The Motown Sound
June 25 – August 20, 2020
Wohlfahrt Haus Dinner Theatre presents “The Motown Sound”
Enjoy your favorite memories of Motown as you re-live what Berry Gordy coined “the sound of young America” and made a city come alive.
888-950-3382 / 276-223-0891
Looking Back and Bouncing Back in Wytheville
Its “Summer Without Children” Helped Shape this Resilient Town
by Colette Boehm, Laurie Rowe Communications
Wytheville, VA, April 2020 – As people around the world began to face the harsh realities of coping with the threats and the limitations of a pandemic, the residents of Wytheville, Virginia needed only to look to their history for direction.
This town has always been a natural tourist destination. In the early 20th century, as northerners found their way to Florida and Interstate travel blossomed, Wytheville became a convenient stopping point for travelers. Early on, as is still true now, Wytheville offered the convenience of good food and lodging for long distance travelers along the Great Lakes to Florida Highway. Midway between Bristol and Roanoke, it was a popular stop for regional travelers, as well.
In the summer of 1950 things changed drastically. That’s when Wythe County Virginia came to be considered ground zero for a polio outbreak that spread across the country. Here, rates of infection were dramatically higher than the rest of the nation, as was the death rate among those infected. Along with the illness, fear spread among the 5,500-resident population of Wytheville, as well.
At the center of the most concentrated number of polio cases, plaguing children of every age, race and social status, Wytheville began the 50’s version of social distancing. Children were kept inside, resulting in stories of the “summer without children.” Stores and theatres were closed and church services were cancelled, as residents were afraid to venture out. And as the news of Wytheville’s fate spread beyond its borders, so did the fear. Visitors stopped coming. Billboards were posted on the busy highways, reminding travelers “If you do not stop with us this trip, we invite you to visit us on your next vacation.”
Today, the details of this dire season of Wytheville’s history, along with much more about this one-of-a-kind town, can be explored at the Thomas J. Boyd Museum (295 Tazewell Street, Wytheville, VA 24382). The Great Lakes to Florida Highway Museum (975 Tazewell Street, Wytheville, VA 24382) also offers a look back at that era when Route 21, known as the Great Lakes to Florida Highway, was the primary route to Florida from the Midwest.
While the 1950 outbreak didn’t begin to lessen until fall, the people of Wytheville persevered and, when it was safe to resume their normal lives, the town and its businesses thrived. Seventy years later, Wytheville’s resolve is strong now, just as it was in 1950. And as travelers yearn to get out and experience authentic destinations, this town, with its proven staying power, will welcome them. It stands ready again to invite travelers to “visit us on your next vacation.” From its eclectic downtown business district to its collection of popular attractions, this exciting destination has more reasons than ever for visitors to stop and enjoy the one and only Wytheville.
IF YOU GO
There is only one Wytheville. In addition to its unique history, this Virginia destination is also known for its one-of-a-kind attractions and wide-open spaces. Hiking and biking trails and New River Water Trails offer easy access to exceptional scenic beauty and outdoor fun. In addition, there is an entire slate of homegrown attractions that can only be found in Wytheville.
There’s only one Wytheville. It’s true, no other town in the world shares this name. But with one visit, guests discover that its name is not the only thing making this destination special. Situated at the crossroads of two major Interstates (I-77 and I-81) this is so much more than a stopover location. With a classic downtown chock-full of gems, Wytheville offers unique lodging, dining and entertainment options. Nearby, there are trails for hikers and cyclists as well as for those who love birding and byways. Add a bundle of homegrown attractions, and you’ve got a must-see destination in Wytheville. There’s only one!
Top 10 ways to have fun and stay healthy while socially distancing in #VisitWytheville
As we all navigate uncharted territory and simultaneously try to maintain a sense of normalcy, we hope this list of activities will assist in your planning while also helping to keep you and your family healthy.
1. GET OUTSIDE
There’s no better way to stay the recommended six feet away from one another than in the great outdoors. Crystal Springs Recreation Area, located on 1,800 acres of town-owned property offers miles of trails for every skill level and length. Take a leisurely walk along the Salamander Meander trail or test your endurance on the seven mile Boundary trail.
723 Pump Hollow Lane, Wytheville, VA 24382
2. WALK AND LEARN
Wytheville’s Historic Walking Tour is a self-guided journey through Wytheville’s past. Choose from seven different loops as you take a building-by-building tour that includes interesting stories of a bustling town along the Great Road to the Western Frontier as well as two tragic fires, the birthplace of a first lady, the early beginnings in 1790 and the impact the polio epidemic of 1950 had on the town. You can download your copy at https://www.visitwytheville.com/brochures/
3. HIT THE VIRTUAL GYM
While the Wytheville Community Center is currently closed the staff of Wytheville Parks and Recreation will be bringing you online workouts throughout the day via their Facebook page. Workouts include Yoga Flow, Barre, Cardio and more. The workout lineup is listed on their Facebook page each morning Monday through Friday. https://www.facebook.com/wythevilleparksrec
4. MAKE MEMORIES
Normal daily routines don’t often allow for quality family time. Find the Silver lining during this unstable time by taking advantage of the built-in time together with your loved ones. Limit screen time and instead play board and card games, plan at home movie nights, start planning your next family adventure and create memories that will not be soon forgotten simply by spending time together as a family.
5. SUPPORT SMALL BUSINESSES
Local small businesses will be the hardest hit during this time of uncertainty. One bad month can mean the difference in being able to stay open or being forced to close their doors for good. What can you do? Start your Christmas shopping early this year and purchase gift cards from small local businesses and have them mailed to you. Any card or certificate purchased now helps small business owners continue to pay employees as well as cover daily operational costs. Then when things get back to normal you’ll either have a head start on Christmas gifts or be able to take your significant other for a night on the town. Clothing, home decor, jewelry, antiques, wine/beer, hair/nail/spa appointments and theatre tickets all make great gifts that don’t expire.
6. HEAD TO THE FISHIN’ HOLE
Rural Retreat Lake is beautiful during Springtime and what better way is there to socially distance than floating in a boat in the middle of the lake. This 90-acre lake is home to Muskellunge (Musky), Largemouth Bass, Hybrid Striped Bass, Northern Pike, Sunfish, Channel Catfish, and Crappy. The lake has a boat ramp, ample shoreline fishing and is open 24-hours a day, year round. You will need a valid fishing license which you can obtain online by visiting https://gooutdoorsvirginia.com/
7. STUDENTS PAINT THE TOWN
Take a stroll through beautiful downtown Wytheville and enjoy artwork by Wythe County students on display at multiple businesses. The Paint the Town initiative is a combined effort of the Wythe Arts Council, Wythe County Public Schools and Downtown Wytheville Inc. Artwork is displayed in windows and can be viewed from the street. Participating businesses include Open Door Café, Wytheville Farmers market, Crepe House & Creamery, Moon Dog Brick Oven, Wytheville Fire Department, Risk Solutions, Paper Clip, Lester Insurance, Shanaki Karate and 7 Dogs Brewpub.
8. FEED YOUR CRAVING
Just because you can’t dine in at your favorite local restaurant doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your fave go-to meal. All of Wytheville’s locally owned restaurants are offering curbside pick up for to go orders. These independent and locally owned businesses will not survive without your support. Continue ordering and enjoying our local flavor only now, in the comfort of your own home. #togetherwearebetter
9. KIDS IN PARKS
If cabin fever is starting to set in, the Kids in Parks program offers an expanding network of family-friendly outdoor adventures called TRACK Trails. Each TRACK Trail features self-guided brochures and signs that turn your visit into a fun and exciting outdoors experience. Best of all, you can earn PRIZES for tracking your adventures! Crystal Springs Recreation Area is a participating park and it is OK for kids and families to be outdoors in a park to get exercise, fresh air, and to release some of the stresses associated with the current challenges. TRACK Trails can still be a great way to allow them to do that. Find more information at https://www.kidsinparks.com/
10. BE KIND
“Kindness is more contagious than any sickness. Spread kindness to those around you, and if you’re able, lend a hand to those in need by offering to deliver groceries, prescriptions or assist as needed.” – Tupelo CVB
Please continue to show kindness to anyone you encounter whether it’s the check out line, a delivery person, a healthcare worker or a public safety officer. Everyone is experiencing stress due to the unknown at this time but remember – we’re all in this together and Together we are Better.