A little more than two years ago, Erik Hastings, a.k.a. Erik the Travel Guy, who has been all over the world thanks to his travel videos and nationally syndicated PBS show, “Beyond Your Backyard,” arrived in Wytheville to film an episode of his show.
While here, he was all over town, filming at favorite places like the Log House Restaurant, Fort Chiswell Animal Park, Big Walker Lookout and Edith Bolling Birthplace Museum. Beyond Your Backyard has filmed in places like Rome in Italy, Athens in Greece and Cancun in Mexico. Now, it’s Wytheville’s time to shine.
Episodes of the show dedicated to Wytheville started showing last month on Blue Ridge PBS. Upcoming episodes will air at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 15; at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 19; and at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 27.
“Interesting stories come in difference sized packaging,” Hastings said during his visit as he waited to chat with Log House owner James Green. “That’s what we are on the hunt for. During every shoot, we are always surprised by something. We don’t know where it will crop up, and we love that. That’s one reason I love doing the show.”
Erik and his crew spent three days touring the town. Other stops included the Polio Exhibit at the Thomas J. Boyd Museum, Skeeter’s, Crystal Springs Recreation Area, the New River Trail, West Wind Wintery, Wiffle Pops and more.
In his Emmy-winning show, Hastings aims to help viewers get an idea about each place he visits by combining a variety of aspects about the area like history, culture, outdoor recreation, hands-on activities and food. A friendly and curious guy with a way with the spoken word, Erik films what he sees and keeps his shows as authentic as he can.
“How does a place feel? That’s important to us,” he said. “Twenty-six minutes and 45 seconds is what we deliver.”
“Beyond Your Backyard” is seen by millions of viewers nationwide and is available to Amazon Prime members. Hastings traveled to Wytheville at the invitation of Rosa Lee Jude, Wytheville’s tourism director, whose department also developed an itinerary of locations for Erik to visit and film.
During his visit, Hastings said his favorite Wytheville visit was at the Fort Chiswell Animal Park and meeting park manager Heidi Crosky.
“Just seeing the care that the animals get,” he said. “They are living their best lives.”
Unfortunately, two of the zoo’s favorite animals have died since Hastings visited: Humphrey the Camel and Cheeto the Giraffe. In addition, Wiffle Pops, which gets a big mention in the show, has closed, and the Log House is currently closed because damage sustained in a fire last month.