Happy Year of the Horse!

yearofthehorseJanuary 27th marked the start of the Year of the Horse in the Chinese calendar, and the Blue Ridge Center for Chinese Medicine in Pilot, Virginia is honoring the gifts of the horse this year by forging a deeper connection to the land and helping us reclaim our natural strength and vitality.

Tucked into the forest near the Floyd/Montgomery county line, the Blue Ridge Center for Chinese Medicine, or BRCCM, is a non-profit center that offers comprehensive and complementary health care to the surrounding community. The main building is awash with natural lighting and gentle, calming energy. Four clinical care rooms with hardwood floors and high ceilings look out onto pastures and woods behind the center.

As horses peacefully nibble the grass, their hooves link their hearts to the land. This year BRCCM is deepening that vital connection by expanding their Chinese medicinal herb production program. Developing economic opportunities for regional farmers is the goal of the program as well as supplying reliably sourced high-quality herbs for Chinese medicines for regional and national distribution. On March 15th and 16th, just in time for spring planting, leading Chinese medicine herbalist and grower Jean Giblette will host workshops for local farmers and others interested in learning about the medical benefits and growing needs of these herbs.

Horses run hard, but they know when to rest. If only we could follow their lead! In our manic world, we often overextend our capacity and lose our sense of place on earth, draining our strength and vitality. BRCCM helps replenish our natural balance by offering classes in grounding andstrengthening mind/body practices such as internal martial arts for health including taiji, qigong, plus yoga and playshops.

People of all ages travel from near and far to explore alternative approaches to issues such as chronic conditions, addiction, injuries, and aging. BRCCM’s highly trained practitioners work with each individual to support an effective personal path to healing, offering a wide range of therapeutic options such as acupuncture, herbs, and bodywork including Tuina and Thai massage. This year the center is also offering classes and practitioner continuing education courses in fermenting foods, holistic animal companion care, Chinese food therapy, and pre- and post-natal wellness.

Just as horses band together, so the staff and supporters of The Blue Ridge Center for Chinese Medicine work as one to strengthen their community. The non-profit center relies on financial donations to sustain its services, as well as volunteers who help with tasks ranging from stacking firewood to repairing computers. The center offers low-cost acupuncture clinics and donation-funded subsidized care so that quality health care is available for everyone. In this Year of the Horse, let’s remember that each step toward individual wholeness helps create a more resilient, more supportive community for all.

For more information about holistic health services, classes and workshops, the medicinal herb growing program, and other upcoming opportunities, check out the BRCCM website (www.brccm.org) or Facebook page (Blue Ridge Center for Chinese Medicine).


Pin Up Day in Floyd Virginia

pinupdayinfloydBeing a native Virginian and having been born and raised in the ever growing city of Lynchburg, it’s easy to get “used” to the sites and overlook the beauty that is around me in this state’s vast terrain. As all people sometimes do, even I become involved in life, following a typical hurry up and wait routine. Seventeen months ago, my family and I moved from Richmond to the small city of Blue Ridge, VA nestled by the Blue Ridge Parkway, just outside of Roanoke. Since moving to the Roanoke area, I’ve seen many vast differences in culture and scenery.

As a child, I began capturing the scenery of Virginia with a simple point and shoot camera. I always looked for new places to take pictures. I quickly discovered that adding a person suddenly brought the scenery to life. The beauty along and around the Blue Ridge Parkway offers a way of life filled with hiking, biking and overlooks that span miles, the breathtaking views speak for itself. With my love for capturing beauty and people, I have continually grown and a passion for new forms of expressing my art, always come to life. With new forms of expressing my art, I’m always striving, always exploring new ways of capturing people.

One of my newest passions is Pin Up photography. Pin Up has been rapidly trending in the arts world and is another way to bring life and beauty from the 1940’s and 1950’s into modern times. When thinking of Pin Up , big beautiful cars from the era quickly come to mind.

Networking and referrals are a mainstream way to establish business and make connections and through networking I met a fabulous makeup artist, Melinda Lawson Cumbee. Soon I was offered an introduction to a local of Floyd County, Johnny Dalton of Dalton’s Auto Restoration. His love for restoring those massive metal cars of yesterday inspired a collaboration. We set up a day to shoot pin up and so my adventure to Floyd County began.

As I drove on interstate 81, around the hustle of bustle of Christiansburg and Blacksburg, I listened closely to my GPS, as not to miss a turn. The noises of the city were quickly diminishing as I was suddenly hit with a sense of awe. As I looked around, I felt as if I had taken a step back in time, to a time free of the confines of city life. The rustic feel of the farm lands and the mountains were hair raising. Every turn brought a new view. Every view as interesting and impressive as the next.

Upon arriving in downtown Floyd, Main Street had a rustic charm and felt Mayberry friendly. The friendly personalities and southern charm of the locals only enhance the small town feel in Floyd. Speak with a local in Floyd, and it’s easy to see the love and passion for its community.

Pin Up day was perfect, and what a collaboration. Pretty girls often bring attention, but add beautiful cars and it’s a hit. The cars, the people, and the models, made a perfect day even better. When moving locations, the scenery and roads became more winding and nestled. Soon we passed one of Floyd’s gems, Mabry Mill.

Tucked neatly in the Blue Ridge Pkwy, Mabry Mill, which was built in 1910, is known for its beauty, as well as a look back to pioneer life. Mabry Mill is so beautiful, that it’s not surprisingly, one of the most photographed spots along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Of course, in the back of my mind, I was considering whom I could capture in front of it with my camera.

The country restaurant adjacent to the Mill offers some tasty country cooking, that is well worth the wait! The country steak was delicious, but please don’t tell my mom. The walks around the Mill and the restaurant bring a sense of calm and peace. It’s well worth the visit. The next shooting location was a hit, and many locals came to watch the shoot. It was thrilling to say the least! As the day came to a close, my trip back to Roanoke was filled with thoughts of coming back to Floyd and capturing some of the old buildings, or beautiful landscapes that were endless.

Shooting Pin Up adventures with the beautifully restored cars by Johnny Dalton hasn’t ended. Our most recent project was a classic 2014 Pin Up Calendar for Dalton’s Auto Restoration, featuring beautiful girls and cars from the 1940’s to the 1970’s. Floyd has become a staple in my work and I hope to continue the travels and enjoy more of its vast beauty for recreation, and perhaps I will just leave my camera behind. Or not.

Kimberley Izatt Photography
Phone 804-218-4221


Phyllis Stump To Perform One Woman Play About Mountain Midwife, Orlene Puckett

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhyllis Stump To Perform One Woman Play About Mountain Midwife, Orlene Puckett

The Floyd Country Store will host a Story and Song Event featuring actor and author Phyllis Stump this Saturday,  April 27, 2013, 7:30 PM. Join us for a one woman play about a mountain midwife in the 1900s named Orlene Puckett.

Stump is the author of “Called: The Story of a Mountain Midwife.” A historic novel about Orlene Puckett (1839-1939) who lived with her husband, John, at the foot of Groundhog Mountain in Patrick County Virginia, during the years prior to, during, and after the Civil War. This historic novel is based on stories and anecdotes told about Orlene, John and events of the war as related by relatives, friends and literature that reveal their history. During her lifetime, Orlene carried 24 babies of her own, none of whom made it to one year of age. Although a mother herself only a short time, Orlene began to “catch” babies for family members, neighbors, and friends. She is reported to have delivered over 1,000 babies, without a single loss of a mother or child, before she died at age ninety-nine.

Join us for this special story and song event. Tickets are $8.00, available online at The Floyd Country Store, by phone at 540-745-4563 or stop in at the store.

The Floyd Country Store, home of the Friday Night Jamboree, has been an important part of the Floyd community for a century now. This historical landmark is a destination along “The Crooked Road”, Virginia’s Music heritage trail, and continues to be the meeting place for traditional musicians from the area.


What: Story and Song Event featuring: Phyllis Stump
When: Saturday, April 27, 7:30 PM
Who: Public welcome. Tickets Necessary. $8.00, On Sale Now.
Where: Floyd Country Store, 206 South Locust Street, downtown Floyd, VA

Rorrer – A Local Business Getting It Done For Floyd County…

Rorrer Well Drilling is an excellent choice for your residential, commercial, agricultural or other needs. When making your selection for a well drilling company, consider many factors, not only the cost. RWD is licensed, certified and insured to do the job you have in mind. They are well familiar with the geology in our area, and have a great reputation for providing quality service in a timely manner.
For this feature story, I wanted to find a satisfied customer who could explain the benefits of choosing to contract with Rorrer Well Drilling. As it turned out, I only had to walk “Across the Way” to speak with the always-inspiring Linda Devito of AtWP:

Across-the-Way Productions, Inc. has its offices in Floyd and they create, design and execute one-of-a-kind LIVE events.

“…At AtWP we believe in the transformative potential of music and celebration and are dedicated to the art of the outdoor festival.”
Combining artistic instinct with detailed planning and dedicated customer service, Across-the-Way Productions promotes and produces FloydFest, Vintage Virginia, and the Virginia Wine Festival and manages the stunningly beautiful venue at milepost 170.5 off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Find the latest AtWP news at www.atwproductions.com

While speaking of Roger Pauley, field manager for Rorrer Well Drilling, Linda and I agreed that “he’s Floyd County” (there are some criteria for that distinction, although they may differ largely, depending upon whom you ask). In our Fall/Winter 2011-2012 issue, we recounted some of the history of his family’s water well drilling business, from 1875 ‘til the time he joined Eric Rorrer (President) and RWD in 2007.

Linda was quick to praise the work of Rorrer Well Drilling, related to a project that AtWP wanted to accomplish at the FloydFest venue. “They did a fantastic job,” Linda said, “they met with us, talked about what we needed, and provided a great service which was pretty much turnkey”. “The desire of Across-the-Way/FloydFest was to provide a clean and pure source for water and to decrease bottle consumption and waste. There were several benefits we could see in pursuing this…our purposes were in tandem, to have this wonderful addition to the site that advanced our green vision for sustainability and to provide free water to festival-goers.”

AtWP/FloydFest partnered with Klean Kanteen® to drill a well as an on-site source for water and as a feed for a water/refill station. Klean Kanteen created the first stainless steel bottle designed for personal hydration. The company helped to underwrite the cost of the well, and produced stainless steel “pints” for the beer garden and larger bottles for filling at the watering station. “This was one way, over the past 5 years, that we have been able to “take it to the next level””, Devito said, related to their progress toward greening FloydFest. I commented that the decision to employ RWD services and to provide the refill station must reinforce the good feelings that FloydFest attendees have toward the event and the organization.

Linda confirmed that people were loving the water and the sustainability. “FloydFest continues to grow – we enjoyed another sell-out year this year with FloydFest 11. It’s a very unique thing.” I made a leading statement about our local businesses getting it done for Floyd County after which she continued the thought, “Almost everybody we work with, trying to keep our $$ local, has been just great. It is really appreciated when they do the best they can for us and work with us so well”. After we named off a nearly endless list of such businesses from around the area, we agreed that endeavors like the water project and FloydFest, for over a decade now, just simply couldn’t happen without them. “We haven’t forgotten”, Linda said.

“It’s really wild, the way things are here” of the good spirit of Floyd, whether of businesses or of individuals. “People see and feel what is different and pleasing about this place. That’s what we’ve tried to do at FloydFest – to replicate what is in Floyd year-round at our site…the spirit and the cooperation. People love it. It’s a community for 4-1/2 days.”

Klean Kanteen®, Founded in 2003, Chico, CA – The founders of Klean Kanteen were concerned about the environmental and health impacts of widespread plastic use. Klean Kanteen was created to promote health, sustainability and environmental awareness. A refillable Klean Kanteen® bottle made from 18/8, food-grade stainless steel is a safe, eco-friendly alternative to plastic and lined aluminum bottles. Contact by email to community@kleankanteen.com

The Story of FloydFest’s Water

Steel pints - from Klean Kanteen FBSteel Pints – The steel pints are used exclusively in the beer garden and have helped reduce the overall amount of trash produced at the festival by about 25% per person. With more than 15,000 attendees, that’s a big impact!

Roger Pauley, field manager for Rorrer Well Drilling fills up at the water station. “The water from this well is Roger Pauley - from Klean Kanteen FBway above average.” “Iron in the water is a big issue with wells in Floyd County but this well doesn’t have that. The water is very clean tasting.” Festival-goers also love the fact that it comes out of the well ice cold.

Roger Pauley sits on top of the well that is the water source for the Klean Kanteen refill station.

Well top - from Klean Kanteen FBRorrer Well – With about 15,000 people at the festival, the refill stations are busy but the pumps were designed for high volume usage and the water pressure is always good. It takes just a few seconds to fill a 40oz Klean Kanteen, or other large container, so lines rarely ever occur.

Rorrer drilled the 700-foot well in March of 2011. The well is just over 6 inches in diameter and holds 1.4 Rorrer well - from Klean Kanteen FBgallons per foot. The water stops about 88 feet below ground level, which means the well holds about 857 gallons. As the level in the well goes down, the aquifers that feed it refill the well at a rate of 15 gallons per minute.

Water testing - from Klean Kanteen FBWater Testing – Some have concerns about nitrates in well water. They want their free water to be safe! Not to worry, the water in this well was tested extensively for biological and chemical contaminants including lead and E.Coli.

FloydFest and Sustainability

Floyd Fest Sustainability Coordinator Anne Bedarf (center) sifts through an incoming truck load of compost Coordinator Anne Bedarf - from Klean Kanteen FBwith her team. “The problem isn’t apathy,” she said. “People just need and want to know what to do. They’re so thankful and willing to help when you have a system set up for them.” She explained that when the festival first introduced Klean Kanteen Steel Pints last year, she wasn’t sure if festival goers would embrace the change. After the first day, they knew they’d made the right decision as they saw a huge reduction in trash and event goers loved the cups, to the point of buying so many as souvenirs that they sold out by the third day of the event.

Junior Green Team - from Klean Kanteen FBLauren Kate Hurlocker and her friend Dylan Wicker, both 12, are two member of the brand new Junior Green Team… [they spend] most of their time in the Children’s Universe helping sort waste into cans labeled Landfill, Compost and Recycling. “This is my fifth year at Floyd fest and I really wanted to help,” said Lauren. “I want to help so we don’t have as much trash, for a cleaner earth. It’s really important to save more and re-use more.”

Jason Crolley (29) and Megan Clontz (25) said they love their Steel Pints… “The cup is a great souvenir, “ said
Crolley, “and we definitely would not have brought any bottled water with us if we’d known about the refill station.”

Jason and Megan - from Klean Kanteen FBMinouche Holcomb (32) from Asheville, NC works for a brewery and said, “The cup is a great idea. I love the fact that I’m not drinking out of plastic.” Shown here enjoying a show at the Virginia Folklife Workshop Porch stage with her husband, Matt is Minouche and their 5-year-old son Finn.

Holcomb - from Klean Kanteen FBThe Green Team has a total of seven staff members and 70 volunteers who do everything from help guide people on which bin to throw their waste into, to hauling, sorting and beginning the composting process. Last year 57% of all the waste generated at the festival was composted and the amount of trash produced went down by about 25% per person.

Tuggles Gap Restaurant and Motel – Floyd Virginia

tugglesgap-55For generations, historic Tuggles Gap Restaurant & Motel has been a favorite place to dine and relax for travelers and locals alike. Conveniently located on Virginia Route 8, in view of the magnificent Blue Ridge Parkway, Tuggles Gap has been an active enterprise for more than seventy years.

Started as a small store by General Boyd in the early 1940’s selling gas, grain and groceries (it was then known as Parkway Service Station), it was opened in conjunction with the completion of the Blue Ridge Parkway through the Floyd County section of Virginia. The name was changed to Tuggles Gap Restaurant when Ward Spangler and his sons bought the business from General Boyd. George and Irene Spangler and their son G.C. ran the business until 1986 when it was sold to retired marine Bill Mills and his wife MaryAnn. In 1992 the current owners, Neil and Cheri Baker purchased the business from the Mills and have operated the restaurant and motel for the past twenty years.

Featuring freshly prepared, delicious All American Fare and quaint, quiet overnight accommodations Tuggles Gap Restaurant & Motel provides a comfortable, friendly meeting place in the peaceful, pastoral beauty of southwest Virginia. Neil Baker’s American Southwest recipes for vegetarian red and green chilis are enjoyed by many, and the famous Tuggles Gap Pie and cream of tomato soup are perennial favorites.

The Town of Floyd, the premier Old Time Music Mecca and home of the internationally renowned Floyd Country Store and County Sales Records, is a pleasant six mile cruise from Tuggles Gap Restaurant along the Crooked Road Music Trail (Virginia Route 8). The Crooked Road meanders up and down the mountain through farmland, orchards, and villages and is where many talented potters, artists and musicians reside and work. The restaurant walls are covered in original artwork, which is offered for sale, including scenes of local farmhouses and attractions and whimsical creations by the Floyd Artists Association.

Tuggles Gap is central to some of the world’s most fun and challenging motor cycle runs. With the warm weather comes a myriad of motorcycle and bicycle enthusiasts. You will see any number of unique, colorful motorcycles and old cars restored to their original shine filling the parking lot on nice weekends. This eclectic group of visitors enjoys the fresh, locally ground ½ pound burgers and crisp fries – they sit out on the covered deck during the summer months. With the brilliant colors of autumn and cooler weather they opt for hot soup and spicy chili served in the warm, old-timey, pine-paneled interior.

There are many loyal local customers that remember coming with their parents and grandparents when they were young and who now bring their children to enjoy the relaxation and comfort of Tuggles Gap Restaurant. The friendly servers always enjoy seeing new and old customers alike and they provide breakfast, lunch or dinner from extensive menus or an eclectic dish from the list of daily specials. Everyone is always welcome and appreciated at Tuggles Gap Restaurant & Motel.