Loudoun County’s seven incorporated towns will be the star of next week’s annual Virginia Municipal League conference, headed to Leesburg for the first time.
The annual conference attracts elected officials from cities and towns across the commonwealth for learning opportunities and networking, and each year is hosted by a different locality. According to Visit Loudoun CEO Beth Erickson, the choice of Leesburg as the 2021 conference host two years ago marks the first time the annual affair will be hosted outside of a city, let alone the commonwealth’s largest town.
“This is a very big deal,” Erickson said. “Not only is this the first time the conference is taking place outside of a city, but it also marks the return of an in-person event after last year’s conference was virtual. I’ve heard from several attendees about how excited they are, and I feel confident that while this may be the first time some attendees come to Loudoun, it won’t be the last and that they will return again and again.”
Visit Loudoun is estimating around 500 attendees and exhibitors will head to Lansdowne Resort for the conference, which runs from Sunday, Oct. 3 to Tuesday, Oct. 5. The event has completely sold out available rooms at Lansdowne Resort, and several Leesburg area hotels have high room occupancy during the event.
Erickson said the Town of Leesburg has done an “outstanding job” planning the event in coordination with the Coalition of Loudoun Towns, as well as the county government. A Sunday evening reception at Dodona Manor at the George C. Marshall International Center will feature a “Taste of the Towns” welcome event which will include samples of food and drink from each of the towns, along with videos produced by Visit Loudoun showcasing the uniqueness of each municipality. Attendees also will receive welcome bags that encourage them to visit all of the towns and incentives to support area businesses.
Conference attendees will also have the opportunity to learn more about each town during the conference itself, and even have the chance to participate in mobile workshops showcasing some of the projects and features of Leesburg town government.
Leesburg Mayor Kelly Burk holds is both the mayor of a host town and serves on VML’s Executive Committee which helps with planning the conference. She believes this year’s event is going to be “really special,” particularly because last year’s VML conference had to be virtual.
“The opportunity to get together and network and brainstorm with other elected leaders is an opportunity that is just way overdue,” she said.
Burk said it has been a collaborative effort among Loudoun’s towns, and credited the COLT partnership with fostering a supportive environment amongst town leaders.
“We’re really trying to highlight the uniqueness and value of Loudoun towns,” she said. “Each of us are very supportive of one another through COLT. We most certainly want to value and preserve what makes each town unique.”
While the VML conference is expected to put the spotlight squarely on Loudoun, Erickson notes it’s far from the only big win for the tourism body this year. The county will also play host to the VA-1 Tourism Conference in November.
“[It’s] a testament to the fact Loudoun is positioned well as a meetings destination as in-person events begin to return,” she said
[Editor’s Note: Reporter Kara C. Rodriguez will attend the VML Conference as the Ward 4 representative on the Berryville Town Council.]