By Debbie Adams
Vinton Baptist Church revived a “Hometown Christmas” atmosphere this year in downtown Vinton with its door decorating competition among downtown businesses.
The first place winner in the contest was MaryBeth Dudley, owner of Vinton Professional Hairstyling, for her doorway honoring her grandfather, Luther Pagans, who ran the business on Lee Avenue for many years. Dudley said he is the personification of “Hometown Christmas.”
She had a life-size cutout made of Pagans that fills the doorway, then surrounded it with lights.
The winners were announced at the Vinton Farmers’ Market at a party after the Vinton Christmas Parade on December 5. Second place went to the Vinton History Museum. The Dogwood Restaurant and Hemp Innovations tied for third. Judges commented that it was hard to make the decision on awards, but the doorway featuring Pagans fit the theme of the contest perfectly.
The Hometown Christmas competition was the brainchild of Vinton Baptist member Cathy Bibb, who yearned for the Vinton of days past when all the shops downtown demonstrated their holiday spirit with beautifully decorated doors and storefronts. The project was heartily endorsed by the church, which is located in the downtown area and involved in many outreach activities in the community.
Bibb went door to door recruiting participants and ended up with almost 20 entries. They included Creative Occasions, the Conner Group, Neely’s Accounting, The Hemp Mill at Innovation Mill, Citizen’s Upholstery, D.R. Music, Giardino’s Pizza, Allstate Insurance, Cornerstone Antiques, Azteca De Oro, Red Jasmine, Blue Corner Law, Cundiff Realty, Cundiff Drug Store, Vinton Professional Hairstyling, the Dogwood Restaurant, and the Vinton History Museum.
The church donated a $100 gift card for the winning door. Bibb and her friend Joyce Sarver volunteered to decorate doorways for businesses that were hesitant to design and create one themselves.
The contest generated lots of excitement among merchants. Vinton Baptist promises to expand the competition next year to include storefront windows since so many downtown stores have display space, and possibly add a lantern tour of the downtown business district.
Dudley said she wanted to pay tribute to her grandfather, now age 93, who bought the barbershop from Gene Burrows back in 1992. Pagans retired in 2018. He worked at the barbershop for over 40 years but cut hair for over 65 years.
Dudley said that her grandfather “still drops by to cut hair every now and then. I just purchased the shop from him and plan to keep it running in the same manner he did and how he would want it.”
There are currently three barbers working at the shop– Dudley, Al Brown, and Hazel Thompson.
According to a 2018 article in the “Franklin News Post” written when Pagans retired, he grew up in Hardy, and served in the United States Army from 1944-1946 in the 96th Infantry in the Philippines as a prison guard. After his military service, he drove a Roanoke City bus for five years before taking up a career as a barber. Back in those days a man’s haircut was 75 cents.
Pagans was married to his wife Lois, who passed away in 2017, for almost 70 years. They have six children and a host of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Photographs of all the doorways in the competition can be found on The Vinton Messenger Facebook page.