After seven years of citizen input, organizing, and research, the long-awaited “Rocky Knob Project” has acquired land in the bi-county region near the Rocky Knob Recreation Area, around Parkway Milepost 170. The group of Board member volunteers from both Patrick and Floyd Counties will celebrate their recent purchase of a permanent location for the vision with the citizens who have helped make it happen. The public is invited to a Grand Opening Event to be held September 22, 2012, from 10 to 4 at the newly-acquired site.
Officially, the nonprofit organization keeping the effort afloat since then-Congressman Rick Boucher launched the idea in 2005, is called Blue Ridge Heritage, Inc. Construction of facilities to house the ultimate vision is a phased plan that will result in a Cultural Heritage Interpretive Center and Visitor Destination focusing on Floyd and Patrick Counties – their history, culture, natural history, and heritage – during the 20th Century.
Leaders envision a new, energy-efficient, multi-use facility tastefully visible from the Blue Ridge Parkway, planned to be both an education/preservation center, as well as a gateway to the bi-county region’s existing cultural heritage sites of interest. The publicly-accessible facilities will begin, however, with a small information station and an official office location for the organization.
On September 22, from 10 AM to 4 PM members and visitors will see displays of Phase 1 and 2 site use plans, which include hiking trails connecting with those already in place in the Rocky Knob Recreation Area, educational demonstrations and displays in collaboration with sister nonprofits, and outdoors educational installations.
Phase 2 will include an environmentally friendly and site-appropriate building with classroom/meeting rooms, interior and exterior exhibit areas, presentation/performance auditorium, and a visitor reception/information area, among other potential uses. The place-based programs envisioned will include a variety of topics including the agricultural, industrial, historical, cultural, and natural heritage of the region from 1900 through 1999; from subsistence living to globalization.
Important to the plan, however, is that the facility itself not be the final stop for residents and visitors: plans require that the Center also serve as the “hub of a wheel” geared to guide the audience into the local communities to discover new resources, educational opportunities, business interests, and cultural & outdoor activities.
Also critical to the vision are partnership opportunities for shared uses, collaborative resource development, cooperative marketing opportunities, partnered grant-application efforts, and shared leadership for economic revitalization, cultural preservation, outdoor recreation, and youth & adult education.
More distant phases under consideration include a working demonstration farm to highlight the deeply rooted agri- “culture” of the region, and a wide system of walking, biking, and riding trails connecting various facilities and opportunities across the bi-county region.
Until then, the public is invited to visit existing facilities on September 22 and celebrate with the group the acquisition of a place for the vision to take root. A variety of activities will be available to visitors beginning at 10 AM, with a short ceremony around 11, and visitors welcome to stay until 4 PM. Mark your calendars and contact Lee Chichester at firstname.lastname@example.org or Steve Swartz at email@example.com for directions and details.