Parkway anniversary plans taking shape

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Plans are underway for the Blue Ridge Parkway’s 75th anniversary weekend celebration during Sept. 10-12, marking the anniversary of construction on Sept. 11, 1935.

The Blue Ridge Music Center (milepost 213), the Cumberland Knob Recreation Area (milepost 217), and neighboring communities of Fancy Gap, Hillsville, Fries, Independence and Galax will be among sites for this multi-day, multi-venue celebration.

Included will be regional music, crafts, storytelling, children’s activities and foods from the Blue Ridge.

The opening ceremony launching the 75th festivities will be at 11 a.m. Sept. 10 at the Cumberland Knob Recreation Area, near the border of Virginia and North Carolina.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue will present remarks, as will U.S. Congressional leadership. National Park Service and United States Department of the Interior officials also will participate.

On Sept. 11, a remembrance will be given by Dan Matthews, who was rector of Trinity Church on Wall Street in the shadow of the World Trade Center when the events of Sept. 11, 2001 occurred.

The church became a place of refuge for hundreds seeking shelter from the massive cloud of debris.

A Sept. 11 night concert at the Blue Ridge Music Center will feature the legendary Ralph Stanley as well as other notable musicians from the region, including Junior Appalachian Musicians. The entire weekend will have traditional and regional music jams and performances as its centerpiece.

Communities along the parkway will present parkway officials with commemorative gifts and an area at the Blue Ridge Music Center will be dedicated to spotlighting communities along the road.

Through the Parks in Classrooms programs, students from throughout the region are submitting handmade birthday cards to the parkway, which will be on exhibit that weekend.

One highlight will be the parkway’s automotive heritage. As part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, the parkway’s beginnings were deeply rooted in America’s new love affair with automobile travel.

Representatives from the 1,000-member Tin Can Tourists organization will display vintage campers spanning the 75-year period.

This year also marks the centennial celebration of the American Recreational Vehicle Association. Interested owners of vintage campers can apply to participate in the event.

In conjunction with the annual apple festival at Fancy Gap that weekend, a parade of 1935-1945 antique cars will begin in Fancy Gap and travel along the parkway to Fries, and end at Blue Ridge Music Center.

For more information about the parkway’s anniversary, including upcoming events in neighboring communities along the road, see