Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Cara Rose scored a huge coup recently when CNN picked the Mountain Music Trail as the place to visit in West Virginia in 2014.
CNN travel writer Katia Hetter recommended one spot in each of the 50 states for fun-seekers to visit in 2014. Hetter and her staff at CNN selected the newly christened Mountain Music Trail as the place to visit this year.
“The Mountain Music Trail takes visitors on an exploration of the roots of the state’s strong music tradition, influenced by West Virginia’s Scottish and Irish ancestors and the Allegheny Mountains,” the CNN article reads. “The regional trail goes through five counties via U.S. Route 219, and there are festivals and workshops throughout the year.”
The Mountain Music Trail promotes the traditional music, dance, and folk ways of the Allegheny Mountain region in Monroe, Greenbrier, Pocahontas, Randolph and Tucker counties.
Rose said the Mountain Music Trail was inspired by a similar project in Virginia.
“Well, it started a few years ago through an email conversation among local people who were familiar with Virginia’s Crooked Road,” she said. “It was recognized early on that there were several venues within Pocahontas County and the five-county region that offer regional Appalachian music. The conversation took a few months and then we decided, ‘yeah, let’s take this project on and see if there’s any interest and two years later, we’re going strong.’”
Among the local people who brainstormed with Rose in that initial dialogue were Gil Willis and Gibbs Kinderman. Willis is the proprietor of the Fiddlehead Restaurant and Bar in Linwood. Kinderman is a manager with Allegheny Mountain Radio.
“We held meetings with interested people from all five counties,” Rose said. “We developed a strategic plan, a framework, through the help of WVU Extension in Morgantown. Since then, we’ve been able to implement a modest advertising campaign, with the help of the Division of Tourism. We were also able to establish a website.”
Rose said the website provides information that allows visitors to plan a trip on the Mountain Music Trail
“Our plan is to drive people to our website,” she said. “The most important part of the website is the live entertainment calendar. People can go there and get information about the entertainment that’s available throughout all five counties. The entertainment must meet the criteria of the Mountain Music Trail – everything from folk, bluegrass, traditional Appalachian style music, gospel and even ethnic, like Irish music. The purpose is to share our special brand of music with the public and, ultimately, to create an economic impact.”
The Mountain Music Trail loosely follows Route 219 but includes places and events within the entire territory of the five counties. The website and calendar allow visitors to plan their own itinerary.
“You can start as far south as Monroe County and travel through Lewisburg, all the way through Pocahontas and Randolph and end up in Thomas at the Purple Fiddle,” said Rose.
The Mountain Music Trail offers free and low-cost partnerships to three different categories of members. Performance venues include businesses and organizations that present qualifying music. Associate partners include CVBs, development authorities, musicians, artisans and instrument crafters. Festivals include one time a year events presenting qualifying music. A free partnership provides a listing on the Trail’s event calendar. A paid partnership provides additional exposure on the website.
The CVB contracted a VISTA volunteer, Ned Savage, who will help coordinate efforts this year. The Mountain Music Trail website can be found at mountainmusictrail.com. The website contains the event calendar, trip planning assistance and information on partnering with the Mountain Music Trail. The CNN article on the Trail can be found at cnn.com/2014/01/02/travel/50-states-50-spots-for-2014.