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Deborah Pratt featured in Virginia tourism ads


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The Virginia tourism ad featuring Deborah Pratt. (Photo courtesy of the Virginia Tourism Corporation)

by Larry S. Chowning

The Urbanna Oyster Festival’s premiere oyster shucker, Deborah Pratt of Jamaica in Middlesex County, recently was selected as one of seven people featured in the new state advertising campaign for tourism, “Virginia is for Lovers—Live Passionately.”

The new “Portraits of Passion” series reflects true stories of Virginians passionate about history, music, wine, outdoor adventure and life and is designed to bring new excitement to the “Virginia is for Lovers” slogan and position the state as an enriching travel destination.

“These portraits capture the essence of the Virginia travel experience,” stated Alisa Bailey, president and CEO of Virginia Tourism Corporation. “These are real people who are so engaging that you want to know more about them instantly.  Their personal stories connect with visitors on an emotional level and offer a glimpse into what makes Virginia such a rewarding destination.”

Seven Virginians posed for photographer Keith Lanpher for “portraits” that are appearing in print advertising in national and regional publications. Each features someone involved with the travel/tourism industry, such as Pratt, with whom travelers can connect on a visit to Virginia.

Pratt’s photo was recently featured in magazines such as Good Housekeeping, Budget Travel, Pathfinders Travel, Richmond Magazine, Hallmark Magazine and O The Oprah Magazine. She also will be featured in the 2009 Virginia Travel Guide, debuting in December. 

Pratt attended the debut of the “Virginia is for Lovers” ad campaign that was held in Roanoke on September 11. In the ad, Pratt is wearing a black dress and white pearls. She is riding on the water inside an oyster shell (see photo, page A1).

Pratt also has been busy shucking oysters. She recently competed in a national oyster shucking contest in Cottrell, Connecticut. She finished ninth out of 14 competitors and was the top female finisher. Chopper Young of Connecticut was the winner by shucking 15 oysters in 10.75 seconds.

Pratt will compete in the national championship meet at St. Mary’s, Maryland, later this month. The national winner advances to Galway, Ireland, for the world championship.

A Middlesex native, Pratt has competed four times in the world event in Galway and her top finish was in 1997 when she finished second.

Pratt thanked her sponsors, Revere Gas & Appliance and Dorothy Scott, who helped finance her recent trip to Connecticut. “It helped out tremendously and I want to thank them both for their contribution,” she said. 

She also thanked her daughter, Regina Pratt, for helping organize the trip.

Pratt competes each year in the Virginia Oyster Shucking Championship held at the Urbanna Oyster Festival.

posted 10.01.2008

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