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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Pulling Together


Image: by Leslie Shelor, Gateway sign on Highway 58 near Meadows of Dan, Virginia

Like family farms, many small communities in the Blue Ridge Mountains are struggling for survival in a fast-paced, changing world. Businesses once supported by the farming communities are turning to less traditional means of making a living. Taking advantage of the beautiful scenery and the Blue Ridge Parkway, many small communities have turned to tourism to supplement the shrinking resources of the local residents.

Meadows of Dan is one such community. The easy access to the Blue Ridge Parkway from Highway 58 as well as the fact that Mabry's Mill is located only one mile north on the Parkway have made Meadows of Dan a tourist destination since the 1960s. Local business owners have taken advantage of the situation, creating unique shopping experiences for tourists and providing jobs for the residents. The State of Virginia is recognizing that Southwestern Virginia has a great deal to offer the traveler, with beautiful scenery, wonderful music and quality traditional crafts. The Crooked Road winds through Southwestern Virginia, and the first kiosk visitor's center for the Crooked Road is being placed in Meadows of Dan.

Plans to modify Highway 58 in Virginia to a four-lane, from beginning to end, have caused concern in the Meadows of Dan business community for some time. Recently a four-lane section that bypasses Meadows of Dan was completed, curving away from the little town and sending travelers cruising past through empty fields. The Meadows of Dan Merchants Association, a small group of local business owners and other interested parties, was formed to address the issues raised by the by-pass.

Spearheaded by Nancy Galli, the owner of Nancy's Fudge, and Felecia Shelor, the owner of Poor Farmer's Market, this group united the community in the common goal of raising money to erect two gateway signs on the new portion of Highway 58 to direct travelers into Meadows of Dan. The entire community joined in the effort of putting together a folk fair last August, which was a great success and raised a substantial portion of the funds, thanks to generous donations by area residents of prizes for a raffle. Rhett Stidham of Meadows Edge led an effort to raise the rest of the needed money, and the signs were put in place on March 1, 2006, after less than a year's work by the community. Many local people donated time, merchandise and money for the effort.

The Gateway signs for Meadows of Dan are more than a means of identifying a charming little community with much to offer the traveler and tourist. They are a symbol of what a small group of people can accomplish, pulling together in a united effort.

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4 Comments:

  • At Sunday, 05 March, 2006, Blogger The MacBean Gene said…

    Nice signs. I havn't seen them in person as of yet but I'm sure the next time I go to the post office or bank I will.
    Meadows of Dan is a great little community. We had hoped to live a little closer but it was not meant to be. But then the 10 mile drive down Squirrel Spur is not that bad.

     
  • At Sunday, 05 March, 2006, Blogger Leslie Shelor said…

    I didn't realize you were that close...wave when you go by next time!

     
  • At Sunday, 05 March, 2006, Blogger D L Ennis said…

    Too many great things from the past are disappearing, and communities like Meadows of Dan is no exception; how do you keep the young people at home and the community strong when there is no way for them to make a living? With soaring gas prices, along with everything costing more, tourism is suffering too. We can only hope that the powers that be can come to their collective senses and work to change things. If they could work together like your little community what a differences they could make. These signs are beautiful Leslie and I hope they draw people in. Great post!

     
  • At Monday, 06 March, 2006, Blogger Sandra Bennett said…

    What a beautiful sign! I've always loved the name "Meadows of Dan" and thought it would be joyful to live there.

    As to keeping young people at home and making a living...there are plenty of ways to make a living but it involves change and, generally, change makes the old guard very, very nervous.

    A good strategy is to change the way one perceives how to develop markets. But again, there's the "change" element that makes folks nervous.

    Still, it's a great sign!

     

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