The Virginia Artisan Trail is a new initiative that strengthens rural communities. By creating a trail of art-related venues, communities can leverage their creative economy, network business professionals together, and foster small business growth throughout the Commonwealth. Artisan, agriculture, and aquaculture businesses and entrepreneurs join together to create a cultural experience unique to rural regions in Virginia in order to increase tourism and promote economic development. There are a total of 32 Artisan Trails and the newest trail has opened up on the Middle Peninsula covering the counties of Gloucester, Essex, Middlesex and Mathews (GEMM).
River to Bay Artisan Trail
The newest trail is called “River to Bay” Artisan Trail and it is calling all adventurers, nature lovers, artists, boaters, watermen and beach-goers! This trail was officially inaugurated on July 31st, 2018 with over 100 attendees. 97 sites are featured on the River to Bay Artisan Trail, which means there are a variety of places to visit such as: artisan studios, art venues, artisan farms, restaurants, lodging, points of interest, tourism, rivers and beaches. Mathews County is part of this diverse trail giving you plenty to do on your next trip to town.
The Trail in Mathews County
Despite being the second smallest county in Virginia, Mathews offers a variety of places to visit, many recreational activities to do, delicious food to try, and rich history that wants you coming back for more. There are 30 sites in Mathews County alone, and most of those are comprised of artisan studios and venues. The Poddery, for example, is Mathews’ largest pottery showroom where owners Robert & Karen Podd make homemade pottery out of their property in Foster, in western Mathews. Their unique pottery features themes of the Chesapeake Bay including wildlife and aquatic life. The Bay School Community Arts Center is also featured on the trail as one of the region’s best art venues. Local artists feature their creative work for the public eye and kids and adults attend workshops to learn a variety of skills. Stop by for a painting, looming, or weaving class and learn more about the Bay School. Another hidden gem is the Put-in-Creek Carvings studio. This is Mathews’ most eclectic art gallery that offers a little bit of everything from jewelry, folk and fine art, post cards, to artifacts. Find more Mathews galleries here.
The trail success equates to Mathews success. I see potential for more small businesses to join, creating more jobs and more reason for young families and professionals to choose to stay here, be creative and work here. This type of economic development is exactly the type that fits Mathews’ plan for the future.” Amy Dubois, Member, Mathews County Board of Supervisors
Mathews also includes 6 artisan farms and 2 restaurants on the trail. The Mathews Farmers Market is a cultural experience where local farmers join together on Saturdays to display assortment of fruits and vegetables. You will feel right at home also shopping the baked goods and artisan craft. Some Saturdays you can browse the market while enjoying blue grass music on the historic court green. Hole in the Wall Waterfront Grill is a brand new restaurant that just opened in July and is located on Gwynn’s Island. Hole in the Wall serves delicious seafood for dinner including fresh oysters on the half-shell from the East River across town. Check out more restaurants in town.
When booking your River to Bay tour in Mathews, stay the weekend at the relaxing waterfront bed and breakfast, Inn at Tabbs Creek, or the new Callis House Inn right in our quaint downtown. Book in advance to attend the Mathews Market Days Festival, a yearly two-day event where hundreds of booths fill historic Mathews with food, artisan crafts, jewelry, and art for the public. Thousands of visitors come from near and far for this annual event and also to attend the waterfront party at Williams Wharf with live music and cold drinks on the East River!
The Mathews County Visitor & Information Center (MCVIC) is in the charming ol’ Sibley’s General Store in the heart of downtown Mathews and features artwork from over 100 local artisans. Find out more information about our local beaches, rivers, restaurants, and history, and check out the little museum that shows the history of Mathews and the Chesapeake Bay. Browse for some merchandise including: T-shirts, artwork, books, honey, soap, and koozies. Visit MCVIC for full brochure of artisan trail sites on the Middle Peninsula.
The Mathews Trail
Bentwaters Farm Inc.
Dlynn Glass Designs, Lynn Abrams
Dorothy Fagan Studio
Matthew J. Level, Artist
P. Buckley Moss Galleries
Phill Dunn Photography
The Poddery, Robert & Karen Podd
Queens Creek Studios, Melanie Procopio
Roanes Antiques at the Cottage
Studio Gerard, Steph Brown
Summer Haze Pottery, Martha Hayes
Art Related Venues:
Bay School Community Arts Center
Island Stop Market
Belmont Pumpkin Farms
C.A. & J. Farm
Gwynn’s Island Farm
Mathews Deadrise Charters and Chapel Creek Oyster Company
Mathews Farmers Market
Hole in the Wall
Callis House Inn
The Inn at Tabbs Creek
Points of Interest:
Mathews County Historical Museum
Mathews Land Conservancy at Williams Wharf
Mathews Maritime Foundation/Museum
Mathews Market Days Festival
Mathews Memorial Library