The LOVEwork sculpture unveiled in a ceremony at Vinton War Memorial on Valentine’s Day has actually been in the works for over a year.
Created as part of a state and local partnership to promote travel and tourism, the artwork is an extension of the decades old “Virginia is for Lovers” brand, and one of more than 90 giant LOVE letters, christened LOVEworks, in locations across the Commonwealth.
The Town of Vinton and Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge Travel and Tourism teamed up on the producing the LOVE letters for Vinton. Chasity Barbour, Event and Facility Manager for the Vinton War Memorial, coordinated the project and the unveiling event, with the assistance of staff.
Each LOVEwork installation reflects the community in which it stands.
Barbour says that the design for the Vinton LOVEwork originated with a brainstorming session at Twin Creeks Brewing Company involving Barbour, Assistant Town Manager Pete Peters, Mary Beth Layman from Special Programs, teacher Mandy Grose, and Angie Chewning from the Chamber of Commerce. The symbols for each letter were quickly sketched on a piece of paper and the project evolved from there.
Barbour completed “mountains” of paperwork to submit the concept they came up with to the Virginia Tourism Corporation for approval and then more paperwork to apply for the $1,500 VTC reimbursement program.
For the Vinton LOVEwork, the “L” is composed of a bride and groom representing the several wedding venues in the Vinton area. Artist Tonya Weaver Kirk painted the wedding pair.
Barbour and Jason Davison from Public Works salvaged wood from the historic Gish’s Mill for the “O” which is built in the shape of a mill waterwheel. Gish’s Mill dates to the mid-1800s and operated as a center of trade and commerce for the community that became Vinton. The mill is currently the focus of preservation and redevelopment efforts by the town.
Davison and Tyler Beard, also a Public Works employee, painstakingly constructed the “O” display.
Building the “V,” a fork and spoon, was a group effort by a Public Works crew that included Davison and Beard, along with Corey Blanks, Thomas Morris, and Dustin Wood. They fabricated the eating utensils from fiberglass, representing dining InVinton at numerous locally owned, authentic, one-of-a-kind restaurants.
The same Public Works crew also put together the “E” from a kayak and paddles donated by Twin Rivers Outfitters, representing the outdoors, creeks, rivers, blueways, and the boat launch access found in Vinton.
Public Works also constructed the brick pedestals the LOVE letters are permanently mounted on.
Pete Peters served as emcee for the ceremony joined by representatives from the Virginia Tourism Corporation and Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge.
Members of the town administration, the Vinton Area Chamber of Commerce, Vinton Town Council, and the tourism organizations unveiled the letters one by one during the ceremony.
Mark Frye of Creative Occasions provided carnations as a memento for those who attended.
“We appreciate the efforts of the Virginia Tourism Corporation and Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge in their efforts to promote our area and the state as a destination and we are thankful for the opportunity to participate in the LOVEworks program,” said Vinton Mayor Brad Grose.
The Town of Vinton invites the public to stop by the LOVEwork sculpture for a photo opportunity at any time.
Check www.virginia.org/LOVE/ to see the other unique LOVEwork displays throughout the state.