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Process begins to pick name for artisan trail planned here

Thursday, May 15, 2014

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

“Names have power,” best-seller author Rick Riordan wrote in his book “The Lightning Thief.” He’d get no argument from Sherri Smith, executive director of the Artisans Center of Virginia, who spoke at a party Wednesday to begin the process of naming the Artisan Trail for Martinsville and Henry County.

Smith told about 30 people who gathered at Piedmont Arts that in the process of establishing an artisan trail, “the hardest thing we ever do is naming it.”

She said, for example, it took a number of years to develop the White Lightning Artisan Trail in Franklin County, and one of the biggest stumbling blocks was the name. She added that she hopes the naming process will take about two months here.

According to Smith, her agency’s website and brochures, some names of artisan trails in Virginia are O Shenandoah County Artisan Trail; Monticello Artisan Trail; heART and SOIL of the Shenandoah Valley; Woven Mountains and River Bends; Harmony Trail; Hidden Treasures Trail; Virginia’s Western Highland Artisan Trail; and artisan trails named after counties and the Eastern Shore.

Smith and facilitator Johnny Buck, a member of the local management team for the artisan trail, asked those attending to suggest names (or ideas to help develop a name) describing what is unique, positive, memorable, etc. about Martinsville-Henry County — but within the framework of an artisan trail and marketable. Buck is executive director of Rooster Walk Music & Arts Festival.

Among the names and ideas suggested and mentioned were: family in the foothills; victory lane; left-turn trail; y’all crawl (embrace Southern charms); reinventing; varnish trail/textile trail; do it yourself/hands-on; neighborhoods tight-knit; new beginnings/New College/new; pride of Piedmont; history of manufacturing/craftsmen; libARTy; going downtown (all-day event); speed.

Others included: resilient community; delicious/visibly delicious; mARTinsville; open arms; flatfooting in the foothills; racing; Smith River; reading; the women who sewed; women out of the kitchen; blue collar/Blue Ridge; in the middle of everything/greenbelt; starting line; finish; friendliness, welcoming, homey; wine, women and song; chitlin’ circuit; and come for the vittles/leave with a vision.

Smith said the usable suggestions will be posted starting Friday on Martinsville/Henry County Artisan Trail on Facebook, and on (click on Martinsville-Henry County Artisan Trail). The public is encouraged to comment on those ideas or suggest other ones, she said.

Updates on the naming process will be given.

The trail in Martinsville and Henry County will connect with others in the state that highlight cultural and tourism-related attractions, according to a previous report and officials at the party. 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.

When it is developed, the trail will include 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, according to the previous report and officials Wednesday night.

Jennifer Doss, director of tourism for the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp., said she believes the trail will increase tourism in M-HC. According to Doss and Smith, already 14 artisans, artisan studios, craft-related venues, agri-artisan farms, points of interest, etc. have signed up for the M-HC Artisan Trail Network.

Michelle Eastland is the Artisans Center of Virginia Artisan Trail Network field officer working in M-HC.

In M-HC, 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, according to a previous report.

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 50 businesses and create five jobs, according to previous report.


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