Small-town charm and southern hospitality are where Smyth County shines. Here, you’ll find farm-to-fork dining, artwork, local spirits, and handcrafts that are authentically Appalachian.
Before we get started on our top picks for experiencing Appalachia in Smyth County, let’s get one thing out of the way. Around here, we prounounce it appa-latch-ah. Don’t forget, or we might throw an apple at ‘cha. (Get it?? Just kidding, we’ve heard all the pronunciations. But it’s a handy way to remember.)
Heritage music and The Crooked Road
There’s nothing quite as distinctly Appalachian as our mountain music. In local music venues, traditional Appalachian genres, including old time music, sit comfortably next to their cousins: bluegrass and country music. It just makes sense as our southern neighbors in Bristol claim the title as the Birthplace of Country Music, where folks from Smyth County and beyond came to record at the 1927 Sessions recordings. Get a front row seat to the heritage music at a performance of the Song of the Mountains at The Lincoln Theatre, or sit in on a weekly Friday Night Jam at the Palmer Mill in Saltville.
Learn more about The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail with a visit to the information kiost at The Wayne C. Henderson School for Appalachian Arts. Affectionately known as “The Henderson,” the school is named for Wayne C. Henderson, a world renowned guitar instrumentalist and luthier from nearby Rugby, Virginia who has become an international ambassador for the music, heritage and culture of the Southern Appalachians.
For those who want to get hands-on, check out the class list at The Henderson for offer immersive classes in Appalachian craftsmanship including: guitar building, fiddle building, letterpress, pottery and quilting. Music lovers of all kinds should check out the event calendar during their visit to Smyth County to catch live music at Chilhowie’s Town Park, Hungry Mother State Park and Downtown Marion, among others.
Appalachian Arts & Crafts in the Virginia Mountains
The beauty of our mountains has historically fostered the ingenuity of free spirits and artisans. In Marion, you’ll find a fusion of traditional styles and contemporary arts at The Ford Studios, and a cooperative of regional artists who make their home at The Appalachian Spirit Gallery. Our bustling farmers markets are a great place to browse local arts and crafts, and sample homemade goodies: at the Chilhowie Farmers Market Thursday evenings, and Marion Farmers Market Saturday mornings.
Mark your calendars for outstanding arts and crafts festivals, like the venerable Hungry Mother Festival, held the third weekend of July at Hungry Mother State Park, or the Chilhowie Community Apple Festival in downtown Chilhowie. Visit Smyth County artisans in their own studios with ‘Round the Mountain Artisan Trail.
Authentically Appalachian Flavors
Alongside visual arts, traditional crafts and music, you’ll also find culinary artists crafting the region’s bounty and traditional food items into their menus at local restaurants. Enjoy a farm tour, or pick up farm products straight from the source at Laurel Springs Farm Mercantile in Marion. Experience an authentic moonshine tasting with the traditional recipe and distilling methods at Highlands Distilling Company. The local libations are expertly crafted at 36° Fifty Brewing, where you’ll find an impressive selection of craft beers, while Davis Valley Winery & Distillery offers a refined winery experience nestled in the valley, showcasing the splendor of the Blue Ridge.