Virginia’s new oyster trail complements lovers theme
At a Virginia function held in Toronto last week are (from left to right): Maurice Jones, Secretary of Commerce and Trade, Office of the Governor, Commonwealth of Virginia; Steve Gupta, CEO of the Gupta Group; Reetu Gupta, Vice President Sales and Marketing, Easton’s Group of Hotels; Governor of Virginia Terry McAuliffe.

Virginia’s new oyster trail complements lovers theme

TORONTO — Virginia is for lovers, so what better state for a new oyster trail? The mollusks are said to be aphrodisiacs after all.

The new trail will open in November, billed as oyster month in Virginia. Bars, restaurants and hotels are taking part and seven different kinds of Virginia oysters can be sampled. One of the state’s largest oyster festivals takes place in Urbbana, also in November.

“We’re creating an experience to go out with a waterman on a boat and watch the oysters being harvested, and shucked and they can eat it right on the boat,” explained Maurice Jones, Virginia’s Secretary of Commerce and Trade, at a travel trade event in Toronto last week that showcased Virginia wine and craft beers, cheeses, ham, and fresh oysters.

Jones, along with a contingent from Virginia that included Governor Terry McAuliffe, said Canada is the largest source of international visitors to Virginia. About 511,000 visitors from Canada came to Virginia last year – 54% from Ontario, 36% from Quebec – and spent $130 million in the local economy.

“I’m here to say thank you for visiting and keep coming,” said Jones adding that his state has beaches, music, history, food and wine.

The state has more than 260 wineries and cideries, 100 craft breweries and 20 craft distilleries. Virginia Beach is great for families, said Jones, and is still warm enough to swim in September.

Other new attractions include a 52-mile bike trail from the current capital Richmond to the colonial capital of Williamsburg.

In Bristol, visitors can see the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, which opened 18 months ago. “A lot of people don’t know that Virginia is actually the birthplace of country music, not Nashville,” said Jones. “Johnny Cash described some of the music sessions that happened here in 1927 as the big bang of country music.”

Jones added that Virginia is easily accessible from Canada. The state is a 12-hour drive from Toronto, and there are 24 daily flights from four Canadian airports that land in either Virginia or the Washington area. You can also take the train to Richmond.