Abingdon, VA: The Crooked Road (TCR) will soon launch its 3rd Annual Mountains of Music Homecoming, an extraordinary nine-day event taking place June 9-17 in towns and communities across Southwest Virginia. This year, TCR has worked with Bespoke Appalachia, a firm specializing in the design of Appalachian themed events, to cook up a series of groundbreaking Feastivals. These celebrations of Appalachian creativity and abundance will allow guests to immerse themselves in the region’s heritage and culture. Jack Hinshelwood, Executive Director of the Crooked Road, says of the Feastivals, “Yum, Yum! We wanted the culinary heritage of the region to be highlighted through the Homecoming and the Feastivals are a great way to do that. Appalachian cuisine is getting so much national and international attention that we are delighted to showcase it.”
Expect innovative Appalachian meals prepared by some of the region’s most celebrated culinary talents, and performances by stellar Crooked Road musicians. Author Ronni Lundy, a native daughter of Appalachia and a celebrated food and music writer, will be the featured speaker for all three Feastivals. Lundy’s latest book, Victuals: An Appalachian Journey, with Recipes (Clarkson Potter 2016) just won the James Beard Foundation’s Book of the Year award. Her work is helping put Appalachian food and foodways at the forefront of culinary discussions worldwide, garnering praise from The Washington Post, Publisher’s Weekly, The International Association of Culinary Professionals and even National Geographic.
Ronni Lundy says, “One of the things I love most about the Feastival series is that the three different events illustrate the diversity in our food ways. A dinner on the grounds is quickly recognizable as Appalachian. But we have the opportunity to bring in other elements. Primland is a resort; it’s on the other end of the culinary spectrum with elegant dining compared to the rustic charm of a traditional dinner on the grounds. But that’s Appalachian, too! And with the third Feastival, we have Travis Milton—an amazing guy who wants nothing more than to honor the traditions of his ancestors going back generations, but to do it in his own voice and with everything he’s learned as a chef. He wants to push the tradition forward. It’s a wonderful lineup!”
The Feastivals kick off at historic Dinwiddie Presbyterian Church in Hillsville on June 11, followed by an evening at Primland resort in Meadows of Dan on June 13, and on Main Street in St. Paul on June 17. Each Feastival will be an intimate affair, offering guests the opportunity to enjoy the work of Southwest Virginia’s best chefs, musicians, writers and artisans and to meet and talk with them about their work. The Feastival events are ideal (and delicious) entry points for anyone curious about the rich tapestry of Appalachian culture. Event organizers Jean Haskell and Katie Hoffman of Bespoke Appalachia are looking forward to this showcase of Southwest Virginia creativity and talent. “There will be vegetarian options at each event,” says Hoffman, “and each Feastival will offer its own specific farm-to-table-plus design.” Haskell adds that “every Feastival has been designed with the help of a community planning team, so each reflects the personality of its host community through the carefully selected music, art, and menus.”
The 2017 Feastival series opens on June 11 with a traditional celebration of food, faith, music and community at the historic Dinwiddie Presbyterian Church in Hillsville. This menu features dishes straight from community cookbooks and family recipe boxes. Libby Bondurant, co-author of the cookbook Grazing Along the Crooked Road, will join Ronni Lundy to talk about how she and her late co-author, Betty Skeens, traveled along The Crooked Road collecting recipes and stories. Young bluegrass dynamos Changing Lanes will entertain alongside accomplished old-time musicians Mac Traynham and Edwin Lacy
On June 13 at Primland, a luxurious resort and 12,000-acre hunting preserve in Meadows of Dan, diners will experience Appalachian haute cuisine, preceded by an elegant cocktail hour. Chef Ernest Bledsoe has created a sumptuous menu that includes game and ingredients foraged from the preserve’s forests. Amythyst Kiah, a powerhouse singer-songwriter who delivers fresh interpretations of regional music, mixing blues, bluegrass, rock, and soul, will round out the evening’s theme of cutting edge Appalachian artistry.
The third and final Feastival will take place at St. Paul on the banks of the beautiful Clinch River. Guests will gather for a craft brew at Sugar Hill Brewing Company and then convene for dinner on Fourth Street downtown, in front of the soon-to-open Western Front Boutique Hotel. Chef Travis Milton, a native son and luminary on the national culinary scene, will demonstrate how traditional ingredients and methods can be pulled forward and presented in imaginative ways. “If I can get you with the food, then I can tell the story and spread the word about how amazing Appalachia is,” says Chef Travis Milton. “I want people to come here, to see the beauty, experience the culture—to get a literal taste of the place.” Singer/songwriter Dori Freeman, now attracting nationwide fans and attention, will close the evening with the sweet sounds of her native Southwest Virginia.
Thanks to a partnership with ‘Round the Mountain: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Network, a regional artisan will be part of each Feastival, broadening the awareness of Southwest Virginia artistry. Artists Hannah Martin and Ann Childress have been creating customized pieces that will grace the Feastival tables, then travel home with guests.
The Crooked Road thanks the Virginia Tobacco Commission, Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, Virginia Tourism Corporation, Food City, Appalachian Regional Commission, National Endowment for the Arts, and Blue Ridge Beverage for helping to sponsor the 2017 Mountains of Music Homecoming.
A limited number of tickets are available for each event. For more information or to purchase tickets for any 2017 Mountains of Music Homecoming event, visit mtnsofmusic.com today.