Appalachian Spring is an annual event sponsored by the Little Cities of Black Diamonds Council, a non-profit organization who seeks to collect, share and protect the historic, cultural and environmental assets of the former Hocking Valley Coal Mining Region in southeastern Ohio. The event raises funds for the Council’s work and furthers its mission by educating and entertaining audiences with the authentic story of this unique place in the American landscape.
The Little Cities Appalachian Spring Festival began in 2003 in the yard of the Eclipse Company Store in the Eclipse Company Town near college town Athens and adjacent to the popular Hock-Hocking Adena Bicycle Path. Next to the yard was an unpainted, rotting company store building that had been purchased by a group of entrepreneurs who were in the process of restoring a series of company houses in the former mining town of Hocking. Music, living history characters, auction and a growing number of exhibits and vendors became the mainstay over the first nine years of the festival. Each year patrons watched as the town transformed into a historic treasure re-adapted for modern day use with businesses and a beautifully restored company store building and National Register of Historic Landmarks designation. In 2007, the event added the Little Cities Tour de Forest Bicycle Ride which began on the Hock-Hocking Adena Bike Trail and took long distance riders into the hills to the east where the dozens of remnant mining towns are located.
In 2012, ownership changed at Eclipse and availability of the facilities were uncertain. This crisis provided organizers the opportunity to reformat and relocate the event to another cherished location in the Little Cities microregion: Stuart’s Opera House and Nelsonville’s Historic Public Square. The event now adds a new dimension to Nelsonville’s Final Friday tradition in April continuing the tradition of thematic exhibits which are now located in the lobby of the Opera House, with the Tour de Forest Benefit Bicycle Ride departing from Nelsonville’s Public Square the next morning and a featured stage show on Saturday Night of the weekend.
Beginning in 2012, the Nelsonville Main Street Program joined the Little Cities of Black Diamonds Council as a co-sponsor of the event.