Friends Connection Newsletter – November 2019


Welcome to the November 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! 

  • Friends of SWVA & The Crooked Road Agency of Record RFP
  • SWVA Comprehensive Marketing Plan / SWVA Marketing Investment Program
    • The SWVA Regional Marketing Roundtable met earlier in November to discuss current Friends of SWVA marketing efforts and provided feedback on the working comprehensive marketing plan and upcoming investment program. If you have questions or concerns, reach out to Jenna.
  • Marketing Leverage Program Grant Awarded
    • Friends of SWVA was awarded a $25,000 grant through Virginia Tourism Corporation’s Marketing Leverage Program. This program is in partnership with The Crooked Road, Floyd Country Store and the Birthplace of Country Music to begin content generation for music and arts in SWVA.
  • Website Platform Update
    • The Friends of Southwest Virginia marketing staff has been working on internal alignment of our programs, which includes a reset of our digital platform. We are working with Stellar Studios out of Johnson City on updates to functionality, design and content. If you have questions, concerns, or specific issues, reach out to Jenna.
  • SWVA Insiders
    • The SWVA Insiders, a program designed to educate the general public on the SWVA Region, equipt them with information and collateral for future visitors and educate them on regional creative economy initiatives, met at the SWVA Cultural Center for the first time in October. This group had some great feedback for how to engage more locals and resident ambassadors as we move forward. Look for some tweaks to this program and more information to come out in early 2020 on how all communities can participate in the Spring 2020 SWVA Insiders orientation.


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. 

The Clinch

  • The Oxbow Center on the Clinch River in St. Paul, VA held its Grand Opening on November 13th. With a great turn out and a host of national and local speakers recognizing the innovative coworking facility. This facility will be home to a range of tech, security and environmental related companies and agencies. At the Oxbox center opening, Clinch River State Park announced that they will call the Oxbow Center the home office through the completion of acquisition of the properties which will make up the Clinch River State Park. 


Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail

  • Friends of Southwest Virginia partnered with the William King Museum of Art  on an interpretive journey along the Wilderness Road, from Abingdon and Kingsport, TN, west to Cumberland Gap. This partnership is a first step to a cultural heritage initiative and planning for a fall exhibit around The Great Road and the Wilderness Road coming to the area Fall of 2020. 


High Knob

  • Following a master planning process funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission’s POWER 2016 Grant to Friends of Southwest Virginia, the 4 county and one city region of High Knob commenced on a two year master planning process to determine priorities for the area and establish recommendations for future economic development through the creative economy. 
  • The High Knob Enhancement Corporation has agreed to champion the master plan and make it a priority for the area. Friends of Southwest Virginia will continue work in the region to assist in the regionality and outdoor recreation promotion and development happening in the High Knob Anchor area. Friends of SWVA will assist with facilitation of discussion with both groups as the plan moves in to action in 2020.


New River

  • Giles County is launching a community business launch called Jumpstart Giles. Jumpstart Giles is a competitive business challenge that will award over  $33,000 in cash prizes to start-up or expanding businesses in Giles County. Interested participants need to register by January 23rd. Registration, and program details can be found here.


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

  • Construction at Stony Creek Park at Devil’s Bathtub has begun!  This project will be an essential amenity to the region as it offers adequate parking for the very popular Devil’s Bathtub attraction.  Below is a recent picture of the project site showcasing the recent work by Glass Machinery based out of Jonesville, VA.


High Knob Destination Center

  • On November 14th, a Design Team Kick-Off meeting took place in the City of Norton for the High Knob Destination Center Project.  Led by Thompson and Litton, members from the US Forest Service, City of Norton, and other local stakeholders convened to develop a vision and mission for the High Knob Destination Center.  To learn more about High Knob, please click here


Neither of these projects would be possible without funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission’s Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) program.  To learn more about the POWER program, 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. 


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

The Crooked Road: Music

  • The Crooked Road continues to host a lively Thursday Jam night at the Cultural Center.  Attendance has been high during the month of October and into November. The 11/7 jam saw a bus group of approximately 40 and a regular audience of 50 with 6 groups participating in the jam.  The jam is averaging approximately 75 attendees. 
  • The Crooked Road On Tour programming is booking concerts for 2020 in areas of Virginia outside Southwest Virginia, bringing the traditional music of our region to potential visitors.
  • The Crooked Road is partnering with The Wayne C. Henderson School of Appalachian Arts to present the Guitar Summit 2019:  Celebrating the Role of the Guitar in Virginia’s History, to be held at the Henderson in Marion, VA on 11/23 & 11/24. Various musicians will conduct workshops at this two-day  event. More information can be found at:
  • The Crooked Road is currently looking for a new Director:


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 Friday, October 11th, Chef Charles Parker was in Independence, VA, as a judge for their annual “Apple Dessert Competition”! Charles got to eat 12 delicious, local apple-themed desserts and award a winner!
  • On Saturday, October 19th, Chef Charles was at the Abingdon Farmers Market, highlighting the available produce and meats that were available, by demonstrating how he makes his delicious omelets, and letting the market patrons taste the “goodness” that is local food!
  • On October 24th, Chef Charles prepared a locally-sourced 4-course plated lunch for a food-writing seminar being held at the Cultural Center called “Feast of Your Life”.  Before each course was served, Charles came out to speak to the attendees about why he chose that particular dish and the family history behind it.
  • On Tuesday, October 22nd, Chef Charles prepared a 6-course, plated “Farm-to-Table Dinner” for the town of Pulaski.  Charles sourced most of the ingredients used from the farmers in the Pulaski area! It was a sold-out event, and very well-received! Check out the Facebook posts:

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.


  • Sales and visitation continue to increase with October being our best month since reopening in March! 
  • The SWVA Cultural Center & Marketplace hosted our second annual Autumn Market on November 2nd. 23 artisans were in attendance and set up to demonstrate and showcase their works. If you missed the Autumn Market, be sure to stop by on December 14th for our Holiday Market featuring 20+ local artisans, book signings, live music by the Wolf Hills Jazz Quartet, Santa photos and more! A few spots are still available for artisans. Email as soon as possible to reserve your space!
  • Margaret Rich from Honaker will join us on Saturday, November 30th to demonstrate her wonderful fiber art. Be sure to stop by to hear some great stories and pick up a few holiday gifts!
  • New inventory has steadily been arriving to stock up for the Holiday shopping season. The Marketplace has new work from:
    – Pam Conley (photography)
    – Rick Radman (metalwork)
    – Julie Powell (quilted runners and placemats)
    – Linda Weatherly (pottery)
    – Walt Shroyer (pottery)
    – John Alexander (handmade brooms)
    – Anne Vaughan Designs (jewelry)
    – Darcy Meeker (cards and earrings)
    – As well as, several new books from local author, Adda Leah Davis. 
  • New SWVA x Winze Co. merchandise has arrived! Stop by the Cultural Center to grab a hat and check out our new t-shirt designs.

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

SWVA Cafe & Mountain Brew Bar

  • November Farmer of the Month: Southern Fork Farm – Sugar Grove, VA
    Southern Fork Farm in Sugar Grove, VA. Southern Fork Farm is owned and operated by the Boucher and Smith families – Shawn and Emily Boucher, and Ginny Smith.  The farm is located on the southern fork of the Holston River in the community of Sugar Grove in the beautiful Rye Valley. The Farm currently raises turkeys, chickens, and hens for eggs.  Southern Fork Farm also grows a variety of vegetables in their market garden. The guiding principles of Southern Fork Farm will always be to do that which is “Good for the land, Good for the animal, Good for the farmer, and Good for the community. Visit Southern Fork Farm at Independence, Pulaski, or Wytheville Farmers Markets or shop his products at the Laurel Springs Farm Store, Blue Hills Market, and through Va Field Goods to taste and experience the difference of SWVA farmers!
  • With the launch of new Fall/Winter menu for the cafe the response has been incredible.  The favorite of all the new items is the acorn squash bowl which is gluten free and packed full of local nutritious ingredients… pictured below.  
  • Did you know that you can call ahead to place your order for pick up in the cafe or just to be able to have your food ready when you arrive? Give the cafe a early call so that you can lounge on the couches of the Cultural Center and bask in the sunlight with the amazing view of Mount Rogers while eating your locally sourced lunch!
  • Remember the SWVA Cultural Center & Marketplace Cafe offers Boxed Lunch Catering for all of your Christmas Party needs! Contact Gwyn Hill today via email or call 276-492-2400 ext. 4001 to make your reservation.

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

Special Events

We announced our Fall lineup of Sunday Brunches, which includes a partnership with local caterers and restaurants. The brunches, held every Sunday from 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM during the months of October through December, will showcase local businesses and products from around the 19 county, four city footprint of Southwest Virginia.  See the full press release here!

The remaining 2019 schedule of Sunday Brunches is as follows:
– November 24 – Chef Charles Parker – Abingdon
– December 8 – Four Seasons Catering and Bakery – Marion

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

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!

Learn more about our upcoming events here » 

Have you been naughty or nice? There is only one way to know……Attend the SWVA Cultural Center Santa Brunch. You won’t to miss Brunch with Santa on December 8 from 11:00am-2:30pm. Catering brought to you by Four Seasons Catering and Bakery.  Space is limited, so make your reservation today by calling 276.492.2400.

Private Events

  • 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