2015 was a year filled with big events that put Virginia in the spotlight. The world watched as nearly 1,000 cyclists coursed through the capital city of Richmond, conquering the cobbles and fighting persistent drizzle. The world watched as 12,000 public safety athletes competed against one another in strength and agility challenges in Fairfax. The world watched as the smoke cleared once again in Appomattox.
Let’s take a look back on the year 2015.
— JANUARY —
Speaking of filming, AMC renewed Turn: Washington’s Spies for a second season. Filming began in Williamsburg on January 26 and the season premiered on April 13.
— APRIL —
The Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War concluded April 8-12 at Appomattox with more fanfare and onlookers than that historic day 150 years ago. More than 30,000 people attended and participated in nearly 90 events held over the five days at Appomattox.
Appomattox Courthouse National Historical Park
— MAY —
The Birthplace of Country Music Museum opened in Bristol in August 2014, but an important accompaniment to the Museum was an album featuring some of country music’s biggest stars and homegrown Virginia talent. Orthophonic Joy: The 1927 Bristol Sessions Revisited was released on May 12. In addition, 26 entries have been submitted into eight Grammy categories.
Already a huge success story for southwest Virginia, the Spearhead Trail System launched a new trail in 2015: Coal Canyon in Buchanan County. With brand new outdoor recreation opportunities comes the need for lodging and dining, which communities are implementing and visitors are enjoying. Center yourself in a place like St. Paul to enjoy the Mountain View Trail and you’ll find the town to be ATV-friendly, the beds to be comfortable and warm, and the food to be a lot like grandmas.
— JUNE —
More than 12,000 firefighters and law enforcement from 70 countries arrived in Fairfax for 10 days of competitions in June and July. These challenges are collectively known as The World Police & Fire Games, a 30 year-old tradition that celebrates the athleticism of those who serve and protect.
Those who love music found themselves drawn to the inaugural Mountains of Music Homecoming in June. Essentially an eight-day event along The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail, 30 communities rolled out the red carpet for visitors to enjoy various music jams, concerts, and other related events. Save the date for 2016: June 10-18.
— JULY —
The ponies of Chincoteague are not storybook fiction, but real beauties residing on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. In July the annual Pony Swim and Auction occurred for the 90th consecutive time. Ancestors of Misty are still herded for the round-up, swam across the channel, paraded, and corralled for show and sale by the saltwater cowboys. Go ahead and note July 2025 on your bucket list so you don’t miss the 100th anniversary.
— SEPTEMBER —
The UCI Road World Championship was held September 19-27 in Virginia. Athletes from more than 70 countries descended upon the city Outdoor Magazine called the “Best River Town in America”, Richmond, to compete in Olympic-style fashion. Teams faced off to determine bronze, silver, and gold medalists in men’s, women’s, and junior’s divisions.
— OCTOBER —
The Virginia Capital Trail was completed this year and celebrated with a ribbon cutting on October 2. The trail connects the first capital of Williamsburg to the current capital of Richmond. At 52 miles long, it’s a clean, paved trail that parallels the James River and Route 5, taking in seldom scene river views through the heart of Virginia’s plantations.
Virginia Capital Trail
After years of planning, Adriana Trigiani’s Big Stone Gap novel was captured on film and released in theaters on October 9. Stars like Ashley Judd, Patrick Wilson and Whoopi Goldberg brought the characters of the tiny coal town to life. Visit the real Big Stone Gap to see film locations along a self-guided walking tour.
Filming Big Stone Gap
— NOVEMBER —
Virginia has quickly become the Oyster Capital of the East Coast with increased production and rejuvenation of river and Chesapeake Bay oyster beds. At this writing, there are nearly 50 oyster farms dotting the shores of Virginia. Some producers are putting their fresh wares onto the family-owned tables for your dining pleasure. With their success, the Virginia Oyster Trail was inevitable. Following the VOT will give you wading and wine experiences, shucking shows, and a brand new appreciation for the heart and hard work of Virginia’s aquaculturists.
Virginia Oyster Trail Opening Event
— ALL YEAR —
It’s hard to believe the growth Virginia’s craft beer industry has experienced in the past two or three years. It seems there were 20, then 60, and now more than 120 in very quick order. Likewise, Virginia’s distilleries are multiplying with the “Moonshine Capital of the World” finally realizing its first legitimate bottles of ‘shine since before Prohibition. Those of Twin Creeks Distillery in Franklin County are expected to be on store shelves in January 2016.
What were your most memorable moments of 2015? Leave a comment to share.