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Loveland’s annual Sweetheart Festival celebrates love, art

Mao+Tou+Ying%2C+a+25-foot+metal+sculpture+of+an+owl%2C+expels+plumes+of+fire+at+the+Sweetheart+Festival+in+Loveland%2C+Colorado%2C+Feb.+10.+Drew+Hsu%2C+also+known+as+Torch+Mouth%2C+created+the+artwork.
Collegian | Hannah Parcells
“Mao Tou Ying,” a 25-foot metal sculpture of an owl, expels plumes of fire at the Sweetheart Festival in Loveland, Colorado, Feb. 10. Drew Hsu, also known as Torch Mouth, created the artwork.

Just about 14 miles south of Fort Collins lies the town of Loveland, Colorado. For decades, Loveland has emanated love thanks to its world-renowned Valentine Re-mailing Program

Each year, thousands of love letters are sent from all corners of the globe to be stamped with Loveland’s unique postmark before being delivered to their intended recipients. This tradition has made Loveland a symbol of affection and endearment for countless people worldwide.

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The Loveland Sweetheart Festival is the culmination of this enduring tradition. Held annually in downtown Loveland, the festival transforms the streets into a vibrant celebration of community, art and love in all its forms.

This year’s festival was held Saturday, Feb. 10, and marked the sixth annual celebration. Spanning the entire day, the festival featured local vendors, live music, community activities and art installations from local artists.

The art installations this year included ice sculptures, pottery firing and a large fire element, all available throughout the festival. 

“We have a really great artist community that supports one another. It’s a really great community to be a part of, and I love to watch it thrive and grow.” -Jules Gillen, Loveland Sweetheart Festival volunteer coordinator

All of the artists were local to the Northern Colorado area, volunteer coordinator Jules Gillen said.

“This is one of the best festivals we have all year round,” Gillen said. “We have a little bit of everything, and it’s really exciting to get out and celebrate the first festival of the year.”

The centerpiece of the art installations was a massive metal owl made by Drew Hsu, also known as Torch Mouth. The owl stood at 25 feet tall and has a wingspan of 25 feet. Attached to the wings were fire elements that sent out plumes of flames.

Drew Hsu and his wife Monica Hsu have been leading the fire element at the Sweetheart Festival for a few years now, Monica Hsu said, but this has been their largest project yet. 

“We’ve done it in a lot worse weather, and we’ve done it in a lot better weather, but we’re really happy to bring more heat to a colder festival,” Monica Hsu said, acknowledging the 30-degree temperature and the snow falling around the plaza.

Even in the frigid air, the fire shooting off of the sculpture represented a year of hard work for Drew Hsu and the team of people who helped him. Around 40 volunteers over a span of eight months contributed to the project, something both Drew and Monica Hsu said they were incredibly grateful for. 

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Bringing the sculpture to the Sweetheart Festival was also an opportunity to show it off to the community who might not have seen it otherwise.

“We’re really grateful to be able to show this sculpture locally,” Monica Hsu said. “We built it locally and have a lot of help from local business owners and friends. Being able to show it at a free event and be sponsored by the city in such a major way is super epic for us.”

One of the highlights of the festival for some of the artists was getting to gather in one place and show off their work, said Amy Joy Hosterman, owner of Stinky Cheese Ceramics. Hosterman set up a portable kiln of her own design at the festival and gave out heart-shaped ceramics to festival attendees.

“It’s cool to get all these people together that are usually doing things spread out,” Hosterman said. “It’s really fun to share this and to see everyone else’s kind of behind the scenes.”

This sentiment was echoed by nearly every artist at the festival and is something the organizers said they were proud to contribute to.

“We have a really great artist community that supports one another,” Gillen said. “It’s a really great community to be a part of, and I love to watch it thrive and grow.”

Reach Hannah Parcells at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @hannahparcells.

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About the Contributor
Hannah Parcells
Hannah Parcells, News Editor
Hannah Parcells is currently the news editor at The Collegian, a role that she loves dearly. Parcells uses she/her pronouns and began writing for The Collegian in fall 2023 as a reporter under the news, science, opinion and life and culture desks.  Parcells is currently pursuing two degrees: a Bachelor of Science in psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in political science with a concentration in global politics. Parcells has always been passionate about understanding and helping other people and hopes to use her education to try and leave the world a little better than she found it.  Raised in Castle Rock, Colorado, Parcells grew up with a love of learning, music and writing. She’s always working to learn more about the world through history and art and loves being introduced to new places, people and ideas.  On the off chance that she’s not buried in textbooks, research papers and policy analyses, Hannah can be found on a hike, watching movies or at any local bookstore or coffee shop, feeding her ongoing addictions to both caffeine and good books. Parcells is incredibly proud of the work she’s done at The Collegian so far and is excited to continue that work as an editor of the news desk.

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