By Debbie Adams
Vinton Baptist Church started a new tradition in 2019—sponsoring a Hometown Christmas Door Decorating Contest in downtown Vinton. Businesses and organizations were invited to decorate their front doors for the holidays or accept assistance from Vinton Baptist in completing the project. The winner was awarded a $100 gift certificate.
The project was so popular last year with merchants, residents, and the Town of Vinton, that VBC expanded the concept this year to include not just doors, but storefronts and windows since many of the downtown businesses have windows they keep decked out throughout the year. They were encouraged to “decorate anything that can be seen from the road.”
The church’s intention was to “share their love for local businesses and their support for all they do to make Vinton home.”
Cathy Bibb of Vinton Baptist was once again in charge of the competition. She remembers when she was a child growing up in Vinton that all the shops downtown decorated extrvagantly for the Christmas holidays.
“There was a big hometown feeling back then, and people celebrated together,” Bibb said in introducing last year’s contest.
In 2019, Bibb approached Pastor Travis Russell at VBC and his wife, Whitney, Associate Pastor of Outreach and Discipleship, and received their enthusiastic support for community project.
Last year and this, the church sent out flyers notifying downtown businesses of the competition and its parameters.
The only limitation for the decorations was that they could not be “political”; they could be either secular or religious in theme.
Originally the hope was to add a lantern tour of the downtown area and caroling this year, but the pandemic put a damper on that idea. Bibb hopes those plans come to fruition next year and that they can add a category—the “People’s Favorite,” determined by votes after the lantern tour.
The deadline for participation this year was to have the storefront decorations completed by the end of business on December 8. Doors were judged later in the week, with prizes awarded by Bibb on December 11. Awards were presented in several categories: Best All Around, Most Creative, the Spirit of Christmas, and Kid’s Favorite.
First place winners were given “one-year possession” of an “InVinton” plaque to hang on their walls indicating their achievement. The plaques—made by Bibb—will be passed along to the 2021 winners next December. They also received blue ribbons and $50 gift certificates to local businesses.
This year’s First Place winner for “Best All Around” was Rustic Creations, located at 107 East Lee Avenue. Dawn Sullivan is the owner.
First Place for “Most Creative” went, appropriately to Mark Frye of Creative Occasions Events, Flowers, and Gifts, at 111 East Lee Avenue.
The “Kid’s Favorite” first place winner was Citizen’s Upholstery with Ralph and Cliff Chumbley, located at 125 East Lee Avenue. Cliff Chumley said that the window—filled with Teddy bears –was decorated in memory of his late mother, Mary, who collected and loved the toy bears. Cliff Chumbley’s wife, Jennifer, decorated the windows. The family is big on Christmas trees—in past years they have had seven or eight in their home.
First Place for “Spirit of Christmas” went to George Lester and Angie Cash at Edward Jones Investments at 103 East Lee Avenue. Bibb said their storefront won this particular award because their display “covered everything,” representing so many of the aspects of the holiday: the Nativity, the Nutcracker, and favorite winter activities.
Second place winners received red ribbons and $25 gift certificates. The Vinton History Museum received the ribbon in the “Kid’s Favorite” category with their display of lighted deer on the lawn and in the museum’s pergola.
Thrasher Memorial United Methodist Church was also a second-place winner in the “Spirit of Christmas” category with their outdoor display of Christmas trees and gifts representing “Faith, Hope, and Love.”
Many other downtown merchants participated in the competition; some decorated without entering the contest. Bibb hopes that when things get back to normal in 2021, and with many new businesses planning to open in the new year, that the tradition will only grow.