The ‘Otter-Ly Amazing’ campaign is underway in Fredericksburg | Virginia News


By JAI-LEAH GARCIA, The Free Lance-Star

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (AP) — The locally designed Otter-ly Amazing board game is meant to give players a tour of downtown Fredericksburg.

Each player is an otter trying to get to the Rappahannock River with their family. As they explore the city, eat and drink, view the art and learn about the history, they eventually arrive at Riverfront Park along Sophia Street.

The game was part of a Fredericksburg VA Main Street project to generate excitement for the city’s new park, the Rappahannock River and the creatures that call it home.

Local artist Pete Morelewicz, owner of Print Jazz studio, designed the colorful game for all ages.

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“I was excited to work on this,” said Morelewicz, who has worked with Fredericksburg Main Street on previous initiatives. “I love working on a project that showcases Fredericksburg.”

The game design, he said, will bring a sense of place to those who live in Fredericksburg.

“I was inspired walking around downtown,” Morelewicz said. “Put that in a game and capture the spirit of Fredericksburg.”

The limited-edition game debuted in time for the 2021 holiday season, and around 250 board games were purchased at various retailers downtown. People can still buy it at the Fredericksburg Visitor Center, but once the remaining games sell out, they won’t be in print, Morelewicz said.

Otters aren’t just the focus of a board game. Proceeds have helped fund sculptures of the creatures that will soon be featured throughout downtown as part of the Otter-ly Amazing public art project.

April Peterson, former president of Fredericksburg Main Street and co-owner of River Rock Outfitter, said she hopes the project will raise awareness of the otters living in the Rappahannock and attract visitors to the town.

“What we wanted was to create movement in the city centre, especially towards the new park. How to create this movement? We start with the bronze otter statues,” Peterson said.

Peterson explained that otters living on the banks of the Rappahannock are a sign of a healthy ecosystem, and she hopes the art project will be a way for people to relate to the creatures and encourage them to preserve their habitat.

“The downtown businesses are doing everything to help keep the area clean,” Peterson said. “The biggest part is awareness. Our mission tells many stories, whether historical, artistic or on the river. If we have otters, it’s because we have a clean river.

Bronze otter statues – created by local artists Steven and Stewart Wegner of The Foundry, Wegner Metal Arts – will be placed between Hurkamp and Riverfront parks, as well as other locations in the downtown business district. One in Riverfront Park, for example, will depict a mother otter and her cubs.

A statue unveiling and ribbon cutting for Riverfront Park is scheduled for May 21. A tour of the new downtown otters will be offered after the ribbon cutting event. The Riverfront playground and walkways opened last fall, but the spring ceremony will mark the opening of the park’s performance lawn and meadow.

After the unveiling of the statues, the Otter-ly Amazing Art Project will continue to tell the story of Fredericksburg.

“We create scavenger hunts and games to create movement,” Peterson said.

The statues will also allow guests to learn more about how otter habitat is preserved by the Friends of Rappahannock and local businesses.

“We’re giving a little furry creature a chance to talk about our town,” Peterson said.

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