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January 23, 2013

Rivers & Roads: New trail will shine spotlight on hand-crafted art, foods

TERRE HAUTE — West Central Indiana will soon have a new tool to promote the region’s hand-crafted art and foods and boost the economy in a six-county region.

A new trail that shines the spotlight on area residents known for high quality work will result from a collaboration between Indiana Artisan and Indiana State University’s Rural-Urban Entrepreneurship Development Institute (RUEDI).

“The goal of the Rivers and Roads Artisan Trail is to make strong connections between local art and organizations, to drive economic development and promote artisans in the West Central Indiana region,” said Steven Pontius, RUEDI director.

Of the 249 Indiana Artisans whose work has been identified as among the highest quality in the state, six live and work within the trail’s six-county area: Mark Donham, Rosedale; Gretchen Kraut and Marilyn Oehler, Terre Haute; Ken Palmer, Perrysville; and Brooke Schmidt and Donna Thompson, Dana.

The trail will include the area along U.S. 40 and U.S. 41 and byways within Clay, Parke, Putnam, Sullivan, Vermillion and Vigo counties.

“These six Artisans — woodworkers, fiber artists, chocolatiers, and a jewelry maker — will benefit from the development of Rivers and Roads,” said Indiana Artisan Director Eric Freeman. “And, in return, all of the art and food establishments along the Trail will benefit from Indiana Artisan’s support and promotion of it.

“The goal of all the Artisan Trails is to help drive a market to the studios, galleries and workshops of the artisans so visitors can meet them, see their work being made and hear their stories,” he said. “That adds significant meaning to the art and the foods, and it supports Indiana’s small town and rural economies.”

Indiana Artisan provided funding for, and partners with, seven existing Artisan Trails winding through 27 Indiana counties. Rivers and Roads is the eighth to join the consortium.

Indiana’s heritage in glass, musical instruments, stoneware, woodwork, candies, brandies and more is defined through Indiana Artisan. The Indiana General Assembly passed a resolution in 2011 making it the state’s official organization to review, recognize and promote the work of Indiana’s art and food artisans.

“From the Parke County Covered Bridge Festival to the Halcyon Contemporary Art Gallery to exhibits of work by university students, West Central Indiana demonstrates strong support for the local arts community,” Pontius said.

RUEDI, Clabber Girl, Arts Illiana and Art Spaces, along with art and food artists, formed an advisory board now working to identify each county’s interest in the trail.

Rivers and Roads will feature an interactive website, illustrating the region with a functional map allowing visitors to individualize their trips and print the map from their computers.

The trail also will create a brochure to be distributed at restaurants, hotels, visitor centers and retail establishments in the region. It will include a trail map and brief descriptions of participating artisans. In addition, the Indiana State University Office of Communication and Marketing will assist in promoting Rivers and Roads and the events and artisans along it.

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