‘Lights. Camera. Action.’ Stuart vies for makeover

A shot of Downtown Stuart may well be among the items submitted to HGTV’s ‘Home Town Takeover’ competition.

By Cory L. Higgs

In a recent press release, HGTV announced a competition to find a small hometown to feature in its new show Home Town Takeover, where hosts ‘fix-up’ a hometown that needs a little TLC.

Patrick County’s hub, Stuart, happens to meet the criteria for the competition, and that has sparked a project in the county’s tourism department.

Looking through the lens of a camera, Sarah Sheppard, assistant tourism director, said she hopes to score the home town makeover for Stuart, and meet some of the town’s interesting characters along the way,

“We have so much we want to feature but can only fit it into a small about of time. Stuart has such a unique community, and capturing that aspect of town will be a challenge as well. How do you convey the spirit of our community in just a short video,” Sheppard asked.

The project will consist of interviews and shots of buildings around town that need improvements. The areas featured are primarily Uptown and Downtown, along with a few neighborhoods throughout town.

“We also wanted to focus on our unique, historical architecture. It plays into our rich history and we really wanted to capture that with the camera,” Sheppard said.

Those interviewed volunteered to do so via the friends of Patrick County Tourism Facebook page, where Sheppard invited those who “best embodied the Stuart spirit and represented the community” to participate.

“We’ve talked to a lot of familiar faces around town and have gathered some great footage so far, but we are far from done,” Sheppard said. One interviewee was Rebecca Adcock, executive director of the Patrick County Chamber of Commerce

Rebecca Adcock, executive director of the Patrick County Chamber of Commerce, was among those interviewed for submission to HGTV’s ‘Home Town Takeover.’

In her segment, Adcock candidly noted that if this project came to fruition, it would not only benefit the town of Stuart but the county as a whole.

There are an estimated 19,000 towns that may fit the HGTV requirements for being featured on the show in the U.S., according to online census data. This gives Stuart a 1 in 19,000 chance of being selected.

“There are hundreds, maybe thousands of other applicants, that will be applying for this contest, including neighboring localities, so yes, the odds are stacked against us,” said Sheppard. “All we can do is show them our potential and be ourselves.”

Sheppard says the video and interview materials will be saved and repurposed into promotional videos for the county in the future.

“It’s a big stretch for us to get the bid, but we can’t win if we don’t try,” she said, noting that “Stuart has been around in some capacity since 1792, and it is full of personality.”

But Sheppard added that “some facets of the town are showing their age and dilapidating. It is an interesting place with a rich history and, hopefully, a bright future.”