Area joins Artisan Trail Network

February 17, 2014

Businesses, artisans and others in Martinsville and Henry County are being recruited for the statewide Artisan Trail Network, according to a news release from the Artisans Center of Virginia. 

The project is part of a program that is being implemented all over the state, according to Jennifer Doss, director of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp.’s Department of Tourism and Film.

“Several of these trails are already in place in other areas of the state,” she said. For instance, one is in place in Patrick County, and the Eastern Shore is rolling its out soon, Doss said. 

The trail in Martinsville and Henry County will connect with others in the state that highlight cultural and tourism-related attractions, according to Doss and the release.

The project is a public-private initiative to further strengthen the relationships and connect creative, cultural and agricultural businesses, while emphasizing unique visitor experiences, special places and locally made products in the area, according to the release. 

When it is developed, the trail will be a comprehensive visitor’s guide to local museums, artist studios, farms and vineyards, arts and cultural activities, shopping for locally grown and hand-crafted items, and unique, locally owned lodging and restaurants.

In Martinsville and Henry County, the trail will be paid for with a $32,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to the Artisans Center of Virginia. The state center in turn will work with a management team of local artisan-related organizations (arts and agriculture) and businesses to develop the new trail. 

In addition to the ARC grant, local sources will provide $23,395 for a total budget of $55,395 for the project, which is expected to attract the participation of 50 businesses and create five jobs, the release stated.

Doss said there are several steps needed to develop the trail, including formation of a local management team, completing a needs assessment survey, naming the trail, enrolling local businesses on the trail and developing marketing and promotional materials. 

In addition to Doss, the local management team formed earlier this year includes Kim Buck, Patrick Henry Community College Artisan Center; Johnny Buck, Rives Theatre and Rooster Walk Music & Arts Festival; Karen Despot, Artisans Center of Virginia; Rhonda Hodges, Patrick Henry Community College; Chauncey Adams, Fayette Area Historical Initiative (FAHI) African American Museum; Leah Manning, West Piedmont Planning District Commission; Susan McCulloch, city of Martinsville; Kathy Rogers, Piedmont Arts; Sherri Smith, Artisans Center of Virginia; Connie and Elliott Stone, Stonehaus Farms; and Amanda Witt, Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce, the release stated.

“We see great value in being part of this regional program which will increase area tourism, promote local artisans and spur the creation of new arts-related businesses in our community,” Doss said. 

She also hopes others will become involved.

To that end, the management team will host “Lunch & Learn” events for anyone interested in learning more about the program, according to Doss and the release. 

The informal lunch gatherings will be held in different locations throughout Martinsville and Henry County with Smith, executive director of the Artisans Center of Virginia, available to share information on the project.

The first lunch event will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Artisan Center at 54 W. Church St., Martinsville. 

“Bring your lunch, your associates and your questions,” the release stated.


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