I loved the Henry County promo and now I’ve found that Martinsville has put out a new promo video as well. It’s ironic that the preview slide for the video is skyline of Atlanta, Georgia, I know. For the most part, it’s a really good video. Martinsville really does have a lot going for it. The buildings in Uptown are beautiful. The people are wonderful. There’s a great greenway, the Dick & Willie Passage Rail Trail, snaking all the way through town and is being expanded. Real estate is cheap. Groceries are cheap. Restaurants are cheap. The local community college puts on several high-quality musicals every year. There is a good improv group in Uptown Martinsville (TheatreWorks Players) and the tickets are cheap. The Rives Theatre, also in Uptown, has good musicians in all the time. All the ingredients are there for Martinsville (and Uptown in particular) to absolutely flourish. All that is missing is the catalyst and it’s anyone’s guess as to what that will be. I, for one, am convinced that it will eventually happen.
Of the last five Memorial Day weekends in Henry County, Virginia, we’ve had rain or threat of rain on four of them. Somehow, this has never been able to really put a dampener on the weekend – at least for us.
There are so many things to do around here on Memorial Day weekend that it would get a little ridiculous to list them. However, there are a couple of events that are a lot of fun that you might not hear about unless you just stumble across them.
Yard Sales & The Local Flea Market on Highway 58
The first is the stretch of Highway 58 between Martinsville and Stuart that fills up with yard sales. This is apparently one of the very best kept secrets in the area. There are a number of individual yard and garage sales at private homes along the highway and then there is one large flea market-style sale just next door to Larry’s Variety (which is a good spot to find new and used furniture). The flea market is not promoted online that I can find and I’ve looked. It shouldn’t be this hard to find, especially when you already know it exists. All I can truly tell you is that it is a large area and it usually has a good attendance regardless of the weather. The flea market rents spaces for $15 a day and I’d guess that they normally have around two acres covered with vendors. I believe that it is put together by an area Methodist Church, but I can’t find which one. There is $1 paid parking but a lot of people park along the highway. The driveway in and out is topped with rock and the parking itself is grass so, even with rain, mud is not really an issue. If someone local has any idea about who puts this on, please let me know.
Although we do not typically go to yard sales, I do make a point to go to this one. There is a lot of kitsch and a lot of junk but there are also some handmade things there from time to time. I usually find at least one thing there each year. One year I found a hand-painted pie safe for $15. Vendor turn out was down this year (70% chance of rain on Saturday and it looked fierce) but we still went and found some home-canned pickles from Moose Country Farm, a local farm that also specializes in goat milk lotion with essential oils. Their dill pickles are delicious and their spicy pickles mean business! They sell a variety of things through their Facebook page. It did not rain on us.
Mountain Valley Brewing’s Anniversary Party
The second is a newcomer. Memorial Day weekend happens to also mark the anniversary of Henry County’s first Craft Brewery, Mountain Valley Brewing, and 2018 was their first anniversary. They had two bands lined up and they tapped the raspberry wheat that weekend.
Virginia Brew Hub, a Roanoke-based magazine that covers all things craft, was on hand with their drone and took the following footage over the course of the day.
It was a great day and, while we only intended to stay for a couple of beers, we ended up listening to the whole set by Faded Travelers (and buying their CD). The video below is just a snippet to give you an idea of the feel of the band.
Mountain Valley Brewing is growing so fast. They started out with just the tap room. Could that really have only been a year ago? Then came the pavilion. Then the covered deck off of the tap room. Now lawn games like corn hole are showing up and I understand that DAM Good Equipment, a Martinsville-based company making hammocks, tents, backpacks and sleeping bags, is planning on putting in a hammock garden. They’ve already put in a couple (see the first video). Take a look at their site too (https://www.damtough.com). Besides their products, they are taking their own photos and not using stock images on their website. It’s fun to guess where the pictures were taken. Hoorah to DAM Good Equipment for that.
I’ve never seen a hammock garden. Have you?
Only about half of the business books that I have started, I have also finished. Books about business can be the driest fare around but, luckily, Factory Man is one of the good ones. Beth Macy, a Roanoke journalist, did an amazing job relating the history and ultimate effective extinction of the furniture industry in this area. It goes a long way towards explaining why we have so much infrastructure here without the obvious foot traffic to sustain it. That seems to be leveling off, though population numbers are still continuing to decline.
Everyone here was abuzz when Tom Hanks bought up the rights to Factory Man for an HBO mini-series; however, that was three years ago and the project still shows as “in production” on imdb. It is unclear as whether the bulk of filming, should it ever get started, would be here (in Bassett) or in Galax, or a little of both. We still have our fingers crossed.
Today, Bassett is a little community on the river waiting to be rediscovered. The Smith River does not run through it as much as the town itself is wrapped around its banks.
There is a burgeoning interest in kayaking the Smith River. There are also trout in the Smith. Smith River Outfitters has been running excursions down the river and Hamlet Vineyards has created some events for combining a trip to the vineyards with a trip on the water. Papa’s Pizzeria is a restaurant on a picturesque road in Bassett that has a great outdoor patio right on the Smith. It has the unique position to cater to river traffic. All they would need would be a a little kayak parking and a path up from the river. With elbow grease and luck, it could really be an enhancement that could cause a noticeable increase in eco-tourism in the area. Property values there, in my opinion, are still undervalued (see MLS). This could just be my experience with development in Texas talking but, if and when the ball ever does get rolling for Bassett to emerge as a river excursion destination, it is poised to gain momentum quickly.
I realize that that is a big “if” … that there are quite a few “ifs” in there, actually. But I do still have my fingers crossed that this project will bring people in to see Bassett. All it will take is the right person to see it.
While looking up information on muralist Roger Carroll, I found a link to an archived WDBJ 7 article about how he had also painted murals at Druid Hills Elementary School. I immediately recalled a mural that I saw there when I ran in the 2014 Great Goblin Gallop 5K. The article said that “he tried to make the indoors appear like they’re outdoors. The theory behind that is if the children feel less confined, feel good about where they’re at, they’ll just naturally do better.”
Druid Hills is the name of one of the neighborhoods in Martinsville that, along with its neighboring community of Forest Park is known for relatively pricier homes surrounding a private community lake called Lake Lanier. The annual Great Goblin Gallop is put on by Henry County Parks and the run really is beautiful. Continue reading “Another Roger Carroll Mural and the Great Goblin Gallop 5K”
I had started this year hoping to really get in some local hikes but, as they say, the best laid plans oft go astray. I did succeed in finding a fantastic local hiking group connected to the Reynolds Homestead, The Homestead Hikers, and joined them on their inaugural hike for the 2017 year – The Silverbell Trail.
The Silverbell Trail is a short boardwalk trail that joins the Uptown Connection Trail in Martinsville just off of the Dick & Willie Rail Trail and ends, somewhat abruptly, at Church Street, across the street from the YMCA. Even in January, when all of the leaves are on the ground and a coat is required, this is a beautiful trail. Continue reading “The Silverbell Trail – A Walk Through Martinsville”
Another summer has rolled past in southern Virginia and fall festivals have begun to seep into our calendar. If the 2017 Brewsterwalk Craft Beer Festival can serve as an omen for our upcoming fall festivities, we are in phenomenal shape for a great pre-Christmas season. Continue reading “Brewsterwalk 2017”