Area to be Showcased on WSLS 10's 'Daytime Blue Ridge'

 Host Natalie Faunce Explores Day Trip Opportunities in MHC

Natalie Faunce of WSLS 10’s “Daytime Blue Ridge” casts a fly line in the Smith River as her instructor,
Doug Jessie of Smith River Trout Unlimited, looks on. Cameraman Ryan Anderson is seen behind Faunce.

Martinsville-Henry County will receive some regional publicity on Thursday, June 25 as a variety of area businesses and attractions will be featured on WSLS Channel 10’s “Daytime Blue Ridge.” The entertainment/lifestyle TV show, which airs daily at 12:30 p.m., features a segment called “In A Day’s Drive” that highlights day trip opportunities throughout the state of Virginia.

For the video, host Natalie Faunce began her trip with a visit to the state-certified Martinsville-Henry County Visitor Center at 191 Fayette Street in Martinsville. There, she picked up a copy of Piedmont Arts’ Guide to Public Art in Martinsville-Henry County. The guide is a self-guided walking tour that highlights more than 30 works of public art throughout the community and tells about each piece.

June German Ball mural on Fayette Street
During her walking art tour in Uptown, Faunce saw the Baldwin Block Murals on Market Street, which depict the Fayette Street District, a prominent African-American neighborhood, as it was in the early 1900s. There, she also took time to see the Fayette Street District Historic Marker.

Further down Fayette Street, on the wall outside of Travis’ Barber Shop, Faunce saw the June German Ball Mural and read about the well-known jazz event held annually in Martinsville. The colorful mural was designed and painted by students in NCI’s 2014 Summer Intern Program as a community service project. Faunce continued down the street to see the city’s newest mural, Uptown Connection Trail, located in a pocket park at 41 Fayette Street. This mural resembles a vintage post card and depicts the many outdoor recreation opportunities that the area has to offer. Biking is one of the activities featured on the mural, and this work of art is conveniently located across the street from Chain of Fools, the area’s newest bicycle outfitter and repair shop. While enjoying the mural, Faunce noted that the murals and works of public art included in the guide represent the past, present and future of Martinsville-Henry County.

Next on her trip, Faunce visited The FAB Lab, part of the Dalton IDEA Center. While there, she participated in a Maker Mondays class where students create custom items using design software and fabrication machinery. With instruction from FAB Lab coordinator Matthew Wade, Faunce used the software provided and a laser cutter to engrave the Daytime Blue Ridge logo into a piece of wood. This precision carving took only a matter of minutes to complete.

Uptown Connection Trail mural on Fayette Street
For lunch, she dined at Third Bay Café on Spruce Street in Martinsville. The upscale, casual restaurant is named for the building’s past life as a service station. The dining room is situated in three bays of the vintage service station, which has been renovated into a popular dining hot spot for lunch and dinner. Faunce enjoyed a roast beef wrap featuring fresh ingredients and a slice of Third Bay’s famous Chocolate Chess Pie. This delicious pie is a specialty of the restaurant and so popular that owner Yvonne Givens and her staff make ten pies each week to keep up with the demand.

The final stop of the day was a visit to the Smith River just below Philpott Dam. Doug Jessee, president of the Smith River Chapter of Trout Unlimited, along with club member Eric Tichay met Faunce at the river’s edge with waders, boots and all the equipment needed for fly fishing. Jessie is a resident of Roanoke that travels here to fish the Smith River. Tichay is a former New York resident that chose to retire in the Bassett area. Tichay and his wife were lured to the area eight years ago by the scenic Smith River and slower pace of life that Martinsville-Henry County has to offer. Both Tichay and Jessie fish the Smith River often.

Faunce, Jessie and Tichay stood in the river casting their lines as a mist rose from the cool water into the 80 degree air. Below Philpott Dam, water temperatures range from 45-55 degrees year round making this a refreshing place to visit on a hot summer day.

Later on, the party of fishermen exited the river on schedule as Philpott Dam began generating hydropower and the water levels in the Smith River rose. Prior to the Dam’s warning horn, the river is a calm fisherman’s paradise, but when the generation begins, it is then the paddler’s turn to have fun on the river. Class I to II+ rapids form as the water swiftly cascades around exposed rocks and other natural features of the river. It is important that all river users call 276.629.2432 to hear the Dam’s pre-recorded generation schedule in order to plan for a safe and fun river outing. 

The five minute video was organized and funded by the Martinsville-Henry County EDC’s Tourism Division and produced by WSLS. According to Jennifer Doss, Director of Tourism for Martinsville-Henry County, “We have many hidden gems in our community that can easily be overlooked. Working with Daytime Blue Ridge allows our office to showcase these places and activities on a regional level through high-quality video.” After airing on TV, the film will be available for viewing on VisitMartinsville.com, YouTube and Facebook. Doss added, “In addition to the video being to a valuable tourism marketing piece, we encourage area business to share this video with clients and prospective employees as a recruitment tool to highlight the quality of life amenities that Martinsville-Henry County has to offer.”

This was Faunce’s fourth visit to the area to film an “In a Day’s Drive” segment. Past films can be viewed at VisitMartinsville.com. Faunce stated, “We have been coming to Martinsville-Henry County for several years now and each time we visit, we walk away with new experiences.  This time around, I was really impressed with the Uptown area and the improvements being made – especially the new walking tour and the FAB Lab. I was especially blown away with my experience fly-fishing on the Smith River. The water, the surroundings and the mist coming off the water made for an experience like none other, proving once again – that Martinsville-Henry County is a special place.”

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