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Taxidermy course led to conference at Surry Community College

DOBSON, N.C. — Not many colleges offer taxidermy training. The fact that the Dobson campus of Surry Community College does has led to a solid piece of summertime conference business for the small school on 150 acres east of Interstate 77, just south of the Virginia border.

Five years ago, Surry began hosting the Taxidermy Mini-Course, Conference, Competition and Tradeshow, one of the largest taxidermy conferences in the country.

More than 300 people from 17 states attended last year’s three-day event in May, which had outgrown its quarters at another North Carolina community college after 31 years.

A recent study showed that the conference’s attendees spend an estimated $167,000 in the area, with almost 90 percent of them booking rooms in area hotels. The community college has no residence halls.

This year, for the first time, the minicourse will use a new campus facility, the North Carolina Center for Viticulture and Enology, for its competition and other events, according to Greg Smith, director of the college’s Pilot Center.

The center and the college’s viticulture educational programs could be a selling point for other conference business, especially those pertaining to the wine industry. Dobson is along the Yadkin Valley Wine Trail, home to 35 wineries.