Bath County Salons warm Winter with conversation and company

If making a resolution to be either “pleased or educated” in the coming year is on your list, then visiting a salon in Bath County may be just what’s needed. And no, I don’t mean, a hair or nail salon. That “pleased or educated” goal of salons goes back to the ancient poet Horace, but salons are more commonly thought of as part of 17th and 18th century France. From the History and Meaning of Salons by Benet Davetian, a primary goal of any salon remains, seeming relevant here in the 21st century U.S.,

“Winning back our ability to talk with one another (as opposed to talking ‘at’ one another) . . . It is in such environments that great ideas are born, and people find the energy to have a positive influence on the world. . . . It does not take millions of people to change social reality. Salons of previous eras have shown that it takes only a handful of creative and concerned individuals to trigger large-scale positive change. Many of the ideas of great thinkers and doers in previous eras were born in gatherings where others were willing to listen to them and provide sincere feedback. The contemporary salon offers similar opportunities. It facilitates our desire to heal the rifts that have been the unintended consequences of an overly-rationalized, bottom-line culture.”

The author and associate professor at the University of Prince Edward Island, in Canda, Benet Davetian asserts, “The symposia of Ancient Greece, held in the homes of Athenians, were designed to bring together friends and strangers in an egalitarian environment designed to keep the influential and not-so-influential in touch with one another. These gatherings were held in rooms (androns) specially reserved for conversation and feasts. Artists, dancers, poets, philosophers, musicians, and historians regularly mingled with one another at these functions.”

The organizers of the Bath County Salons may or may not be any of those roles mentioned, but the variety and the levels of expertise on the topics they discuss is vast. Volunteers from the community share enthusiasm and knowledge, and sometimes photographs and pieces of music. Just some of the subjects covered in the past ten years since the salons began are: The Printed Word, Jazz, Teaching History, Hitchcock Movies, Teaching Cooking in Prison, History of the Banjo, and Honey Bees. The speaker, or should we say conversation leader? list for 2018 is still being firmed up, and the salons will run on six Tuesdays from late January through early March. The salons will meet in the Craven Room of the Bath Branch of the Rockbridge Regional Library. Everyone is welcome to attend, but there is a sign-up process because the seating is limited. Information about how to register for any salon that interests you is available from Librarian Ronda Clayton, at the Bath Branch of the Rockbridge Regional Library in Warm Springs. The phone number there is: 839-7286, and information for all of their events is available at

Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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