Town of Big Stone Gap Receives Merit Award for Best Special Event Innovation – Hawaiian Luau Party

Excitingly, the Town of Big Stone Gap received a 2021 VMS Merit Award for Best Special Event Innovation, which recognizes a successful special event pivot for a district-wide special event designed to build positive community identity and spirit, while maintaining pandemic-era safety measures.

During the 4th of July, the Town of Big Stone Gap hosted a community-wide tropical luau! After over a year of COVID-19 precautions, the community needed a family-friendly activity to bring everyone together, build community pride and foster that meaningful connection everyone had greatly missed. The town’s Parks and Recreation Department decided on a creative, economically- and environmentally- friendly option as they were set to have 80 tons of sand delivered for construction projects. Utilizing this and other existing resources, Big Stone Gap was able to build a large “beach” complete with toys, sand castles and umbrellas in their streets. They hosted contests and games and had food trucks available for attendees. Over 2,000 visitors joined daily, surpassing participation in any past downtown event.

The community-wide tropical luau allowed for a much needed outdoor, social-distanced, staycation for residents. It’s also a great example of an impactful community event that did no require extensive fundraising or volunteer coordination. A little creativity allowed local leaders to look at their existing resources a bit differently and meet the needs of the community.

Click here to view the recorded 2021 VMS Merit Award presentation!