Art Where I Least Expect It

Saturday (yesterday) was my first time going to Bedford Centerfest. Centerfest is a community festival that takes place in Bedford, VA every year. The downtown shops of Bedford are open, and there are food vendors, crafts, live music, history, and craft beer. Essentially, it’s an opportunity for Bedford to show visitors why they should be visiting and shopping in Bedford on a regular basis.

Bedford is a pretty small town, so I’ve never seen much point in going there. I’ve driven through it a few times, but that’s about it. Oh, the choir I was in sang at a church in Bedford, but I always drove directly to the church, then straight home afterwards. But this past week, my friend and fellow  author, Susan Viemeister, did a reading in Bedford on Thursday night at The Bower Center for the Arts’ open mic night. That visit made me curious about the town. Coincidentally, Bedford Centerfest was that Saturday. Perfect!

IMG_1213First thing that you have to do when visiting a small town is stop for coffee. It’s officially pumpkin spice season and I hadn’t had my first Pumpkin Spice Latte, yet. So it was off to Starbucks I went. Lynchburg has a new Starbucks, and it’s relatively close to my house, so that’s the one I went to. As you can see from the pic, it’s pretty big.

While I was waiting on my coffee, I found out Susan was going to Centerfest. So was my friend, Patty, and her friend, Dave. I had been planning to spend the day alone, but friends made the day instantly better.

I got to Bedford about thirty minutes later and was bummed out almost as soon as I neared the festival. Why? The first thing I saw were numerous Confederate flags waving in the wind. It was political, but it still bummed me out.

I kept walking, though, debating whether I should stay or go. A festival populated with people waving the Confederate flag didn’t seem very festive to me. It also didn’t seem like a place that would be welcoming of anyone who wasn’t white. I know, I know, it’s supposed to be about history, but that history includes my ancestors owned by their ancestors.

Before I could decide what to do, I saw Patty and Dave, which immediately put me in a better mood. We talked for a bit, and as we talked, I noticed there was a mix of people there, and none of them were waving Confederate flags. So I figured I’d stay a bit.

I met up with Susan and her husband, Read, for a tour of the art district of Bedford, which turned out to be a lot of fun. Susan helped me to see the little town in an entirely different light. This was a town with a thriving art community. The people I met love the arts and are passionate about getting Bedford on the map as a destination for art lovers.

The first stop we made was to Goose Creek Studios, where Susan had a book signing a few months back. It also houses the creations of artists from all over Bedford, like paintings, pottery, hand made furniture, sculpture, books. You name it, this shops sells it. And what’s really cool is that it has artist studios on the second level.

Here are a few pictures of the shop, and of Susan & Read. You’ll notice Susan standing beside a shelf of her books. And that table was made by Read.

After Goose Creek, Susan took me to The Electric Company: Art and More.

These places have such character. It’s not just art, it’s the whole vibe that I was digging.

But it was getting late and clouds were starting to roll in. I figured I should meet back up with Patty and Dave again. It was time for some live music and craft beer. The beer came from a local brewery, Beale’s Brewery. The music was supposed to go till 6, but as we were listen to The Ruckus, a local Lynchburg band, the skies opened and the rain came down.

I took some video of The Ruckus, but I can’t upload it here. If you’re friends with me on Facebook, I uploaded videos of The Ruckus and Goose Creek Studios.

My lesson learned was that I shouldn’t be so quick to judge. Sure, Confederate flags were the first thing I saw when I came into Bedford, but the town is so much more than that. I loved meeting the artists, talking with the locals, and dancing with my friends to good music. I enjoyed my day so much that I even put my name down as a volunteer for The Bower Center for the Arts and am planning to do some book readings in Bedford.

It was a great day!

If you want to find out more about Bedford and the artist community there, check out the below links:

The Electric Company: Art and More

The Bower Center for the Arts

Goose Creek Studios

Artisan Trail Network

Bedford Artisan Trail

Heather Elizabeth King is a novelist who lives in Virginia and writes paranormal mysteries. She's been a story teller since she can remember. Some of her favorite memories are of telling stories to her girlfriends at slumber parties when she was a pre-teen. Heather is a recipient of numerous book review awards, including: *The Gold Star Award from Just Erotic Romance Reviews *A Recommended Read from Fallen Angel Reviews *The Joyfully Recommended Award from Joyfully Reviewed *A CAPA Award nomination from The Romance Studio.

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