There are ninety-six present and past members of The Over the Mountain Studio Tour, and we are the oldest tour in West Virginia, although not the only one for sure.
Maryland’s Valley Tour is older. Early on they were kind enough to help our founders. We would not be here without the help and support of the community around us. Sharon Wyatt, sheep and wool, founded the group and met with Anne Bowers, who named the tour, and they asked Ren and Pam Parziale, established potters in the county and state, to join them.
The visitor’s centers in Shepherdstown, Charles Town, and Harpers Ferry promote the tour by telling visitors about it when they drop in. The restaurants help out by displaying a table tent or brochures and posters. Retail stores and libraries allow us room for displays in their windows and cases. Dickinson and Wait in Shepherdstown comes to mind and the Charles Town Public Library, and South Jefferson library.
We have had a number of printers through the years, but for most of the 30 years Progressive Printing in Martinsburg has worked with us. The newspapers, the photographers, the magazines and advertisers contribute. Without them, where would we be? There is social media, and word of mouth, artists who share and learn with us, and kids who surprise us with their talent.
And then there are the customers, and their guests, and the guests of the hotels and B&B’s. Theatre goers, and those who spend the week-end from D.C. and the hinterlands who want to spend time in our pretty county to visit the tour sites. Our families and friends come too. They follow the back roads, circling the county on a sojourn, looking for those red and white signs, following the map or that GPS to find their way.
We would not be here without the helpers, the packers, and well-wishers, or the admirers and the critics, the enthusiastic and the curious.
As I count out those ninety-six names to display at our 30 year celebration reception this Friday, July 12, from 5-7pm, in the War Memorial Building, Shepherdstown, I see some of the members are still in the area, some still create, some have retired, moved away, and, sadly some have passed on.
We look forward to seeing some of those past members Friday night. Our helpers, patrons and supporters will be there too. Why don’t you come! We want to show how grateful we are that we have had this experience. We all made it happen, the reason for studios, for making and toiling. For each other we support the objects that were made by hand, by and for a neighbor and friend. It’s a beautiful thing.