On May 14, 2011, as a part of the 25th annual Trail Days festival, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Mount Rogers Appalachian Trail Club, and town leaders from Damascus will hold a ceremony celebrating their designation as the newest Appalachian Trail Community with a proclamation signing, speakers and presentation of town signs. Scheduled speakers include Mayor McCrady, Virginia Delegate Joe Johnson, Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association Coordinator Mike “Wingheart” Wingeart, and others.
The Appalachian Trail Community designation program is a new program of the nonprofit managers of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (A.T.). Launched in 2010, this program recognizes communities for their part in promoting awareness of the A.T. as an important national and local resource. Towns, counties and communities along the A.T.’s corridor are considered assets by A.T. hikers, and many of these towns act as good friends and neighbors to the Trail.
The designation ceremony will take place at 12:30 pm at the Gazebo in the Damascus Town Park, following the Giddy Up Cloggers. Hiking groups and clubs are invited to gather around the stage with banners and flags to show support of Damascus during this special event. At the end of the ceremony, attendees will line up for the popular Hiker Parade, marching through downtown along the Appalachian Trail.
Trail Days, a multi-day festival attracting approximately 4,000 hikers and about 15,000 other visitors to Damascus each year, offers hiker workshops, hiker services, food, gear vendors and entertainment. Many events are family-oriented such as slide-show programs, outdoor activities, presentations, hiking seminars, movies, and musical concerts.
For over 50 years, volunteers from the MRATC, one of the ATC’s federation of 31 AT maintaining clubs from Georgia to Maine, have led the maintenance, management, and protection of the A.T. in the area, in cooperation with the ATC, the US Forest Service’s Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, and Grayson Highlands State Park. The club works closely with Damascus to make the most of this new program. They have helped design hiker brochures and work closely with local schools to get students on the Appalachian Trail.
I've never been to Trail Days, but Damascus is a very cool little town. I should also mention that the hike to Mt. Rogers is one of my all time favorite hikes.