Thank you for visiting the Friends of Wilderness Road State Park!

   The Heritage Festival  


October 8, 2016

Celebrate Southwest Virginia's unique heritage. This festival features handmade Appalachian crafts and those who crafted them. They fill the lawn of the Karlan Mansion as bluegrass music dances in the air. New this year is the annual Wilderness Road Chili Cook-off. The always popular Children's Festival offers young ones games, bounce houses and other entertainment. The sweet smell of home cooking by vendors will tickle your taste buds and make your visit pleasurable. Admission is $10 per vehicle. Begins at 10 a.m.

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About the Heritage Festival


From its humble beginning as one of Wilderness Road State Park's first special events, to one of the area's most celebrated fall festivals, the Heritage Festival remains a staple for the Friends of Wilderness Road State Park. The Friends have sponsored the annual event each year which serves as their primary fundraiser in their effort to support the park.

Each year, the golden sounds of Bluegrass music dance on the fresh autumn air, mixing with the mouth-watering smell of old fashion food to create a unique combination that truly celebrates this area's rich heritage. Add in a touch of fall colors from the massive trees that line the lawn of the Karlan Mansion and the perfect setting for a fall festival is born.

Authentic handmade Appalachian Crafts and good ol' Bluegrass music highlight the event, taking many back in time where they can reflect on their heritage. The Children's Festival continues to be a very popular part of the Heritage Festival with activities that include inflatable bounce houses, face painting and old county fair type games and prizes.

Karlan Mansion tours are conducted at various times during the day Pictures and family stories will help tell the history of the mansion, originally known as the Ely Mansion, built by Robert Ely in 1878.

The newest addition to the Heritage Festival is the park's annual Wilderness Road Chili Cookoff championship. The first cookoff was a tremendous success with Nettie Crockett crowned the first ever champion.

During your visit, journey back to another time, another culture, another heritage. Martin's Fall Encampment at Historic Martin's Station brings the frontier to life with a weekend of history and adventure. Become immersed in living history as you meet historical figures such as Joseph Martin, John Redd and others as they gather for a festive social before the harsh winter months invade the Powell's Valley. Visit an 18th century market faire, meet skilled colonial tradesmen and participate in life as it was on Virginia's frontier.


"I have been to the park for the Candlelight Ghost Tour and the Mystery Dinner Theatre. I just love these events, I wish they could have them once a month." - Ginger Sullivan

"I have watched this park grow so much over the past 10-12 years. I really enjoy the Heritage Festival and listening to all the Bluegrass bands. And the Wilderness Road Trail is perfect for walking and riding your bicycle." - Janice Lowe

"My kids love to stop by and see the Buffalo. It's so nice to have these facilities right here in our region. The kids love the playground and the Junior Rangers program. And the Indian Ridge Trail is a great location to see some of our area's prettiest wildflowers." - Melissa Jackson