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Wandering Around Washington: Damascus mayor rooting for Trail Days

Wandering Around Washington: Damascus mayor rooting for Trail Days

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Katie Lamb

Damascus Mayor Katie Lamb says she is hopeful the Trail Days festival can continue this year, which would help boost revenue for businesses and town taxes.

Joe Tennis

Joe Tennis

Catching up with Katie Lamb the other afternoon, we had our first chat since she was named the mayor of Damascus, Virginia, following last year’s election.

Lamb, 50, wants to help small businesses in this small town that relies on lots of visits by folks pedaling bicycles on the Virginia Creeper Trail and tracking their boots on the Appalachian Trail.

“The Creeper” has been doing OK recently, with a healthy number of visitors even amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Folks just want to get outside, take off their masks and ride.

And, spaced out with social distancing, they can do that on the Virginia Creeper Trail.

You can do the same on the Appy Trail.

But that’s trickier.

Day trips? No big deal.

Go hike and see the ponies at Grayson Highlands State Park, east of Damascus. Or let’s just stay in Washington County and take a walk in the woods on the Appalachian Trail.

That’s all good.

But what about thru-hiking?

This year, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy is advising folks to stay home amid the pandemic.

In other words, don’t try hiking more than 2,000 miles from Georgia to Maine, then catch the coronavirus and get stuck somewhere while you’re sick and tired.

Oh, so tired.

Practically anyone who has had the coronavirus will say just how tired this mess makes you — and keeps you feeling tired for at least two weeks later.

Back to Damascus: This town hosts its annual Trail Days festival every May.

And it’s going to try to do that again this year, even amid the ATC’s warnings that hiking the whole trail is not a great idea.

Just ask Lamb, the new mayor of Damascus.

“Damascus is the friendliest town on the trail. We were given that name many, many years ago. It’s a meeting point for a lot of the hikers, especially during Trail Days.”

That means businesses will suffer if the festival gets canceled again this year, Lamb said.

And so will the towns’ meals and lodging tax revenues, Lamb said, adding, “I hope that we can successfully have Trail Days this year.”

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