Chincoteague, VA—May 25, 2022: The Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce recognized and honored business leaders and community servants at last evening's Annual Awards held at Island Theatre. Attendees helped celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the art deco treasure known and loved by so many islanders. Channel Bass Inn catered the event sponsored by Axient, Seaside Vacations & Sales, and Pico Taqueria.
The highlight of the event was the announcement of the Citizen and Business Person of the Year. A committee appointed by the Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors reviews all nominations and carefully chooses the candidates they feel demonstrate excellence in professional and community leadership and exhibit the highest moral and ethical standards. The candidate must make significant contributions to the welfare of the community through involvement and participation in civic, social, educational, charitable or business activities.
The Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce 2022 John White Shields Citizen of the Year Award was presented to Billie Ann Bowden recognizing her selfless contributions to volunteer organizations in addition to assisting friends and family when needed. She is a member of Chapter #62 Order of the Eastern Star and Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company Auxiliary. Billie Ann donates many hours each week to Christ United Methodist Church Opportunity Shop and Manna Café. Providing rides to doctor appointments, food to sick or bereaved families, and help to fellow citizens are an every day part of her life. It has been said Billie Ann will take on tasks that others can't or won't do, not for any gain in return, but because she is a "giving, caring, engaging citizen", according to her nomination ballot.
The Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce 2022 Leonard "Buddy" Burton Business Person of the Year Award was presented posthumously to Rick Watson of WatsonGas Inc. Rick served on the Seafood Festival Committee for many years, even before the Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce became the organizer in 2011, providing free gas for the event and spending untold hours on the grounds the week before and day of making sure all fryers and cookers were working properly. He is respected for the quality of service WatsonGas has always provided, but Rick is most remembered for his kindness. The nomination ballot states, "The Rick Watson family is the epitome of how all businesses should be. They are an asset to our chamber and an asset to our island."
Outgoing board member Rebecca Hudson was thanked for her recent service to the board and given a plaque of appreciation. Chamber staff updated the audience on upcoming advertising campaigns to reach drive markets in Hampton Roads, Richmond, Northern Virginia, Maryland and Delaware. The chamber website, chincoteaguechamber.com, will receive a facelift in 2022 as well. Attention to Search Engine Optimization and increased dollar spend on digital marketing should reap huge rewards for the coming travel season, which promises to be very strong.