Floyd is about 40 miles, or an hour drive time, from Roanoke.
It’s a small, passionate, artisan community (the town population was 432 in 2013). The area is also known for the large number of family farmers in the county.
The town went through a revival about 10 years ago so shop owners, citizens and those who work in the community are proud of the accomplishments achieved in creating a thriving little downtown retail and entertainment center. Shops are mostly run and stocked by local residents and artists.
Business hours cater more to a tourist schedule than the local community, so don’t expect to find much open in Floyd during the week before Thursday, when the weekend starts (early).
The Music Scene
Probably best known as a musician mecca, Floyd is a stop on the Crooked Road heritage music trail. The Friday Night Jamboree is held at the Floyd Country Store, but musicians also set up along South Locust street where this building is housed (usually from 6-8 p.m. on Fridays) to offer free music performances to pedestrians.
Floyd Fest (held July 27th – 31st this year) is a music festival that draws large crowds from out-of-state. Some appreciate the congested scene – others avoid the area during that time.
The local record store – yes that would be vinyl – boasts “The World’s Largest Selection of Bluegrass and Old-Time Music – with over 4,500 Bluegrass, Old-Time, Country Western and Cajun music CDs, cassettes, books and videos.”
Floyd Farmer’s Market
On Saturday mornings (this runs until about 1 p.m.) there’s a small farmer’s market populated by local producers. Offerings (this time of year) range from fresh picked produce, plants, flowers and a variety of meats (duck, beef, lamb, pork, etc.) to breads, eggs, jams, sauces, cupcakes and butters. There are also a number of vendors preparing hot breakfasts for patrons.
While at the Market this past Saturday, I marveled at an ingenious marketing idea. The sign on this booth indicated not only the selections available, but the time these items would be piping hot throughout the morning. This was a brilliant selling tactic. See something on the list that just came out of the oven or an item that will be brought out in the future? Your mouth can water with anticipation as you shop and wait for your treat.
Red Rooster Coffee Roaster has facilities adjacent to the farmer’s market. There was no apparent cooking or baking equipment in the booth, but I discovered they running items from their indoor kitchen to the plaza every half hour.
If you’re in Roanoke for more than a few days and have chunks of free time, it’s a quaint town with a passionate population. It’s probably best to schedule for either Friday evening (to include the music scene) or Saturday morning (to add the market to your tour). You can park your car just about anywhere in town and be within short walking distance of all the shops and streets that comprise the downtown activity centers.
The drive is long if you take 221 with hairpin turns up and down the mountain that joins Roanoke County to Floyd County, but it also offers some beautiful scenery. Alternatively you could take 81 most of the way, but that route’s not as picturesque.
If you live in Roanoke and haven’t seen Floyd, make the trip. There are a lot of interesting shops, artists and personalities that present a bit of old-world culture that will get you smiling.