In 1995, the building was an old barn. Now, it stands as one of Floyd County’s landmark institutions.
The Jacksonville Center for the Arts was started by a group of Floyd citizens who wanted to connect the area’s artists. With an unused dairy barn in the area, they saw the potential to make their dream a reality.
By soliciting community support and proper funding, the group got access to the barn, as well as initial investments to start the business. Once it obtained 501-c-3 status and financial support from the Virginia Commission for the Arts, they could continue with their mission.
The Jacksonville Center holds various annual programs throughout the year, one of which is being held this weekend. Winterfest is in its 18th year and will be held tomorrow from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Winterfest is an arts and crafts festival featuring a diverse selection of local artists and musicians who will be performing both days. Like past years, the festival also offers handcrafted merchandise to the community.
Pat Sharkey, Winterfest event coordinator, has been planning this event since its inception 18 years ago.
“It’s an excellent opportunity to shop locally and to be able to find some beautiful local handcrafts for gifts,” Sharkey said. “There’s a diverse range of options.”
In addition to coordinating the event, Sharkey is also an artist who makes and sells her own jewelry. Other featured items include stained glass, pottery, jewelry, woven products, honey, beeswax candles and leather crafts.
Some of the businesses and artists involved are Mountain High Tie-Dye, Little Voices, Earth Dance Jewelry and Emily Moonchild.
Holly Moore, one of the local artists, has her own business, Wild Rose Creations. She makes custom leather crafts and specializes in Celtic designs.
She has participated in the Winterfest three times since she found out about it from a fellow artist when she first moved to the area.
“I like the quality of the fellow artisans,” Moore said. “I feel that it draws a better crowd and it’s a small show so what is represented there is what I feel is the best of the best in the area.”
In addition to the artists selling handcrafted goods, local musicians will be performing both days and they will have CDs available for purchase.
There will also be holiday activities for children — Santa Claus is expected to be there and the studios will be open. Visitors will also be able to get information on art classes offered at the center next year. The Jax Cafe will be open as well with treats and beverages.
There are some other events happening in the Floyd area the same weekend. With so many events happening at the same time as the Winterfest there will be a lot of different activities available to the public.
“Even though it is much smaller than the other events going on in the area that weekend, I feel that you’ll get the best quality if you go there,” Moore said. “It’s really a community event and a chance for local folks to find and connect with our artisans. It’s also very friendly atmosphere.”
Winterfest is an opportunity for locals to get a head start on holiday shopping, while supporting local artists at the same time.
“I just love the sense of community this time of year,” Sharkey said. “It’s a holiday celebration.”