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All About Tamarack

Driving on I-77/I-64 near Beckley (between the Harper Rd. exit and the Rt. 19 exchange) you will see a large, intriguing, spired roof line peeking out from the hillside above the travel plaza. This round, red-roofed building is Tamarack, one of the greatest showcases of West Virginia anywhere in the state.

Tamarack at Night

If you’ve been to Tamarack you know how much West Virginia culture this building houses. And if you haven’t been there, add it to your list of must-sees. From the display of local artisans wares to the theater, conference center, and food court serving up southern cuisine, Tamarack has something for everyone.

Here’s a quick look at what Tamarack is about and why you should visit on your next trip to southern West Virginia.

Shopping

If you are one of those people who likes to give unique, one of a kind gifts while supporting local artisans, Tamarack is your place to shop. You can actually watch some of the artists work in on-site studios.

Pretty in Pink

Tamarack has thousands of handmade crafts, specialty foods, and artwork. Hand carved wooden bowls, unique pottery and ceramics, soft goods, and hand blown glass vases and art are just some of the WV made items you’ll find at Tamarack. It also has a book store with lots of local and regional authors’ works available.
Entertainment

The Governor Hulett C. Smith Theater, located within Tamarack, is a great spot to enjoy all kinds of live entertainment. Every Sunday Tamarack offers a free Sundays@Two series, featuring performances from many local musician and actors. There’s also a great line up of plays, films, and music performed throughout the year.

Tamarack hosts a dinner theater several times over the course of the year. A gourmet meal prepared by Tamarack’s culinary staff precedes each locally produced and performed show.  The theater schedule and menus can be viewed on Tamarack’s website.

Food

In addition to the many specialty food items you can purchase in the shopping areas, Tamarack has a wonderful food court.  The court is hosted by the Greenbrier, a WV tradition. Serving full breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus, Tamarack chefs focus on using locally grown food in their meals.

Tamarack also has a well trained catering staff to handle in-house events. The on-site conference center makes Tamarack ideal for weddings, business meetings, conferences and many other functions.

Other Features

Tamarack’s David L. Dickirson Gallery represents over 500 juried WV artists and rotates exhibits every 6 to 8 weeks. The gallery gives both established and emerging artists a great place to display their work to thousands of people daily.

You can also find wonderful coffee at the Greenbrier Shoppe.  Talk to Tamarack’s visitor specialists on local attractions, dining, and shopping.  And be sure to stop in at Tamarack’s West Virginia Music Hall of Fame display, just outside of the Theater.

Tamarack showcases WV made products and its cultural traditions and heritage. Have you visited yet?

Christmas Gifts, Where Art Thou

Christmas season is here, and the yearly dilemma of gift buying is upon us again. Inevitably, there’s

WV Made Gifts @ Tamarack

someone on your list that has everything.  Where can you find a unique, creative, one-of-a-kind gift?  The answer to that problem may just lie in the hands of our local artisans.

Southern WV is home to many fine craftsmen and women.  Instead of settling for a zebra print Snuggie, or a Shamwow, try visiting one of the many local art galleries to find handcrafted gifts that show you care.  Bonus: you’ll be shopping local.

Here’s a list of some of the galleries and their locations in case you want to check out what they have to offer.

Tamarack

Probably the best known of all the local shops, Tamarack houses a great many artisans under one roof. Whether its pottery, hand carved bowls, hand blown glass, jewelry or any of a number of other items, Tamarack is THE place for WV goods.  With 59,000 square feet of crafts and studios for the resident artisans, it is conceivable to spend a couple hours there and not see everything. Located right of I-77/64 in Beckley, it is conveniently located for much of southern West Virginia.
Riffraff Arts Collective

Located in downtown Princeton, this gallery and performance center houses two live performance venues, a recording studio, 6 artist studios, a music school, and a fine gallery.  The gallery houses works from local and regional artists and includes paintings, photography, pottery and stained and blown glass. Located on the corner of Ninth and Mercer Streets, the Riffraff Arts Collective is part of a rejuvenation of downtown Princeton.
Harmony Ridge Gallery

Located on West Washington Street in Lewisburg, this gallery’s mission is to bring handmade arts and crafts into daily life. Offering handcrafted works from artists all over the United States, Harmony Ridge Gallery focuses on providing an outlet for artists to share their wares with the public. Specializing in art for life, the gallery has items like handcrafted clocks, garden art, furniture, lighting and jewelry.

So many others . . . .

And depending on where you are in southern WV, chances are good that there is a great little gallery or studio somewhere very close to you. Check out our website to learn about more local shopping.

Where are you shopping this holiday season?

20 Reasons Why Tamarack Really IS The Best Of West Virginia

Anyone who’s driven through southern West Virginia has seen it.  That red roofed round-about building that kind of looks like a landing spot for when the mother ship comes to down to get us.

Or maybe it’s a crown.  Or a flower.

Tamarack at Night

Actually, when viewed from above, the Tamarack building itself is a structured representation of its own logo, a geometric design within an invisible quilt square. It’s a beautiful work in and of itself. Inside the building, though, is what really matters.

Here are 20 reasons why Tamarack is always worth a visit:

1.    Tamarack houses art from all 55 counties in West Virginia.
2.    The Greenbrier Resort runs the kitchen, which means you’re walking in to pretty much the greatest cafeteria that’s ever existed.
3.    There are artisan made foods, candy, jellies, and sauces from all around the state.
4.    There is an information desk to answer questions right as you walk in (brilliant!)
5.    There’s live music, for free, almost every week.
6.    Kids like the small playground on the south side of the building (where they can’t break anything).
7.    Music from all over the Mountain State is for sale.
8.    Also, handmade instruments of all kinds are for sale.
9.    They have a ton of books written by, for, and about West Virginians.
10.     There’s a pretty good selection of out-of-the-ordinary WVU and Marshal items.
11.     Tamarack has a large and extensive gallery of fine art, if that’s your thing, if it’s not,  after visiting the gallery it will be.
12.     The glass objects section is easy to spend money in.
13.     You’ll see some of the most amazing woodwork of your life.
14.     Toys have their own section; all of them are handcrafted.
15.     If you find the perfect WV keepsake and can’t take it with you – they’ll ship it to you.
16.     The conference space is beautiful & well equipped, large enough to host nearly any event.
17.     The theater screens movies and slideshows from around the state.
18.     It’s the perfect (only?) place for eating ice cream while looking at art.
19.     It’s round, so once you look at everything, you’re back where you started.
20.     It’s a showcase of the art, music, dance, flavor, tradition, and pride that makes West Virginia wonderful.

The 15 Most Romantic Things About Southern West Virginia

Well, there’s almost no end to the romance when it comes to our particular spot here in the heart (get it?) of the Appalachians.

Scenic Winter View of the New River Gorge

Here’s a list of 15 things that are sure to get your baby to cuddle right up and give you a smooch.  If you’re lucky.

  • Cabin Getaways. A log on the fire, no phone, and no distractions.
  • Scenic Drives.  Driving slow up a winding road, with no particular place to go.
  • A Walk In The Woods. You have to bundle up, but oh-so-nice.
  • The Spa Treatment. You know it can’t last forever, but you can enjoy it while it does.
  • Historic HousesBed and Breakfasts offer those perfect romantic mini-vacations.
  • Casino Nights. Invite a little luck into your night out and win big.
  • Art and More. West Virginia is a showcase for art, and gallery openings can be as romantic as it gets.
  • Scenic Overlooks. With as many mountains as we have, it’s not hard to find the perfect spot.
  • Romantic AdventuresSkiing and snowboarding and tubing are a great way to find a little active romance.
  • Shopping Sprees. You don’t have to spend every dime to find that     perfect something special together.
  • Libraries.  No joke.  It’s a little known fact that bookworms are some of the most passionate Mountaineers.
  • Sports.  Between the Mountaineers, the Herd, and the West Virginia Blazers, it’s not hard to find a dinner-and-b-ball date to take a date.
  • Winter Camping. It’s not for everyone, but couples who camp in the winter have the outdoors to themselves, and, of course, you do have to keep warm.
  • Live Music.  West Virginia’s live music scene is small but vibrant, great for a date.
  • Moving.  One of the most passionate things anyone will ever do is move to southern West Virginia.   We call it wild and wonderful for a reason, and it’s a great place to share for a lifetime.  What’s more romantic than that?

Last Minute West Virginia Gifts

We know that a lot of you have waited until the last minute to grab those stocking stuffers and little gifts for Christmas this year.

Southern WV Gift Certificate Tree for the United Way

Southern WV Gift Certificate Tree for the United Way

Here’s a list of 20 great last minute ideas…

-Beautiful, inspired pottery from Guided Clay in the Oak Hill area.  Potter Andy Pense is a true master.

-Tickets for a show at the incredible, must-be-seen-to-be-believed Chuck Mathena Center in Princeton. All kinds of national touring musicians and plays come to the center, and it’s a great way to get out and enjoy some WV culture.

-Unique, delicious “coal cookies” from the salsa masters at Blue Smoke Salsa in Ansted (not to mention all the other great tasting stuff there, as well as arts and crafts)

-Handmade jewelry and hard to find fashion, as well as gourmet coffee and great whole deserts to go at Cathedral Café in Fayetteville.

-Local wine from local vineyards at Daniel Vineyards, right in Crab Orchard. A couple bottles from Daniel is enough to make any holiday party just a little more festive.

-Christmas plants, flowers and gifts from Bessie’s Floral Designs in Oak Hill. The flowers here are the real draw, with some amazing Christmas arrangements.

-Holiday books, art, and coffee from Taylor Books in Charleston. We’re going to go ahead and say that it’s southern WV because it’s such a cool place.

-Spirits for the spirit of Christmas at the Isaiah Morgan Distillery just outside of Summersville. This is WV’s first mini distillery, and is home to some unique and fiery gifts

-Tickets for a show at the amazing Carnegie Hall in Lewisburg. The hall is a great way to spend an evening in one of the best mountain towns in West Virginia.

-Amazing handmade pottery north of the New River Gorge Bridge at Gauley River Pottery. Artist Mary Bethune has a signature style that’s attractive and fun.

-A relaxing stay in one of southern WV’s cozy, luxurious cabins. Being Christmas, it’s hard to go wrong with a little break from the outside world.

-Award winning wines, right off the vines outside of Lewisburg from Watt’s Roost Vineyard. If there’s a perfect gift for the holidays, a bottle of wine from Watt’s Roost might just be it

-And of course, the best of West Virginia is all at The Tamarack. Everyone knows about the arts and crafts there, but there are great foodie gifts there, too. Some of those jams and preserves are not to be missed, especially during the holidays.

A Southern West Virginia Night-Before-Christmas

‘Twas the night before Christmas in southern WV
And all through the mountains, folks snoozed peacefully

Appalachian Coaltown Christmas

Appalachian Coaltown Christmas

The wood smoke rose up from the hollers in puffs
And old dogs everywhere sat back on their duffs

There was silence in Hinton, no trains rumbling by
No lights to blur out all the stars in the sky

It was peaceful and quiet along the Greenbrier
The picturesque river valley in winter attire

And from over along the Hatfield-McCoy Trail
There were no ATVs, just sleeping whitetails

Even in Beckley, the south’s biggest town
The streets were all hushed; there was no one around

When from over the treetops, what did appear?
It was Santa’s  sleigh, come to spread Christmas cheer

Santa said, “Here I am!  Hello, West Virginia!
I’m always my happiest when travellin’ within ya!”

“I’ve come far and wide, up holler and ridge
And I just flew right under the New River Gorge Bridge!”

And people came out of their cabins to see
The great jolly man who was shouting with glee.

“I brought you all presents,” he said to great cheers.
“I want to thank all of you good Mountaineers!”

“I have art from Lewisburg, and crafts from the Gauley,
Gift Certificates that everyone in the family will love, prob’ly!”

Cabins to rent, golf to be played,
Stays in places you’ll want to have stayed!”

“The world’s greatest adventure vacations, I’m crafting,
and did I mention last summer I went whitewater rafting?”

Then he waved to all the good people down low
Who were looking up skyward from their warm winter homes

And he jingled his sled toward the full moon so bright,
“Merry Christmas to Y’all, and to y’all, a good night!”

6 Places to Find Great Art in Southern West Virginia

Everyone likes to do a little shopping on vacation.  Here are some places that you will definitely be able to find great art on your visit to southern West Virginia:

Lewisburg
Your list of cool places to stop needs to include Greenbrier CountyLewisburg’s historic downtown is a fun place to walk around, and there are shops everywhere.  Harmony Ridge Gallery is just one of the great places to stop, shop and  grab a cup of coffee to invigorate you for,  you guessed it, more shopping.  The artisan community is shockingly vibrant in Lewisburg, especially the performing arts.  Head to Lewisburg for live music, plays, and festivals (as well as the shops).


Bluefield

Right along our southern border (Mercer County) is a house, full of art, conceived by Gary Bowling.  That’s why it’s called Gary Bowling’s House Of Art.  It’s a space that has to be seen to be believed, with what seems like room after room after curious room of art, fine and folk, local and yokel.  If you’re planning a trip on the Coal Heritage Trail, start at the House Of Art.

Princeton
Just up the road from Bluefield is the town of Princeton.  The art culture there is all over, including a unique space created by the Riff Raff Arts Collective.  In a beautifully restored downtown building, Riff Raff has a gallery, a school, and a performance space, all stacked up on top of one another.  And, hopefully, you’ll get to check out something at the brand new Chuck Mathena Center for the Performing Arts while you’re there.  If you’re in Princeton, spend some time, explore, and celebrate the arts.

Beckley
Right in the center of our little map is Beckley (Raleigh County), which is where you’ll find Tamarack.  This amazing circular building holds great works from West Virginia artists.  Since the building is round, you can make a trip around it and just go ahead and make another one; it’s worth it.  Tamarack’s tagline is “The Best of West Virginia”- they live up to it.  Pottery, instruments, stained glass, woodworking, blacksmithing… and that’s just what they make on site.  Don’t miss it.

Fayetteville
Throughout Fayetteville (Fayette County), you’re going to find little stuff here and there to pick up in the historic downtown area.  Be sure to go in Studio B Gallery and check out what folks from around the area have done with their inspiration.  Other spots to hit would be Trillium Crafts, Wisteria’s, and Upstairs At The Cathedral.  If you’re lucky enough to be in town for a production at the Historic Fayette Theatre, make a point to go- you won’t be disappointed.

Everywhere Else
You’ll find great art all over southern WV- we promise.  Just drive around and stick your head into places like Gauley River Pottery or  Quilts and More.  There’s not much more satisfying than finding that one, hidden, perfect thing that you knew you wanted but never knew existed.  That stuff?  It’s all over the place down here.

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