PRESS RELEASE: Grand Reopening Weekend Set for Heartwood

March 8, 2019



Contact: Jenna Wagner
PR & Marketing Director
Friends of Southwest Virginia
Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation
(276) 492-2400 ext. 2422



ABINGDON, VA – Friends of Southwest Virginia announced today a weekend-long celebration to reopen Heartwood: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Gateway under a new brand and operational model. A series of events will take place March 15th– 17th to introduce visitors and locals to the renewed image and programming for the facility focused on telling the unique story of Southwest Virginia’s culture and heritage.

The facility, located just off I-81 in Abingdon, has been closed to the public since January 1, 2019 to facilitate a renovation of both facilities and programs.

Grand Reopening Weekend events include:

  • Friday, March 15th
    • 11:00 AM – Ribbon Cutting with support of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce
      • MC: Rebecca Peppin, Newscaster with WCYB in Bristol, Virginia
      • Speakers include:
        • Delegate Will Morefield – Chair, Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation Board of Directors
        • Jim Baldwin – Chair, Friends of Southwest Virginia Board of Directors
        • Rita McClenny – President, Virginia Tourism Corporation
        • Nancy Brooks – Chair, ‘Round the Mountain: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Network Board of Directors
        • Larry Yates – Chair, The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail Board of Directors
        • Erik Johnston – Director, Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Housing & Community Development
        • Delegate Terry Kilgore – Chair, Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission
        • Chris Cannon – Executive Director, Friends of Southwest Virginia / Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation, ‘Round the Mountain, – Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Housing & Community Development
      • Special Appearance by Bill & the Belles, local musicians of The Crooked Road
    • 12:00 PM – Live music from Bill & the Belles, lunch and tours available
    • 5:00 – 7:00 PM – Square Dancing led by Tyler Hughes, regional musician
    • 6:30 – 9:00 PM – Chef’s Table featuring Chef Charles Parker and Chef T, renowned Chef featured on ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ and SWVA native
  • Saturday, March 16th
    • 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM – ‘Round the Mountain Spring Artisan Market at the renewed Heartwood – Join us on March 16th for spring shopping from local artisans! Over 30 artisans will be on-site selling their crafts from 11am-7pm.
  • Sunday, March 17th
    • 11:00 AM – Brunch by The Pakalachian Food Truck, providing fusion Pakistani and Appalachian Cuisine
    • 2:00 PM – Southwest Virginia Salutes Our Veterans, A Flag and Flagpole Dedication with support of the Abingdon Memorial Veteran of Foreign Wars Post 1994 and Auxiliary

Each of these events showcases different aspects of the renewed facility and the creative economy of Southwest Virginia. Heartwood will continue to serve as a center dedicated to the showcase of regional artisans and musicians, history, heritage, Appalachian cuisine and outdoor recreation.

Friends of Southwest Virginia invites you to attend one, if not all of the events mentioned above for a unique look at the rebranded storytelling center, devoted to showcase the unique stories and assets of the 19 counties and four cities in our region.

Ribbon Cutting

Renewed Name. Renewed Look. Renewed Experience. Don’t miss this grand reopening celebration! Tours, live music, crafts and refreshments.

The day you’ve all been waiting for! Heartwood has been closed to the public since January 1, 2019. We have been renovating and reshaping the image, facility and programs. Join us as we showcase the renewed image focused on telling the unique story of Southwest Virginia’s culture and heritage.

Square Dancing

Join us at Heartwood for an evening of old-fashioned square dancing! Tyler Hughes, a renowned regional musician, will lead the evening with his band. No partner or experience necessary – just a desire to have fun!

This dance is free and open to the public. Get your dancing shoes on and spread the word!

Chef’s Table Dinner – Featuring Chef Charles Parker and Chef T

You don’t want to miss this Southwest Virginia-sourced 4-course dinner, prepared by the famous “Hell’s Kitchen” season 14 runner-up Chef T, and Heartwood’s own Chef Charles Parker! These two talented and entertaining chefs will be sitting at the table with you, dining and chatting about their foods and whatever questions you may have for them. Each course will be skillfully paired with a local wine from Abingdon Vineyards. Seating is limited and tickets are required to be purchased in advance, so get yours now before they run out!

1st Course
Potato Veloute (soup) with pork belly, cheddar crouton, and chive oil

2nd Course
Chicken and Waffle Salad

3rd Course
Pan-seared Trout with Pecan Butter. With fried asparagus and maple carrots

4th Course
Braised Beef Cheeks. With wilted potlicker collard greens, tobacco onions, and grits

“Surprise Course”
As an added “treat” Chef T and Chef Charles are teaming up to make “Chocolate Dreams & Strawberry Fields” for dessert!

‘Round the Mountain Spring Artisan Market

Join us on March 16th for spring shopping from local artisans! Each artisan will be on-site, selling their crafts from 11am-7pm. We are also thrilled open our new grab-and-go restaurant and to have the MountainRose Vineyards on-site to take your shopping experience to the next level!

Sunday Brunch by Pakalachian

Pakalachian will be not be serving out of their food truck for this event, but rather from inside of our facility!

The Pakalachian is a food truck based out of Abingdon, Virginia, that strives to creatively blend the culinary elements of both Southwest Virginia and South Asia to produce unique, vibrant dishes that benefit local Appalachia. Owned and operated by Mohsin and Katlin Kazmi, this food truck is anything but ordinary. Each dish is curated to combine the comforting elements of the foods Katlin and Mohsin grew up with as kids.

The idea for The Pakalachian began with the blending of two cultures in marriage. Katlin and Mohsin met while in college at Virginia Tech. They married and moved to the golden rod and lightning bugs of Abingdon in 2014. Making similar meals for family and friends in their kitchen, the idea to start a food truck began to emerge. After establishing how to share the food with the rest of the region, the Kazmi’s started with an empty 1996 step van and built the food truck from the ground up.

The truck supports many sustainable practices as well. Mohsin and Katlin source all produce locally and have a goal of being 100% locally sourced by 2020. The menu for the truck is subject to change seasonally and from visit to visit, based on availability of ingredients. They serve meals in environmentally friendly containers, compost kitchen waste from food preparation, recycle empty cans and bottles, maintain a “no waste” mentality, and hope to have solar panels powering much of their equipment in the future.

Southwest Virginia Salutes Our Veterans Dedication

Join Friends of Southwest Virginia to dedicate the new I-81 Interstate a Flag and Flagpole that will shine SWVA’s love and respect for America on a daily basis. The support of the Abingdon Memorial Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1994 and Auxiliary makes this event possible.

For more information and to stay up-to-date, subscribe to the Friends of Southwest Virginia Partner Newsletter and “Like” Friends of Southwest Virginia on Facebook.




For more information, please contact Jenna Wagner with Friends of Southwest Virginia (276-492-2400 ext. 2422).

About Southwest Virginia:
Tucked in the mountains of Southwest Virginia is a vibrant culture of music, craft and stunning natural beauty. It’s a region of spectacular views and rich natural resources. Time spent in the region adds up to something much more than a simple getaway. A different side of Virginia. And a great place to visit for a week’s vacation – or to make a home for a lifetime. Authentic. Distinctive. Alive.

About the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation and Friends of Southwest Virginia:
The Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation is the coordinating body for cultural heritage tourism and economic development efforts fostering Southwest Virginia’s creative economy. Through a supporting non-profit, the Friends of Southwest Virginia, the combined entities help localities, businesses, individuals, artists, nonprofits and entrepreneurs mobilize and succeed.

A multifaceted plan identifies the cultural and natural assets of the region; coordinates initiatives, organizations and venues engaged in cultural and natural heritage toward more efficient operations for all partner organizations; and develops a comprehensive strategy and capital improvements plan to maximize the impact of state investments in this significant restructuring effort.

Key initiatives include:

  • Branding and marketing Southwest Virginia to the world as a distinct culture and destination
  • Developing and sustaining Heartwood: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Gateway
  • Expanding outdoor recreation development initiatives and marketing throughout the region
  • Planning and implementation of downtown revitalization throughout the region to instill a high quality of life within our communities and promote them to the world for a broad spectrum of economic development opportunities

Learn More About the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation and Friends of Southwest Virginia

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Friends of Southwest Virginia is following recommendations from the Commonwealth and the World Health Organization to practice social distancing. All public meetings will be postponed until further notice.Access Regional Resources Here »