Memorial Day in MHC

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?

Advertisements

Stuart’s Rail Trail & Apple Dumpling Festival

Who knew that rail trails would eventually become a thing?   Just recently, we went out to bicycle down the Virginia Creeper Rail Trail in Damascus and I’ve blogged about a 5K/10K on the Dick & Willie Rail Trail in Martinsville. This weekend was the annual Apple Dumpling Festival in downtown Stuart and this year it was kicked off by a 5K on Stuart’s rail trail, the Mayo River Rail Trail.   Continue reading “Stuart’s Rail Trail & Apple Dumpling Festival”

It’s Peach Time in the Blue Ridge

Every year about this time, there is a Peach Festival in Stuart on a Friday evening followed by a Folk Fair in Meadows of Dan on Saturday.  We have still not made it to the Peach Festival in Stuart yet.  The first year, I didn’t realize that it was on Friday night. The second year, I figured it out too late.  This year, it rained.

Somehow I have no trouble making it to the Folk Fair in Meadows of Dan.  Maybe because I just love Meadows of Dan.  I mean I really love Meadows of Dan.  It sits at the entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway and is just the cutest little community.

Peach Festival 027
Fresh Homemade Peach Cobbler a la Mode

We go up to the Poor Farmers Market here quite a bit and I love following them on Facebook. The owner posts a lot of pictures from Meadows of Dan as well as historical tidbits and news of business for the area. This is where we discovered white sweet potatoes which are, possibly, the perfect food.  They taste like regular sweet potatoes but have the look and consistency of regular white potatoes. Who know that a vegetable could be so interesting?

Peach Festival 026
Poor Farmers Market in Meadows of Dan

The store is full of souvenirs – autographed books by local authors, t-shirts, cast iron cookware, holiday ideas, jams and jellies, and every little odd assortment of things that you can imagine. There is a deli counter and ice cream in the back and a covered sitting spot to eat.  Today, they had the most colorful metal yard art shaped like roses, bird houses, and huge roosters. You just never know what you’ll find at Poor Farmers Market besides white sweet potatoes (and peaches).

Peach Festival 029
Yard Art at Poor Farmers Market in Meadows of Dan

Jim Lord played live music out on the stage at the back of the parking lot and a few vendors were scattered about.  The bulk of the vendor tents were set up down the road by the Community Center but this is where I wanted to be.

Peach Festival 030
Jim Lord Live at Poor Farmers Market

Just across the street from Poor Farmers Market is The Meadows Mercantile. It’s a long building that looks vaguely western.  You can enter on either end of the building which is divided into four rooms and filled to the brim with souvenirs and everything Christmas.  They have a fantastic selection of t-shirts right now.  We bought three and I’ve already admitted that I am going to have to go back to get the one that says “The Mountains Are Calling And I Must Go”.

Peach Festival 022
Great Selection of T-Shirts at Meadows Mercantile, Meadows of Dan

Two of the rooms are souvenir-type things and then the next two rooms are all Christmas.  Ornaments. Trees.  Nativities.  You name it.  Mother got her very first Virginia Christmas ornament – of a black bear. (She keeps wanting to put out food scraps for “critters” but we have chickens and just about all “critters” eat chickens.  I told her that is not outside the realm of possibility that she could attract a black bear by doing this.  So far, that seems to have worked.)

Peach Festival 025
It’s Always Christmas at Meadows Mercantile in Meadows of Dan

The Meadows of Dan community lost a significant landmark last year.  The Meadows of Dan Baptist Church burned to the ground on March 5, 2015.  Poor Farmers Market has photos of the fire on their Facebook page. It was so sad. Such an incredible loss for the community. Proceeds from the peach cobbler sale will go to rebuild.

Peach Festival 049
Meadows of Dan Baptist Church – Burned March 5, 2015

They’ve had a new addition to the community in the Toy Time Folk Toy & Science Museum.  The museum has a TripAdvisor badge on their door and they are already up to #8 of 11 things to do in Meadows of Dan.  They’ll have stiff competition for the top spot with Mabry Mill, Nancy’s Candy Company, and Primland but I think that they are going to be very popular.

Peach Festival 047
The New Toy Time Museum in Meadows of Dan

The building used to be a gun and knife store, hence the bars that make it look like an old jail inside.  Before that, it was a general store.  Now, toys and puzzles line the walls and invite people to play with them to see how they work.  I was able to operate the dreidel, putting me on a technical skill level with, I think, a five year old, but we needed help with a lot of the displays.  One of the employees helped us operate several of the toys, including a chair that would raise you up by compressing air in a vacuum tube next to it.  At least, I think that was how it worked. Compared to other science museums I’ve seen like this, it’s really engaging and there is a lot to see and do.  Kids will absolutely love it and adults are going to enjoy themselves too.

Peach Festival 041
A Toy Time Employee Demonstrates A Vacuum Chair

After the Folk Toy and Science Museum, we decided to drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway and investigate an old country store  I had read about in “This Old Store”, the Mayberry Trading Post.

There’s a preview of the book available on Amazon.

It’s a very readable, short book.  Apart from the history of the store, it gives the history of the area and spends some time on several notable personalities that lived here. The community of Mayberry has dwindled to just a few souls but the country store is still there and open for business.  Interesting note in the book (page 89), Andy Griffith’s mother had relatives here when he was a boy and he had come to Mayberry to visit them back in the day. “Information such as this”, the book says, “makes a pretty strong circumstantial case for this place here being the source of the name of the television Mayberry, if not a documentable one.”

Peach Festival 051
Mayberry Trading Post on the Blue Ridge Parkway

I’ve since read that many places compete for being the source of the name of the idylized small town of Tinsel Town fame.  Whether it is or not is probably moot at this point.  Whether it is the town, or not, I mean.  It is indisputably a remnant of the past that many of us have romanticized in a nostalgic fervor so that it is like Brigadoon, a small village protected from the ravages of change by an enchantment that hides it away from the world for a hundred years each night as the villagers sleep.

I read once that the reason that vintage Victorian clothes are so important is that there were only so many made (by nature of definition). Once they are gone,  and they can’t last forever, that’s it.  You can’t make more genuine articles. Old country stores like this are the same, I think. If you are of the same mind, I think that you would really like stopping by. And buy a shirt or a hoodie, or a jar of jam … just to keep the lights on.

Peach Festival 048
Inside the Mayberry Trading Post

It was a rainy day but we managed to grab some shots at Lover’s Leap on the way up. We actually went to Fred Clifton Park, right next to the outlook, which I believe has better views.

Peach Festival 010
Look Out at Fred Clifton Park

This is one of the views from Fred Clifton Park.  It’s pretty much the same view as from Lover’s Leap but with more room to stand. The local legend is that a white settler and an native American maiden, shunned by both sides for their love, leapt from here into the valley below.  It’s a popular story for a lot of places, so I have my doubts.  It is a breathtaking view though.  The camera couldn’t capture it but there are farms and vineyards down in that valley.  It’s truly gorgeous.

Peach Festival 008
View From Fred Clifton Park

I’ll close with this shot of Mother taking in the view.  I think that she is really liking it here.

Peach Festival 013
Another Texan Falling In Love With Virginia?