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New children's book featuring 'Spot' the dog promotes Spotsylvania County

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Spot the Dalmatian tries hard to be a good puppy, but one beautiful day, it’s just too tempting to set off exploring Spotsylvania County attractions.

That’s the premise of “Find Your Spot,” a new children’s book published by the county’s Community Engagement & Tourism Department as part of its Find Your Spot in Spotsylvania campaign. Written by former county employee Lily Eghtessad, the book showcases eight destinations and features local graphic artist Pete Morelewicz’s colorful illustrations.

A “Find Your Spot Book Kick Off Party” will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5, at the Spotsylvania County Museum, 6159 Plank Road. There will be tours, children’s activities, giveaways, vendors and an ice cream truck. Book readings are scheduled at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. “Find Your Spot” books and stuffed plush Spot dogs will be available for purchase.

“We want to bring awareness to some of Spotsylvania’s hidden gems in a fun, creative and unique format,” said Lindsay Leach, the county’s community engagement and tourism manager. “Spotsylvania is a family destination, and our goal is to bring attention to just a few of the many things visiting families can experience during their time in the county.

She continued, “We also hope that children and families who live here learn about new destinations, activities and fun things to do in Spotsy since there is a tendency for people to overlook things in their own backyards.”

Morelewicz, whose Print Jazz studio is in Fredericksburg, said Eghtessad originally hired him to create the image of Spot the dog for the Find Your Spot campaign’s branding efforts.

“Obviously, because he’s a Spot, they asked for a Dalmatian and so they got kind of a Dalmatian,” he said. “The shape of Spotsylvania is actually the patch on his eye. It’s not a terribly memorable shape but I thought it fit in nicely. It’s a nice little Easter egg for people if they know the shape of the county.”

Eghtessad devised the plot and selected most of the attractions, including Dominion Raceway, the Rappahannock Railroad Museum and Shannon Air Museum. She also sketched out some ideas for the layouts but gave Morelewicz artistic liberties to go in any direction he chose.

“I added the squirrel as kind of an accompanying friend on this adventure and then I put in some other fun stuff like 1721, which was the county’s founding date,” he said. “The house where the dog lives is number 1721 and the two cars at Dominion Raceway spell out 1721 when they’re together.”

Eghtessad and Morelewicz took a scouting trip to some of the attractions so he could soak up the atmosphere and capture the spirit of the places in his distinctive style, which features flat planes of color with shading to add depth. He also picked up some details to enliven the images.

At Wilderness Presidential Resort, for example, Morelewicz said he realized Spot would have to wear a helmet and harness while taking a trip on the zip line. The pup also got to play prospector at Lake Anna State Park because people can pan for gold there.

Morelewicz said that depicting Shannon Air Museum proved a bit of a challenge. The interior was so busy with aircraft and exhibits that he feared the information he’d try to capture would be lost. He settled for depicting the museum’s exterior as Spot roars off in a vintage plane as another tows a banner with the museum’s name.

The next page shows Spot’s plane soaring over one of the elaborate ice cream confections that The Battlefield Country Store is known for. Morelewicz said his eye was caught by their weekly ads and his version features a banana, a doughnut and a popsicle stuck in the ice cream for extra measure.

“Even drawing that, like that’s not even exaggerating,” he said. “Like, that’s just standard fare. Like, I try to make it something over the top and I can’t top them.”

Other attractions in the book are the Spotsylvania County Visitor Center, where the book is for sale, and the Spotsylvania County Museum. The book is $15 and the stuffed plush “Spot” dog can be purchased separately for $12 or as a set with the book for $22. Free bookmarks that include the featured destinations are available at the visitor’s center. People can earn a free prize by visiting each place, checking it off the bookmark and returning the bookmark to the center.

“Children will want to follow ‘Spot’ on exciting adventures,” said Leach, “and the book encourages quality family time with an appreciation for many, great opportunities available in Spotsylvania.”

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