In 2011 Julie Mayer was new to her job as an account executive for “The Roanoker Magazine,” published by Leisure Media 360. Angie Chewning had recently been named the executive cirector of the Vinton Area Chamber of Commerce. They decided to promote their hometown of Vinton in a cooperative effort with a two-page spread about the town, which would be an insert inside the magazine.
That small project quickly grew into 24 pages and what is now a biennial publication in its fourth edition simply named “The Vinton Magazine.” This year’s version includes 32 pages encompassing the community, its people, and its events. The magazine is used extensively in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Vinton.
The theme for “The Vinton Magazine” this year is “Clicking on All Cylinders,” from a comment made by Dale Wilkinson of Old School Partners, LLC, the group that re-developed the former Roland E. Cook Elementary into the Roland E. Cook Lofts. (The Lofts are featured in the newest edition of the Vinton publication.)
Wilkinson said that he “has never worked in a more cooperative community. It’s clicking on all cylinders in Vinton right now.”
That’s the attitude and atmosphere Mayer, Chewning, Associate Editor and this year’s writer Liz Long, and photographer Noah Magnifico set out to project with the 2017 edition.
The group brainstormed to identify the concepts and topics they wanted to include to encapsulate Vinton as completely as possible. As a result, the magazine includes stories on special and continuing events in Vinton, the businesses, the local government and town departments, the award-winning schools and educators, the outdoor amenities, and the unusual number of special venues in Vinton or nearby. This year a real estate section was added.
The magazine headings include living, working, playing, loving, getting active, learning, shopping, and eating “InVinton.”
The cover of this edition is unique in and of itself. Mayer says they wanted to do a cover shoot for the first time and feature Vintonites who are not necessarily high-profile, but who are very significant to the daily life of the town or represent a certain group which is.
They included a member of the police force (Officer of the Year Michael Caldwell), a recent William Byrd High School graduate (Joseph Barker), small business owners Karen Hough (Field of Dreams dog training and day care), Rhonda Wray (D.R. Music), and Karmen G. (Giardino’s Pizza), artist Tonya Weaver Kirk, Star City Playhouse co-owner Karon Ferguson, John Conner from the New York Life Group, Michelle Barklow from Star King Enterprises, Vinton Relay for Life Co-chair Carolyn Williams, along with Chewning and Vinton Chamber Executive Assistant Kathryn Sowers.
Mayer and Chewning say “The Vinton Magazine” has evolved as the town has made significant advances in recent years with the construction of the new Vinton Library, the renovations just completed at Roland E. Cook, those now underway at the former library (which is being transformed into a Macado’s restaurant), and those about to become a reality at the former William Byrd High School.
Downtown Vinton has been revitalized through a grant with new streetscapes and facades on many existing businesses. There is new signage at the gateways to the town and throughout the downtown area which direct traffic into Vinton rather than to destinations beyond.
There are new and booming businesses at the HIVE Business Incubation Center and Twin Creeks Brewery. In addition, plans are on the horizon such as the preservation of the historic Gish’s Mill. The myriad of outdoor activities available in Vinton and nearby are showcased as well, from access to the greenways to the Blue Ridge Parkway and Explore Park.
Mayer says that while most communities have separate magazines or publications for the local government and the Chamber, Vinton chooses to collaborate to promote the town, its businesses, and its events.
In her years in marketing and sales, she has “never seen such an engaged Chamber of Commerce, so engaged with the community, as the one in Vinton.”
“The Chamber and the Town of Vinton work so well together reciprocally,” said Mayer. “They are all ‘In’ this together.”
Magnifico photographs various scenes and events in Vinton throughout the year. He is married to Mayer and, in fact, they met in 2013 through “The Roanoker Magazine,” at a “bridebook” event (“bridebook” is another Leisure Media 360 publication). They began dating soon after. Magnifico subsequently took the photographs for the 2013 edition of “The Vinton Magazine,” which solidified their relationship and they were married in 2016.
Mayer grew up in Falling Creek in Vinton and graduated from William Byrd High School. Chewning is a William Byrd graduate as well. They both cheer on Vinton at every opportunity.
Chewning says the “first “Vinton Magazine” edition in 2011 introduced the town; each edition gets easier to produce because there is so much to talk about in Vinton.”
Businesses get in touch with them to ask how they can be included in the publication whose purpose is to “show off the community.”
Their focus audience for the magazine is two-fold— attracting those new to the area with a thumbnail (but comprehensive) introduction to the community and reminding current residents to appreciate with pride what is here.
The magazine is available on newsstands as an insert in the July/August 2017 edition of “The Roanoker Magazine.” It can also be accessed online at www.roanoker.com. About 10,000 stand-alone copies were printed for distribution by the Chamber through the businesses they represent, Town of Vinton departments, and other local organizations. New teachers coming to the Vinton schools will receive a copy in the annual “Goodie Bags” the Chamber presents each year. Complimentary copies are available from the Chamber office.
Mayer says “The Vinton Magazine” always “sells out of copies, every time, every year.”