Not even the chill in the air could overshadow the excitement in the air found in front of the Gereau Center Wednesday afternoon. More than 50 students, local business and community leaders, agencies and organizations, Virginia Tourism officials and others gathered to consider 100 years from Prohibition, 50 years of love and a creative youth project.

January commemorates the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 18th Amendment, which took effect Jan. 16, 1920.

This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the world-renowned “Virginia is for Lovers” slogan.

The official launch and rollout of the Quilted Road took place Wednesday, Jan. 16 which was inspired by Prohibition. The Quilted Road is a project of New Tech at the Gereau Center.

Tying the anniversaries together because of Franklin County’s history, tourism officials announced “Virginia is for Moonshine Lovers” will become a publicized slogan.

Wednesday’s program kicked off with local artists Gene Parker, Chris Prillaman, Billy Hurt and Caleb Erickson performing traditional bluegrass music.

New Tech student ambassadors Kiana Starkey, Kristin Hall and Rose Hasenstab explained the how, what and why of the Quilted Road with student ambassador Libby Jeans thanking Lowe’s and Sherwin-Williams for their sponsorship of the project.

Michelle Workman of the Virginia Tourism Corporation spoke about the 50th anniversary of the “Virginia is for Lovers” slogan.

Roddy Moore of the Blue Ridge Institute and Museum and David Rotenizer, Director of Tourism for Franklin County, spoke about the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution which made Prohibition the law of the land.

The backdrop for the event was the giant LOVE piece of artwork crafted by Franklin County High School’s building trades class. Zack Brooks, Recreation Specialist for Franklin County’s Parks and Recreation department, worked with the school on the LOVE project. The piece, which spent the holidays in front of the Farmer’s Market in downtown Rocky Mount, is 6 feet tall, 22 feet long and weighs more than 2,000 pounds. Brooks said, “I envisioned a good finished product. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.” He added, “I like to see the people enjoy the ‘LOVE.’”

The Virginia is for Lovers website says, “The phrase came from a creative team headed by George Woltz of Martin and Woltz Inc., the Richmond advertising agency that won the Virginia State Travel Service [now the Virginia Tourism Corporation] account in 1968.

“The phrase was considered bold and provocative, but it was also just plain smart from a marketing perspective. It planted a seed – a new image of a more exciting Virginia – with a generation that would become the most sought-after group of spenders ever to wield a credit card.”

Following on the heels of the popular slogan is the additional “Virginia is for Moonshine Lovers” slogan which will soon be getting more attention in Franklin County.

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