Issuu on Google+

w w w. 1 6 b l o c k s m a g a z i n e . c o m

ISSUENO.15

I N S I D E local slopes 10 soldier’s story pt.2 14 native brews 16 fly ash dump pt.2 18

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NO.15

10

LOCAL SLOPES

14

Sold i er ’ s R ETUR N

16 18

A differe n t ki n d of M arch mad n ess rules at the Mom n’ Pop ski resorts just outside of town.

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Arts and Culture Magazine March 2009 Issue #15 Contact us for subscription rates, general questions, corrections, if you’re interested in submitting short stories for our Logos Section, letters to the Editor, or if you just want to say hey. 16blocksmagazine@gmail.com

P A R T 2 - U n dergraduate war vet C ase y O verturf came home with a duffle bag full of memories that the civilian world can’t share. Now he searches for meaning.

www.16blocksmagazine.com

NATIV E B R EWS

P.O. Box 279 Blacksburg, VA 24063

A private tour of R oa n oke , F lo y d a n d B lacksburg ’ s new breweries.

www.myspace.com/16blocksmagazine Check us out on Facebook!

No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission of the publisher.

Cov e r

KICKING ASH

P A R T 2 - L ocals approach the problem of coal ash dumping in the New River flood plain.

Kwame Harrison skiing at the Blacksburg Municipal Golf Course Photo by Christina O’Connor

sta f f Hart Fowler

Editor in Chief, Publisher

16blocksmagazine@gmail.com David Franusich

Head Print Designer, Art Director

16blocks.graphics@gmail.com

04 BURG vs. Walmart 04 Chatterblocks 05 Roanoke Art Galleries 06 Politics: Stupid Economy... 09 Food: Fish Chowder 12 Artist: Lauren Erickson 13 Artist: Amber Erbschloe

21 Out of Town Gigs 22 Logos: Denise Giardina 24 To Do List: Music 26 To Do List: Art, Theater & Misc. 29 Support Our Advertisers 30 Idle Minds

In

Director of Photography, Art Director

16blocks.photo@gmail.com Amy Splitt Editor

asplitt@gmail.com David Williams Webmaster

dtw@vt.edu

publisher’s note: every issue it seems that there is an achievement to celebrate at 16 Blocks, and this time it’s the year anniversary of our website, 16blocksmagazine.com. Our webmaster Dave Williams showed his interest in joining the magazine by photographing our table of contents page, which is the page you are now reading, tweaking it to fit a web format, and sending it to me with a letter of introduction. Needless to say we brought him aboard, and that template became 16blocksmagazine.com for about 9 months. Williams recently upgraded to our 2.0, and the site is continually growing as the source for information

Christina O’Connor

C O NT R I BU TO R S about the people, places, events and issues that define Blacksburg and the surrounding area. We recently received the highest rating of competing niche magazines in the Valley Business FRONT, and we are also in the stages of growing our web content even further. We’re doing this by not only providing the full print edition online, but also creating web-only content. With our new team of videographers, we recently created “16 Shots”, producing web video pieces exclusively for the site. Our monthly features began with Danny Flad’s “Beer in Blacksburg” and Trent Crabtree’s “Cooking with Trent”. This month we’ll also be featuring a

special about our very own local roller derby team “Bruisin’burg”, as well as coverage of Boogieburg’s Ursula 2000 show. Soon we will launch our weekly ToDo List, so please send us your events and accompanying photographs and we’ll consider them for publication. Our goal is to reflect and adapt constantly to the desires of today’s media reader and viewer. Our website has and continues to reach and exceed those benchmarks. None of this would be possible without the hard-work and perseverance of our good friend and colleague Dave Williams. Thanks, Dave.

Danny Phillips Illustrator Aerin Toler Illustrator Jesse Johnson Illustrator Tuan Pham Photographer Elizabeth Spencer Photographer Pris Sears Features Writer Garrett Bobb Features Writer Danny Flad Beer Columnist Trent Crabtree Food Writer Kwame Harrison Guest Writer Johnny Kilroy Guest Writer Amber Erbschloe Featured Artist Lauren Erickson Featured Artist Chuck Ronco Chess Guru Christine Fay Graphic Designer Alyssa Peltier Graphic Designer Yi Seol You Calendar Intern Rafael Panlilio Calendar Intern


B U RG vs. WA LMA RT 16 Blocks interviews Daniel Breslau on BURG’s big victory 16B: What is your role with BURG? DB: Chair of the BURG Steering Committee. 16B: What is your position at Virginia Tech? DB: Associate Professor, Department of Science and Technology in Society. 16B: Could you briefly describe the case’s evolution, from first court date to Virginia Supreme Court hearing? DB: No, because you can’t understand the case without going back much earlier than the first court date. [Ed.: Check on the Supreme Court opinion at www. bburg.org. for a detailed timeline of events culminating in the February 27th 2009 ruling against Fairmount Properties by the Supreme Court of Virginia.] 16B: How will this ruling affect Blacksburg? DB: The ruling is momentous for Blacksburg. The town and its citizens were able to stand up to an unscrupulous developer that was working with the largest corporation in the world. We demonstrated our determination to regulate development that is harmful to the town’s character and quality of life. The ruling is also a landmark for the Commonwealth of Virginia as a whole, setting a new precedent. The Supreme Court was able to give some order to land use law, and make it clear that a landowner cannot have vested rights without getting government approval for a specific project. A rezoning that gives them flexibility does not also grant immunity from subsequent changes in the zoning law. This protects localities throughout Virginia, who will be able to plan effectively, and rezone property

What’s going on in the 16 Blocks? We want to hear what you have to say.

Jenny Schwanke Marketing Director Blacksburg Farmer’s Market

without inadvertently tying their own hands. And it is a great ruling for landowners and developers too. Had the decision gone the other way, land use regulations in Virginia would have been thrown into chaos. No town, county, or city would have wanted to rezone anything without a detailed and binding plan, for fear of giving away open-ended vested rights. 16B: If the court had ruled in favor of WalMart, how would that have affected Blacksburg? DB: It would not have been the end of the world. But the town would have been saddled with [the following problems]: #1 -- No conceivable use of the property in question generates as much traffic as a retail supercenter. The number of cars and the new traffic bottlenecks would back up traffic into the nearby residential areas, [and] cause a constant flow of cars past Margaret Beeks elementary school, which would be very heavy during the times that children are arriving and leaving. The S. Main and Country Club intersection would see major backups, probably affecting traffic into the downtown area. #2 -- Proponents of the Walmart have said that it would be an environmentallyfriendly project, because fewer people would have to drive to the Supercenter in Christiansburg, thus reducing carbon

emissions. This is simply not true. Every Walmart is close to someone, so it saves them driving time, but the purpose of these enormous stores is to get people to drive longer distances. We have four supermarkets and at least five pharmacies in Blacksburg, one hardware store, and other businesses that would be threatened by this store. A successful Walmart will put several of those out of business, forcing people to travel longer distances. Any successful Walmart generates more driving and more emissions. #3 -- What about our downtown? Only a few of the stores there today compete directly with Walmart. But the presence of a Walmart supercenter close to downtown will make it much harder to bring in future businesses that could provide necessary goods (a pharmacy or a grocer) on a reasonable scale and with local ownership. I could add the environmental impacts of turning 15 acres (the size of the store and its parking lot) of ground into impermeable paved surface. And there is very good evidence that the supposed economic impact of these stores is extremely small or even negative. They destroy more jobs than they create. And, as opposed to locally-owned businesses, they channel revenues right out of the community.

16B: How would you describe the experience of battling a major corporation? DB: We encountered the economic power of Walmart throughout our efforts. Without even becoming directly involved, the huge corporation had proxies in the developers, landowners, their associates and employees, local development interests, real estate, banking, all of whom had interests that were not necessarily those of the town and its residents. These groups have enormous influence and enormous resources. The media don’t want to antagonize them. When it was a matter of democratic process, where it is numbers of votes and voices that counts, and not just dollars, we had the upper hand, as when we mobilized a huge campaign for Ordinance 1450. So the developers were very eager to fight things out in the courts, where they are on a more equal footing with us, and where their overwhelming financial resources give them an advantage. So it was not enough that the law was on our side. It also took the determination of citizens of Blacksburg, who financed our legal case to the tune of $80,000, and urged the town to keep fighting this, that made the difference.

Given the fact that there is already a huge glut of retail nationally and region-

16B: Could you briefly describe the plans to upgrade the current farmer’s market? JS: The new Market Square Park and Farmers’ Market Pavilion will be located in the current Farmers’ Market Parking lot at the corner of Draper Road and Roanoke Street.  The plans include a landscaped park along with a timber framed market pavilion and about 20 parking spaces.

there are concerns about young children and dangerous traffic.  The vendors will be set up further from the road so children will be much safer.  

16B: What caused the desire to expand?  JS: The number of vendors at the Farmers Market has been steadily increasing.  The new structure will provide more stalls and covered space for vendors, their fresh produce and the market goers. Also, we’ve heard from families that shop at the Market that

burg.gov/index.aspx?page=874

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ally, the life cycle of a big box store is likely to be relatively short, and there would be a good chance that we would be saddled with a 15-acre abandoned wasteland within 10 years, as has happened to many other communities.

16B: What is the next step for this project? JS: Pending Town Council approval in April, the next step of the project is to put the final site plan drawings out to bid. The plans can be viewed on the town’s website: www.blacks-

16B: How do you think an upgraded farmer’s market will affect downtown Blacksburg?  JS: I think the upgraded farmers market will draw more people downtown, not just for the market but also all

week long.  The pavilion and park will serve not only as [a] mecca for local food and craft, but also as a great place for small concerts, civic programs, and general community gathering. 16B: Has there been any conflict regarding the expansion? JS: There has been some concern about the decrease in parking spots in the Market Lot.  The town is looking into creating some new spaces around town and there is the parking garage a block down the street. 16B: How will we see this project develop over the next year?  JS: Construction will begin in the next 5 – 8 months depending on scheduling and the project should be completed in early 2010.


NEW YORK. SAN FRANCISCO. CHICAGO. ROANOKE. One of these things is not like the others, but could it be?

get a taste of the roanoke art scene: Cheshire Gallery 118 West Campbell Avenue SW  540.400.8037 Tues – Sat, 11 AM – 5 PM www.cheshiregallery.com

Photos feature Wilson Hughes Gallery and Gala Studio by Amy Splitt

T

he Taubman Museum of Art opened November 7, 2008, borne on a wave of hopes and dreams for a revitalized downtown in the Star City. Less known, especially to most in the New River Valley, is that a constellation of art spaces, new and not-so-new, radiates outward from Market and Campbell, each with their own aesthetic focus and spirit. Looking for art in downtown Roanoke, it’s not hard to make a day of it. To the contrary, the challenge is to see all that’s there in a single afternoon. Unlike a museum which keeps display and commerce separated, a small gallery generally offers fine art for sale right off the floor. Some offer fun gifts and even custom photography and framing. This kind of work requires rugged individualism and the ability to balance creativity with salesmanship. Suzun Hughes and John Wilson chose Roanoke as the spot for their combined workspace, residence, and commercial gallery, Wilson/Hughes, when deciding to leave San Francisco in April 2007. “We really wanted an urban space,” said Wilson, and Roanoke suited their needs. Wilson mentioned that the permit process was easy compared with San Francisco, where building

codes are complicated by regulations on earthquake readiness. It takes a year just to get a signature on the seismic code. Hughes said, “This whole area is developing as an alternative arts district.” Wilson’s metal sculptures, reminiscent of giant, brightly colored construction toys, and Hughes’ assertive abstract oils and symmetricallypatterned digital prints place them in the alternative camp, but they feel certain that Roanoke, too, can learn to love the strange and outlandish. Regarding mixed local reception to the façade of the Taubman, Hughes compared it to home: “We were in San Francisco when they built the TransAmerica building that looks like a pyramid in 1975, and people were like [appalled face], not, Oh, it’s iconic!” Their main challenge is balancing studio work with business. With a garagelike workspace adjoining two display rooms and their apartment upstairs, they seem to have the space set up to succeed. They also participate in local projects like the Marginal Arts Festival. Another new vision is revealed a few doors down at Gala Studio, the workshop and gallery of Claudia de

Franko, who came to the Star City from Mexico City as a teacher 15 years ago. A self-described “old-fashioned photographer,” she develops photos in the back room and specializes in silvertone portraiture that brings out something special in every subject. Many of her finest photos hang on the walls in the front gallery, offset by crafted ephemera, like a display of Day of the Dead skulls and a shelf collaged with magazine cutouts. The atmosphere is often lively, with Mexican music playing in the background as friends, colleagues and customers drop in to visit. Part of de Franko’s mission is outreach to children, especially recent immigrants. She sees herself as a potential role model to kids who long to find their roots. Recently, she also finds herself asked to review and possibly curate works by other Latino artists in the Appalachian region. We visited over a dozen galleries in an exhausting, exciting afternoon and still missed a few spots. The two places spotlighted in this article are only a start.

Wilson Hughes West Campbell Art District 117 West Campbell Ave - Map 540.529.8455 or 415.786.5963 Wed, Fri, Sat, noon - 5 PM or by appointment www.wilsonhughesgallery.com The Market Gallery 23 Salem Ave SE Tues - Sat, 10 AM - 5:30 PM www.marketgalleryroanoke.com  Gala Studio 139 West Campbell Ave SW 540.816.9097 Tues – Wed, 12 PM – 4 PM; Thurs – Fri, 2 PM – 7 PM; Sat, 11 AM – 2 PM www.claudiadefranko.com Signature 9 301 South Jefferson St 540.342.0703 Tues - Fri, 10 AM - 5 PM; Sat, 10 AM - 3 PM & by appointment www.signature9gallery.com Pamela Jean Gallery 115 Salem Ave SE 540.904.7797 Tues – Fri, 10 AM – 6 PM; Sat, 11 AM - 5 PM, Closed Sun, Mon Info@Pamelajeangallery.com Fleda A. Ring Artworks 7A Church Avenue SE 540.520.8191 Please call for appointment

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$$$

financeguysrant.com - give us our money dammit!

Need a place to ask questions of those like yourself, free from the scrutiny of liberals?

Salary capped? Screwed by the “bailout”?

11-12-2005, 08:00 PM Posted by: retire@30

is the place to post.

by Amy Splitt and Pris Sears illustration by Aerin Toler

What you wearing? What is everyone wearing to work these days? I am thinking of getting my secretary to get me some Brooks Brothers. This TARP crap makes me leery of buying really nice suits now, because I figure it’s not like I can wear them to work. Does anyone else feel awkward wearing a $1500-2000 Armani to work as an analyst/associate? It kind of reeks of douche-baggery IMO. I am saving mine for the strip clubs. I think they have a gene for recognizing good suits, the way they swarm me when I walk in. 800LBKong

11-12-2005, 08:00 PM

re: What you wearing? Retire@30 (first of all, who are you kidding?) If you don’t want to spend the money (and I advise you not to spend $1500 on a suit because that’s idiotic in your position), I suggest Jos. A. Bank, they have suits for $599. Save on ties by only buying white, pink and blue shirts. That way you only need 2 ties. But just saying, you are still likely to come across as a douchebag if you’re wearing an Armani suit in a strip club.

11-12-2005, 08:00 PM Posted by: ottophil8 No Subject So I f’ed up big time, but I feel justified. I booked a trip to Tuscany with my gf this spring but then after getting laid off I’ve sold the package on CL. I haven’t told her anything. What should I do? She’s already whining about new clothes for the trip. I stalled by telling her to pick out some damn clothes herself who do I look like Tim F’ing Gunn?  Then she crashed the Audi in the parking lot and locked me out. gekkoman65 re: No Subject Well, it sounds like one of your problems is solved.

11-12-2005, 08:00 PM Posted by: hummer2020

11-12-2005, 08:00 PM

Lipo or aug? I promised one of my girlfriends liposuction and breast augmentation but now I can only afford one. Which do you think I should get? My wife’s already suspicious since she didn’t get the new Merc she was expecting for Valentine’s. Alternately, is there anyone in the NYC area that’s had to jettison their gf recently? PM me for pics if you want to work out some kind of time share. 800lbKong

11-12-2005, 08:00 PM

Posted by: dbcooper2 Disappear? Now that the Swiss banks are going to give us up - I am thinking of pulling the big one. I don’t want to end up like that nimrod Marcus Schrenker. Who the hell tries to escape to Destin, Florida, anyway? Anyone got good connections in the Bahamas?

re: Lipo or aug?

800lbkong re: No Subject

Man, that is crass. You are on a finance site, not f’ing Craigslist. gekkoman65

Forget about “pulling the big one” – the feds will just trace your IP and find this stupid post. Nimrod.

11-12-2005, 08:00 PM

re: Lipo or aug? If she needs lipo just send her to the fat farm upstate. Tell her it’s a spa. retire@30

11-12-2005, 08:00 PM

re: Lipo or aug?

11-12-2005, 08:00 PM Posted by: retire@30 That assh*le John Thain

I totally PMed you brah.

$10 million bonus, $40,000 rug for his Merrill Lynch office, he’s ruining it for the rest of us! I’m going to go roll his house, who’s with me!

11-12-2005, 08:00 PM Posted by: gekkoman65

11-12-2005, 08:00 PM

V-Day massacre Oh yeah and dig this Dating a Banker Anonymous blog -- a bunch of heinous women yammering about having to go to the downtown Manhattan old lady spas and never getting any? retire@30

11-12-2005, 08:00 PM

re: V-Day massacre Is that thing even real, or is it a publicity stunt for some stupid SATC knockoff? finanseer

11-12-2005, 08:00 PM

re: V-Day massacre Who cares if it’s real -- if my gf is reading it, the thing might as well be the Financial Times. Wait, I’ve got an idea -- we make a pact. Forget about Valentine’s Day. We’re all “working late,” let’s all just hire whores. Done

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Posted by: worried_wife Should I leave? I read everything on the Dating A Banker Anonymous site but nobody seems to have this problem so I thought I would ask you guys. My husband has been working late pretty much every night and on the weekends he stays locked up in his office drinking and doing stuff on the internet. He’s been hiding our bills and I didn’t get the Mercedes I was expecting for Valentine’s Day, so I know things are not great. I found a recent credit card statement with a lot of charges to www.worldoflugers.com.

11-12-2005, 08:00 PM Posted by: hummer2020 Wat? Where the F@#! is the moderator?!@!#!


EXTRA EXTRA

Have you heard the news?

NEW LOOK  NEW BRANDS  NEW STYLES GLAM TULLE LA MADE WALLABEES FREE PEOPLE SOUTHERN TIDE

310 ROSEMONT 208 N.Main St Blacksburg

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CERITANO’S BRINGING BLACKSBURG A PIECE OF ITALY

Tina Ceritano uses La Chitarra, the pasta guitar, that originated in her home region of Abruzzo, Italy, to cut fresh pasta for Ceritano’s linguini and spaghetti dishes. “When you cut it like this, the edge stays rough and it holds the sauce better. It’s tastier,” says Nino Ceritano.

LUNCH BUFFET

11:30AM-2:30PM Spring Mix Salad Baked Salmon Stuffed Shells Pasta Boscaiola Spaghetti Meatballs Chicken Parmigiana Brick-Oven Pizza All for $7.95

LUNCH Special

Pepperoni Pizza for $5.95 Gelato Coming Soon

CONTACT

Phone: 443-9135 428 North Main St. Blacksburg, VA 24060

Hours

Mon-Wed 11-9 Thurs-Friday 11-10 Sat 12-10 . Sun 12-4

www.tinagourmet.com

Why is Ceritano’s considered by many to be the best Italian restaurant in the area? Possibly because Ceritano’s offers the best brick-oven pizza in the New River Valley or because all of the pasta here at Ceritano’s is handmade like in authentic Italian restaurants. The only other way to get a more realistic Italian experience is to buy a plane ticket. You will only find satisfaction when you come to Ceritano’s.

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F O O D and

A MEAL FOR TWO...SEASONS

by Trent Crabtree photos by Christina O’Connor

SPRING

is just around the corner, yet it is still winter. We see a few days of warmth just for the temperature to drop again. Most people crave hearty comfort food in cold weather, while a nice green salad pleases when it is warmer outside.

make delicious chowder, their firm flesh holding its shape in the bubbling broth. Chowders can be thick and creamy, brothy, yellow in color or even red. It is meant to be common fare, accompanied by a crusty loaf of bread or crackers sprinkled on top.

A quick, simple dish that is big on flavor and satisfies your need for a creative, filling meal paired with a touch of spring is fish chowder with a spinach salad on the side. An unwavering tradition in Newfoundland, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, fish chowder is found on virtually every menu and is a staple in most homes.

Most historians agree the first written recipe for fish chowder was around 1751, but the dish was well known long before that. The discovery of the Grand Banks off the coast of Newfoundland created large scale fishing for cod, the most frequently caught fish in the North Atlantic. Sailors from around the world came to fish the waters.

Chowders by their very nature support improvisation: there are many different types, depending region. Cod was probably the first fish to be used in chowders, but any fish can be used. Grouper, snapper, shark and redfish all

SPINACH SALAD

For long voyages, ships needed to stock large quantities of food that wouldn’t spoil. One main method of food preservation was salting. And so, on every ship, salt beef, salt pork, salt

fish, and hard tack, a coarse, hard bread (records indicate these biscuits were issued up to 40 years after being baked) were dietary staples. Soaking the hard tack in water overnight and adding salt fish created the first chowder. From there the recipe traveled down the coast of New England.

of shellfish in the communities. New England clam chowder is probably the best known. Its preparation has been at the center of many heated discussions. In 1939 a bill was introduced to the Maine state legislature making it a statutory and culinary offense to introduce tomatoes into the dish.

The seafaring populations along the New England coast brought different flavors to chowders. The fisherman would bring their daily catches in town and throw samples in a large cauldron and boil along with a variety of vegetables and potatoes. The French called this chaudiere, for the name of the kettle it was cooked in. Chaudiere eventually became Chowder. In the mid 1800’s, American cooks began using clams in chowders due to an overabundance

Here are my favorite recipes for March fish chowder and spinach salad with Dijon vinaigrette.

FISH CHOWDER & SPINACH SALAD Ingredients for the CHOWDER:

Ingredients for the SPINACH SALAD:

1/4 cup – Butter 1 – Large yellow onion, chopped 1 - Minced garlic clove 2 – Celery stalks, chopped 1 – Carrot, chopped 1 – Large potato, cubed 1 – Red bell pepper, chopped 1/4 cup – Parsley, coarsely chopped 1 – (29 oz.) can tomato sauce 1 – (8 oz.) can diced tomatoes 1 – (10 oz.) can condensed chicken broth 1 – Cup dry white wine 1 tbsp. – hot sauce 1 tsp. – dried thyme 1 1/2 to 2 lbs. – Cod or Haddock cut into bite-size chunks

1 lb. – Fresh spinach 1 – Medium red onion, sliced in narrow rings 1/4 cup – Pomegranate seeds 1/2 cup – Walnuts, chopped

Ingredients for the DIJON VINAIGRETTE: 3/4 cup – Olive oil 1/3 cup – Red wine vinegar 2 – Garlic cloves, minced 1 tbsp. – Dijon mustard 1 tbsp. – Parsley, minced 2 tbsp. – Basil, minced 1/4 tbsp. – Salt 1/4 tbsp. – Pepper

WATCH - Cooking with Trent Episode 1 - “Venison” online at www.16blocksmagazine.com

In a soup pot, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, red bell pepper, and potato and sauté until soft. Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, white wine, broth, hot sauce, and herbs. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 8 minutes. Add the fish and let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the fish is cooked thoroughly. Put all the vinaigrette ingredients in a jar with a tight lid and shake vigorously. Refrigerate. Wash the spinach and pat it dry. Place all salad ingredients in a bowl. Add vinaigrette and toss to coat. In the late winter months, a hot, steaming bowl of fish chowder completely satisfies, and it’s a great source of vitamins and minerals. Team it up with spinach salad and a loaf of French bread for a complete meal that fills you without the guilt associated with over-indulgence. BON APPETIT!

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Maki ng Memor ies on Lo cal M ountains . by Kwame Harrison photos by Christina O’Connor

In

these days of anxiety about small towns being lost to franchise development, it’s disappointing to see that such concerns rarely extend to the small ski mountain. I hear a lot of local skiers and snowboarders talking about trips to Snowshoe or “Out West.” Somehow the corporate ski industry – through their magazines, videos, and even the Weather Channel – has convinced people that real skiing and snowboarding only take place at large resorts with impressive names and high priced lift tickets. People today travel long ways and pay expensive lodging costs for a weekend or week of breathtaking descents and slope-side follies. They rush to experience Whistler, Steamboat, or Killington – and to tell the stories that come with it.

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Memories are definitely made on the mountains, but not only the expensive ones with big names. I grew up skiing

primarily on two small mountains. The smaller of the two, Mount Mohawk, had one t-bar to haul skiers uphill, an outhouse, and in the years that I skied there, a 36- dollar season pass. From what I remember, the mountain was owned and mostly run by two brothers. One of my fondest Mount Mohawk memories is of a time when two friends and I got our parents to drive us there in the midst of a midweek snowstorm on the hunch that it might be open. We arrived to find my friend Paul Robinson, his mom, and one of the brother/owners starting up the lift! The six of us ended up having the mountain to ourselves all afternoon. While the brother gave Mrs. Robinson a free private lesson, the four elevenyear-olds skied their hearts out. We certainly had our challenges that day. After all, there was a snowstorm, and the t-bar was difficult for small kids to wrangle with no attendant there to help


“kids grew up skiing several days a week on

nearby hills” Ski!

Winterplace Ski Resort 100 Old Flat Top Mt. Rd. Ghent, WV 25843 304.787.3221 or 1.800.607.SNOW (7669) www.winterplace.com Greenhouse Boardshop 203 College Avenue Blacksburg, VA 24060 540.552.3872 www.greenhouseboardshop.com Back Country Ski & Sport 3710 South Main Street Blacksburg, VA 24060 540.552.6400 www.bcski.com

us. But we more than managed. The mountain was our playground. Fresh tracks each run. It would be hard to sustain a ski mountain as small as Mount Mohawk around here. Just the necessity of snowmaking demands that a Southern mountain have enough of an infrastructure to cover most of its terrain with the “manmade” stuff. Still, this region has some delightful small ski resorts to enjoy. Places like Winterplace in West Virginia, and Wintergreen, Massanutten, The Homestead, and Bryce in Virginia. There are also a handful of mountains around Boone, North Carolina, including Appalachian, Beech, and Sugar. And I’ve been told that for true Southern skiers (who should never be too fussy about snow quality anyway), March is the ideal time to ski. It’s all about snow, sun, and fun. The sad part is that small ski areas are vanishing. The New England Lost Ski

Areas Project (www.nelsap.org) lists 592 places in New England alone that have closed. I don’t know how many ski areas have closed in this region. Perhaps not many, but I really don’t know. Local skiing history is simply not celebrated in the Southeast. In the heyday of small local ski areas, kids grew up skiing several days a week on nearby hills. This spirit still exists at Winterplace, WV – easily the closest ski resort to Blacksburg. This past December, Winterplace celebrated the start of its twenty-fifth year in operation. It’s impressive for a small mountain resort. Since 1992, when a local group from Somerville, West Virginia purchased it, Winterplace has greatly expanded its size and facilities. With an average annual snowfall of 100 inches and more snowmaking capacity than any mountain its size in the Southeast, most years it continues to have a solid

snowbase well into late March. And for those who absolutely have no interest in skiing or snowboarding (shame on you), they also have “West Virginia’s largest snowtubing park,” various food and drink options, and live music on the weekends. Through local skiing and snowboarding programs, small areas continue to nurture lifelong passions for the slopes. Winterplace boasts a fabulous Ski Wee program for 4- to 11-year-olds that puts them on the mountain all day and has per-child rates comparable to babysitting (rentals included). Please call ahead. Their ski school also offers first timers a “learn to ski or ride guarantee.” If you can find a small group of people willing to commit to a regular midweek skiing package, costs are surprisingly cheap. This past season, I was part of a five-week, Thursday evening group there. Seven hours of twilight skiing

cost me less than twenty dollars per visit – and this would include rentals and lessons if I wanted them. Local resorts like this offer nearby communities regular experiences of being on the mountain. This to me constitutes “real skiing.” And at just over an hour north of Blacksburg – minutes past where 460 meets 77 – we can consider Winterplace our place. In these tough economic times, if you have a love for skiing or riding it makes sense to frequent local small mountain resorts. Places with distinct mom and pop charm that are products of the regions they’re located in. Local ski areas sustain local economies, and keep skiing and snowboarding integrated into people’s daily lives. Even in Blacksburg, the influence of nearby slopes can be seen in the businesses around town. Like New England and the Rockies, skiing and snowboarding is a part of this region. Let’s appreciate that and keep it here.

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Video production was something I had always thought I didn’t have the courage nor the patience to do. I came to Virginia Tech’s art school wanting to become a photographer. I enjoyed setting scenes and creating characters much like Cindy Sherman, who has always been a major influence in my work. As I was telling stories with the lens, I felt like something was missing. I wanted to convey more with my work. I owe my interest in filmmaking to Dr. Simone Paterson in SoVA. She introduced me to artists like Pipilotti Rist working with video and film. She encouraged me to pursue the art that I had been dying to make, and continues to do so. And although I love being behind the camera, my real passion in video production lies in the editing. My work often features colored lighting and is edited to communicate a manipulation of time blurring reality. All of my subject matter derives from personal experiences, observations and memories, often speaking from a feminist point of view. It involves themes ranging from mundane everyday life to sexuality and emotions. I am highly interested in making videos with an authentic voice, usually mine and occasionally the voice of a friend who accidentally spills a good story to me. I hope to connect the audience to something within their own life. I strive to connect people with themes that are relevant to everyone. We are all alike: we all have secrets, feelings, stories and demons. It’s what makes us all human. www.laurenerickson.com www.vimeo.com/lne The Aftermath, 2008 untitled (Repent), 2007 Actor: Jon Pacio

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I am a studio art major at VT. I am a multimedia artist, and I do photography, painting, sculpture, assemblage, and installation work. I use a lot of old materials from dilapidated buildings, car parts, and mechanical components from typewriter parts to record players. I prefer to have multiple layers in my work and have the process visible to the viewer. As far as content and concepts go, I like to deal with vice and the debaucheries of life. This usually includes the use of shotgun shells, bones, and PBR throughout my work. Keep on the lookout for my senior show in the Armory Art Gallery in the fall. I will probably have some goods at Steppin’ Out this year as well. Shrine Dos - Installation Green Collage - Mixed media Deathshrine - Installation

13


Part 2 of 2: making the pieces fit

by Hart Fowler photo by Christina O’Connor

T

he war ends. The credits roll to the tune of Barber’s Adagio for Strings. The lights come up and normal life resumes. This was not the way Virginia Tech student and Iraqi war veteran Casey Overturf’s war ended.   In fact, his last days in the desert seem representative of the entire US military operation. OUT OF THE DARK It was nighttime, and he was crammed tight with fellow Marines in the back of a troop carrier he described as “a dump truck with an open back” riding through the desert in a convoy heading to the Kuwaiti airport and eventually home.  Convoys ride with no lights to avoid drawing attention. The driver lost the road and flipped over an embankment.  The seven-ton truck rolled hard and would have flipped on the men had it not been for the soft sand.  “Me and this other guy start laughing and our Sergeant told us that if we didn’t stop laughing he would shoot us, which only made us laugh harder,” Overturf said.  “Then he said, ‘Coffin, Overturf, go man the perimeter.’” Overturf and his friend Coffin sat in the darkness of the desert guarding against ambush while the truck lay on its side, where it was eventually left behind as the troops climbed aboard other rides.  It might still be there today.

Less than a week later he was back stateside. Only a warrior understands Overturf described his new civilian life as experiencing “the weird music of euphoria,” full of strip clubs, alcohol, and going as wild as you could go.  “A lot of it wasn’t as exciting as it should’ve been… Over there, that fact that you might die every day was part of the thrill, part of the excitement.  You want to risk your life to make your life exciting.”   He described driving recklessly at 100 mph and passing people on the median.  He “freaked out” while driving to Blacksburg from Giles when someone shot some bottle rockets. When his girlfriend acted concerned, he “freaked out” on her.  “I went to talk to a [therapist] twice.  In the military they tell you when you get home that they won’t understand a warrior’s experience, and only a warrior understands a warrior’s experiences,” Overturf said.  “More or less, if you go and talk to someone you’re a pussy.”   Overturf went to see a therapist in November because it is the hardest month for him.  It is the month of the Marine Corps’ birthday and also Veteran’s Day.  He went because without an outside perspective, he couldn’t tell if he was still at the mercy of postwar stress.  He wanted a baseline to see

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where he was and where he was going.     “I would look at the previous month and think, ‘Wow, I was not right in the head.’  I’m depressed, overly angry and have a general indifference to everything,” Overturf recalled. A month later, he’d see his progress and look back on the prior month feeling that he’d still been treading water.   Overturf does believe the therapy was useful, and is considering going back if his symptoms return. The question is, can a man find meaning in an indescribable experience, and then integrate that into a world that only knows of war through the filter of mass media.   Hearts and Minds Overturf says that though his first two years back were unstable, that the most recent two have been better.   His specialized INTEL work in the military qualifies him for high-paying work around the Beltway, but he seeks something more. He believes the military taught him how important it is not to do something you don’t enjoy simply for the money. He began his studies in the department of Engineering at Virginia Tech immediately after his tour ended, but Philosophy classes offered him the perspective that he sought. Professor

Matt Rea, hearing his complaints, told him, “Why don’t you just start out getting a job playing in the woods.” Sounds simple enough; and in fact, before 9-11 and before the war, that’s kind of what Overturf was doing at training camp and while stationed in Okinawa.   He changed his major to focus upon natural resources, and he is now working towards a job in what he describes as “the field of interpretation” for the National Park Service. “The best way to describe it is that I’ll be interpreting scientific language into a language that any normal park visitor will understand,” said Overturf.  “I want to win the hearts and minds of the visitors towards the park resources, to get people to understand and comprehend the inner workings of our natural system…to get them to be a steward of nature themselves.” From interpreting artifacts found on the Iraqi war dead and in their shelled out homes to interpreting the local flora and fauna to park-goers is an epic journey for a man of 26.  Nearing the end of this war, may other veterans similarly have a chance to find peace and purpose after surviving the horror of war. 


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I S S U E 1 5 15


DANNY FLAD GIVES US A TASTE OF THE LOCALLY BREWED IN THIS 2 PAGE SPECIAL EDITION OF...

by Danny Flad photos by Tuan Pham

IT’S

only March, but 2009 has already been a great year for craft beer in Blacksburg and the New River Valley. For the first time, residents of the 16 Blocks were able to ring in the new year at their very own local brew pub, the Bull & Bones Brewhaus and Grill. What some expected to be nothing more than another local bar with a few kegs of homebrew tucked into a kegerator turned out to be a beautifully spacious restaurant and bar complete with great food and seven handcrafted beers brewed by talented local brewer, Jim Strickland. The beers of Bull & Bones, however, weren’t the only new things brewing in Blacksburg. After a five year hiatus, Blacksburg Brewing Co., headed by local brewmaster John Bryce, had returned to the New River Valley and was once again brewing a great local beer, Blacksburger Pils. Soon, the squat little kegs and towering tap handles of Blacksburger were appearing everywhere. It wasn’t long after when Shooting Creek Brewery, located in the bohemian backwoods of Floyd, Virginia, announced that they had started production and would have two new local beers in the market by the end of March. As I sipped on a glass of Blacksburger and considered how suddenly craft beer had burst onto the local scene, I couldn’t help but think, it is gonna be a good year for beer in Blacksburg!

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BLACKSBURG may have found itself up to its neck in great local beer but it’s not the only place close by to get a native brew. Awful Arthur’s Restaurant, at 2229 Colonial Avenue SW in Roanoke, is the location of the Big Daddy Brewing Company, brainchild of brewer Sean Osborne, who trained under Certified Brewmaster Ben Pierson, and owner Todd Lancaster. They currently serve seven beers on draft all of which are unfiltered in order to provide the beer with a more robust flavor and full body. Roanoke is also home to the newly released Track 1 Beer produced by the Roanoke Railhouse Brewery. Track 1, a dark lager, is available at many Roanoke bars including Annie Mooreís, Brambleton Deli, The Village Grill, Jimmy Vís, Martinís, Montanoís, and Rockfish Food and Wine.


BULL & BONES BREWHAUS AND GRILL

1470 South Main Street, Blacksburg, VA - (540)953-2855 Jim Strickland, brewer for the Bull & Bones Brewhaus and Grill, first became interested in brewing in the early 1990’s in Berkley, California while apartment hunting with a friend who practiced the art of home brewing. After performing quality control, cellar work, and eventually brewing at the Golden Pacific Brewing Co. in San Francisco, Jim attended the American Brewerís Guild Brewing School where he furthered his brewing education. Years later, he came into contact with Mark Shrader and discovered his plan to open the Bull & Bones. Impressed with his ideas and the great loca-

tion on South Main Street, Jim soon jumped on board and it wasnít long before Blacksburg had itís first locally owned brewpub. The Bull & Bones offers seven draft beers including All Night Light, Lunch Pale Ale, Sun Lit Wit, Maroon Effect Red Ale, Strickís Dark Lager, St. Maeve Stout, and a seasonal offering, currently an India Pale Ale. All of the beers are brewed fresh on location without heavy water conditioning with brewing salts. “I want our beer to reflect this area,” says Jim, “I want a Blacksburg Pale (ale) not a Burton Pale.”

BLACKSBURG BREWING COMPANY

Available at Souvlaki, The Cellar, Cabo Fish Taco & London Unerground At Blacksburg Brewing Company, Brewmaster John Bryce takes his beer quite seriously. His Blacksburger Pils, a European Style Pilsner, is brewed with the best German ingredients like barley malt from Bamberg and premium hops from the Hallertau. This kind of dedication to quality is surely the driving force behind Blacksburger’s recent success in local watering holes like The Cellar, Souvlaki, Cabo Fish Taco, and the London Underground Pub. It has been a huge hit in the area since its debut in late January and is a wonderfully crisp, well balanced pilsner. A Virginia Tech graduate, Bryce founded Blacksburg Brewing Company in 2002 with the help of Chris Bernhardt, a good friend. Without proper funding, the business ran into trouble and the original

SHOOTING CREEK BREWERY

brewery location in Christiansburg was closed down in 2004. John went on to work at several breweries including Capitol City, Old Dominion, and Starr Hill Brewing Companies all the while honing his skills as a brewer. After leaving Starr Hill, John moved to Germany where he earned the title Brewmaster VLB from the renowned Versuchs- und Lehranstalt fur Brauerei in Berlin. Soon after his return to the Blacksburg area, John began to once again brew Blacksburg Brewing Company beer under license at Roanoke Railhouse Brewing Company (see sidebar) where he also serves as brewery manager and produces all the beer in accordance with the famous Reinheitsgebot German Purity Law of 1516.

1188 Thomas Farm Road, Floyd, Va - (540)745-8700 This quaint little brewery not far from the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway in Floyd Virginia is not open to unscheduled tours but I was fortunate enough to spend a Tuesday afternoon there chewing the fat with owner Brett Nichols and manager Jason Anderson not long after theyíd brewed their first batch. When I first arrived, I half wondered if I’d come to the right place. Any apprehension I may have had, however, was soon erased when I caught a whiff of the unmistakable, pleasantly sweet smell of beer wort being cooked. Jason greeted me as I walked to the door and Brett’s head soon poked out of a brewing vessel he was hard at work cleaning. Brett started the 5 Penny Farm, where the brewery is located, with his wife Johanna in 2003. When the couple wasn’t busy growing organic produce, Brett began to experiment with home brewing. In 2004, Brett along with friend and neighbor Ray Jones, began toying with

the idea of opening a farm brewery in the Floyd area. By 2008 they had settled on the name Shooting Creek. When Ray took a job overseas, Brett began to look for someone else to help with the project. He and Jason met through mutual friends and by February of 2009, the two were ready to begin production. Their first two creations, Buffalo Brown Ale and Rebel Ale Amber Rye, should hit the local market in late March. With many of the ingredients grown on site, the beer of Shooting Creek is intended to represent the hard work, wholesomeness and creativity that surround life at 5 Penny Farm. “I like to create things from scratch,” says Brett, “things that I can share with people in a way that can be profitable for us all.”

B

LACKSBURG and the New River Valley are known the world over for the best of the good things in life. Whether you’re hiking through the mountains, kayaking down the New River, sampling the local night life or just relaxing at your neighborhood cafÈ, you can always find something great that our community has to offer. Thanks to the visionary minds of a few local brewers and the help of their many supporters, we can now add great locally brewed beer to the list. WATCH - Beer in Blacksburg Episode III - “Sundays at the Pub” online atwww.16blocksmagazine.com

I S S U E 1 5 17


Part 2 of the Cumberland Park Project SAGA by Garrett Bobb photos by Elizabeth Spencer

W

hen some neighbors of the Cumberland Park Project learned of the devastatingly toxic composition of the coal ash slated to be used as “fill material” on the banks of the New River, they knew they didn’t want it near their water supply. They formed a group to address the issue: Concerned Citizens of Giles County. It soon became obvious the power company and its associates were not interested in hearing what the people had to say. “We had a public meeting in the fall of ‘07, invited the public, invited AEP, invited the Partnership [for Excellence], which is the owner of the site, and they did not come... but we did have a good turnout,” said Darlene Cunningham, member of the CCGC, in a recent interview. The CCGC circulated a petition against

the Cumberland Park project and contacted local and state officials and legislators of all types for support. “We’ve gone the gambit,” said Cunningham. Due in large part to their efforts, a pair of bills proposed by State Senator John Edwards that would prevent future dumping of un-amended fly ash in flood plains have just passed, having failed to do so last year. A public nuisance complaint was also filed locally. It was heard before a Special Grand Jury but was shot down. “There were five people that signed the complaint and none of them were called for interviews,” said Cunningham. Throughout the project, members of CCGC have been monitoring the site and pursuing every legal option to oppose its continuation. This has resulted in several costly setbacks for the Partnership, including drainage modifications to the site and the addition of decelera-

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tion lanes for the ash trucks on US-460. Though not required by regulations, the Giles County Board of Supervisors asked AEP and the Partnership to put in groundwater testing wells and a liner for the site. The liner was deemed to expensive, but they claim to have put in two such wells, which have so far not shown any dangerous levels of contaminants, though it is likely too soon for them to be expected. The CCGC literally broke new ground when, “on December 4th we actually put in two wells of our own,” said Cunningham, thereby becoming the first such group to drill their own water testing wells near a coal ash site. The CCGC hope to produce evidence that the ash will in fact leach heavy metals into the groundwater, gain grounds for further legal action against the project, and even to have the existing ash land-

fill removed from the flood plain before serious contamination occurs. The leaching risk does not consider the possibility of damage from a catastrophic flood. At a community meeting sponsored by the CCGC on February 21, Attorney John Robertson cited the National Weather Service in saying, “Flooding is the largest cause of weather related deaths in Virginia... there has been an increasing frequency of floods in the last ten years.” If the earth embankment that holds the ash were to fail during a flood, the resulting contamination would be devastating. “Don’t let anyone tell you this fly ash dump is going to be safe. We’ve seen what it does to people,” said West Virginia mountaintop removal activist and guest speaker Chuck Nelson, referring to the high rates of heavy metal-related disease in areas where fly ash has contaminated the groundwater.


Chuck Nelson of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition in WVa spoke at a community meeting sponsored by the Concerned Citizens of Giles County on February 21st, 2009. Those in attendance also discussed other coal impacts on the community such as slurry impoundments, slurry injection, and mountain top removal.

Get Involved Visit the Concerned Citizens of Giles County at www.concernedgilescitizens.org for more information or to make a donation via Paypal. Check out Mountain Justice Blacksburg at www.mountainjustice.org.vt.edu for the latest information on upcoming events and meeting times and locations. For more info on Dr. Liu’s Greenest Brick, see www.greenestbrick.com. You can learn about a worldwide effort to reduce energy consumption and raise awareness of climate change at www.earthhour.org You can contact State Senator John Edwards about the issue at: Senator John R. Edwards Senate of Virginia P.O. Box 396 Richmond, VA 23218 Email: district21@senate.virginia.gov Upcoming events: CCGC meetings, 3rd Tuesday of each month, 6:30 pm, see website for details and locations. Mountain Justice Blacksburg meetings, semi-weekly, 7-9 pm, see website for details and locations. April 18 River Cleanup, help take care of the New! See www.RenewTheNew.org for more details

“Don’t let anyone tell you this fly ash dump is going to be safe. We’ve seen what it does to people.” The question arises of what to do with the coal ash? According to Lisa Evans of Earthjustice, citing a U.S. Department of Energy report, “Burning coal produces over 129 million tons each year of coal combustion waste in the U.S. This is the equivalent of a train of boxcars stretching from Washington, D.C. To Melbourne, Australia.” Certainly it is both desirable and inevitable that we transition to a different source of energy in the future, but right now we are dependent on coal and there is already a humongous amount of ash to cope with. Henry Liu, retired Civil Engineer and president of the Freight Pipeline company, has developed a new method of producing bricks, called Greenest Brick, using fly ash as the primary constituent. Although the low-calcium eastern coal ash produced here in Appalachia is not ideal for the process, Liu claims,

“It is definitely possible to build a profitable Greenest Brick factory in Southwest Virginia... In Western Europe such as Germany and in Asia such as China, almost 100% of fly ash is used... Insufficient government encouragement for beneficial use of fly ash is a main reason for insufficient use of fly ash.” Sequestering the ash away in bricks sounds good, but for now at the very least, “you just need to keep it away from water,” says Cunningham. That means getting it out of the flood plain. For the average Blacksburger who wants to get involved in coal related environmental issues, the group Mountain Justice Blacksburg is a great place to start. “I just can’t say enough good things about Mountain Justice,” said CCGC member James McGrath, at a February 11 talk on campus. MJB has supported CCGC by donating proceeds

June 13 Riverfest! Enjoy food, fun, talks, and paddle your way to some great music!

from a pie auction hosted last fall, and by hosting talks by members of the CCGC. Darlene Cunningham suggests writing legislators to demand protection from ash being dumped near waterways. “I really feel like at this point in time that’s a great thing to do,” she said. Specifically the CCGC would like to see public participation required when coal ash is to be utilized under the beneficial use clauses of the Virginia DEQ. She also said, “Locally we could always use a donation here and there, because we do have a lawyer and we do accumulate some bills.” If putting heavy metal-laden coal waste in the flood plain of the New River sounds like a bad idea to you, please take the time to help out these dedicated and hardworking neighbors of ours.

I S S U E 1 5 19


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DO YOU

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from your off-campus experience than karaoke and overpriced

A new, exciting arts and entertainment scene is happening right outside your door. Come be a part of it.

16 Blocks Magazine is looking for talented writers, photographers, artists, web designers, graphic designers, musicians and event planners to DISCOVER, CREATE, PROMOTE and PARTICIPATE in local culture. email 16blocksmagazine@gmail.com

20 1 6 B L O C K S Come celebrate

440 Pepper’s Fer r y Rd NW | Christiansburg | (540) 381-7895


by Hart Fowler and Amy Splitt photos by Roger Gupta

The Jefferson Center

Local notes: The right show promoter can make a venue. Those of us in the 16 Blocks who still long for the cutting-edge live music experience may have found Dylan Locke’s long awaited Blacksburg successor in Brian Zickafoose (also a 16 B’s contributor). He is the owner of Plugged-in Entertainment which is now in charge of booking and promo for The Lantern. He also brought in Lotus for a sold-out show at The Lantern in January 2009, and upcoming gigs include World/Inferno Friendship Society, the latest collaboration from Brian V. of the internationally acclaimed Dresden Dolls. Speaking of local promoters, Anita Lackey has done great work putting together the Gillie’s Late Night Stage on weekend nights. An eclectic mix in a beautiful room that’s not smoky or loud. Ahhh… From gypsy jazz to acoustic folk to eclectic song-driven rock, Lackey’s kept a solid bill running for over a year now. In early March ‘09 she hit a milestone when Woody Guthrie’s granddaughter Sarah Lee kicked off her national tour at the Late Night Stage.

With nearly 1000 seats in its renovated vintage concert hall, and a convenient location just a few blocks from the center of downtown Roanoke, the Jefferson Center is also the best-booked room of its size within 100 miles. The renewed quality of this venue’s shows has come about in great part thanks to Blacksburg expatriate Dylan Locke, who landed DC’s “Godfather of Go-Go” Chuck Brown, legendary trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, and the new contender for America’s biggest jam band, Lotus, all in late 2008. Already the 2009 season has brought South Africa’s Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and the band that sealed the books on Grateful Dead tribute rock, Dark Star Orchestra In his Blacksburg heyday, Locke used to grab national acts like Sandip Burman’s East Meets Jazz, Junior Brown, Gillian Welch and Fishbone for The Lyric and Baylee’s (now Cabo Fish Taco). PHOTOS: (Top 3): Dark Star Orchestra 2-17 Jefferson Center (Bottom): Lotus 11-03 Jefferson Center

I S S U E 1 5 21


from the

Speech. Word. Reason.

An interview with author Denise Giardina

Courtesy Denise Giardina

by Johnny Kilroy

I

was nineteen years old, sitting in Dr. Cook’s Appalachian Communities class, when I read a peculiar chapter in American history. Coal. The murder ballad of the mountains. Four years later, my girlfriend recommended two books. Storming Heaven and The Unquiet Earth, by Denise Giardina. I recognized the ballad. The two fictions are set against the backdrop of West Virginia and Kentucky coal country, and span the twentieth century. Giardina grew up in the coal mining town of Black Wolf, West Virginia. She incorporated her memories and the history Appalachia into the jarring novels, combining her love for the mountains with a savage subjugation. Though the books are two decades old, they are still pertinent today to anyone proximate to the ongoing coal struggle. I called her on the phone for an interview. I was fiddling with my little recorder when the voice came from the other end of the line. A little nervous, I began with my questions. KILROY: What would you call yourself? Author, educator, voice of Appalachia? GIARDINA: Just a writer. I don’t write just about Appalachia…but I’m from here so I guess it informs what I write. KILROY: When did you decide to write about your home land? GIARDINA: Probably when I first started writing. I didn’t start writing until my late twenties. Back in those days especially I felt like there was a prejudice against Appalachian writers, and so I thought

22 1 6 B L O C K S

it might be better to write something set somewhere else and get myself established. KILROY: Your descriptions of coal towns, especially in The Unquiet Earth, are drawn from your childhood in Black Wolf? GIARDINA: Some of it is. I sort of modeled the coal camps after the ones where I grew up. Some is based on stuff that happened in Kentucky. Like the roving pickets, for example. I talked to some of the people who were involved. KILROY: I like the universal appeal of the books. It seems like a Scot, or a Kurd, or a Tibetan could read those books, and identify with them. GIARDINA: That’s what I’m aiming for. I don’t want to write something that’s narrowly regional. There’s probably something that mountain cultures have in common, too, in some ways. KILROY: The voices of your characters come from so many different and convincing angles the events tie them all together. GIARDINA: Right. I didn’t want any one person to dominate. I had to think about what the voice was going to sound like, before I created each one. When I would finish a section in one voice, I would take a day or two and let that one leave me, and take on another one. It sounds weird now, but that’s the way I did it. KILROY: You observe different spheres of society and show a lot of disparities. How do you compare those spheres and

disparities with today’s? GIARDINA: There’s always been a disparity. There’s generational difference. People my age grew up more closely to the industry, whereas younger people nowadays maybe don’t even see a lump of coal… they never deal with it. We have the same technological things as other places…I’m talking to you on an iPhone, and a friend of mine over in Pocahontas County doesn’t have a cell phone, or internet access. It’s still a real variety. KILROY: What about mountain culture is timeless and special? GIARDINA: There’s something about


the landscape that has always dictated what you did…and I think that gives the landscape a particular power. Because it is so isolating in some ways it creates a kind of independence in people, and at the same time creates a situation where [people] help each other out …so it lends itself to a certain kind of culture. KILROY: What are your own impressions of your home land, and what it has undergone in the last century? GIARDINA: It’s depressing to me, to just talk about. My grandparents could never have imagined mountain top removal…good for them, I’m glad they never had to see it. They were a lot closer to the land, they grew up farming. By the time my parents were married, and living in a coal camp… [it was] totally controlled by the coal industry. When I was a kid, there was a lot there …and that’s just pretty much been destroyed. It’s making a little bit of a comeback recently, because they’re building a prison, kind of ironic. Now they have a movie theatre again. They’ve got a Wal-mart, which is actually, for McDowell County, a big improvement,

believe it or not. But there’s just, almost nothing there. Only about a quarter of the people left. It’s the most destructive industry I can

“People my age grew up more closely to the industry, whereas younger people nowadays maybe don’t even see a lump of coal…” imagine. It created these communities and then destroyed them, and now it’s destroying the mountains. KILROY: When I first visited an MTR site, Kayford Mountain, I felt like I was outside of America and in some terrible totalitarian regime. GIARDINA: During the Cold War we were hearing about the Soviet Union… they

don’t own their own land and they live on these collective farms…and I said “How is that different from here?” [laughing] They don’t have any freedom…and I was like “How is that different?!” It was really a totalitarian thing. It certainly seems to be the nature of the beast…it doesn’t reform itself, it never pretends to be good…it just does what it has to do.

GIARDINA: Yeah. This whole county, Dickinson County, Virginia, was involved. Everybody from grandmothers to the storekeepers who refused to fill up the gas for the coal trucks and the state police. A federal judge issued an injunction, and they were holding people for federal court…it was a really wild situation. KILROY: I would think the older folks

KILROY: How long do you think American democracy is going to tolerate this kind of activity? GIARDINA: I’ve been a lot more hopeful since this last election, and thinking maybe somebody out there is going to listen. I think one reason that it’s been allowed to continue is that this Appalachian stereotype is so strong, and people either don’t know or don’t care. And they think “Oh, they’re just a bunch of ignorant hillbillies, anyway.” KILROY: You’ve already done a great deal in the fight against coal mining, just by writing. Where do you see yourself in the future of it? GIARDINA: It’s been a struggle for me, lately. I do have a long history of being an activist, and writing about it…several decades. I did this run for governor in 1999 and 2000, a third party thing, just to draw attention to mountain top removal…and that took a lot out of me! So the last seven or eight years I’ve still done some things, but not nearly as much as I did before that. It’s partly getting old, I think. Partly it’s just burnout. I’m just calmer and happier if I don’t do that that often. KILROY: What is a particular incident from your activist days? GIARDINA: I was involved with UMW with some strikes and civil disobedience, sat in front of coal trucks, and drove slow in front of coal trucks [breaking into laughter]. Got arrested for driving my car in front of a coal truck at like two miles per hour. KILROY: Nice! GIARDINA: Probably a little dangerous [giggling] but they at least didn’t try to run over us. So we organized these sort of slow-downs and, you know, got put in jail for that.

could get away with driving slow. [ W e both laugh. Magical.] GIARDINA: There were old ladies getting carried off to jail, and high school kids… it was practically martial law. It was like being a part of the Civil Rights Movement… it was the whole community! It was one of the highlights of my life, actually, being involved in that. KILROY: The strong arm response of government in those incidents gives me the creeps. GIARDINA: Yeah, the government has always been, you know… The governor ofVirginia, he sent half the state police in the state of Virginia to this one county. Once I was going back and I passed like a hundred state police cars… heading for Dickinson County…Down 81. But they had to fuel up before they got there, ‘cause when they got there nobody would sell them any gas!

KILROY: Wow. I didn’t know you could get arrested for driving slowly.

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16

MUSIC

To Do List om

Hellblinki Sextet - www.hellblinki.c

Get your groove on! Thurs, 3/12 @ 7:30pm The Palisades Restaurant in Giles Co. 168 Village St, Eggleston. Flat Iron String Band www.myspace.com/flatironstringband It’s as if the Appalachian past tapped you on your back and you turn around to the sounds of these tunes and you are taken back in time. The nearby winding New River has had these sounds reflected off of it for centuries. Similar in tradition is the Palisades kitchen’s use of all-local pork, beef, trout and produce.

Wed, 3/18 @ 9pm The Lantern Perpetual Groove w/DJ Rahbee, $15 -Thunder Construction Tour 2009 Plugged-In Entertainment comes through again, bringing one of the hottest jam-bands on the circuit to the 16 Blocks. This will be sold out (if not so already) so check out inticketing. com ASAP if you want to groove on this Athens-based band’s deep pockets, masterful rhythms and wave after wave of experiential dynamics.

Fri, 3/13 @ 9pm The Lantern, 211 Draper Rd, Bburg Lee Street Riots FAREWELL SHOW

Sat, 3/21 @ 10pm Awful Arthur’s, 213 Draper Rd, Bburg The Worx A crowd pleaser that packs the house with their mixture of rock covers and originals. They’re not jam, they’re not punk, they’re not rap, and they’re not funk, but that don’t mean they ain’t got something going on. Come hear what these Roanoke boys loyal fan base has been diggin on for years.

Gillie’s Late Night Stage

153 college ave, blacksburg

Dinner or appetizers complim great live acoustic tunes at thient cozy stage right downtown. s Here’re some of the things they’ve got going on this month. Hellblinki Sextet 3/13 @ 9:30 Dear Olive w/ Land What Land 3/14 @ 7 Beyond the Pale: Old Man Kelly & Chris Print z 3/17 @ 7 Maya Renfro 3/19 @ 7 Groova Scape 3/20 @9:30 Audrey Ryan 3/26 @ 7 Matt Walsh w/The Opening Act 3/ 27 @ 9:30 Bobby Parker 3/28 @ 7

Check out more stuff to do in Blacksburg online at www.16blocksmagazine.com

24 1 6 B L O C K S

Featuring: Hammer No More The Fingers, River City Ransom. LSR have been a Blacksburg punk-rock mainstay for 3 years and are Bringing the Riot Home one last time. Be sure to pick up a CDR copy of the band’s nearly-finished album to take home as a souvenir. Note from the Publisher: Though I’m not all happy to be breaking up, I can say that the good times have far outweighed the bad during the time I played the keys for LSR. To Brandiff and Eric, may your studies take you where you want to go. To Kevin, may you receive as much in return as you give to your current and future music projects, God bless the wheel-man. No comment on why there’s no proper record, except to offer apologies and much thanks to Danny Phillips for taking the time to make some great album art, which is pictured above.

Tues, 3/17 @ 9pm George’s House Uke of Spaces Corners performs low key and unusual folkish tunes from Bellfast, Maine, www.myspace.com/ ukeoffphillips. Blacksburg’s Nathan Bowles & Mike Gangloff will also be playing a mix of songs from both Black Twig Pickers and Spiral Joy Band.

Sat, 3/28 @ 8pm The Lodge DYE HIPPIE DIE! Jumper KO, All Kinds of Gravity, Their Reasons Were Legion, United Waste, & others TBA. It’s the Anti-Jam Band Show. Twirling hippie dresses, kaleidescope eyes, Jerry-lovers and Trey-worshippers should stay at home. It’s not hatin’. It’s a celebration of how some bands express themselves with tunes that just aren’t so...nice and pretty and long-winded.

DON’T FORGET! Sundays @ 3 pm. London Underground

Join beer columnist and fiddler Danny Flad as he sits down with his band for a fine Irish Jam. With the fireplace lit, and the players set up in front of the window with old-style tunes permeating throughout the place, it feels like the old Irish tradition of everyone heading to the Pub after church for pints, conversation, and music.


Featuring an eclectic menu of music and munchies to satisfy body & soul

211 Draper Road • Downtown Blacksburg 540.951.1019 • www.thelanternblacksburg.com

Wed. Mar. 18TH @ 9PM • $15 Thunder Construction Tour 2009

Perpetual Groove

w/ DJ Rahbee

Advance tickets available at:

www.inticketing.com

Fri. Mar. 20TH @ 9PM • $17/20 An Intimate Evening With

Railroad Earth

Advance tickets available at:

www.inticketing.com

Wed. Apr. 1ST @ 9PM • $12 Fool’s Krewe Party With

Toubab Krewe

Advance tickets available at:

www.inticketing.com

Mar 14 Mar 16 Mar 17 Mar 21 Mar 26 Mar 27 Apr 3 Apr 4 Apr 5 Apr 8 Apr 10 Apr 11 Apr 12 Apr 16 Apr 17 Apr 18 Apr 23 Apr 24 Apr 25 Apr 26

Curious Strange - $5 Our Dying Valor/ An Eternal Decree - $5 Roots of Creation/ St. Patty’s Day Jam - $5 Jah Works - $6 Basshound w The Former Champions - $6 Hot Politics w Spark Arrester - $6 Spiritual Rez - $5/$7 Boogieburg Soundsystem DJ Williams Projekt Pnuma Trio/ Themselves/ Damn Right! - $10 Graham Wilkinson and Underground Township - $8 Chronicles of the Land Squid/ MO Theory - $8 Old School Freight Train - $8/$10 Prolyphic/ Bobby White & Relik - $10 Basshound - $6 Boogieburg Soundsystem World/Inferno Friendship Society/ Stuck Lucky - $10 Reid Speed/ Resonance vs. Encryption - $15 Laura Reed and Deep Pocket - $8/$10 Pretty Lights w Spark Arrester - $12/$15

PLUGGED IN-TERTAINMENT

AOS

LIGHTING PLUGGED IN-TERTAINMENT

V i Z i W O R X C R E AT iV E ST U D i O

ViZiWORX CREATiVE

I S S U E 1 5 25


16

To Do List d .. . - Continue

Coming up...

Graffiti artists unite -- and throw down! s inside of the warehouse beGraffiti art competition on the wall best piece. Contact 16 Blocks the to hind Ceritano’s. $1000 prize il.com) to apply for a 10x20 Magazine (16blocksmagazine@gma tion. Pieces will be unveiled and foot space to enter the competi il 22. Ceritano’s Restaurant, 428 judged in a great celebration Apr N. Main St Bburg.

MORE STUFF

ART

Get out there!

We like art! Thurs, 4/2 – Mon, 4/6 (Reception 4/2, 7-9pm) XYZ Gallery, 223 N. Main St Bburg “Roadkill and Romance”

Paintings on found objects by Emily Almarode and Feather Cole. Get ready for extreme close-ups.

Tues. 3/3 – Wed, 4/29 Perspective Gallery, Squires Student Center 2nd Floor Virginia Tech “Mumblement” – small assemblage sculpture and drawings by Aggie Zed Come see this Gordonsville, VA artist – her mixed-media and bizarrely narrative paintings may make you feel as if you’ve walked in on someone’s derangement. Enjoy.

Sun, 3/15 @ 5:30 Skate Town USA, Airport Rd, Bluefield, WV Shamrock Showdown Roller Derby Bout!

Sat. 4/4, 11am-4pm Cranwell International Center, West End of Clay Street Virginia Tech International Street Fair.

Call for MORE artists -- contact 16blocksmagazine@gmail.com to find out more about displaying and selling your professional art and craft work at the first annual Blacksburg Fork and Cork, presented by the Blacksburg Partnership. The festival is Sat. May 2, all day, rain or shine, and vendor’s fee to the Blacksburg Partnership is $100. Application deadline extended to 3/31 for friends of 16 Blocks.

Ending Sat, 3/21 Jacksonville Center for the Arts Hayloft Gallery 220 Parkway Lane, South, Floyd “Faces of Floyd” Members of the Floyd Figures Art Group create likenesses of models they know from around town and show their best work at this annual show.

26 1 6 B L O C K S

Sat. 4/4, 9am-12pm Virginia Tech Cross Country Course 2nd Annual Bob Duncan Memorial 5K Held in honor of a beloved professor who passed away in 2007. Proceeds from this fundraiser will go to The Bob Duncan Memorial Diagnostic Pathology Scholarship to be awarded to a fourth year veterinary student. Look up the event on Facebook.

Our hometown Bruisin’ Burgs’ Rollergirl team, once a ragtag gang of misfits, now winners of the most recent hometown bout. It’s a bit of a trek to Bluefield, but once you’re there the smell of hot polyurethane quad wheels and the roar of battle will wake you up.

Refresh yourself with food, shopping, dancing and music from around the world.


Solution from pg. 26

THEATER and such It’s live! Wed, 3/11 – Fri, 11/13 @ 7:30 The Jefferson Center 541 Luck Ave SW # 221, Roanoke Gamut Theater Company Presents: ART by Yazmina Reza What is “art” anyway? More to the point, what’s friendship all about? This intelligent dark comedy plays with those questions while challenging traditional ideas about how theater is done. The group performing this show is local and only recently founded.

Sat. 3/14 @ 7pm The Lyric Theatre The Uncalled-for Tour - Tickets $10 Audiences never know what to expect from this trio of traveling storytellers. Singing, dancing, and pee-your-pants funny might be a good guess judging from the reviews.

3/19-3/20 @ 7:30 p.m. Squires Studio Theatre Free Admission Homebody by Tony Kushner A one-woman play performed by Sue Ott Rowlands. In this work by the playwright best known for Angels in America, a British housewife is obsessed with Afghanistan and fascinated by her encounter with an Afghan man. Her tangential thought processes combined with her fascination with language take the audience on a journey through history in the city of Kabul. This is an unforgettable and endearing portrait of a woman seeking validity in the complex culture of a forgotten country.

Sun, 3/29 @ 7pm (doors 6:30) The Lyric Theater 135 College Ave, Blacksburg MUSE: A celebration of women in the Arts. Be inspired by some of the local muses of the New River Valley. This performing arts showcase will feature a variety of talented female artists highlighting Catherine Breske, the Contemporary Dance Ensemble of Virginia Tech, Mandara Dance, Isabelle Marchand, Kat Mills, Aileen Murphy, Joni Pienkowski, and Patty Raun.

Fri, 3/20 & 3/27 @ 7pm; Sat, 3/21 & 3/28 @ 7pm; Sun, 3/22 & 3/29 @ 3pm Fieldstone United Methodist Church 3385 N. Franklin St, Christiansburg New River Stage presents: The Fantasticks This musical romance/comedy was written in 1960 by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones (“It’s Not Unusual”). Prepare for high camp and some quaint, midcentury ideas about courtship.

Fri, 4/10 @ 8pm The Jefferson Center 541 Luck Ave SW # 221, Roanoke David Sedaris

Mandara Dance, Lyric Theatre, Women’s Center at Virginia Tech and YMCA at Virginia Tech proudly present

A celebration of women in the arts A Variety Show in Support of Women’s Month and the Community Arts and Information Office Sunday, March 29 at 7:00 pm, Free Admission The Lyric Theatre, 135 College Ave, Blacksburg VA GRQDWLRQWRWKH&RPPXQLW\$UWV2IÀFH ,QIRUPDWLRQ&HQWHUJUHDWO\DSSUHFLDWHG Visit www.museblacksburg.com for more information.

U PCOM I N G Tickets $35-$40, Half-price for students. Following in the footsteps of writer/ lecturer Mark Twain, Sedaris is back in Roanoke with “When You are Engulfed in Flames” and after the Virginia legislatures recent ban on smoking in restaurants, the timing couldn’t be better. Sedaris recently quit his 30year addiction to Kool cigarettes and hearing this author of four bestsellers and popular speaker make us laugh about the difficulties of quitting will be a therapeutic treat. Sedaris sells out, so get your tickets ASAP.

G armory gallery 201 draper rd blacksburg open Tu-Sa 12- 4pm 5 4 0 . 23 1 . 55 47

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A pri l 7 - a pri l 1 1

O p e n i n g Tu e s d a y, A p r i l 7, 4 - 6 p m

THANKSGIVING BREAK: NOVEMBER 22 DECEMBER 3

A pri l 1 4 - a pri l 1 8

DECEMBER 3 - DECEMBER B i l l C o n n19 o ly SENIOR SHOWS LOST & F OUND Participants and reception dates to be O p e n i n g Tu e s d a y, A p r i l 1 4 , 4 - 6 p m announced

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ART SUPPLIES & SO MUCH MORE!

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100% of all proceeds go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) Car Wash @ Advance Auto Parts, Sat. 3/7 & Sun. 3/15 (both starting around noon) Get your car washed for a good cause in the Advance Auto Parts parking lot, 800 N Main St. in Blacksburg. St. Patty’s Night Hungry Leprechaun’s Pizza Sale by Top Of The Stairs, Tue. 3/17 (8pm-2am) Take a break for your bar crawl :) and stop by to grab a slice of pizza! Irish Soda Bread Orders, 3/17 Place your orders for homemade Irish Soda Bread for St. Patrick’s Day. We will personally deliver to your door on March 17th. Minimum donation of $10/loaf. Contact Lianne at (631) 767-6517.

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Lianne’s and Cris’ - Fundraising Events

KIDS

TCBY Profit Share, 3/19, 6-9pm You come - We’ll serve - TCBY will donate 10% of the proceeds for the night to the LLS.

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And more...


Wondering how 16 Blocks gets published, when we have never charged for a single copy? Does a grant or bank loan help us bring you the unique content and provocative, beautiful graphics we’ve become known for? Do we have wealthy parents or did one of us seduce a millionaire? None of the above.

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Every issue of 16 Blocks Magazine comes to you courtesy of our advertisers. Businesses from our community entrust our team to bring you their messages along with our own. We give thanks to our advertisers for their continued support. We could not exist without them.

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A: 310 Rosemont (Ad on pg. 7) B: Fit You Right (Ad on pg. 7) C: The Inn at Virginia Tech (Ad on pg. 7) D: Awful Arthur’s (Ad on pg. 8) E: Big Al’s (Ad on pg. 8) F: Ceritano’s (Ad on pg. 8) G: Bull & Bones (Ad on pg. 8) H: Cabo Fish Taco (Ad on pg. 15) I: Sake House (Ad on pg. 15) J: Sturbridge Square Apartments (Ad on pg. 15) K: Nice Dreams (Ad on pg. 15) L: Wireless Zone (Ad on pg. 20) M: Inside Out Salon (Ad on pg. 20) N: Bohemian Trading Company (Ad on pg. 20) O: The Lantern (Ad on pg. 25) P: Armory Art Gallery (Ad on pg. 27) Q: Mish Mish (Ad on pg. 28) R: Zeppoli’s (Ad on pg. 28) S: YMCA (Ad on pg. 31) T: The Cellar Restaurant (Ad on pg. 31)

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  

Saturday, April 4th @ 9AM

 

In conjunction with the VMRCVM (Vet School) Open House VT Cross Country Course $15 before 3/21/09, $20 race day



Registration form: filebox.vt.edu/users/emuri

   

Questions?? ebinder@vt.edu

biggest calzones in town $5.75 Lunch Special Pita Pizza with three

toppings and a Coke

2 full bars

1 smoke

free

Live music No Cover Charge

Now open for lunch

7 days a week

Visit us online at www.the-cellar.com 540.953.0651 302 North Main Street, Blacksburg Va 24060

I S S U E 1 5 31


More details at

540-342-2640

More than a wee bit of fun! Saturday March 14, 2009 Downtown Roanoke, Downtown Roanoke, VA VA

NEW SSTART NEW TART TTIME TA IME • NNEW EW PPARADE ARADE RROUTE OUTE • NNEW EW FFESTIVAL ESTIVA VAL SSITE ITE

Don’t forget your lawn chairs! 10:00 am - 5:00pm FREE ADMISSION Corner of Williamson Rd. & Church Ave.

Entertainment • Vendors Activities • Food & Beverage

McDonald’s

St. Patrick’s Day Parade Parade starts at 11:00am

Jefferson St., to Campbell Ave. (in front of Market Building) to Williamson Rd. Be a part of a growing Roanoke tradition and one of the Mid-Atlantic region’s largest St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations. Ronald McDonald will lead this year’s parade. There will pipe and drum bands from all over the region.

ALSO APPEARING SECOND WYNDE

Roanoke’s legendary Celtic band

NICKY TAMS

– Music and Dancing – An innovative Celtic music ensemble.

THIS IS NOT YOUR GRANDMA’S IRISH MUSIC!

OTHER ACTIVITIES INCLUDE TEAM STRONGMAN COMPETITION HONEYTREE FAMILY AREA BONNIEST KNEES CONTEST CÉILÍ KING & GRAND MARSHAL PRESENTATION Bring canned goods to the parade or festival, collection barrels will be available at various locations!


16 Blocks Magazine - Issue #15