Rappahannock County launching artisan trail

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Rappahannock County is getting ready to join a statewide network of artisan trails.

“It really seemed to fit what Rappahannock needed, which is a marketing program that unites the community as a whole,” says Patricia Brennan, who organized the county’s effort to become part of the Artisans Center of Virginia’s Artisan Trail Network, which included 19 trails as of December. The program aims to increase tourism for participating communities and form alliances among artists, venues, galleries, retailers and businesses in the network.
Brennan, the owner of De’Danann Glassworks, a stained glass studio in Sperryville, raised the $15,000 required to kickstart the program.

“That says they’re ready, they’re interested and have foundational funding to put it together. Once that’s pledged, we get going,” says Sherri Smith, executive director of Artisans Center of Virginia, whose purpose is to promote Virginia artisans and their communities.

Brennan raised the $15,000 from the Rappahannock Association for the Arts & the Community, Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors and the town of Washington. “They got busy raising some of the funds, and it was totally community driven. I think that is what is really important to note about Rappahannock,” Smith says.

Benefits for trail members include a profile page on the ACV/Artisan Trail Network website, networking opportunities and use of Artisan Trail Network signs. If a qualifying business meets the initial enrollment deadline, it also receives a listing in a trail brochure distributed at visitors centers throughout the state.

Along with those benefits come some requirements. For example, participating craft shops, gift shops and galleries must emphasize artisan-made items from their region. Trail sites that sell agricultural and food products have to give priority to locally produced goods. Approved trail sites are asked to update their information on the ACV site regularly and create a profile on the tourism website.

“This is a marketing tool,” Brennan says. “It’s not like they’re providing the whole package for you. This is an interactive program. We will get out of it as much as we, as a community, put into it.”

Rappahannock County expects to launch its trail by autumn. Other trails in the network include the Monticello Artisan Trail, which includes the Charlottesville area; Bedford County Artisan Trail; and the HeART and Soil of the Shenandoah Valley trail, which features Augusta County, Staunton and Waynesboro. Rappahannock County has not yet announced its trail name.

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