About three dozen Loudoun County artisans gathered this afternoon in Ashburn to hear how they can put their artwork, food, wine, beer, or whatever they produce, on the map—literally.
The luncheon, held over cold beers at Old Ox Brewery, was the second meeting to kick off the Loudoun County Artisan Trail, a new venture meant to highlight all-things locally crafted: at studios and galleries, farms, wineries, breweries, farmers markets, distilleries, cideries, restaurants, hotels, boutiques and other artisanal and agri-tourism businesses.
The idea was birthed during an after-hours meeting at Loudoun Brewing Company with Visit Loudoun President Beth Erickson, Leesburg Economic Development Director Marantha Edwards, and artist and manager of downtown Leesburg’s Tryst Gallery Lisa Strout.
“We came together over a couple of pints and said how can we start to begin looking at Loudoun County as an arts destination,” Erickson said. And after ongoing conversations with artists and business leaders, the idea developed into a plan to market everything Loudoun County’s artisans—from potters and brewers to farmers and bed-and-breakfast owners—have to offer together.
Many told those few go-getters behind the project that it would likely take a couple of years to get off the ground. “But that’s not how things happen in Loudoun County,” Erickson said.
Already, dozens of artisans have signed up to be a part of the initiative. The goal is to formally launch what Erickson called “the product” by this fall. That will entail distributing a printed brochure that will include a map showing all of the participating studios, breweries, wineries, markets and other artisan spots. The cost to participate is $100.
That fee also includes support from the Artisans Center of Virginia and a webpage on its website, artisanscenterofvirginia.org.
Kathy Johnson, artisan trail coordinator at the center, said at the event today that she is eager to help get the Loudoun trail off the ground, but it will take a local, grassroots effort for it to be successful.
Lovettsville artist Debbie Williamson signed up to be a part of the trail as soon as she heard about it. She and her husband, Scott, work out of their home studio, Butterfly Bend Pottery.
“I knew right away I wanted to be a part of it. It’s a great idea,” she said. One of her friends, Kevin Crowe, is a potter near Charlottesville and has had seen a great response since being listed on an artisan trail map in his area. “There are so many artists in Loudoun but a lot of them are tucked in corners throughout the county. This is a great way to highlight them.”