Round Hill Art Show a Step to Becoming Appalachian Trail Community

With its sights set on becoming an official Appalachian Trail Community, the Town of Round Hill is co-hosting its first ever AT-themed art show during February.

The show, called “The Appalachian Trail: Art of the Adventure,” in on display at the Round Hill Arts Center just west of town. The center is hosting the program in conjunction with the town’s Appalachian Trail Committee, which was created last summer to emphasize the connection between the town and the trail, which runs six miles west of the town.

The show features about 30 paintings, drawings, photos, fiber arts works, stained glass and sculptures portraying the trail in one way or another. An opening reception will be held at the center Sunday, Feb. 11 from 1 to 4 p.m.

The committee plans to host several other events and educational opportunities throughout the year, including an Arbor Day celebration and a monthly community hiking day, the first of which will be held on Earth Day in April.

“This is an opportunity for people who have never hiked before to feel inspired to go on their first hike or for regular hikers to meet new people who have similar interests as them,” Town Planner Melissa Hynes said.

The committee also is working to launch a website by May that will represent its goal of getting the community to symbolically join “HANDS”—to promote Healthy living, Active recreation, Nature education, Development of parks and trails and Support along the trail.

Its biggest endeavor, however, will be the submission of an application in June to be considered for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s Community Program, which recognizes communities that promote and protect the trail.

“This will be something for the town to rally around,” Hynes said. “It’s a good economic development opportunity.”

While the town is required to meet only two requirements to be considered for the designation, it has already met three by creating an advisory committee, hosting an annual art show and including language to protect the trail in its 2017-2037 Comprehensive Plan.

Once the application is submitted, town representatives will have to give a 30-minute presentation explaining why it should be an A.T. Community.

“This is not an easy designation to receive,” Hynes said. “You have to show that you’re really committed.”

With more than 40 designated communities along the trail’s 2,190 miles, Round Hill could become the 16th in Virginia. Hynes said the designation could also help boost the town’s economic health and an overall communal passion for outdoor recreation.

Julie Judkins, director of education and outreach at the conservancy, said the town’s location could also lend itself to the benefits it receives.

“Just given the access to the metropolitan areas in Northern Virginia, that allows for more interest in some of the communities there,” she said. “I do think it’s an important area.”

Round Hill’s interest in becoming an A.T. Community began in 2014, when the town council found that 35 percent of residents were interested in active recreation like hiking and other outdoor activities. Three years later, the council wrote into its comprehensive plan a few goals aimed at promoting environmental stewardship to help increase the town’s economic health and sense of community.

“The Appalachian Trail Committee wants children to look to their backyard for recreational opportunities,” Hynes said. “The hope is that our local children will grow to become the next generation of hikers on the Appalachian Trail.”

pszabo@loudounnow.com

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