As the Berryville Main Street organization begins its 28th year in 2019 it welcomes a new director, Sophia Smyser. The Berryville resident began work in January. She fills a position left vacant when the previous part-time executive director, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Ryan, resigned in October to take a full-time job in another community.
Most recently, Smyser was a litigation assistant and office manager for a law firm in Vienna, Va. “I’m kind of a jack of all trades,” said the mother of two young girls. “My range of skills are suited to this position, which requires the director to wear many hats.”
Berryville Main Street board president Nathan Stalvey said, “The board was attracted to Sophia’s energy, enthusiasm, and creativity.”
The Berryville Main Street (BMS) executive director leads the non-profit organization’s downtown revitalization program. BMS supports local businesses and tourism by developing partnerships and sponsoring events that engage the entire Berryville community. It aims to create a vibrant, prosperous downtown Berryville. The executive director provides overall leadership, direction, and administration of BMS events and programs, including the Berryville Main Street Gallery and Shop. The shop, located at 23 E. Main St., showcases the work of local artists and makers.
Each year, the organization hosts the Berryville Main Street Yard Sale on the second Saturday in April and September, Berryville Main Street Music in the Park on Friday nights throughout the summer, and Berryville Main Street Summer’s End Cruise-In in late August. It also organizes a decorated parking meter contest during the winter holiday season and a Christmas tree lighting event. It supports the annual Christmas parade along Main Street.
As executive director, Smyser will manage the volunteers who organize the events, and she’ll oversee the paid gallery staff. She’ll also manage the BMS website – berryvillemainstreet.org – and its social media accounts: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Smyser will serve as liaison between the BMS board, community, retailers and local government. She will foster relationships with downtown business – the businesses that are BMS members as well as those that are not.
“I stumbled upon Berryville not too long ago while on a road trip,” Smyser said. “I moved my family here last year because it’s a wonderful small town. It’s where I want to raise my children, and my new job gives me the opportunity to make Berryville even better.”
Berryville is one of more than 2,400 American communities in the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Main Street Program, and it is one of only 29 Virginia towns with the designation.
The Virginia Main Street program, managed by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, provides assistance and training to communities so they can increase the economic vitality in downtown commercial districts by focusing on their unique heritage and attributes.
In 2016, Berryville Main Street and the Town of Berryville were presented with a Virginia Main Street Milestone Achievement Award that reflected $30 million in private reinvestment in Berryville’s downtown since 1992. Berryville Main Street celebrated its 25th anniversary in February 2017.