Author shows Smithfield some LOVE

Published 6:28 pm Tuesday, May 3, 2022

By Lauren McMillen

“Virginia is for Lovers” is a saying that can be found throughout Virginia, including on license plates and signs.  This saying is why you can find LOVE signs throughout the state, including in front of welcome centers, rest areas and tourist stops, such as Main Street in downtown Smithfield.

Many people make it a priority to find the signs and take pictures in front of them. Tara Fisher went a step further.

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An adventurer who lives in northern Virginia with her family, Fisher set out to find LOVE signs.  They decided on a goal of 100 signs and have surpassed that goal while exploring different regions of Virginia over the past two years.

After talking with a friend, she decided to write a book about her family’s adventures.  “Virginia is for Adventurers,” available through Amazon, Apple Books and Barnes & Noble in both paperback and electronic versions, is based on her family’s quest to find as many LOVE signs as they could.  Her family’s adventures were her biggest inspiration, however she also decided to write it as an additional resource for fourth graders to learn about Virginia.

Her book highlights Virginia’s outdoor areas, many of which are historical sites, like Jamestown and the many battlefields. Fisher decided to make it a scavenger hunt for the LOVE signs to make the book more fun for fourth graders to read and learn more about Virginia while doing it.

The fact that the kids can follow the scavenger hunt by visiting the LOVE sites makes it all the more interesting.  If they cannot go visit the sites physically, they can go online and see pictures and videos on her website for the areas they visited:

Asked what intrigued her about Smithfield, Fisher said she went online to search for small towns to visit and Smithfield popped up. After visiting Smithfield, she decided to add her time here to her book.

“The Isle of Wight Museum with the oldest ham, and the Queen Anne style architecture” was Fisher’s favorite part of Smithfield. She also had a lot to say about how much she appreciated the welcoming and friendly the people of Smithfield, especially those in the Visitor Center on Main Street.  The employees there were extremely helpful and hospitable, she said, making Smithfield a natural choice for inclusion in her book.

Driving through Smithfield, one sees multiple pig statues. The pork industry is why Smithfield’s own LOVE sign, located in front of The Smithfield Times office, has two slices of bacon for the V.  What first-time visitors to Smithfield might not know is that those pig statues are a scavenger hunt to find multiple statues with unique themes painted on them. These pigs will lead you through Smithfield to different locations. Fisher thought it would be fun to write a scavenger hunt within a bigger scavenger hunt, so she briefly mentions the pig statues and that you can hunt for them all.

Fisher believed that readers would be interested in learning more about their hometowns and other areas of Virginia that they may not have heard about before. Instead of just giving the information, she does it in a creative way by making it into a scavenger hunt for the LOVE signs.  She said she wanted to find a way to get people out exploring Virginia, but outside instead of just reading about it.