For the last 27 years, Joyce Byrd has typically been the first person you see when you enter the Williamsburg Tourism and Convention Center.
Since 2008, she has been the person in charge of Williamsburg’s biggest festival, Old Fashioned Trading Days.
On Monday morning, July 2, she found herself with a different job description, retiree. Friday, June 29, 2018 was Byrd’s last day as an administrative assistant with the Williamsburg Tourism Commission.
Williamsburg Tourism Director Alvin Sharpe noted that a better description of Byrd’s title would probably be both his right hand and his left hand most days.
“I don’t want her to leave,” Sharpe said laughingly. “We are really going to miss her. She has spent 27 years here and has really dedicated herself not only to tourism but also to the city with all the projects we have going on. She has been the head person to take care of Old Fashioned Trading Days since Teresa Estes retired. We are going to miss her.”
When Byrd first began working for the Williamsburg Tourism Commission, the office was located in the gazebo and the red caboose that greeted people as they turned off Exit 11. It didn’t take long for tourism officials to outgrow that office.
Byrd only worked there for about a year or so before the present tourism and convention center opened, which features two full size gymnasiums, which could each hold several cabooses and gazebos.
Byrd said that she has seen Williamsburg tourism grow tremendously over the last quarter of a century with the waterpark, the campground, Old Fashioned Trading Days, and the Jeep Jamboree among other events.
“The Jeep Jamboree has grown tremendously from the first time it started here 25 years ago. It has really become a great thing for our area,” she noted.
“It’s been a love for both of us seeing the different changes in the city,” Sharpe added.
Being at the tourism center that is closest to the Tennessee state line off I-75, Byrd has gotten to meet a lot of people over the years from a great many places.
“You’d be surprised how many people come in from Scotland and places like that,” Byrd noted. “We also have the bus tours. We had one last Monday that stopped. I met some ladies from France and they were headed to Asheville, North Carolina.”
Sharpe noted that Byrd does far more than just great visitors as she also schedules Briar Creek Park picnic shelter sites and does all of the scheduling for events at the tourism center, which range from basketball games and weddings to training seminars and health fairs.
This isn’t to mention the scheduling for Old Fashioned Trading Days.
“People really don’t realize the value of Joyce Byrd. They have no idea what she has done for this city and tourism. We are both glad we have gotten the opportunity to work together. There has never been even one cross word between us. Not one,” Sharpe said.
“She says jump. I say ‘how high’ on the way up,” he added laughingly.
Byrd, who has no set plans for retirement other than just trying to enjoy things, agreed that she has enjoyed working with Sharpe. “I’ll just miss everybody,” she added.