Photo source: Visit Floyd VA
Located at the southwestern edge of Virginia along a plateau of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Floyd is a tiny little town with loads of character. There is just one traffic light in the whole county and most people driving through the intersection of Highway 221 and State Road 8 have no idea what Floyd has to offer.
For generations the county has been home to long-rooted families who have made their living in agriculture, but in the 1970's that began to change. Drawn to the natural beauty of the area, there was an influx of freethinking, free-spirited, artistic, tie-dyed newcomers adding a wonderful spice to the eclectic mix of the community. Today gourmet markets and health food stores stand alongside hardware and farm supply stores. The overall clad farmers live in harmony with their tie-dyed clad neighbors and the community has evolved into a nest of creativity. Here are some reasons why you should stop at that traffic light and stay awhile.
The roots of traditional American music are firmly planted in Southwestern Virginia where The Crooked Road (Virginia's Heritage Music Trail) traverses 333 miles through the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains. The Crooked Road runs through the heart of Floyd. On Friday nights, the music comes to life at the Floyd Country Store where traditional Appalachian music reigns with some gospel and bluegrass added into the mix. Farmers, aging hippies, parents, teens and children flood the dance floor to kick up their heels to the toe-tapping tunes. The music spills outside on the streets where world-class musicians play everything from jazz and blues to classical.
Floyd is also home to a number of music festivals including the 12-day "Classical Music in the Mountains" which includes major symphonic works and chamber music. In July, FloydFest comes to town bringing with it over 100 artists and musicians. This four day world festival with on-site camping has a little bit of everything - Zydeco, Rock, Country, African, Appalachian and more.
As a nod to the blend of rural country life and artisans, the Jacksonville Center for the Arts (known locally as The Jax) is housed in a repurposed dairy barn. The cows moved out and the creative artists moved in. The center has year round exhibits in the Hayloft and Breezeway galleries. Classes are also available in a variety of styles, media and ability levels taught by professional artist-instructors.
The celebration of the arts is in full swing each June along the Floyd Artisan Trail where local artisans and agrarian cultures share their creative passions by opening their studio doors and pasture gates for tours. The event showcases the work of potters, jewelry-makers, woodworkers, fine artists, photographers and papermakers who eagerly share their craft. There are also beekeepers, alpaca farmers and medicinal herb growers along the trail.
Floyd County is home to a number of craft breweries and wineries, but the newest addition to the flavors of Floyd is the Five Mile Mountain Distillery. The first (legal) moonshine distillery since Prohibition, here you can sample micro-distilled moonshine with true Appalachian roots.
More flavor can be found at The Harvest Moon, which offers organic foods, wine, beer and cheeses from over 30 local producers and farmers. On Saturday mornings, the downtown Farmers Market showcases local produce, specialty foods, artisan crafts, and of course more music. There is always music.
Floyd has a variety of inns, B&B's and small hotels. Here are a couple of great options:
Just minutes from downtown Floyd, Bella La Vita Inn provides the perfect blend of comfort and luxury. The pure mountain air surrounding the Tuscany inspired inn is refreshing, breakfast is delicious and innkeepers, Lisal and Matthew, are happy to provide tips and insight into the unique personality of Floyd.
Just steps away from the charming shops, galleries and eateries in downtown Floyd, the Hotel Floyd has earned the "Virginia Green Lodging" designation for its use of the latest in sustainable technologies and furnishings. The boutique hotels decor depicts the diverse culture and character of its beloved Blue Ridge mountain community.
Have you been to Floyd? What did you think?
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Terri Marshall is a New York City based freelance writer whose work includes travel, spirits, and all things chocolate. Terri's work appears in several publications. She has been a featured guest on Peter Greenberg's Worldwide Travel radio program and Denver's KZKO Radio Morning Express show. Terri will not hesitate to go to the source for great chocolate - even if that means hiking through the jungle and picking cacao pods herself.
Happiest when she's globetrotting, Terri has covered destinations all over the United States, Europe, and into Central and South America. Favorite adventures include reindeer driving in Norway and fishing for piranhas in the Amazon jungle of Peru. You can keep up with Terri's adventures on her website www.TrippingwithTerri.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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