Top 7 Things to look for in Virginia's Blue Ridge for 2015

New Events, Attractions & Activities

Editor's Note: This year is full of exciting events and activities for Virginia's Blue Ridge. This vibrant area has a wealth of opportunities for travelers, and a few of the top news-worthy happenings of the year are listed here for review and consideration. More information, interviews and images for each of these items can be arranged by contacting the Public Relations department at the Roanoke Valley CVB.

No matter what visitors decide to do, every day in the Roanoke Valley in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains is filled with friendship and old-fashioned southern hospitality. Take a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Shop at the markets and boutiques in Downtown Roanoke and Salem. Hike on a trail in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Discover wildlife while kayaking on the Upper James River Water Trail. Dine at a local restaurant and enjoy fresh, local ingredients. Watch the sunset aboard a cruise at Smith Mountain Lake. All these things to do and more can be part of a Blue Ridge Day. 2015 welcomes new events, attraction and providers that make visiting Virginia's Blue Ridge even more fulfilling and fun for the whole family.

1. 150th year anniversary of the 1865 emancipation of Booker T. Washington

During the weekend of June 20, 2015, Booker T. Washington National Monument will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the 1865 emancipation of Booker T. Washington and the nearly four million people released from the bondage of slavery at the end of the Civil War. The two-day, community event will involve living history portrayals of local events that occurred in the Hales Ford, Virginia area just prior to Washington taking his first breath of freedom in the summer of 1865 when a Union officer read the Emancipation Proclamation on the front veranda of the "Big House." for more information.

2. Restoration of the Norfolk & Western Class J 611 Steam Passenger Locomotive

The Virginia Museum of Transportation is restoring the Norfolk & Western Class J 611 Steam Passenger Locomotive. Arguably the most powerful steam passenger locomotive ever built, she will once again be powered by steam in the spring of 2015 to the delight of her fans around the globe.

The 611 was built in Roanoke's East End Shops in 1950, a time when ordinary men built extraordinary machines - when sweat, dirt and the occasional blister meant that something important was accomplished that day. The 611 is beautiful and streamlined. Her bullet nose, modern lines and graceful curves combined with unbridled power to make her an American railroad icon. She's a masterpiece of engineering, design and technology. She could also go 110 miles per hour, hauling a 15 car train. Remarkable for any locomotive - even today.

Since the 611 was retired from excursion service in 1994, people around the world have clamored to see her restored to operate under her own steam power once again. That time is now - the 611 is undergoing its long-awaited restoration at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, North Carolina. This spring, the 611 will steam home to Roanoke, Virginia. for more information.

3. DIY Network's "Salvage Dawgs" continues for fourth season

Season 3 of the DIY Network's "Salvage Dawgs," featuring Roanoke's Black Dog Salvage, launched in October 2014 with episodes for Season 4 currently in production for 2015. for more information.

4. New Outfitter brings the Outdoors to everyone

Roanoke Mountain Adventures is a full service outfitter offering guided and self-guided outdoor adventures for mountain biking, road cycling, hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding, and birding. Surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, National Forests and scenic rivers, the greater Roanoke area offers world-class outdoor recreation opportunities for all ages and abilities. RMA's experienced team has a passion for the outdoors and will offer guided trips, rentals and shuttles for groups, beginning in early spring 2015. for more information.

5. Roanoke River Greenway connects to Civil War Trail

A new bridge has been completed connecting the Hanging Rock north parking lot to the rest of the Hanging Rock Battlefield Trail. This is the only Civil War Trail in the Roanoke Valley ( for more information), commemorating "Hunter's Raid" of 1864, which took place where Peter's Creek empties into the Roanoke River. It was an important prelude to the Battle of Hanging Rock, a Confederate victory. Union General David Hunter was driven to retreat by the Confederate forces. for more information.

6. New Event Venue gears up for full 2015 calendar

In 2015 Sponsor Hounds will create and manage River Stage @ The Bridges, a new events venue in Downtown Roanoke. The 2.3-acre site, located inside the $100 million mixed-use Bridges development will include space for customized events from 500 to 8,000 people, a stage for music and riverfront access set in a historic district.

Sponsor Hounds has created and managed some of Roanoke's most successful events, including Blue Ridge Bike Fest, Roanoke Wing Fest, Woofstock Dog Festival and Cinco de Mayo Festival. Some of the company's most successful events, like the Blue Ridge Bike Fest, will continue to be held at the larger Berglund Center. Others, including Roanoke Wing Fest and Woofstock Dog Festival, will move to the new space in summer 2015 along with new events created specifically for the site. This venue provides amenities not found at existing sites, including a stage large enough for national acts, open space, riverfront access, and the ability to incorporate historic buildings into events and activities. for more information.

7. Virginia's Blue Ridge Beerway "Explore-a-Pour"

The Roanoke Valley in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains is quickly developing into a popular location for craft breweries. The plentiful supply of top-quality water combined with the beautiful landscape and unique culture that exists in the region makes Virginia's Blue Ridge a natural choice for many beer companies. Local breweries have joined together to collectively promote this emerging industry by creating the new Virginia's Blue Ridge Beerway. This self-guided loop tour includes eight local breweries and is the perfect way to experience the flavors of Virginia's Blue Ridge and meet the people who are bringing these great beers to life. for more information.

Come discover what makes Virginia's Blue Ridge the perfect getaway. For more information about Virginia's Blue Ridge, visit, call (800) 635-5535 or stop by the Roanoke Valley Visitor Information Center, conveniently located in Downtown Roanoke.

For further information and to request interviews or images, contact:

Catherine Fox, Director of Public Relations & Tourism
Roanoke Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau
101 Shenandoah Ave., NE, Roanoke VA 24016
540-342-6025, ext. 114 (phone)