The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Chestnut Ridge Reunion At Old Jacksonville

By Bob Heafner © 1987

Issue: August, 1987

Route 8, Floyd, Virginia
Sunday, August 16th, 1986
1:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Chestnut Ridge was a Mountain Music Park that was open for 11 Sunday afternoons in the late summer and fall of 1982 on property adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway near Rocky Knob. It was described as being "like a Sunday afternoon visit to Grandma's" and a "real old time 4th of July celebration" and, in the years since 1982, it has virtually become a legend. Music was made under shade trees, and not on a stage. The music wasn't performed, it was shared. Thousands of people came to listen and enjoy the relaxed family atmosphere.

Added to the music was an open air farmers market where you might find anything from live chickens, honey, fresh produce or yard sale treasures. The sellers were friendly folk who took time off to talk or dance a few turns to the music. Yes, at Chestnut Ridge, as many friends as bargains were made. Many of those friendships are still going strong today.

On Sunday afternoon, August 16th, beginning at 1:00 PM, you are invited to see the spirit of Chestnut Ridge come alive again at Old Jacksonville. If you attended Chestnut Ridge, come back to see old friends. If you didn't get the chance in 1982, now you can see what it was like. We've gotten in touch with many of the musicians who played at Chestnut Ridge and many of them will be here August 16th.

Musicians, professional and beginners alike, will be the guests of honor and each of them will have their name inscribed in bronze and placed on permanent display inside the Jacksonville Barn to commemorate the date they played here. Like Chestnut Ridge everyone who brings their musical instruments will be admitted free, along with their families. The musicians will not be under pressure to perform. Groups or individuals are encouraged to join in the music. They, as well as listeners, will be here to have fun. People can drift from one band to another to enjoy the different styles and techniques. Sheets of plywood will served as impromptu dance floors and everyone from 2 year old toddlers to 85 year old grandmothers can join in the flatfooting, or clogging, just like at Chestnut Ridge.

As we enjoy the music we will honor in our hearts the memory of the music making friends who will only be here in spirit, because they have passed away since 1982. Chestnut Ridge was dedicated to the preservation and continuation of the music that was the life-blood of mountain spirit. In the past, when mountain folk gathered, whether at a barn raising or a corn husking, music always had a place. The straightforward style and clarity of mountain music perhaps reflects the character of the American spirit more than any other form of music. It was the crisp, clear notes of mountain music that rang through the hollows and ridges of the Blue Ridge, bringing relaxation and recreation to the lives of hardworking mountain people and provided the focal point for mountain gatherings.

On August 16th [1986], the spirit of Chestnut Ridge will come alive once again at Old Jacksonville. Be here as we celebrate the Music of the Mountains.