A! Magazine for the Arts

This is the print ad featuring basketmaker Gary Carroll in Lee County, Va.

This is the print ad featuring basketmaker Gary Carroll in Lee County, Va.

Local Basketmaker Stars in Virginia's Tourism Promotions

November 2, 2008

The Virginia Tourism Corporation has launched print ads, Web videos and travel guide portraits starring passionate Virginians that will appear in magazines and Web sites across the country.

In the Southwest Virginia area, that's Lee County basketmaker Gary Carroll. Precise and authentic in his artisanship, Carroll creates his Sugar Run baskets the old-fashioned way. He says, "I cut the trees, use old tools and make everything by hand." That's the kind of dedication to original craftsmanship that gets your work into the White House, as one of his baskets did.

For Carroll, the presentation is nearly as important as the process itself. His 18th century garments complete the traditional basketmaking package, and his tools are original to the practice. Wielding an axe, froe, and drawknife, Carroll carefully harvests white oak, the wood most optimal for basket making, and cuts it into ribbons for weaving. All said, the process to create one basket can take 10 to 20 hours from start to finish -- a passionate endeavor indeed.

For the first time ever, online videos take center stage on www.Virginia.org, the commonwealth's official travel Web site. The Virginians featured in the Portraits of Passion videos, 11 in total and each about two minutes long, tell their story in their own words, describing their personal passions in life and sharing their views on the best travel experiences in Virginia.

To see Carroll's video, click here.

The new "Portraits of Passion" series is the heart of the Virginia is for Lovers ? Live Passionately marketing campaign. The true stories of Virginians passionate about history, music, wine, outdoor adventure and life bring new excitement to the Virginia is for Lovers slogan and position the state as an enriching travel destination. Carroll's involvement highlights Southwest Virginia and exemplifies Virginia's rich cultural traditions.

When the campaign was unveiled in Roanoke during the Virginia's Tourism Corporation's VA-1 Conference, Debby Loggans, Projects Coordinator with 'Round the Mountain: Southwest Virginia's Artisan Network, was thrilled to see RTM member Gary Carroll on stage. "To have Southwest Virginia represented in an international campaign that reaches out to millions of potential visitors is remarkable," Loggans says. "Gary and his craft personify the culture of our region and we are proud to have him represent Southwest Virginia around the world."

Seven Virginians, including Carroll, posed for photographer Keith Lanpher to be transformed into "portraits" that will appear in print advertising in national and regional publications. BCF, VTC's agency of record, designed the Portraits of Passion ads. Each features a member of the travel industry with whom travelers can connect on a visit to Virginia.

Tourism is an $18.7 billion industry in Virginia, supporting 210,000 jobs and providing $1.2 billion in state and local tax revenue for Virginia's communities.

Virginia is for Lovers is the official tourism slogan of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Launched in 1969, Virginia is for Lovers is one of the most recognized and beloved tourism slogans in the world. At its core, Virginia is for Lovers represents a love of life and a passion for travel.

For more information about travel in Virginia call 1-800-VISITVA.