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Monday January 11, 2016

After two years of community development and outreach, Henry County with the City of Martinsville has kicked-off their Artisan Trail, the newest of 27 Artisan Trails across the Commonwealth, with 60 artists, artisans, agri-artisans, cultural attractions, hotels, B&Bs, and restaurants. 

The new map/brochure gives visitors a road map to an exciting visitor experience throughout Martinsville-Henry County, Virginia.

With over 60 guests attending the inaugural gala at the Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville, David Hoback, Executive Director of the West Piedmont Planning District Commission stated, "The collaboration and partnership of local artisans is a key component of a community’s economic development strategy.   Within any community the road to the future should always remember the mile markers of history, culture and a distinct way of life.  The work of local artisans link past, present, and future.”

Community members on the artisan trail management team representing the arts, agriculture, and the region’s hospitality and cultural attractions, met for two years to plan and engage the community in a coordinated effort. This approach to economic development, based on the successful Artisan Center of Virginia business model, is designed to strengthen communities and increase the visibility of artisan and agri-artisan entrepreneurs to the public, and help the business community network find new strategic partners and foster new business innovations.  

The Smith River Artisan Trail represents all that is wonderful about Henry County and the City of Martinsville. This area’s rich agricultural heritage, breathtaking scenery and centuries of history have shaped this region and inspired so many of the local creative and agricultural artisans. Trout-filled rivers, quiet lakes, and gentle mountains surround this beautiful location that's full of rich history. Home to some of the finest recreational and cultural activities in the country, the Smith River Artisan Trail offers a scenic backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains, with spring and autumn seasons that are inspirationally breathtaking.  Aside from the beautiful location and rich cultural history, the most welcoming feature is the sense of community embraced by those who call the region “home.” All along the Smith River Artisan Trail visitors will find a truly connected experience, from bustling city to small rural towns, with warm and friendly people welcoming as they embrace the sights, sounds, and innovations.

At the inaugural celebration, Jennifer Doss, Director of Tourism for the Economic Development Corporation noted that, “Creative artists and agri-artisans are elements that bridge all of Martinsville-Henry County together. From a 1939 Fresco in Bassett to more modern murals in Uptown, painted by our future leaders, art is all around us.” 

The Smith River Artisan Trail also promotes economic development for the region.  With its emphasis on locally produced products and locally owned and operated businesses, visitors have many enticing opportunities to support the region’s economy.  According to Hoback, “The efforts of artisan businesses are a strong component of a creative economy every community is seeking.  Artisans are by nature entrepreneurs and bring to bear considerable imagination, creativity, and skill in the products they produce and sell.”

Visitors can pick up a copy of the full color, descriptive map/brochure at Virginia Welcome Centers, from tourism offices, or visit ArtisanTrailNetwork.org to plan their adventure along the Smith River Artisan Trail. Now visible all across the county, way-finding artisan trail signs are in place at participating trail sites to help visitors navigate the trail. 

All across the Smith River Artisan Trail private artist studios, agri-artisan farms, craft-related venues, lodging, restaurants, and cultural sites will be opening their doors and featuring special activities to engage you in a personal journey of artisan discovery!  Details will be released in early spring 2016. 

Tags: Art, Artisan Trails, Entertainment, Henry County, Insider's Tips, Local Business, Martinsville, , MHC Economic Development Corporation, Smith River, Smith River Artisan Trail , ,