Walking in a Main Street Wonderland: Celebrating the Holidays in Virginia

If you are looking for the holiday spirit, look no further than Virginia’s Main Streets.  Whether a holiday shopping promotion, a tree lighting, or a downtown evening carriage ride, there is a special experience just for you and your family.  Our partners at #VirginiaTourism make sure you can plan this season’s special moments with the greatest of ease through event listings and search engines. Here are a few highlights of what Virginia’s charming towns and cities have to offer throughout December:

Light Up the Tracks, Ashland – See downtown Ashland as a mile long holiday card all lit up for the season each weekend.

Christmas Parade, Blackstone – This annual family event, planned for December 14, is one part of a full calendar of weekend Santa visits, shopping specials, and the not-to-miss Bevell’s Hardware train display.

Festive Fridays, Cape Charles – Five nights of free, family-friendly festivities, including carriage rides, street performers, live local music, restaurant specials, and evening shopping.

Holiday Market, Abingdon – Support the local businesses by shopping at the Abingdon Farmers Markets’ Holiday Market with vendors selling produce, meats, baked goods, clothing accessories, jewelry, paintings, wine, confections, and canned goods.

Big Band Holidays, Lynchburg – The recently renovated historic Academy of Music Theater hosts the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, bringing out the magic of the holiday with soulful renditions of holiday classics.

When it snows, ain’t it thrilling; though your nose, gets a chilling; we’ll frolic and play, the Eskimo way; walking in a [Main Street] wonderland!

Find out more >>

Ashland’s Light Up the Tracks

Webinar – Business Booster: Recruitment and Retention Tactics for a Vibrant Downtown

On October 2, 12 – 1 p.m., Virginia Main Street is offering a free webinar focused on encouraging business growth in your downtown and helping existing businesses keep their doors open.  

One of the of the primary responsibilities of a Main Street program is to boost the economic growth of the business district.  With the rise of online shopping and convenient apps, where do you put the attention and resources to make downtown the first choice for shopping and dining?  As competition increases to capture spending, it is critical that your program understand its competitive advantages and develop targeted strategies for a sustainable retail base in downtown.

Check out this free webinar to help your Main Street program move from identifying unique market opportunities to developing resources and tools that form the foundation for growing existing businesses and attraction new ones to your commercial district.

About the speaker:

Matt Wagner, Ph.D., Vice President of Revitalization Programs, National Main Street Center

Matt Wagner has more than 20 years of non-profit management experience in downtown development, entrepreneurship, and tech-based development.  At the National Main Street Center, Matt is leading the launch of the renewed and re-imagined Four Point Approach, as well as helping the Center reach new communities with this refreshed framework.  Overseeing the Field Services team, Matt also leads the Center’s efforts to expand technical service offerings, and offer preservation-based economic revitalization services directly to communities.

Register now for this event >>


Farmville Shopping - Courtesy of Virginia Tourism Corporation

Farmville Shopping – Courtesy of Virginia Tourism Corporation

Tips for a Wonderful Experience at Downtown Intersections, Staunton, Virginia

Guest Blogger Julie Markowitz, director of Staunton Downtown Development Association, started with Main Street in 2006, armed with 10 years of experience in mall marketing and promotions. Staunton Downtown Development Association is delighted to host the first inaugural Virginia Main Street Downtown Intersections workshop in Staunton, Virginia on July 11-13, 2016.


Welcome to Staunton, Main Street friends! I am so excited to have all of you here in our fair city. I hope you get a chance to enjoy shopping, grab a locally-brewed beer or a glass of wine or experience one of Monday’s field sessions, so you can enjoy all of the new businesses and cultural happenings that Staunton has to offer.

We tried to select some activities that will give you a chance to relax, wander aournd and get acclimated before the event begins.  Like most Main streets, Mondays are quiet, but there is still plenty to do in and around downtown. If you want to grab lunch or dinner on Monday, here are some options:

  • American Café (lunch only)
  • Baja Bean Company
  • Bricks Restaurant and Pub (dinner only)
  • Byers Street Bistro
  • Cranberry’s Grocery and Eatery (lunch only)
  • Clocktower Restaurant and Bar
  • Depot Grille, Mill Street Grill (dinner only)
  • Sorrell’s Lounge at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel
  • The Split Banana for locally-sourced gelato

There are several different areas for shopping and site seeing within our downtown.  You can start by checking out the train station, then climb the stairs to the Sears Hill Bridge for the best view of downtown.  After the view, wind your way down to the Wharf and the Byers and Lewis Streets shops, where you will find Sunspots Studios and Glassblowing. Walk a short block past Wilderness Adventure to the Lewis Creek Market, then double-back to Pufferbellies Toys and Books and the shops on Beverley Street. End your stroll by heading up Augusta Street to visit LTD 7, a unique, cooperative gift store.

You will get your exercise and along the way, you will find charming shops and restaurants, beautiful views and friendly people. I hope you enjoy your visit to Staunton!

Get the complete list of stores and a handy map here.


Save the Date! Virginia Main Street Downtown Intersections 2016

VMS Downtown Intersections 2016 Save the Date

VMS Downtown Intersections 2016 Save the Date

Local foods revitalize downtowns

Inspirational downtown revitalization stories are happening all over the country. The article linked here describes how a small town in Kentucky was able to use a local food movement to bring new business into their struggling Main Street area. The program that they used was through EPA’s Local Foods, Local Places initiative and partners with other federal agencies.

Bringing people back downtown to live, work and play is key. To do that you need places to eat, places to shop.” — Patty Cantrell

Picture3For planning in your downtown district, check out the Virginia Department of Consumer and Agriculture Services for potential planning funds. Do you have a favorite Virginia town that is using local food to revitalize their downtown? We would love to hear your success stories, so email them to us at mainstreet@dhcd.virginia.gov.





Downtown Harrisonburg Named Virginia’s First Culinary District

As of Jan. 28, 2014, with approval of the city council of the city of Harrisonburg, Downtown Harrisonburg has adopted the designation of a Downtown Culinary District. Harrisonburg is the first city in Virginia to receive this designation.

Several factors contributed to the recognition of Harrisonburg’s Downtown Culinary District. Many large, food-related businesses, including City Exchange, Wetsel Seed, Cassco Ice, Rocco Feeds and Shenandoah’s Pride, started in Harrisonburg and made a national impact on the food industry. Additionally, with a wealth of farms and agricultural-related businesses in the city and surrounding Rockingham County, Harrisonburg quickly became a leader in adopting the farm-to-table trend in all aspects of its food-related heritage, culture and economy.

Today, Harrisonburg has grown into a destination for culinary enthusiasts. Downtown Harrisonburg boasts more than 30 unique and locally-owned restaurants and eateries, ranging from mainstream to ethnic, fine dining to casual, locally sourced to international ingredients and beyond. Complementing these popular eateries are more than 15 food-related businesses, including a year-round farmers market, specialty wine and beer shops, food tours, cooking classes and bed and breakfasts.

The city also celebrates the area’s vibrant food culture and welcomes visitors to experience it through annual events, including the bi-annual Taste of Downtown Week, Rocktown Beer Music Festival, Valley Fourth’s Grillin’ at the Pavilion Cook-off, National Food Day Farm-to-Table Breakfast, Vegan Night Out, Chocolate Walk and the Rocktown Fall Beer Festival. These events allow local restaurateurs, local businesses, and food-lovers to collaborate, create and share unique dining experiences.

The new Downtown Culinary District designation adds to an impressive list of accolades for Harrisonburg’s foodie scene. In 2013 alone, Harrisonburg and its food-related businesses received notable mentions or awards in the Washingtonian, Blue Ridge Outdoors, Wine Enthusiast, Travel+Leisure, Huffington Post, USA Today, Blue Ridge Country, The Daily Meal, Virginia Living, Southern Living, The Local Palate and many other local, regional and national publications.

For more information, contact Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance and Harrisonburg Tourism and Visitors Services.

Winchester’s Main Street agriculture event was a success, as expected!

On Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012, Winchester’s downtown walking mall was filled with excitement for local farms. Farm Bureau, in partnership with the Winchester Old Town Development Board, Winchester Main Street Foundation and Virginia Main Street program, produced an extraordinary community event, Winchester’s Main Street Agriculture, held on the historic Loudon Street Pedestrian Mall.

The partnership was a natural fit. “There is a Farm Bureau and a Main Street in every state,” said Dee Cook, membership development specialist with Virginia Farm Bureau. Winchester is one of 25 Virginia communities designated as Virginia Main Street communities. Cook said that she hopes Frederick County’s successful Main Street Agriculture event will lead to similar events all over Virginia in the near future. “This has been the pilot,” she said. “We hope to roll it out statewide next year,” Cook added.

More than 20 vendors set up booths to sell their farm products and provide interactive, educational activities for the public. There were also many educational demonstrations including a hydroponics display, grape crushing, a live beehive and farm-to-table cooking demonstrations, along with others.

photo credit: lancasterfarming.com 2012

Here is a nice article from LancasterFarming.com about the event, Taking the Farm to the City.