Amanda Gray Wants You to Visit SOVA

by Billy Chandler

Amanda is a tourism and marketing specialist for the West Piedmont Planning District in Virginia, and she hopes you’ll soon visit Virginia’s other valley.

“Life in SOVA” is the heading given to the tourism efforts for the area of the Commonwealth that includes Franklin County, Rocky Mount, Henry County, Martinsville, Pittsylvania County, Danville, and Patrick County. SOVA refers to the southern valley of Virginia, or Virginia’s “other valley.”

Amanda grew up in Martinsville and after college she spent some time doing sports tourism for her hometown. NASCAR is just one of the tourism draws for the city. She then left tourism altogether to work in health care for several years, and now she’s really excited to be back in tourism.

She is enthusiastic for all the region offers – museums, outdoor adventures, sports, great cuisine, Air BNBs, and agri-tourism. She says, “People have no idea how much opportunity is in agri-tourism – breweries, wineries, pumpkin patches corn mazes! We’re here to help farmers market their offerings.”

She says Covid definitely changed the world, including the world of tourism, but the businesses that survived did so because they found ways to flexible in a shifting landscape. And outdoor adventure opportunities boomed during those days of social separation – and they continue to be a huge draw in a place like SOVA with rivers, mountains, and hiking trails galore.

Amanda says if you are looking to get away – even if it’s just for a short vacation – “Come to this area! There’s so much to do! Give the West Piedmont region a visit!”

You can enjoy a lively conversation with Amanda on the Duck Pond Wall podcast.

More News

  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1273-brian-chandler-finding-strategies-for-business-during-t"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,81,531,612/8140_Brian_Chandler2019.rev.1588795040.webp 1x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,81,531,612/8140_Brian_Chandler2019.rev.1588795040.jpg 1x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,81,531,612/8140_Brian_Chandler2019.rev.1588795040.jpg" alt="Brian Chandler, E&H Class of 1997" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="531" data-max-h="531" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1273-brian-chandler-finding-strategies-for-business-during-t">Brian Chandler: Finding Strategies for Business During the Pandemic</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><p>Brian Chandler’s public relations firm is offering data-driven advice to companies.</p><a href="/live/news/1273-brian-chandler-finding-strategies-for-business-during-t" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/2760-david-graybeal-has-published-a-book-faith-in-the"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1365,2048/13395_David_graybeal_1.rev.1676671868.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1365,2048/13395_David_graybeal_1.rev.1676671868.webp 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1365,2048/13395_David_graybeal_1.rev.1676671868.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1365,2048/13395_David_graybeal_1.rev.1676671868.jpg 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1365,2048/13395_David_graybeal_1.rev.1676671868.jpg" alt="Rev. David Graybeal E&H Class of 1995" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1365,2048/13395_David_graybeal_1.rev.1676671868.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1365,2048/13395_David_graybeal_1.rev.1676671868.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1365" data-max-h="2048" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/2760-david-graybeal-has-published-a-book-faith-in-the">David Graybeal Has Published a Book: Faith in the West Wing</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><p> Rev. David Graybeal has just published a book called <em><a href="https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100089565096055">Faith in the West Wing</a></em> that deals specifically with the presidency of Jed Bartlet. Do you not remember that U.S. President?</p><a href="/live/news/2760-david-graybeal-has-published-a-book-faith-in-the" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1445-a-gift-for-a-lifetime-chuck-alexander-found-a"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/409,314,1054,960/8741_me_and_bro.rev.1602621613.webp 1x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/409,314,1054,960/8741_me_and_bro.rev.1602621613.jpg 1x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/409,314,1054,960/8741_me_and_bro.rev.1602621613.jpg" alt="Chuck Alexander, E&H Class of 1989 (right), with his twin brother, Chris." width="345" height="225" data-max-w="645" data-max-h="646" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1445-a-gift-for-a-lifetime-chuck-alexander-found-a">A Gift for a Lifetime: Chuck Alexander found a unique way to say thank you</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Chuck Alexander (E&H ’89) remembers a lot of details about what it was like for him and his twin brother, Chris, to be raised by a single parent. <a href="/live/news/1445-a-gift-for-a-lifetime-chuck-alexander-found-a" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1674-the-doctor-is-inand-very-busy"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,435,2400,2835/9516_IMG-0197_1.rev.1615335532.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,435,2400,2835/9516_IMG-0197_1.rev.1615335532.webp 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,435,2400,2835/9516_IMG-0197_1.rev.1615335532.JPG 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,435,2400,2835/9516_IMG-0197_1.rev.1615335532.JPG 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,435,2400,2835/9516_IMG-0197_1.rev.1615335532.JPG" alt="Dr. Erin Griffin, E&H Class of 2013, with Ash - the office cat who decided he no longer wanted to be feral." width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,435,2400,2835/9516_IMG-0197_1.rev.1615335532.JPG 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,435,2400,2835/9516_IMG-0197_1.rev.1615335532.JPG 3x" data-max-w="2400" data-max-h="2400" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1674-the-doctor-is-inand-very-busy">The Doctor is IN…and Very Busy!</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Dr. Erin Griffin (E&H 2013) figured out how to parlay a double major in music and chemistry into a brand new animal clinic she just opened. And she already has a full house of four-legged clients. <a href="/live/news/1674-the-doctor-is-inand-very-busy" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/2032-michelle-ellis-is-a-curator-at-the-virginia-museum"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,681,681/10294_Michelle_Ellis.jfif" alt="Michelle Ellis Emory & Henry Class of 2021" class="lw_image" width="345" height="225"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/2032-michelle-ellis-is-a-curator-at-the-virginia-museum">Michelle Ellis is a Curator at the Virginia Museum of Transportation</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Michelle Ellis is a curator for the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke. So it’s safe to say she’s on the move. On the right track. Really rolling now. Shifting into gear.</span> <a href="/live/news/2032-michelle-ellis-is-a-curator-at-the-virginia-museum" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/921-jarell-christian-eamph-09-tapped-for-nba-coaching"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/91,0,352,261/6668_JC.rev.1564783007.webp 1x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/91,0,352,261/6668_JC.rev.1564783007.jpg 1x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/91,0,352,261/6668_JC.rev.1564783007.jpg" alt="Jarell Christian (E&H '09) with his child." width="345" height="225" data-max-w="261" data-max-h="261" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/921-jarell-christian-eamph-09-tapped-for-nba-coaching">Jarell Christian (E&H ’09) Tapped for NBA Coaching Position</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> The Washington Wizards have added Christian as a new assistant coach. <a href="/live/news/921-jarell-christian-eamph-09-tapped-for-nba-coaching" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/2350-cleo-cooper-has-traded-helmet-for-hard-drives"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/204,105,598,499/11297_Cleo_Cooper.rev.1652734547.webp 1x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/204,105,598,499/11297_Cleo_Cooper.rev.1652734547.jpg 1x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/204,105,598,499/11297_Cleo_Cooper.rev.1652734547.jpg" alt="Cleo Cooper E&H Class of 2014" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="394" data-max-h="394" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/2350-cleo-cooper-has-traded-helmet-for-hard-drives">Cleo Cooper Has Traded Helmet for Hard Drives</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Cleo Cooper has made a big career shift – but he’s finding that his ties to Arena Football are helpful in the business sector. <a href="/live/news/2350-cleo-cooper-has-traded-helmet-for-hard-drives" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1286-all-the-worlds-a-stage"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/325,11,1351,1034/8252_anna_nichols.rev.1590260295.webp 2x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/325,11,1351,1034/8252_anna_nichols.rev.1590260295.jpg 2x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/325,11,1351,1034/8252_anna_nichols.rev.1590260295.jpg" alt="Anna Nichols, E&H Class of 2010" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/325,11,1351,1034/8252_anna_nichols.rev.1590260295.jpg 2x" data-max-w="1026" data-max-h="1023" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1286-all-the-worlds-a-stage">All the World’s A Stage</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Anna Nichols, theatre major, is playing the role of real life hero. <a href="/live/news/1286-all-the-worlds-a-stage" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1339-got-a-minute-read-about-mike-d-before-his"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/24,0,286,261/8430_Specialty_Foods_Awards_2018.rev.1597171064.webp 1x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/24,0,286,261/8430_Specialty_Foods_Awards_2018.rev.1597171064.jpg 1x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/24,0,286,261/8430_Specialty_Foods_Awards_2018.rev.1597171064.jpg" alt="Mike De Los Santos, aka Mike D, E&H reClass of 2006" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="262" data-max-h="261" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1339-got-a-minute-read-about-mike-d-before-his">Got a Minute? Read about Mike D before his television debut!</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Mike De Los Santos (E&H Reunion Class of 2006) will be featured in a Discovery Channel reality show starting Aug. 18, 2020. <a href="/live/news/1339-got-a-minute-read-about-mike-d-before-his" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/2070-tom-lundy-awarded-highest-honor-by-icma"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,800,800/10461_Tom_Lundy.jfif" alt="Tom Lundy E&H Class of 1971" class="lw_image" width="345" height="225"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/2070-tom-lundy-awarded-highest-honor-by-icma">Tom Lundy Awarded Highest Honor by ICMA</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Because of an interest sparked and kindled while at Emory & Henry, Tom Lundy spent 44 years in local government, retiring in 2016 as Catawba County Manager, a position he held since 1979. <a href="/live/news/2070-tom-lundy-awarded-highest-honor-by-icma" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1164-todd-clevinger-for-all-times"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1274,930/7551_clevinger.rev.1582752850.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1274,930/7551_clevinger.rev.1582752850.webp 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1274,930/7551_clevinger.rev.1582752850.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1274,930/7551_clevinger.rev.1582752850.jpg 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1274,930/7551_clevinger.rev.1582752850.jpg" alt="Pattie & Todd Clevenger, Lisa Washington, JD Washington and Drew, Jeff Keys, Stephanie, Craig and Samantha Maddox. Todd says: This pi..." width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1274,930/7551_clevinger.rev.1582752850.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1274,930/7551_clevinger.rev.1582752850.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1274" data-max-h="930" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1164-todd-clevinger-for-all-times">Todd Clevinger: For All Times</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><p>Todd Clevinger (’86) has found a creative way to remember his friend JD Washington (’86, deceased).</p><a href="/live/news/1164-todd-clevinger-for-all-times" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/788-trollinger-named-citizen-of-the-year"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/38,0,514,475/6285_Richard_Trollinger.rev.1554994277.webp 1x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/38,0,514,475/6285_Richard_Trollinger.rev.1554994277.jpg 1x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/38,0,514,475/6285_Richard_Trollinger.rev.1554994277.jpg" alt="Richard Trollinger, E&H Class of 1971." width="345" height="225" data-max-w="476" data-max-h="475" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/788-trollinger-named-citizen-of-the-year">Trollinger Named Citizen of the Year</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Richard Trollinger (E&H ’71) has been named Danville, Kentucky, citizen of the year. <a href="/live/news/788-trollinger-named-citizen-of-the-year" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/2693-blackwell-chapel-store-is-open-for-business"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/524,98,1478,1052/13118_325031319_524790712974564_878312266014896007_n.rev.1673381188.webp 2x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/524,98,1478,1052/13118_325031319_524790712974564_878312266014896007_n.rev.1673381188.jpg 2x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/524,98,1478,1052/13118_325031319_524790712974564_878312266014896007_n.rev.1673381188.jpg" alt="Three people behind the counter of a country store." width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/524,98,1478,1052/13118_325031319_524790712974564_878312266014896007_n.rev.1673381188.jpg 2x" data-max-w="954" data-max-h="954" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/2693-blackwell-chapel-store-is-open-for-business">Blackwell Chapel Store is Open for Business!</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><p> Mike Hoback (E&H ’81) is bringing back the heart of the Blackwell Chapel community.</p><a href="/live/news/2693-blackwell-chapel-store-is-open-for-business" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/2369-dave-charltons-favorite-food-project-is-far-from"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,11,428,439/11381_123-1.rev.1654192375.webp 1x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,11,428,439/11381_123-1.rev.1654192375.jpg 1x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,11,428,439/11381_123-1.rev.1654192375.jpg" alt="Dave Inner Peas Charlton E&H Class of 1979" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="428" data-max-h="428" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/2369-dave-charltons-favorite-food-project-is-far-from">Dave Charlton’s Favorite Food Project is Far From Business as Usual</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Dave Charlton is proud to say he’s been a dancing carrot. “I’ve been every one of those dancing vegetables.”</span></p><p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Let us explain.</span></p><a href="/live/news/2369-dave-charltons-favorite-food-project-is-far-from" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/75-kurtz-appointed-to-atlanta-area-agency-on-aging"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,232,216/741_kurtz.rev.1507059839.webp 1x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,232,216/741_kurtz.rev.1507059839.jpg 1x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,232,216/741_kurtz.rev.1507059839.jpg" alt="Becky Kurtz E&H '84" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="232" data-max-h="216" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/75-kurtz-appointed-to-atlanta-area-agency-on-aging">Kurtz Appointed to Atlanta Area Agency on Aging</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Becky Kurtz is heading back to Atlanta after serving as a chief U.S. administrator. <a href="/live/news/75-kurtz-appointed-to-atlanta-area-agency-on-aging" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>