A Salty Southside tour

Published 6:37 pm Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Surry, Isle of Wight join neighbors in new promotion

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

Isle of Wight and Surry counties are on Virginia’s “Salty Southern Route,” a new tourism initiative designed to dip into the culinary and agricultural traditions of Southeastern Virginia. 

The area is known for its salt-cured hams, pork, peanuts and authentic country stores in a region that also includes Sussex and Southampton counties as well as the City of Suffolk. 

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The Salty Southern Route kicks off the week of the Isle of Wight County Fair and visitors can learn more by visiting the Welcome Tent.  {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

“We are so excited to launch this new regional partnership with our neighbors —Suffolk, Surry, Franklin, Southampton and Sussex.  The Salty Southern Route will be a fun and exciting “foodie” trek through the origins of the Virginia pork and peanut industries and the amazing route these food products take from farm to fork as well as the festivals, retailers, attractions and accommodations that celebrate their heritage,” said Isle of Wight County Director of Tourism Judy Winslow.

The Salty Southern Route was aided by a matching grant of $22,247 — part of a state-wide tourism initiative with the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s Marketing Leverage Program. The grant was included in more than $890,000 in matching grant funds that went to 57 local tourism programs, according to Gov. Ralph Northam’s office. 

A minimum of three Virginia entities must partner financially to apply for a grant. Partners may consist of Virginia cities, towns, counties, convention and visitors bureaus, chambers of commerce, other local or regional destination marketing organizations, private businesses, museums, attractions, cultural events, and other tourism-related businesses. 

“Tourism continues to be one of the fastest-growing and most innovative industries in Virginia, proving to be a substantial revenue generator year after year,” said Northam in a recent press release. 

The area’s pork and peanut industry dates back to the 18th century when Mallory Todd began shipping the first dry-cured hams from Smithfield. A little less than a century later, the first commercial peanut crop was planted in Sussex County in the 1840s. 

At one time, peanuts and hams were joined by law to create the iconic Smithfield Ham, which featured pigs raised and fed in the “peanut belt” of Virginia and North Carolina, and cured and aged within the town limits of Smithfield.  

The Salty Southern Route features local attractions such as the Porcine Parade in Smithfield, the Chippokes Farm State Park and Forestry Museum in Surry, the First Peanut Museum in Waverly and the Planters Peanut Center in Suffolk. 

For more information and sample itineraries, visit www.southernsaltyroute.com {/mprestriction}