Imagine my surprise and excitement when I received a post from family, who live in Morgantown, NC, pointing out that they had found a photo of me, weaving on my barn loom, while reading their AAA GO travel magazine. The article featured a piece promoting Roanoke Virginia and the surrounding area of Franklin County.
This story begins back in April 2017. The Boards of Tourism for Roanoke and Franklin Counties hosted a group of travel writers, (I believe that there were 10 of them) for a weekend to explore all that our area of Virginia has to offer travelers and to hopefully entice more sojourners to “come on down”. The writers represented several different publications located up and down the East Coast and Canada. They came by my studio and spent some time learning more about me, my weaving, and my marketing. They took several photos and then were on their way to other artisans’ studios. After they left, we, the artisans, were unsure if and when they might publish any articles about what they had experienced. Many artisans have devoted time, energy, and talent toward creating an artisan trail here in Franklin County, in hopes of bringing more tourism to our beautiful “land between the lakes”.
Alas, this summer the first article appeared. The Canadian Auto Club Travel Magazine had a nice article on Roanoke and the surrounding area including some very kind words of recommendation for Toft Cottage Weavery. Then in September, Lark Gould wrote an article published in the Washington Times which included this paragraph about the White Lightning Artisan Trail and The Crooked Road of Franklin County:
“The Road from Roanoke
Heading out from Roanoke in a hub and spoke itinerary, the choices are many and full of surprises.
The area offers what it calls the While Lightning Artisan Trail: meandering through such dots on the map as Dublin, Radford, Pulaski, Rocky Mount and Draper.
These magnets include such stops as CM Handwovens for a studio tour and talk and option to purchase an array of gorgeous woven scarves, towels, and table runners. Other take-ins include Old’s Cool Vintage Finds and Hot Taffy Glass in Rocky Mount, and Toft Cottage Weavery, along the HYPERLINK Crooked Road of Franklin County, another byway of handy-craft studios, antiques, paintings, jewelry making, music and sundry boot-straps enterprises.
Also find distilleries here, especially around Boones Mill, considered the Moonshine Capital of the World. Tasting spots will inevitably include Franklin County Distilleries, the oldest in the area that was once the rendezvous point for distribution to syndicates during the rough and tumble Prohibition years. Today, it fires up the stills to produce star quality corn whiskey served in a sun-dappled tasting room and offered in re-imagined cocktails with names like Cosmoshine and Ginger Apple Smash.”
Today’s article written by Carol Timblin, “Sights, sounds, and smell of Christmas in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains” also spoke of our White Lightning Artisan Trail and Franklin County’s “Round the Mountain” artisans:
“There are plenty of shopping options in the small towns near Roanoke, too. Many of Salem’s Main Street shops specialize in antiques, arts, and crafts. The city’s farmers’ market has fresh Christmas wreaths and greenery, plus homemade jams and jellies. Follow the White Lightning Artisan Trail around Franklin County for quality arts and crafts handmade by “’Round the Mountain” artisans. CM Handwovens in Wirtz offers household items made at their studio, and Toft Cottage Weavery in Callaway has textiles and rugs hand woven on site.”
I am encouraged that Franklin County’s artisans, scenery, and hospitality are becoming increasingly recognized. I am even more hopeful that it will lead to greater tourism and economic growth in the county.