Friends Connection Newsletter – December 2019


Welcome to the December 2019 Friends Connection Newsletter – a newsletter designed to keep you connected with everything – or just about everything – that is underway with the following entities:

We are excited to keep you in the loop on all our programs in the 19 counties, 4 cities, and 53 towns of Southwest Virginia!

You’ll find contact information for the team throughout this newsletter and here:

Let us know how we can assist you! Thanks for being a ‘friend’ of Southwest Virginia!

Chris Cannon
Executive Director
Friends of Southwest Virginia  |  Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation
‘Round the Mountain  |  Southwest Virginia Cultural Center & Marketplace


The #SWVA marketing team has two goals: Tell the rest of the world that Southwest Virginia is the most vibrant, beautiful place on earth that’s ready and eager to host visitors from around the world, while also reminding the locals of SWVA that we’ve got the world’s most incredible front and backyard throughout these 19 counties, 4 cities and 53 towns! 

  • SWVA Storytellers
    • The “SWVA Storytellers” consist of six writers, photographers and videographers journeying throughout the 19 county, four city footprint of Southwest Virginia discovering the region’s untold treasures. The storytellers are currently producing content packages about unique people, businesses, attractions, hidden destinations, and more throughout the region. The stories of the region will be cataloged at starting in January 2020 to promote Spring travel throughout the region, and continue throughout the year. These stories will be marketed to the world to showcase the authentic and distinctive culture of Southwest Virginia.
    • We need your help identifying the hidden stories of authentic people and places. If you have an idea to pitch, send an email to and include as much information as possible! We’ll follow up if one of the Storytellers can craft a unique story around your pitch! 

For more information on the above programs and initiatives, reach out to Jenna Wagner at 

Development: Community Collaborative Updates

The Community Development team focuses on working with community groups of varying sizes, from neighborhood blocks to multi-county regions, to build that groups capacity for economic development in the creative economy sector. From arts and culture to outdoor recreation and agritourism, each community holds a special set of natural and cultural assets and this team assists in building the collaborative ecosystem necessary for economic success. 


  • Tazewell County, Thompson Charitable & Friends of SWVA partnered on benchmarking trip to the Urban Wilderness in Knoxville which is a  nationally acclaimed bike park. Productive conversation, idea sharing, and trail development ideas are now in progress.
  • The Outdoor Recreation Asset Analysis grant application was approved
  • Tazewell Trails team meetings take place monthly to manage ongoing projects and acquisition

The Clinch

  • CRVI Transition Team is moving along and has set goals for 2020 based on the strategic plan. Working groups have been created and are completing deliverables around Financial, Development, and Communication.
  • Monthly facilitated action team calls continue with the CRVI action team Based on the work of both teams CRVI is working towards filing for incorporation in early 2020.

Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail

  • William King Museum of Art and Friends of SWVA collaborated on a joint Wilderness Road trip to engage the Wilderness Road community. This trip was to make connections for an exhibit opening at William King in 2020 intitled the Virginia Rifleman, and a cultural initiative around an immersive SWVA experience and trip planning is in the planning phase.
    • Wilderness Road State Park
    • Cumberland Gap National Park
    • Daniel Boone Interpretive Center
    • Natural Tunnel State Park

High Knob

  • High Knob Enhancement corporation is looking forward to moving ahead as the champions of the High Knob Master Plan. Action teams, 2020 goals and future development will  be implemented at the January meeting in Norton.

New River

  • Attention all food-based businesses in the New River Valley (NRV) – The food-based challenge, and they have over $20,000 in prizes to award! The challenge is focused on food-based business in the NRV to utilize their shared-use kitchen, and includes 6 weeks of business classes. Registration is free. The deadline to apply is December 16th, 2019. Find our more here –  
  • Are you interested in starting or expanding a business in Giles County, Virginia? Giles County is hosting Jumpstart Giles! Jumpstart Giles is  a countywide business challenge competition. Registration is free and workshops begin on January 23rd, 2020. Find out more and register here –

Community Collaborative Updates

Friends team members Chris Cannon, Emily Mayo and Idalina Walker met with Virginia Tech’s Office of Outreach and International Affairs, The Reynolds Homestead, and the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development to identify opportunities for utilizing AIR Shift and Evolve in Southwest Virginia. Friends and Virginia Tech hope to expand the reach and network of AIR Shift and Evolve within the next year. Friends has agreed to look into funding opportunities and assist with information sharing for these programs. To find out more about AIR Shift or Evolve, or to participate in a training,  please contact Emily Mayo at or Idalina Walker at 

The Advent-ure Calendar is a 4 week promotion for outdoor recreation between Southwest Virginia, Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership, and Northeast Tennessee.Friends of Southwest Virginia has assisted in this collaboration by providing content for assets within one hour of Bristol. Be sure to check out the adventure guide on Friends of Southwest Virginia’s Facebook

For more information on the above community development programs and initiatives, reach out to Emily Mayo at or Idalina Walker at 

Development: Product Development Updates

The Product Development Team focuses on packaging projects throughout the region and attracting resources to build new and expanded assets across the entire creative economy with a particular emphasis on creating an economy out of natural and cultural assets while protecting and preserving their importance to the region. 

Stoney Creek Park (Devil’s Bathtub) – Scott County

  • Stony Creek Park at Devil’s Bathtub is almost complete!  A huge thanks to Glass Machinery, based out of Jonesville, for their efficiency and quality work.  To learn more about this project, click here. Stay tuned for ribbon cutting details for early 2020!

Appalachian Trail Center

  • The Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s Damascus Trail Center will begin construction in early 2020.  Wallberg Construction, based out of Abingdon, has been selected to construct the center. To learn more about the Trail Center, click here


For more information on the above product development programs and initiatives, reach out to Marcia Dempsey at 

Cultural Heritage Program Updates

‘Round the Mountain: Arts & Craft

‘Round the Mountain’s Arts & Craft programs work to build resources and opportunities for practicing artisans across the region to advance their craft and benefit the regional creative economy. 

  • Membership
    • ‘Round the Mountain is a membership based network of artisans throughout the Southwest Virginia region that works to advance the artisan economy. To learn more about artisan membership, visit:
    • Current Artisan Membership – 246
    • Current Business Membership – 50
  • Fall Jury
    • ‘Round the Mountain: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Network (RTM) announced today the latest juried artisans to be added to the database of over 240 artisans around the 19 county, four city region of Southwest Virginia. Over 17 artisans submitted artwork for the Fall jury to sell their work in the Southwest Virginia Cultural Center & Marketplace. An exhibit highlighting the new juried artisans will hit the walls of the Cultural Center in January and tell the story of these talented members.The artisans chosen, feature a variety of mediums, including jewelry, photography, painting, fiber, wood, metal and fiber. Please join us in welcoming the newest juried members of ‘Round the Mountain and look for their work in the galleries starting in December:
      Amanda Griffin (Griffin Entwined) of Galax, Virginia – Jewelry
      Amanda Griffin creates unique wearable art inspired by nature and historical jewelry making techniques. Her work is handcrafted from copper and silver wire and polymer clay. She fell in love with wire in a sculpture class at Hollins University. She has regnited her love of wire sculpture on a much smaller scale with the jewelry she creates. Each necklace, earring, pendant, and ring is handcrafted, so even her favorite designs have inspired variations. Amanda is a native of Carroll County, VA and now calls Galax home. She has been a part of Chestnut Creek School of the Arts, in Galax, since 2014 as a student, volunteer, a juried consignment artist, and an instructor.William Clower of Woodlawn, Virginia – Wood
      I am inspired by the natural variations in wood. I let the grains, knots, and colors tell me what it will become. I take old pieces of reclaimed barnwood and wormy chestnut and give them a new life.

      James Elmore (student member) of Abingdon, Virginia – 2D: Photography
      I am a relatively new photographer; always trying to improve. I want to have a unique, yet varied aesthetic in my shots. My favorite subjects are landscapes and animals. I enjoy playing with motion and making some pictures more realistic than others.

      Charlotte Farris of Marion, Virginia: Fiber
      I strive for perfection but seldom reach it, thus I try, try, try again. I love fabrics and putting them together to create beauty. The three Bs: Bright, Bold, and Beautiful describe what I like to achieve in a finished product. I also like difficult, complicated, involved patterns.

      Henri T. de Hahn (Hahn Art & Design) of Christiansburg, Virginia: Wood
      Born in Montreal, Canada, de Hahn moved with his family to Vienna, Austria at a young age, and at nine to Switzerland. Eventually, he trained as an architect in Lausanne, Switzerland completing an M. Architect before moving to New York City. When he was invited to join the faculty of architecture at the University of Kentucky, he discovered that region of the country and the vernacular art form called Folk Art. Fast-forward twenty years, and a move to Virginia via Californina, and an unexpected fall storm that covered his downtown Christiansburg lawn with a variety of tree limbs of different dimensions and sizes. The form demanded attention and he decided to transform this amorphous form into a reptile and give it a new life through color and pattern. His first folk art snake was born. Today his work is found in private collections in California, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, New York, Virginia and Switzerland.

      George “David” Hamilton of Abingdon, Virginia – 2D: Painting
      Local naturalist expressing his love of nature through art! Beauty in nature is the inspiration of my art. He replicates the form and color with simplicity and attention to detail.

      Isaac Hilton of Vansant, Virginia – Metal
      I started welding at 10 years old when I would go to work with my dad on Saturdays. Since then, I have been hooked. All of my working career I have had some affiliation with welding. I feel that it is in my blood and is a part of who I am. I draw inspiration for my work from my love of westerns. Using horseshoes allows me to combine my love of the west with my hobby of welding. I can picture a blacksmith of the old west repurposing his material for functional needs.

      Teresa Kath of Bristol, Virginia – 2D: Painting
      My love for art began in high school. I had an art teacher who took me under his wing and helped me get a good start. Art is my life.I love being involved in many mediums. I paint in watercolor, acrylic, alcohol ink and also work in pottery.

      Rejane Pratelli of Blacksburg, Virginia – Jewelry
      Pratelli is a jewelry artist living and working in Blacksburg, VA. She took her first silversmithing class after life-threatening health issues required a change of pace and career, and she never looked back. What originally began as a way of speeding up physical recovery and helping with pain management developed into a full time occupation. She works mainly with sterling silver and is fascinated with texture and uneven, organic shapes, which she achieves through reticulation, fusion, hammering, and roll printing. Gold, pearls, and gemstones provide color accents and contrast. She draws her inspiration from her extensive travels and the artistic, natural, cultural, architectural, and human encounters she experienced along the way. Processing pain is another endless source of inspiration, and turning raw human emotions into pieces of beauty is for her the most rewarding part of the journey.

      Sarah Rouse of Abingdon, Virginia – Fiber: Macrame
      A true crafter at heart, I grew up with many women around me quilting, crocheting, and embroidering. I have taught myself everything I know from watching my grandmothers and online videos. I have worked in retail galleries with handmade items all around me which have inspired me to create and perfect my craft.

      And as you prepare for gifting, remember to support your fellow artisans by shopping locally at the SWVA Cultural Center & Marketplace, one of dozens of galleries, or directly from an artisan during the many open houses and studio tours throughout our 19 counties, 4 cities and 53 towns!


For more information on ‘Round the Mountain’s programs and initiatives, reach out to Chris Cannon at

The Crooked Road: Music

  • Thursday Jams continue to be popular at the SWVA Cultural Center & Marketplace. There will be no jam on Thursday, December 26 because of the Christmas holiday. Jams are open to the public – bring an instrument and play or come and watch some great local music!
  • We have restocked The Crooked Road’s Guitar Sampler CDs.  They are available for sale from The Crooked Road office and at the SWVA Cultural Center.
  • The Crooked Road is searching for a new Executive Director.  The job posting can be found at

For more information on The Crooked Road’s programs and initiatives, reach out to Carrie Beck, Interim Director, at

‘Round the Mountain: Culinary & Agritourism

‘Round the Mountain’s Culinary & Agritourism programs work to advance the culinary and agritourism economy of the region through expanded use and knowledge of our local food systems.

  • On Sunday, November 24th, Chef Charles Parker created and served a brunch service at the Southwest Virginia Cultural Center & Marketplace.  This is the first time Charles has offered a brunch service to the public in 2019, and it was well-received, with great attendance!
  • On Friday, December 6th, Chef Charles assisted Matt Shy (owner of Bristol Gardens & Grill) in doing a “Holiday Wine Dinner” at Abingdon Vineyards.  The idea behind this event was to feature good, local holiday-themed foods prepared two ways. Each dish contained elements that were prepared by Matt and Charles.  Matt took the “home cook” approach to each dish, while Charles stretched his culinary creativity in a more traditional “chef style” manner. The event was a success in that it sold out soon after it was announced, and the guests were engaged, educated, and happy (not to mention “stuffed”)!
  • With the cold months upon us, and the Holiday Season in full-bloom, a lot of the farmers markets in our region are either closed for the season or have abbreviated hours.  There are still, however, many farmers that offer their products year-round. So, if you are looking for a good quality local turkey, ham, or wintry vegetables for your holiday meals but don’t know how or where to find them, please contact Chef Charles Parker at and he can connect you with what you may be looking for!

For more information on the above programs and initiatives, reach out to Chef Charles Parker at 

Cultural Center Update

Southwest Virginia Cultural Center & Marketplace is the gateway to Southwest Virginia’s rich culture and creative economy. Here you can see the work of regional artisans and musicians and find out about Southwest Virginia’s history, heritage, outdoor recreation and scenic beauty via stories and first-person narratives. But it’s much more than a visitor and sales center. It’s the introduction in our effort to build a regional economy focused on our cultural heritage and natural beauty.


  • Holiday shopping is in full swing at the SWVA Cultural Center! November and December sales have exceeded expectations and the numbers continue to rise.
  • Stop by and check out our new inventory for those last-minute gifts on your list! New work is now available from:
  • The Crooked Road Guitar Sampler CD is back in stock! This two-disc set features both contemporary and historic performances by many of the finest guitarists in SWVA. Pick up a copy for yourself and one for the music lover in your life!
  • The Cultural Center’s newly juried artisans’ works will be on display in our main gallery space from January through March. Be sure to stop by to admire and support the work of our new members!

For more information on the above programs and initiatives, reach out to Jamee Gillespie at 

SWVA Cafe & Mountain Brew Bar

  • December Farmer of the Month: Ziegenwald Dairy – Gate City, VA
    Ziegenwald Dairy is owned and operated by John and Andrea Woodworth. There Farm is located on Possum Creek, near Gate City, in Scott Co. Virginia. They relocated to this area in December of 1993 and bought their first goats in spring of ’94. In 2008 they attained a Grade A Dairy license which allows them to sell homestead cheese. Their Cheese is made from the milk of their solely owned animals. They do not use hormones or antibiotics to increase milk production. They are the oldest established Grade A goat milk dairy in Southwest Virginia.  They produce Chevre which is sold either plain or with added natural flavors. There is usually also some Colby style  cheese available as well as mozzarella. In 2011 Feta was added to their list of farmstead cheeses. They do not add chemical preservatives or artificial color to any of our products.  See a complete list of their products by going to or email to
  • The new menu has been received well with the acorn squash bowl  being the top seller in the cafe. Vegetarian and Gluten Free.
  • Did you know that the SWVA cafe offers limited catering options such as soup, salads, sandwiches, and cookies and/or brownies.  Keep the cafe in mind for your holiday plans. If you or someone you know would be interested in this type of catering please don’t hesitate to contact Gwyn Hill at 276-492-2400 ext. 4001.

For more information on the above programs and initiatives, reach out to Gwyn Hill at

Special Events

Don’t forget, you can experience live traditional and mountain music native to SWVA each Thursday for FREE from 6:00 to 9:00 PM!

Our 2020 brunch schedule is sure to delight.   Stay tuned for all those delicious details.

The wildly popular 2nd Tuesday Jazz Lunch hosted by the Southwest Virginia Community College Jazz Band has returned! Don’t miss the next free concert on the 2nd Tuesday of January!

Learn more about our upcoming events here » 

Private Events

  • The Southwest Virginia Cultural Center and Marketplace proudly hosted over 100 public and private events in 2019.
  • Events are quickly filling up for the reminder of the 2019 event calendar. We would love to have the opportunity to work with you on your event.
  • Gatherings at the SWVA Cultural Center and Marketplace can be as intimate or as grand as your heart desires.  Creating memories are the essence of a truly inspired gathering. Our team of talented event professionals are at the heart of each detailed moment.  Allow us to create a personalized event story for you and your loved ones to unfold. Crafting your authentic Southwest Virginia event experience through locally sourced vendors is truly a passion. We look forward to bringing your special moments at the Southwest Virginia Cultural Center and Marketplace to life. 
  • Group experiences are quickly becoming popular. Those include Artisan demos/classes, Appalachian Cooking demos/classes, Square Dancing, and Storytelling to name a few.  Gather your friends and book a group experience today!

For more information on the above programs and initiatives, reach out to Leah Kidd at