The Photography of D L Ennis, and more!


Saturday, February 25, 2006

Mountain Meadow Farm and Craft Market

Sammy and Sue
Sammy and Sue Shelor

Sue Shelor was born and raised in Connecticut, but her whole life changed when she met southern boy Sammy Shelor. Sue first met Sammy in 1997, in Connecticut, and a month later they saw each other again at a Pennsylvania bluegrass festival. Sammy Shelor is a well-known bluegrass musician, heading up the Lonesome River Band.

Single mom and Hunter
Sue and her young son, Hunter

Sue was a single mom with one son, Hunter, with family connections in Connecticut. She owned a business in Connecticut that was successful and enjoyed being independent. The long distance part of the relationship with Sammy, 600 miles from one driveway to the other, lasted two and a half years.

Sammy and his grandfather
Sammy Shelor and Cruise Howell, his grandfather

Sammy was born and raised in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, in a small community where his ancestors had settled for generations. From the time he was five years old he had been playing bluegrass banjo, with the encouragement and support of his family, especially his two grandfathers, William Cruise Howell and Sandy Samuel Shelor. Cruise Howell was a banjo player and had come from a family of mountain musicians. Sammy's career has spanned decades of success, with four consecutive International Bluegrass Musicians' Association Banjo Player of the year awards and numerous SPBGMA awards. The Lonesome River Band appears at festivals nationally and internationally, and the central location of Sammy's Meadows of Dan home, close to Nashville and his roots, prevented his considering a move to Connecticut when his relationship with Sue became more serious. After much discussion and persuasion on Sammy's part, Sue and her young son moved to Virginia. In a small country church near their new home, with family and friends and bluegrass music, Sammy and Sue were married in September of 2000.

The farm in Meadows of Dan

After the death of Sammy's paternal grandfather, Sandy Shelor, Sammy inherited the 22 acre farm where Sandy spent the largest portion of his 96 years. This lovely piece of property is located in the small community of Meadows of Dan, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway and at the intersection of Squirrel Spur Road and Highway 58. Sammy's career is demanding and he spends much of his time on the road and promoting LRB, as well as in the studio with other projects. Sammy and Sue both realized the potential of the family property as a means of improving the local economy and promoting Sue's business, Mountain Meadow Crafts. She opened the Mountain Meadow Farm and Craft Market in the summer of 2005, with a very successful craft and music festival. At the market local farmers and crafters have an opportunity to showcase their talents to the appreciative scores of tourists that come to Meadows of Dan from the Blue Ridge Parkway throughout the season.

Happy Crowd at the Chinquapin Festival
Chinquapin Festival

The Mountain Meadow Farm and Craft Market has been a great success, with monthly festivals that include music, crafts, fresh local produce and other activities. Sue is continually working on new ideas for her venture, adding activities and promotions that keep the tourists and the locals coming back for more. Her large tent will be replaced soon with a permanent pavilion, and eventually there are plans for a shop on the property for crafters to rent booth space for their quality hand crafted items. The Market is located on The Crooked Road, the music heritage trial through Southwestern Virginia. The first Meadows of Dan Corn Maze will showcase The Crooked Road logo.

Sue in her shop
Sue in her shop

Sue's business, Mountain Meadow Crafts, began when she became interested in crafting with gourds. While Sammy's gifts are musical, artistic talent runs in her family. Sue's mother is a fabulous painter, while she has a sister that's creative genius graces everything she touches. A brother is a talented woodworker and makes fine handmade furniture. Sue had dabbled with ceramics, batiking, and pencil drawing in her younger days, before the demands of motherhood and making a living took up her time.

Sue's artistic talents emerged with this new medium and she was on her way, using natural materials, woodburning, carving and other techniques to create beautiful gourd art. She has created over one hundred unique pieces, and she spends every hour she can manage in her shop, creating unusual one-of-a-kind items ranging from birdhouses to decorative items for the home.

Lucky Dog in the shop
Lucky in the studio

Cheerful dog Lucky often keeps Sue company in her studio, set up in a small building near the main house. Sue discovered that with a busy and active family, having her own space to create her specialty art was vital to her craft. Books on Tape are a favorite accompaniment to her work, or music as she assembles her pieces from an extensive collection of natural materials ranging from pine needles to shells. It's not uncommon for one of the family's three cats to wander in, stroll across the work table and then settle in to watch for a time.

Curious Kitty
Visitor to the shop

Sue finds her inspiration in the surrounding beauty of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains she now calls home. She and Hunter spend time wandering through the woods, searching for unique embellishments to enhance her lovely gourd creations. Sharing the unique heritage and natural beauty of Meadows of Dan is a goal that Sammy and Sue Shelor share, and they invite everyone to come and visit the beautiful and special little community, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway between milepost 178 and 177, right on U. S. Highway 58. Visitors will find scenic views, beautiful Bed and Breakfast homes, the well-known and beautiful rock churches of Robert Childress fame, historic sites such as Mabry's Mill, and wonderful trails to hike and explore.

The Mountain Meadow Farm and Craft Market is currently open on weekends from April to October. Located in Meadows of Dan, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway near the intersection with Highway 58, on Concord Road. Hours are 10 AM to 5 PM. Watch the Blue Ridge Gazette calendar for information about monthly festivals.

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  • At Saturday, 25 February, 2006, Blogger The MacBean Gene said…

    Our first visit to Meadows of Dan some four years ago sold us on this area. Now I'm a regular at "the market" and "Felica's". The wealth of talent in this area is incredable. I know sooner or later I'll cross paths with Sammy and Sue.

  • At Saturday, 25 February, 2006, Blogger D L Ennis said…

    These mountains are definitely full of talented people. Thanks for telling us about these very talented mountain folk Leslie!


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