a coyote and her pup left their footprints in the wet concrete.

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