Virginia is for signs of ‘LOVE’

Valley residents looking for a summer project or hoping to leave their mark on their town may want to consider making a “LOVE” sign.
The Virginia Tourism Corporation offers a reimbursement program for any group or individual wanting to create a “LOVE” sign in the commonwealth. The signs were originally created to draw the eye of travelers at Virginia rest stops but the program has since beenexpanded to be a reflection of the places in which the signs are built and the communities that build them.

The program, which offers reimbursements of up to $1,500 to groups or individuals who want to make a tangible example of Virginia’s longtime slogan, has been revamped in recent years to make the application process smoother and less rigid.

Lindsey Norment, brand and promotions manager for the Virginia Tourism Corporation, said the response to the program has been substantial, with communities coming together all over the state to create their own idea of what love means in Virginia.

“When we reopened it in 2014, we started seeing a ton more come in,”‘ she said. “It being a more open-ended process and ongoing has really helped. We hit 50 last week, number 51 will be unveiled this week. There have to be about 10 to 20 more in the works.”

One example of a localized “LOVE” sign is on display in Cape Charles on the state’s Eastern Shore, Norment said.

“One of my favorite stories is Cape Charles out on the Eastern Shore,” she said. “They did a lot to get their set built and put there in Cape Charles. Every material that was used to create it was donated by the community. They had not spent any money for the materials. They used the reimbursement to go toward the artist.”

Norment explained how Cape Charles residents used things like beach glass for the “L” and two partially buried kayaks for the “V,” in an homage to the area’s relation to the Chesapeake Bay.

Norment said that several wineries either have installations or are involved in the application process.

“We have anyone from a small bed and breakfast owner wanting to get involved up to wineries. We’ve had a few wineries come on board. They have the beautiful space and they have people coming through and it was just a natural fit. There are a lot of areas that we’ll try to get their local communities involved.”

The application process is very straightforward, Norment said.

“Pretty much they have to fill out their idea, if they have one,” she said. “(We need) just an idea of what they want to build, why it would be special in their community, that they would be willing to have it built and that it would be a permanent installation. It’s a few questions, less than 20 pieces of information from their name to their idea to their estimated costs.”

Valley residents may have seen these “love letters” at the Vintage Woodstock Festival last weekend. That set, said Norment, is one of five the state rents out for events. They also have sets they do for weddings.

Norment said that camaraderie among towns is a benefit created by the works of art.

“We see all kinds of people jump up and say they want to be involved,” she said. “It’s amazing the communities that come together.”

Norment explained that her office almost never turns applicants away, but does occasionally request applicants better outline their plans.

MORE INFORMATION

• Apply online at https://www.vatc.org/loveworkreimbursement

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com

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