Civil War Discovery Trail Site of the Year Award
The Washington, DC-based Civil War Preservation Trust presented the New Market Battlefield State Historical Park with its Civil War Discovery Trail Site of the Year Award at a ceremony held in Chantilly, Virginia on April 23. The Park is an active member of the Trust, which promotes preservation and interpretation of Civil War sites throughout the country. The Site of the Year Award, given annually to one of some 500 Civil War Discovery Trail sites in 28 states, recognizes the Park’s “extraordinary dedication to protecting America’s Civil War heritage.” The Park was also commended for its work in heritage tourism in the Shenandoah Valley, as well as its participation in the Trust’s annual Park Day battlefield cleanup event and an economic impact study conducted in 2003-2004.
“This award is a validation of the hard work by the Park’s dedicated staff and volunteers,” said New Market Battlefield Director Scott H. Harris. “It also reaffirms our mission of preservation and education, aimed at sharing the stories of the Battle of New Market, the Bushong family, and the rich heritage of the Shenandoah Valley with people everywhere.”
Complimenting the Trust award, results from visitor surveys collected in 2004 give the Park a 94% approval rating among tourists from more than 30 states and five foreign countries. Nine out of ten visitors said that their Park experience exceeded expectations. Educational tour groups, which are surveyed separately, gave the Park a 100% satisfaction rating in 2004. Total attendance for 2004 was 52,000, the highest since 1989.
The survey also provided insight into the economic impact of Park visitors on the New Market area economy, and the Park’s role in Shenandoah Valley Tourism. Over 42% said they planned to shop in New Market, and 50% planned to dine in a local restaurant. Among visitors staying overnight, 18% listed hotels in New Market or nearby areas. Seventeen percent stayed at Massanutten Resort, which offers seasonal weekly bus excursions to the battlefield. A large number of survey respondents (79%) planned to visit other Shenandoah Valley attractions during their trip. Destinations listed most frequently were Luray Caverns (27%); Massanutten Resort (23%); Shenandoah National Park (23%); the VMI Museum (16%); the Stonewall Jackson House (12%); and Endless Caverns (11%).
Visitor surveys are “more than just a ‘report card,’” noted Harris. “They help us focus our promotional efforts within a dynamic and competitive tourism market, while also giving visitors the opportunity to share their reactions and suggestions concerning the Park’s facilities and programs.”
The New Market Battlefield State Historical Park interprets site of the last Confederate victory in the Shenandoah Valley, fought May 15, 1864. Encompassing the Hall of Valor Museum, the Bushong Farm, and some 300 acres, the Park is administered by Virginia Military Institute. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Historic Landmarks Register, and is accredited by the American Association of Museums. For more information on the Park, including digital images and details on the Battle of New Market Reenactment, call 866-515-1864, or visit www.vmi.edu/newmarket.