The greening season is celebrated in a myriad ways around the Blue Ridge Highlands, from the wearing off the green during Roanoke’s huge St. Patrick’s Day celebration, ramping up to the Whitetop Ramps Festival in Grayson County, and rolling on into fiddling, kite, beer, and garden festivals, as well as dramatic battle re-enactments. Check out spring in the Highlands.
Jefferson St. at Campbell Ave., Roanoke
Each year more than 2,500 marchers plus at least 10,000 spectators gather to make this one of the largest St. Pat’s celebrations in the mid-Atlantic region. Marching corps of kilted bagpipe and drum musicians and major Irish bands are joined by Harley Davidson motorcycles, llamas, Irish dancers, clowns, and a multitude of other fun-loving parade participants. Irish and Scottish food, regional crafters, children’s activities, and concerts highlight this major downtown event.
Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, I-81, Exit 14, Abingdon
For 16 years running, this has been one of the most extensive garden shows in the Southeast, featuring thousands of plant varieties and the latest garden accessories. Inspiring speakers share information on topics such as vertical gardening and wildlife, while children can engage in fun, educational activities at the Children’s Corner. The Tea Garden serves delicious fare from some of Abingdon’s favorite caterers.
Green Hill Park, Salem
Enjoy a day of outdoor family fun with free admission, free parking, and free kites while supplies last. All day long the Richmond Air Force Kite Club will demonstrate kite flying tricks and display their professionally choreographed routines. Food and crafts for sale. 540-387-0267
Rockwood Manor, Route 100, Dublin
The grounds of beautiful Rockwood Manor bed & breakfast become a Civil War encampment, as about 100 re-enactors replay this brutal and little-known 1864 battle that pitted local citizens and Confederate troops against Union troops directed by two future U.S. presidents. It resulting in a Union victory that allowed Yankee forces to destroy the last railroad connecting Tennessee to Virginia, but each year there are mutterings among the re-enactor troops that this time the South may rise again.
Mountain Lake Hotel, Giles County
Old-time and bluegrass music played as it was meant to be heard, in a barn on top of a mountain, with home-made microbrew flowing all around. 540-626-7121; http://mtnlakeconservancy.org
Konnarock Community Center
Outdoor lovers’ heaven on Virginia’s highest mountain – this rally offers a wide variety of field trips with experts who make ecology understandable and interesting for everyone. Wetlands, mountaintops, birds, medicinal wild plants, flowers, fly fishing, and sketching – there’s something for everyone. The fee is $5! Register online or at the event. www.mountrogersnaturalistrally.org
More than 1,000 Appalachian Trail thru-hikers feast, dance, and parade through town as onlookers ambush them with squirt guns. The annual festival also includes band music, crafts, a fishing derby, a talent show, gear demos, camping, and endurance-hiking celebrities.
Mount Rogers Fire Hall, US Route 58, Whitetop
Ramps are a strongly-flavored wild onion used as a Southern Appalachian spring tonic. On Whitetop, ramps season is celebrated with great old-time music, crafts, games, mountain dancing, a ramp eating contest, and barbecued chicken made lively with ramps. http://www.graysoncountyva.com; 276-236-2184
Hills of Home Park, Coeburn
Bluegrass music played by legendary performer, that’s what you’ll find in Coeburn Memorial Day Weekend. Of course Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys will be there, with guests including Rhonda Vincent & the Rage, Larry Sparks & the Lonesome Ramblers, and the Bluegrass Mountaineers. Camping, food, and crafts. This is one of the best music festivals in Virginia. www.drralphstanleyfestival.com
Demonstrations reflecting the day-to-day life in a colonial trading camp are the main fare here. Mountain men and women camp on the Crab Orchard Museum grounds to demonstration of open-fire cookery, black power riflery, hide tanning, archery, tomahawk and knife use, beadwork, old time music, dancing, games, blacksmithing, and more. (276) 988-6755 or firstname.lastname@example.org.