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Bedford County artists form trail to promote economic development

By Tim Saunders, tsaunders@wdbj7.com
Published On: Nov 06 2013 02:27:04 PM EST
Updated On: Nov 07 2013 08:04:05 PM EST

It's a movement to promote the county's numerous art venues and use them as a vehicle for tourism

BEDFORD, Va. -

When Mitchell Bond and Patrick Ellis opened Goose Creek Studio a few years ago, they joined a growing community of businesses in Bedford that showcase art.

"There's a very enthusiastic, creative community in this area," said Bond.  "It's nice to be a part of that."

Until now that community has been spread out and unrelated.

"A lot of artists are working in isolation," said Bond, who is working to connect the art community by starting an "artisan trail."

The trail is designed to tie together and advertise Bedford's cultural offerings.  Participating businesses pay money and receive a sign that designates them as a "trail site."  A map will point out different trail locations to visiting tourists.

"If you are from out of town and looking for things to do on a weekend, you could easily follow the map," said Ronnie Gross, owner of Gross' Orchard in Bedford County and an artisan trail participant.

Trail sites include galleries, performing arts centers, and cultural destinations like Gross Orchard.

"It's a good way to get people out into the countryside," said Gross.  "There's a lot in Bedford to offer."

Visitors already come for attractions like the Peaks of Otter and the D-Day Memorial.  The artisan trail is a way to keep tourists around longer and spend more money.

"You take that extra dollar that's coming in from the tourist who didn't know about our artisan locations," said Traci Blido, economic development director for Bedford County.

"(Visitors) will spend their money in a shop or with a producer," Blido explained.  "That dollar is then turned over many times in the community."

Those dollars will allow artists like Bond and Ellis to get more exposure and profit from their work.

"It's bringing folks from outside of Bedford into the county and showcasing the things that we have," said Bond.

Organizers are asking for the community to come up with a name for the artisan trail.  Click here to submit your idea

Businesses and organizations that are interested in being part of the artisan trail can attend a "lunch and learn" next Tuesday, November 12, at the Diamond Hill General Store & Garden Center.  The event will take place from 11:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.