A haven for dancing and music, Applewood Music Park has been honored as Carroll County’s first Crooked Road Affiliated Partner. The Crooked Road is a 10-county regional organization that supports tourism and economic development in Southwest Virginia by celebrating and preserving this Appalachian region’s unique musical and cultural heritage. The Crooked Road, which covers 253 miles from Rocky Mount to Dickenson County, now has 40 Affiliated Partners with Applewood’s addition, as well as eight major venues.
Crooked Road board member and Carroll County Tourism Director Donnie Turner will present a banner acknowledging Applewood Music Park as a Crooked Road Affiliated Partner on Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m. prior to a performance by the New Ballard Branch Boggtrotters. As an Affiliated Partner, Applewood Music Park will receive recognition in Crooked Road publicity and promotional materials. Turner said Applewood’s addition as an Affiliated Partner will be a major boon for Carroll County as well as the Cana facility.
“This is pretty important. It is the first one we have received in Carroll County and it will do a lot as far as the county goes. All of the Crooked Road web sites and offices will have links to the Applewood Music Park home page and send people down that way, so Carroll County will get a lot out of that,” Turner said. “It is a perfect fit. (Crooked Road member and author) Joe Wilson stood up at the board meeting and said Applewood is one of the best places in the state as far as music and dancing goes, so we have a lot of good backing. It’s a good honor for us and it will help us out in the long run. It’s another little cog for our tourism infrastructure.”
Truman Puckett and his wife Ollie opened Applewood Music Park on Labor Day 2005. Since that time, the Cana establishment has hosted dancing and old-time, bluegrass, country and gospel music every Friday and Saturday night from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m., with the occasional exception for inclement weather and holidays. It has also been one of the few places in the region for visitors to dance to the music.
To qualify to be a Crooked Road Affiliated Partner, Turner said a facility doesn’t have to have music every weekend, but it does have to have designated festivals and other events where bluegrass and similar styles of music are featured. Crooked Road officials felt like Applewood Music Park more than fit the bill for all required criteria.
“Applewood Music Park has a tradition of presenting high-quality traditional music performances which exemplify the culture and music of the region,” said Jonathan Romeo, Interim Executive Director of The Crooked Road. “We are proud to recognize this venue as a Crooked Road Affiliated Partner. The Crooked Road’s venues are an important part of the assets of our region.”
A Laurel Fork native, Truman Puckett said Applewood Music Park has taken him full circle since his days as a boy in Carroll County. Puckett said he grew up on old-time music as he lived next door to a little place where Bellespur String Band and other local musicians played on Saturday afternoons. In the evening, Puckett said the locals would clean out a room that night for dancing at the old farmhouse. After moving to Northern Virginia in his adult years, Puckett would catch bands such as Charlie Waller and the Country Gentleman. But after spending 14 years in Arlington, he moved back to Laurel Fork and built the Cana Adult Home.
“We’d always have musicians a couple of times a month that would come into the adult home such as the Hull Twins and the Westerners. They used to tour with Roy Rogers and groups like that,” Puckett said. “Then I bought about 2.75 acres of land on U.S. 52 in Cana and it sit there idle for a long, long time. I told my wife that when we retired if we were every going to do anything with that we better hurry up, so then we decided to make it the music park.”
And Applewood Music Park has been very well-received by locals and tourists alike, Puckett said, noting it has garnered quite a bit of national attention over the past four years. He said he’s catered the facility to make the musicians comfortable. Most of the bands that play Applewood are from the surrounding region, with most coming from a 100-mile radius of Cana. Occasionally he gets inquiries to play from bands as far away as Rhode Island, however.
Puckett is proud of the Applewood’s sound system, which he said was installed by the man that used to run the sound for such country superstars as Garth Brooks, Alabama and Ricky Skaggs. Whenever many area bands are away for large festivals, such as Galax’s Old Fiddler’s Convention, Applewood’s sound system will be belting old-time, bluegrass and country music of the 1950s-70s for dancers.
“We’ll play George Jones, Conway Twitty, Merle Haggard a considerable amount of time when the bands want to participate in the big competitions,” Puckett said. “And we have a very good turnout for the country music. But I only play the old stuff. We are also licensed to play copyrighted music. Most places are not, and that is what’s getting the musical venues in a lot of trouble.”
Visit www.applewood-park.com for a schedule of events or to see who will be performing at Applewood Music Park. Admission is $6 per person, while children 12 and under are admitted free (unless otherwise noted). Doors open at 5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, with music beginning at 7:30 p.m. and lasting until 10:30 p.m. Applewood Music Park is located at 13611 Fancy Gap Highway in Cana, across from Nolen’s Pottery. For more information about Applewood Music Park, call (336) 325-0230.
For additional information about The Crooked Road, contact The Crooked Road office at (276) 492-2085 or email@example.com or the Carroll County Tourism Office (276) 730-3100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.