On Saturday, June 17, the St. Paul, Virginia, will celebrate its history and renaissance with an evening Feastival, one of three extraordinary Southwest Virginia events that promise to serve up signature fare and a cultural feast during the Crooked Road’s 2017 Mountains of Music Homecoming. The evening will commence with local pints at St Paul’s Sugar Hill Brewery, followed by a visit to the new Western Front Hotel, where nationally celebrated chef Travis Milton will present a menu that showcases Appalachia’s food traditions with his own imaginative twists. An evening concert by singer-songwriter Dori Freeman will conclude the celebration of this unique community.
A Southwest Virginia native, Travis Milton is followed by the likes of Southern Living, Local Palate, and TastingTable.com. For the St. Paul Feastival, he is designing a menu that, as he puts it, “will be humble in heritage, but definitely innovative, especially the entrée. I’ll use what we have locally and what comes from our tradition, but I’ll present it all in a new light. There will probably be (my version of) apple stack cake for dessert; that’s my genealogy, my childhood, my cultural heritage on a plate.”
This Homecoming will fittingly include a reunion of Milton with close friend and mentor, Ronni Lundy, a celebrated food and music writer. Lundy, winner of the 2017 Book of the Year Award from the James Beard Foundation (the culinary world’s equivalent of the Oscars), will serve as culinary interpreter and storyteller for the evening. Ronni’s warm humor and deep knowledge of Appalachian food, music, and culture make her a favorite speaker. Her recent book Victuals (Clarkson Potter 2016) has been lauded by Epicurious.com, Saveur, and Garden & Gun, to name just a few.
“We have an opportunity to develop restaurants, ecotourism, and production of foods that can be sold other places,” says Ronni about events like the Feastivals. “We can celebrate Appalachian culture with these, but also support families that want to stay in region. That’s why Travis’ work is so important—why I included him in my book—he is bringing the right kind of attention to us by honoring our traditions and pushing them forward.”
After dinner, guests will be treated to a concert by Dori Freeman, a young artist whose music—like Travis’s cooking—has deep roots in Southwest Virginia. Hailing from near Galax, Dori, is an accomplished guitarist and stunning singer whose singing and songwriting are garnering attention on the national scene. The granddaughter of musician and pencil artist Willard Gayheart, and the daughter of traditional musician Scott Freeman, Dori is steeped in the old-timey music of her family. Tradition forms the foundation for what critics have called her “modern but timeless sound.” Her music is infused with both her heritage and her imagination. Accompanied by her husband, Nick Falk, Dori will offer an intimate concert featuring some of the best music that The Crooked Road and Southwest Virginia have to offer.
This special Feastival event will celebrate the reasons why Ronni Lundy writes about the region, why Travis Milton moved back, and why Dori Freeman shows no signs of leaving (except to tour, of course).
St Paul has, in recent years, become an “eco-epicenter,” beloved of outdoor enthusiasts and eco-tourists of all stripes. The soon to be completed Western Front Hotel, a thirty-three room boutique hotel, will feature a music venue, rooftop bar and a restaurant with menu designed by Travis Milton himself.
As Travis puts it, “I am insanely blessed to be able to do this half a mile from where I grew up! I’m representing the food that I ate growing up, my family, and people who’ve known me since I was a tiny boy. Being able to go back there and work? Wow! St. Paul thinks outside the box, doing amazing things with what they’ve got. I want to showcase that part of Appalachia — to tell the stories of Castlewood, Wise and St. Paul.”
Tickets for this Feastival event are available online at www.mtnsofmusic.com, and at the Wise County Chamber of Commerce (276) 679-0961.
Attendees to this Feastival can also enjoy several nearby cultural events such as the “Keepers of the Tradition” exhibit and book signing at the Arts Depot in Abingdon, “Write Up the Road” songwriting workshop and concert at the Crooked Road General Store in Bristol, or a bluegrass concert by Hollow Ground band on the lawn of the Coeburn Community Library.
The Mountains of Music Homecoming is an extraordinary nine-day music and cultural showcase event that stretches across the 333 miles of The Crooked Road, Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail. With 25 featured concerts and 130 cultural events, the Mountains of Music Homecoming invites travelers to follow the music through the heart of the scenic, culturally rich Crooked Road region.
The Crooked Road’s 76-page Official Guide to the 2017 Mountains of Music Homecoming is free and available at all Virginia Welcome Centers, at Southwest Virginia public library branches, and at Southwest Virginia branches of New Peoples Bank, the Bank of Marion, and Union Bank & Trust.
The Crooked Road thanks the Town of St. Paul, St. Paul Main Street, Western Front Hotel, Food City, Blue Ridge Beverage, Virginia Tourism, Dominion, WAXM, ‘Round the Mountain, and Bristol Herald Courier for supporting the Homecoming.
For tickets, schedules and more information about all Mountains of Music Homecoming concerts and cultural events, visit www.mtnsofmusic.com.