TERRE HAUTE —
Locals and visitors can depart on a virtual trail of artisans and food artisans — choosing each destination along the way.
The voyage is available as of Thursday, after the official launch of the Rivers and Roads Artisan Trail took place at the Clabber Girl Museum.
Through the efforts of the Rural Urban Entrepreneurship Development Institute (RUEDI) at Indiana State University, Clabber Girl, Wabash Valley Art Spaces and Arts Illiana, the trail aims to increase the economy in six rural counties in Indiana.
“We look to do this by entrepreneurship education, creating and growing new businesses in the area,” said Steven Pontius, RUEDI coordinator.
Artisan trail is referring to the website that lets users map out their destinations to find artisans and food artisans in the Parke, Vermillion, Putnam, Sullivan, Clay and Vigo counties.
“It can be a physical trail if you travel to each destination,” Pontius said.
To become a trail member listed on the website, people must apply and undergo either a food jury or art jury — depending on the product.
Jody O’Neil, a full-time artist working out of St. Mary of the Woods, passed the art jury and has become one of the 13 founding trail members.
She said she paints her art pieces and travels to various exhibits to display her work.
“I want to broaden my horizon to nearby artists,” she said. “I am also looking forward to the entrepreneur program through ISU to help me better understand how to market products. I’m not sure how it is going to turn out, but the rewards can be great.”
Another one of the 13 founders who faced the guidelines of the food jury is Brooke Schmidt, owner of Brooke’s Candy Co. She said she makes all natural Belgium chocolates and gluten-free brownies, which are on sale at Baesler’s Market.
“I believe getting involved with the trail helps small businesses get on the map and network with each other,” she said. “There are a lot of smaller shops and such that people aren’t aware of locally.”
Bob DeFrance, retired from ISU and a founding trail member, also hopes to help out the local economy with his 27 years of woodcarving experience.
He said he started carving after he was mesmerized by the craftsmanship at a wood carvers’ meeting.
After training with other wood carvers from around the area, he began working out of his cabin producing carvings of shore birds, fish with scales, bowls and puppets. He said being an ISU retiree resulted in his carving sycamore leaves — some even being displayed on campus and given to guest speakers at commencement.
All these and more can be found on the website, produced by anedix.
“A mobile app for both Apple and Android operating systems should be available between the next 30 to 60 days,” said Paul Cardwell, owner of anedix.
For more information or to apply to become a trail member, visit www.riversandroadstrail.com.
Reporter Dustyn Fatheree can be reached at 812-231-4255 and email@example.com