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Experience the LOVE of Virginia

Giant LOVE artwork to appear at Virginia Beach Oceanfront

- LOVE Sandsculpture to be part of Virginia is for Lovers social media marketing campaign -

 For more information on the festival, please visit www.neptunefestival.com or call 757/498-0215

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (September 20, 2012) - Love is popping up all over Virginia in many different and unexpected places as part of a state tourism campaign to share the message that love is at the heart of every Virginia vacation.  Giant LOVE artworks have appeared across Virginia, creating a social media phenomenon and inviting more families to visit Virginia. Starting Monday, September 24th, as Virginia Beach prepares for its beloved Neptune Festival Boardwalk Weekend and its signature event, the world-renowned North American Sandsculpting Championship, visitors can find the latest LOVE creation in sand.

The Neptune Festival's Boardwalk Weekend is Virginia Beach's most famous party. The weekend includes a continual series of daily outdoor concerts along 35 blocks of the Boardwalk with a variety of live music; over 275 artisans showcasing their talent during the Neptune Art & Craft Show; a spectacular Saturday night fireworks display over the Atlantic Ocean; volleyball tournament; surfing classic; Atlantic Sailing Regatta; and an 8K and 5K run. Additionally, the Grand Parade features more than 100 floats, military units, costumed characters and marching bands along the oceanfront.

Internationally known as the largest competition of its kind in the United States, the North American Sandsculpting Championship has the richest prize purse in the country and draws professional sand artists from around the globe to cultivate their finest masterpieces. These showy sand masterpieces will be on display in the Neptune Sand Gallery, Neptune's Kingdom of Sand, from Friday, September 28 - Sunday, October 7th.  Admission to "Neptune's Kingdom of Sand" is $3.00 per adult with children 12 and under free when accompanied by an adult.

The North American Sandsculpting Championship venue is closed to the public from Tuesday, September 25 through Thursday, September 27 for the actual competition. Judging occurs on Thursday afternoon and winners will be announced Thursday night.  Friday morning at 9 a.m., Neptune's Gallery of Sand opens to the public.

Construction on the approximate 5' x 14' LOVE sand sculpture will begin Monday morning, September 24 by a team of master sand artists from around the world who are in Virginia Beach to compete in the championship. It is scheduled to be completed Monday afternoon. Though easily visible from the Boardwalk at 7th Street, visitors will be able to get up close and personal with the sculpture beginning Friday, September 28 with admission to Neptune's Gallery of Sand.

At that time, visitors will be able to visit the sculpture to pose for pictures.  In addition to sharing with friends and family, these photos can be posted www.Facebook.com/VirginiaisforLovers or on Twitter and use the hashtag #LOVEVA.  A complete list of LOVE artwork locations across the state can be found at www.Virginia.org/LOVE. The LOVE sand sculpture will be on display as part of Neptune's Kingdom of Sand through October 7th.

The Virginia Beach LOVE artwork is part of a statewide effort which began with the Virginia is for Lovers oversized LOVE artwork, which is 16 feet long and more than six feet high.  The artwork has made stops at Virginia Welcome Centers, attractions and localities throughout Virginia.  It has become a favorite photo opportunity for visitors as well as local residents wherever it has gone. Photos taken by people from across the country can be seen on at www.Virginia.org/LOVE.

"Virginia is for Lovers is about love - pure and simple, and has been for more than 40 years," said Rita McClenny, interim president and CEO of the Virginia Tourism Corporation. "The LOVE artwork promotes Virginia as an ideal destination for families looking to completely connect on a Virginia vacation."

About the Neptune Festival

The award winning Virginia Beach Neptune Festival began in 1974 and has blossomed over the years into the city's official celebration and largest event as well as one of the most successful festivals on the East Coast. Now in its 39th year, the Virginia Beach Neptune Festival is produced by a private non-profit organization and directed by a volunteer Board of Directors. Support and funding for the event comes from the community at large and corporate sponsorships. Each year, the Neptune Festival attracts hundreds of thousands of people to the Virginia Beach oceanfront and generates approximately $18 million in economic impact for the City of Virginia Beach. For more information on the 39th Annual Neptune Festival, please call the Festival office at 1-866-NEP-FEST or visit www.neptunefestival.com.

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Media Contact:

Rebecca Bump, Neptune Festival

becky@specialassignment.biz

(757) 228-5815

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