McArthur Hosts a Caribbean Christmas in Downtown

This year the Vinton County Chamber of Commerce will be putting on a HOT event with this year’s “Caribbean Christmas”.  The theme was chosen by the Chamber Board as well as Chamber member and event coordinator Trecia Kimes- Brown. Though snow will be flying, this year’s Christmas in Downtown will have quite the island feel.

Christmas in Downtown is an annual event held on the first Saturday in December. The afternoon features free wagon rides, music, door prizes, activities for the kids, crafters, Santa, a parade and a lot of family fun.  2014 will mark the eleventh annual Christmas in Downtown and the Chamber hopes the entire community will take part.

“Last year was my inaugural year as the Chamber of Commerce Marketing Director, and I was astounded by the way the community came together for the event. The Nifty Fifties Christmas went great because it brought a lot of nostalgia to the community and many of the businesses adhered to it. This year, we hope the Caribbean Christmas in downtown will bring just as much excitement and we are looking forward to the unique decorating of the local businesses and individuals” Sam Davidson- Marketing Director.

For those interested in participating, it’s not too late! For vendor and parade information contact Sam Davidson for details.To volunteer to help with Christmas in Downtown, contact the Chamber at or at 596-5033.

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Deadline for CVB Photo Contest is next month

During your stay, be sure to look for those fantastic photo opportunities all around Vinton County. Preserve the places, faces and interesting happenings that you find during your visit by photographing them and submitting your work to our contest!  The Vinton County Convention and Visitors’ Bureau (CVB) has announced the rules and categories for the 2013 Vinton County Proud and Beautiful Photography Contest. The CVB sponsors the annual contest to gain pictures of the county that are suitable for marketing.

There is no residency requirement for the contest. It is open to any amateur photographer including the folks who are just visiting.  The most important rule is that the photo must have been taken in Vinton County after January 1, 2006. There is one division for adults and kids. A prize will be awarded to the overall contest winner.

This year’s contest categories are as follows:

People In Action – Capture people in their element– artisans at work, folks having fun at local events and people enjoying all that Vinton County offers. Photos containing the distinguishable faces of people must be accompanied by a photo release signed by each person.

Landscapes, Streetscapes and Landmarks of Vinton County-What makes Vinton County unique? What makes this place beautiful? Capture the scenery and Vinton County’s unique sites at their best!

Historic Vinton County – Capture Vinton County’s historic sites as they appear today!

Open  – Do you have a great photo that doesn’t fit the above categories? Submit it here!

All photos that show a distinguishable face must be accompanied by a signed release form. Winning entries may be used in future marketing projects including print advertising, the Vinton County Visitors’ Guide and on

Want to know more? Click Here for the Contest Rules, Entry Form and Photo Release Form.  You can also contact the CVB at 1-800-596-4459 or at for information or stop by the Vistors’ Center at 104 W. Main St. in McArthur to see some past entries on display. Entries are due by 4 p.m. on April 19.

Special thanks to WesBanco Bank for sponsoring the $250 grand prize!!!!

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2013 will be a “Nifty Fifties Christmas”

The Vinton County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors is pleased to announce the theme for the 2013 Christmas in Downtown.  This year’s theme will be “A Nifty Fifties Christmas” and the Chamber plans for the event to be one big party.

Vinton County Marketing Director Brandi Betts said the Chamber chose this theme because so many local residents lived through the decade and others enjoy the romance of the era. “This was the decade of Chubby Checker, soda fountains, hula hoops and saddle shoes.  Baby boomers have fond memories from their childhood and younger people love the music and the poodle skirts. It seems like people really love this decade and we are excited to work it into our Christmas celebrations,” Betts said.

fifties christmas    “We hope the businesses will get into the theme and go all out with their decorating and their activities. There’s a lot to do with this theme and we think it will be fun to decorate with,” she explained.

Christmas in Downtown is an annual event held on the first Saturday in December. The afternoon features free wagon rides, music, door prizes, activities for the kids, crafters, Santa, a parade and a lot of family fun.  2013 will mark the tenth annual Christmas in Downtown and the Chamber hopes the entire community will take part.

“It seems like Christmas in Downtown has grown every year and the response to this last one was just incredible. We truly hope to make 2013 the biggest and best Christmas in Downtown for our community,” Betts explained.

Additional information will be released later this year. To volunteer to help with Christmas in Downtown, contact the Chamber at or at 596-5033.

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Chamber to host Reverse Raffle April 4

How would you like to spend an evening out with friends where you can enjoy an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet and have a chance to win a lot of cash?

Join the Vinton County Chamber of Commerce for their annual Reverse Raffle on April 4 for a one in 225 chance to win up to $2,812.50. And that’s not all because you also have a chance to win other great prizes throughout the evening.

The Chamber has been sponsoring this event every April and November for the last eight years as a fundraiser for Chamber activities. The Chamber supports many school and community activities and helps to operate the Vinton County Visitors’ Center.

Here’s how the Raffle works: the Chamber sells a maximum 225 tickets to the event. Half of the ticket sales will be given to the person whose ticket is last to be drawn. That means each ticket holder has a one in 200 chance of walking away with the grand prize. There are other prizes offered to some of the losing ticket holders throughout the evening as well as the infamous Playing Card Game and split-the-pot.

The Chamber orders pizza from the Chamber members that serve pizza so you get a chance to try some of the best around. There are also fresh cookies and plenty to drink. The Chamber’s Reverse Raffle will be held at the McArthur Fireman’s Hall on April 4. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the drawing starts at 7 p.m.

Because there are only 225 tickets available, you should buy yours today to insure you will be there for all the fun.

Just call the Chamber Office at 596-5033 for information or stop by 104 W. Main St. in McArthur to buy yours today.

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Southeast Ohio Tourism Expo is March 2

The Vinton County Convention and Visitors’ Bureau will exhibit at this event along with many other tourism partners in Southeast Ohio. If you are looking for fun things to do this summer, come check it out! It’s FREE and close to home. It’s also always a good time!

The Gallia County Convention and Visitors Bureau has announced the Fifth Annual Southeast Ohio Tourism Expo scheduled for March 2, 2013 at the University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College from 9 am to 4 pm at the Lyne Center. Athens, Marietta, Gallia, Pike, Ross, Meigs, Vinton, Buckeye Lake, and Jackson, Ohio Counties and Mason County, West Virginia will be showcasing all the wonders and interests in these areas that are available to natives and guests alike. Just a few delights of these areas are outdoor recreations, genealogy, shopping, dining, arts and theatre, homemade crafts and collectibles, Civil War History, education, museums and African-American history.

The Expo will be open to the general public free of charge along with pre-registered tour bus operators. You will have a chance to speak with different tourism destinations from the entire region and learn about what they have to offer. Visitors will also have the opportunity to win door prizes, gather souvenirs and participate in additional raffles/contests.

The Gallia County Convention and Visitors Bureau works to connect a vast network of tourism industry contacts with Ohio and West Virginia. This is a great opportunity for tourism organizations, travel agencies, tour operators and other related industries to spotlight their venues. The public will also have the opportunity to become educated about these Ohio and West Virginia communities.
Please contact the GCCVB with any questions you may have at (800) 765-6482 or

Sponsored by: Gallia County Convention & Visitors Bureau, 99.5 Big Country, University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College, Bob Evans Farms, The Wounded Goose, Gallipolis Foodland, and Red’s Rollen Garage.


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Hope Lives: Lake Hope Dining Lodge is dedicated

Seven years ago next month I stood on a cold winter morning and looked down at the remains of the Lake Hope Dining Lodge. An overnight fire had reduced the lodge to a smoldering pile of ashes with a handful of stone columns reaching toward the heavens.

Today, I stood with my neighbors, colleagues and strangers as the Ohio Department of Natural Resources dedicated the beautiful and amazing new Lake Hope Dining Lodge. This 14, 645 foot structure was designed by RVC Architects of Athens to be everything we hoped it would be.

It uses many of the rustic and natural elements that you would expect to find at Lake Hope State Park. Enormous timbers cut from the Zaleski State Forest, a soaring fireplace, beautiful views of the lake and lots of stone are some things you will find here. There’s a nineteenth century log cabin that was disassembled, cleaned and reassembled inside the lobby to serve as a small cafe. A staircase wraps around a large tree, cut from the Zaleski State Forest by ODNR Chief of Forestry Bob Boyles. Several stuffed animals adorn the walls, nooks and crannies. These pieces were donated by the family of the late Rod Garey, a former Lake Hope Manager.

Cottage check-in and a really nice gift shop are also located in this building. You can find a lot of the sundry items you might need on a camping trip as well as some quality made items like Roseville Pottery, primitives from Thompson’s Primitives here in Vinton County and candles from Zaleski Candle Works, to name a few.

The centerpiece of the building is the dining room which features a lot of wood including beams from Zaleski State Forest timber and the most enormous booths I have ever seen.

The view of the lake, even on a cold winter’s day, is breathtaking. But, trust me when I say, no one comes to this restaurant for the view.

It is the creations of Chef Matt Rapposelli and Chef Eric Lee that keep people coming back. Their wood smoke based menu features things that you simply can’t find anywhere else. Meaty Mac n’ Cheese is literally a giant bowl of mac n’ cheese with the brisket baked in. Lots of interesting salads, enormous and flavorful sandwiches, and some of the best desserts you will ever taste make every experience here one you won’t forget.

I went over early today to enjoy a quiet lunch. The brisket heaped on a fresh baked bun couldn’t have been better. I longed for their berry cobbler or maybe a Lodge S’more (homemade graham cracker topped with homemade marshmallow and Hershey chocolate) but their large portions left me too full for a dessert that was designed for two. Sigh. Another day.

The dedication was a nice ceremony. We heard from ODNR Deputy Director Glenn Cobb, Director James Zehringer and a host of others. The Vinton County Commissioners were credited for their very vocal support of this new facility, particularly at a time when it seemed they would not build a new lodge. Volunteer firefighters from the community were credited for their hard work the night the lodge burned. It was a bitterly cold night, the building was destroyed before firefighters arrived and they struggled against both the blaze and the elements to keep the fire under control. It is because of these fine volunteers that we only lost the lodge that night and not cottages or a large portion of the forest.

A nice touch  was the Legacy Plaque that ODNR officials asked us all to sign. Well, actually, we all signed a parchment paper. Those signatures will be etched onto the plaque and displayed in the lodge for prosperity. Following the ribbon cutting everyone was invited inside to sign the parchment, sample refreshments from the restaurant and to tour the lodge. It was quite a party and a much happier affair than we had that February morning in 2006.

For all the speeches and celebrating there were some people who received no acknowledgement for their work. People like Randy Zeisler, who was Park Manager at the time of the fire and who carried much of the lodge project until his retirement last year, wasn’t recognized for his hard work. Several members of the park staff who have worked so hard to compensate for the loss of the lodge, to shuffle offices around and to get things up and running in the new building deserve a pat on the back if you ask me.

The neat thing about this event is that it appealed to a large group of people who had one thing in common: their love for Lake Hope and its beautiful new lodge. I spoke with a woman whose family has stayed at the park every Martin Luther King weekend for the last two decades. Another person I met had worked on the construction crew back in 1950. I also spoke with politicians and regular folks who all had some kind of Lake Hope story to tell. What a great start for this fantastic new facility!

Have you been to the new lodge? If not, you really should go check it out. The dining room is operating on winter hours right now. Hours are Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for lunch and 4 to 8 p.m. for dinner. On Saturday morning, they offer breakfast from 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. They also offer a Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call 596-0601 for information or visit them online at

To make a cottage reservation or for general park information, call 596-4938.

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2013 Vinton County Visitors’ Guides have arrived

The 2013 Vinton County Visitors’ Guide is now available. Sponsored by the Vinton County Convention and Visitors’ Bureau (CVB), this publication serves as a guide to local events, lodging, shopping, food, services and other places of interest.

The 40-page full color book features stories and pictures that highlight this beautiful community. It was created with the help of the Vinton County Courier/Athens Messenger this year.

 The CVB produces 20,000 copies to be distributed at Ohio Travel Information Centers, regional visitors’ center, area businesses and local events. The guides are also sent to potential visitors who request information via telephone and internet. Additionally, the publication is used as a reference guide for many local residents.

Pick up your guide at the Vinton County Visitors’ Center at 104 W. Main St., McArthur or look for it in other local businesses. Would you like to have guides to place in your business? Contact Brandi Betts at 596-5033 or to make this arrangement.

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