Roanoke, VA: The Blue Ridge Institute and Farm Museum at Ferrum College

(l) visitors viewing the Crooked Road exhibit (r) some of the buildings and unplanted garden at The Blue Ridge Institute and Farm Museum at Ferrum College

(l) visitors viewing the Crooked Road exhibit (r) some of the buildings and unplanted garden at The Blue Ridge Institute and Farm Museum at Ferrum College

Our time at The Blue Ridge Institute and Farm Museum at Ferrum College, the official state center for Blue Ridge Folklore, was wet and enjoyable. Costumed interpreters gave us a tour of the reconstructed farm from 1800’s. The farmhouse was inhabited until 1950. The institute has an annual Folklife Festival, an extensive outreach program for schools and the community and among many other things they maintain the Blue Ridge Heritage Archive of photographs, audio and video recordings, manuscripts and other documents from 1780’s to the present. (blueridgeinstitute.org)

There was a regional folk art exhibit, and exhibit about the Musical styles along the Crooked Road, Virginia’s Music Trail. From the fact sheet: “The Crooked Road” is Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail, a 330 mile driving route through the Appalachian Mountains of Southwest Virginia. From the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge to the Coalfield region of Virginia, the trail connects eight major heritage music venues with a thriving network of jams, festivals, and concerts in the communities along the way. America’s music was invented here. It has been made for hundreds of years in the southern Appalachian mountain region of Southwest Virginia.

“The Crooked Road” is Virginia's Heritage Music Trail, a 330 mile driving route through the Appalachian Mountains of Southwest Virginia.

“The Crooked Road” is Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail, a 330 mile driving route through the Appalachian Mountains of Southwest Virginia.

The songs and tunes of the region told the stories of early pioneer life, of immigrant experiences, and of day-to-day trials and tribulations. The influences that are felt in the music come from many traditions. The ballads of the early Scots-Irish and settlers of the British Isles are evident, as are their instruments, such as the fiddle. The blues and work songs of laborers of African heritage are also evident, along with instruments such as the banjo. The mountain dulcimer and the autoharp have connections to the zithers of European ancestry, while the ukulele and the guitar were popular parlor instruments. Some of the highlights of the music trail include the Ralph Stanley Museum, The Carter Family Fold, Blue Ridge Music Center, and since 1935, Galax has hosted the Old Fiddler’s Convention, Friday jamboree at the The Floyd Country Store, and the Blue Ridge Institute and Farm Museum, Ferrum. The website The Crooked Road has details for the nine major venues, over 60 affiliated venues and festivals and 25 wayside exhibits that one can explores along the trail where America’s music was born and continues to live. Here is a link to the map: myswva.org/tcr

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