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Jan 10

Floyd, Virginia: Where Hippies, Farmers, and Business Owners Meet

The logo of the Oddfellas Cantina sums up the town of Floyd, VA. Drawn in the style of Grant Wood’s painting American Gothic, the logos’ graphic shows three men standing side by side: a farmer wearing bib overalls, holding a hoe; a Jerry Garcia lookalike, and a businessman in a suit sporting a bowler hat. Co-existing quite happily in Floyd are the farmers that have worked the land for generations, the hippies that started to arrive in the ’60’s, and the businessmen that keep the Floyd economy buzzing. Retail shops in Floyd seem to cater to all three cultural cohorts: there is a Hardware & Farm store, a mix of real estate companies and banks, a natural foods store, books stores, coffee shops, and enough clothing stores selling tie-dyes to outfit a hippie army.

If you’re looking for a down-home, foot-stompin’, deep-breathin’ break from city life, nothing beats Floyd, Virginia.

Floyd has a resident population of only about 500 people. There is one traffic light in the center of town (the only traffic light in the county, I might add). Nevertheless, Floyd has become a de-facto mountain cultural center. Annually, it hosts the Floydfest World Music Festival, the Floyd Fandango Beer & Wine Festival, and the Floyd County Arts & Crafts Festival. There are regular music and cultural events at Floyd’s two wineries, and weekly events at the Sun Music Hall and the Floyd Country Store.

Whenever we have house guests, we go to Oddfellas for dinner. I’ve never been disappointed by a meal at Oddfellas, and I’m a food snob. The restaurants décor is eclectic: the furniture, artwork, and tableware are all “mix & match”. The chef describes the cuisine as “Appalachian Latino”, and the food is absolutely wonderful. Oddfellas live music will vary from Irish to Old time to Jazz.

One warm Friday night, Jill and I and our houseguests ate dinner at Oddfellas, and then spent several hours wandering through the shops and streets of Floyd. On Friday nights when the weather is warm, Floyd is filled with bluegrass musicians jamming on the street corners. If you stand at the corner of Main & Locust, you can hear banjos & fiddles coming at you from several directions.

The center of all this bluegrass activity is the Floyd Country Store, where the Friday Night Jamboree attracts bluegrass musicians from several states. We went into the store and browsed their collection of bluegrass cd’s, while listening to the performers onstage and watching the dancers “flatfoot it” on the dance floor.

Our guests from Los Angeles were experiencing culture shock, and I found that amusing. Between the bluegrass music, the mountain roads, and my pickup truck, they wondered aloud if I hadn’t been a closet hillbilly all my life. What they didn’t realize was that here in Floyd, we all get along just fine, no matter where we came from.