‘Salty Southern Route’ officially open

Published 1:53 pm Monday, March 11, 2019

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The Isle of Wight County Museum hosted a kickoff ceremony on March 1to celebrate the launch of the Salty Southern Route — a multi-locality driving tour intended to promote the Tidewater region’s port- and peanut-related attractions.

Participating localities include the city of Franklin, Southampton County, the town of Smithfield, Isle of Wight County, the city of Suffolk, Surry and Sussex counties. Local destinations on the tour include: the Southampton Agriculture and Forestry Museum in Courtland; the Downtown Franklin Visitors Center; Fred’s Restaurant in Franklin; and Grayson and Emma’s Garden Spot in Courtland. Present at the kickoff ceremony were Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring, General Assembly Del. Emily Brewer (R-64), Franklin Mayor Frank Rabil, Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors representatives William McCarty and Dick Grice, and other local and state dignitaries.

To officially launch the driving tour, Isle of Wight County’s director of tourism, Judy Winslow, asked everyone gathered in the museum to face into the “ham cam,” a live video feed of the “world’s oldest ham” and shout, “Ride the Route, from nuts to snout!” at the stroke of 2 p.m. Following this, Ring, Theresa Earles, director of tourism for the city of Suffolk, and Rita McClenny, president of Virginia Tourism, gave remarks.

“What better way to lure people here than with the promise of salt-cured ham and chocolate-covered peanuts,” Earles said.

Plans for the driving tour have been in the works for the past two years. To be included, each participating locality applied for a Marketing Leverage Program grant from the Virginia Tourism Corporation to create brochures and films promoting the tour.

“This is just the beginning of more happening in this area,” Ring said. “Rural economic development is one of our [the Virginia Department of Agriculture’s] top priorities.”