Fourth Annual Artisan Saturdays at Roanoke County’s Explore Park

On Saturday, June 9, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Roanoke County’s Explore Park will host the first of three Artisan Saturdays in 2018. This event is free and fun for all ages. Located on the Blue Ridge Parkway, at milepost 115, the Visitor Center and Gift Shop will have local artisans on hand to demonstrate many uniquely different crafts and skills.

The day will include demonstrations from a few of our Explore Park gift shop artisans who create an array of unique items, such as fused glass, pottery, ink art, air paintings, fiber art, leather crafts and one of a kind handmade jewelry. Carolyn Feagans, a popular local author, will be available for book signings throughout the day.

New to the event this year is professional chef Dominic DiFrancesco. Come out and meet Chef Dominic from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. as he whips up some tasty treats with his demonstrations at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. A graduate of the Florida Culinary Institute and an alumni of the reality show “Hell’s Kitchen”, he will be offering seven cooking classes this summer through Roanoke County’s Parks, Recreation & Tourism.

In keeping with the food theme, did you ever wonder how to properly taste or store olive oil or balsamic vinegar? Kristi Gehart from Oliveto, will be on hand throughout the day to answer all these questions on oils, vinegar and more with special presentations at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Along with R &R concessions to satisfy your lunch cravings, Virginia Mountain Vineyard will be offering a wine tasting. Food and entertainment go hand in hand, so joining us for the fun-filled day will be Marie Anderson, who will provide some fabulous live entertainment from her extraordinary repertoire of music from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

There is always some adventure planned for Artisan Saturdays and, joining us for the first time, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. will be the S.W. Virginia Wildlife Center of Roanoke. They will be presenting “Where the Wild Things Are,” a wild animal show that gets you up close with creatures including screech owls and red-tailed hawks. Also, children will have the opportunity to play with life-size games and creative puzzles as well as create a dragonfly craft.

This year additional Artisan Saturdays are scheduled for August 11 and November 3. The November event will include local high school students who will exhibit and sell their unique craft. Each Saturday may be a bit different; the day could include different book signings, a variety of live music performers, line dance instruction and informative presentations. Artisans from Southwest Virginia whose work reflects both creativity and quality craftsmanship will be available for questions during their demonstrations. To complement the demonstrations, their original pieces of work will be for sale.

Make a whole day of it and take advantage of Explore Park’s hiking and biking trails. Bring the fishing gear and fishing license to spend an hour or two on the Roanoke River or visit the museum located in the Visitor Center. Explore Park’s Visitor Center Gift Shop is open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information on Artisan Saturdays, call (540) 427.1800 or visit


–    Submitted by Wendi Schultz, Roanoke County Parks & Recreation Tourism and Event Coordinator

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