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News Release


The West Virginia Department of Agriculture’s (WVDA) “Country Store” took the blue ribbon Saturday as the best shop at the Southern Christmas Show in Charlotte, N.C. With more than 200,000 sq. ft. of room, the mammoth Christmas exposition houses approximately 35 shops and 600 vendors.

“This is yet another testament to the Department’s great Marketing and Development staff and the great West Virginia products they help to sell,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Gus R. Douglass.

Southern Shows CEO and founder Joan Zimmerman said the judges were impressed with not only the appearance of the store, but also the interaction between store workers and shoppers.

“The store looks great, the ambiance is great and the people in the shop were very knowledgeable and responsive in helping the customers. Appearance is important, but the judging also includes interaction,” said Zimmerman.

“There are approximately 35 shops this year. The West Virginia shop is 1,280 sq. ft. and every inch of it is used. People are loving the show, and they are loving the West Virginia shop. It has been full from the minute the doors open until they close.”

Marketing and Development Division Director Jean Smith said this year’s store is all about “fresh.”

“Inside the store, we’re featuring fresh poinsettias and herbs as part of the décor. On the outside, our main window features Sundback Christmas Trees,” Smith said. The Shepherdstown tree farmers were selected an unprecedented fourth time by the National Christmas Tree Association to provide the official White House Christmas tree.

Sales at the store so far are up about ten percent over last year, Smith added.

Kathy Hamrick, owner of Good Golly Ms. Molly’s Southern Appalachian Salsa, said she was blown away by the Show, the response of customers to her products and the work of the WVDA.

”It was fabulous. It was constant. The response to our product was exceptional. We went through six pans of cornbread in an hour-and-a-half. One time I know there were over a thousand people in line,” she said.

“I was so impressed with the crowd, and the agriculture staff was outstanding. ‘Ms. Molly’ is already planning to go back. Only next year I know we have to take a whole lot more product to sample.”

In business for just six months, Hamrick was the winner of the “best existing entrepreneur” prize at the West Virginia Recipe Challenge held in August at the State Fair of West Virginia.

The contest is a collaborative effort of the West Virginia State University Extension Service, State Fair of West Virginia, Opening Soon, Inc., Tamarack and West Virginia Department of Agriculture.

The West Virginia Department of Agriculture protects plant, animal and human health through a variety of scientific, regulatory and consumer protection programs, as mandated by state law. The Commissioner of Agriculture is one of six statewide elected officials in West Virginia. Currently, Commissioner Gus R. Douglass is the longest-serving agriculture commissioner in the nation. For more information, visit www.wvagriculture.org.

“The Basis of All Wealth is Agriculture.”


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