On March 24, Elkin will host about 300 visitors for the Friends of The Mountains-to-Sea Trail Gathering for the weekend. In addition to their regular annual meeting and a gala to celebrate 40 years of the friends, several activities throughout the town have been organized to display the highlights of the town, including a Downtown Stroll.
Designed by Laura Gaylord, Main Street and community manager for the town of Elkin, the Downtown Elkin Walking Tour highlights features that fall through a manageable hike through several blocks of Elkin.
The 14 highlights start at East Main Street, just west of the location of the historic Chatham Manufacturing Company, which received the Army-Navy award for excellence pennant in 1944. During both World Wars, Chatham Manufacturing Company was known for making woolen blanks. Several items from the company are on display at the Richard Gwyn Museum at 129 Church St.
Honoring the founders of Elkin, the building which houses the museum is historic as well as the artifacts within. Open by appointment and during special hours throughout the Gathering and other times, the museum is cared for by the Jonathan Hunt Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Although the museum sits to the rear of the large parking lot, it is easy to find because it is next door to the Foothills Arts Council, where local and regional artists are featured. On display now at the arts council are works by Elkin artist Karen McEachin Breit, and Wilkes County artists Stacey Griswell, Justin Helms and Kevin McEithan as well as ArtReach North, which will show through Feb. 25. During the Gathering, a special ArtWalk will be available.
Also featured on the Walking Tour are markers and kiosks throughout town guiding guests all year long such as those near the Elkin Public Library which hosts events for the community throughout the year. During the Gathering, the library will feature displays to aid in finding the right information about hiking, trails and the natural beauty that can be found locally.
Sitting where founding father Richard Gwyn first located his gristmill and later a cotton mill, the library views one the many historical churches in the area, the Galloway Memorial Episcopal Church, which is the oldest building regularly used for church services. The Big Elkin Creek can be heard while birdwatching in this bird sanctuary town from the library window with a pair of binoculars which can be checked out.
Several trails also can be seen from the library. In addition to the Mountains-to-Sea Trail and the Elkin Parks Link Trail, the National Historic Overmountain Victory Trail also runs past this location. Travelers participating in the Passport to Your National Parks can look forward to visiting this trail during the Gathering.
Just east of the library is the historic Reeves Theater. Although restoration may not be complete in time for the Gathering, locals can look forward to listening to music from this new venue soon. Until then and even after, residents and visitors to Elkin can occasionally find music at The Liberty, where the Gathering is being hosted, several of the local vineyards, or the patio at Southern On Main with its two-tiered restaurant.
With 222 Public House at the east end of downtown and Harry’s Place at the west end, those on the walk will find plenty to keep up their energy. Amid the shops of downtown are also Roxxi and Lulu’s Bistro and Bakery at the north end and Royal’s, where the first official surgery in Elkin took place on the second floor long before it became a restaurant. Fiddle’s Pub also has dining options.
Many of the historic downtown buildings contain shopping and galleries featured on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail website at mountainstoseatrail.org/mst40th/trail-town-excursions along with many of the other offerings of Elkin.
With nearly 300 visitors to Elkin from March 24 through March 26, more than just downtown can expect visitors. The Walking Tour will guide visitors and locals alike through the historic and aesthetic points of downtown, but everyone is sure to shine for the tourists.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Twitter @TBeanieTaylor.