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Waynesboro’s Tour the Town event delivered small bites, samples, discounts and live music

tour the town waynesboro Downtown Waynesboro businesses opened their doors on Wednesday to residents and visitors offering small bites, samples and shopping discounts to ticket holders.

The Tour the Town event, in its third year, was designed for the public to eat, drink and play their way through downtown.

Hosted by Destination Downtown Waynesboro and Waynesboro Tourism, the event started at noon and ran until 8 p.m. I had written about the event, and organizers said they try to tie it in to when the Wayne Theatre has live music outside on Main Street.

My friend, Melissa, who lives in Staunton, was taking a staycation from work this week, and we decided to take part in the event stopping to check in and get our passport in front of City Hall just after 2 p.m.

We were loaded with cash for tips for all the hard-working servers throughout our tour.

The event was DORA, or a designated outdoor refreshment area, meaning you could take cocktails or beers from one venue to the next or with you while you shopped, as long as you stayed in the confines of the designated area which included the entire downtown for this event.

After we successfully checked in, our first stop was at The River Burger Bar. We sat down at the bar before the busy dinner rush, and we were treated to two beer samples and pretzel bites with beer cheese, an appetizer they call Skipping Stones. I’ve personally eaten at the Burger Bar a couple of times, but it was certainly a treat to try some items I normally wouldn’t order off the menu. It was Melissa’s first time there. We chatted with our friendly bartender and a friend who is a former restauranteur turned real estate mogul who had a drink with us. Before we left the Burger Bar, we ordered an unsweetened tea with peach Crown to take with us while we shopped. (We left a tip before we left).

tour the town henna tattoo

When we walked out of the restaurant, we met the owner of Glitter Bee Art Co., Alyssa Corbin, who was set up on the sidewalk on Wayne Avenue. As part of the event, we both got a henna tattoo. Melissa, a very spiritual person, chose a moon with stars and some burgundy glitter. I chose a hibiscus on my hand with silver glitter to match a silver and bronze flower necklace I was wearing. Corbin said she hosts parties and painting events throughout the area and offers face painting and henna and glitter tattoos at area festivals or for private parties. (We left a small tip in her jar.)

Our next stop was at Pyramid, a store that had a lot of options: plants, incense, shower steamers, books, crystals … many gifts centered around a magic theme. I had been there a couple of times before, but it was Melissa’s first time there. Melissa had previously visited the sister store in Staunton. We both made small purchases (Melissa got a mug and I got a couple keychains). And we received a free bag of tumbled stones with our purchase.

Next, we visited Adorn. Again, I had been there a couple of times, but it was Melissa’s first time there. They had a lot of beautiful clothes, shoes, hangbags and jewelry. We chatted with the owner for a few minutes (and encouraged her to do another bra fitting event soon since I missed out last time). While we didn’t make any purchases there, we did pick up a complimentary sample of Archipelago Botanicals lotion. I got the morning mint scent; Melissa chose lavender.

Across the street, our next stop was The French Press, a great little coffee shop. Again, I had been there before to meet clients and friends, but for Melissa, it was her first time there. We finished our tea cocktails, and we both ordered a small chai tea. Again, this was included with our passport ticket. This might have been my favorite indulgence of the day. The coffee shop also served muffins, desserts and lunch items. (Again, while our chai was included, we left a tip for our barista).

With our chai in hand, we then crossed the street to check out other businesses on Wayne Avenue.

We stopped in to the Waynesboro Heritage Museum on the corner of Main Street and Wayne Avenue where we got our passport marked, and we collected a free watercolor print. I chose a print of the Wayne Theatre, and Melissa chose one of Basic City. We both walked around and checked out the historical displays. Melissa was glad we didn’t have to wear fancy clothes like those on display, but she was willing to take her photo with one fancy outfit. There were some children there that must have been part of a field trip of sorts doing work with maps. I found my husband and I’s name on the donor board there. I didn’t know we had been included so that was interesting.

We then went to Boutique in the ‘Boro, and we met the owner, Peggy Henderson. Her husband, Bobby, had one term on Waynesboro City Council and is running again this fall. I had done a story about him recently. He had an office set up in the back of the boutique, so I waved to him. He later came out and had me sign his petition for City Council, which I was happy to do. Melissa, as a Staunton resident, couldn’t help him out. With our event discount, I purchased a pair of Judy Blue shorts and some press-on pink nails. Melissa grabbed some wine slushie mixes. We both were excited to see the Halara brand there. We’ll have to go back some time to try on some clothes.

Our next stop was at the Shenandoah Valley Art Center. We browsed through the gift shop and got a sneak peak at some items that will be in the annual Anniversary Members’ Exhibit. Melissa had her eye on a dog art piece, but it was one that unfortunately wasn’t for sale. My friend was blown away by all the talent in the Valley. We were also invited to come to the opening reception of their big show coming up on Saturday.

I had hoped that the newly built Bookkeeping and Management building would have been included in the event. I thought as we left SVAC that I would have loved to see the building recently completed by our friends at Mathers Construction. I’ve also seen signage that Mission Coffee is set up inside. Wish they had been included on the tour. Oh well. Maybe next year. I’ll try to stop in some time for some java when I go to the post office.

We also stopped in to the SVAC exhibit off Main Street where a volunteer showed Melissa some of the cool features of the building – a custom light fixture, printmaking studio, bank vault, etc. There was some exquisite art being displayed. Some of it even appeared to have been created on a paper towel. We both enjoyed stopping in, but they were closing at 4 p.m., so we only had a few minutes to explore. I had done a story on them before the opening and had toured the entire building including the artist cubbies, library and rental apartment space with one of the best views in town.

We skipped Sam’s Hot Dogs and C&C Bistro for now and strolled on.

After that, we stopped in to Initial Inspiration. I’ve known owner Jennifer Ledford for more than 10 years and have purchased a number of gifts and items from her in the past. Melissa enjoyed the assortment of Scout bags and shirts with dogs on them. We are both animal lovers. We also admired their baby section, and I reminded myself that next time I need a baby gift, I have to go back there! Melissa organizes some events in the area, so I also told her they make custom shirts and embroider almost anything.

Next up on the block was Benny Stivale’s Pizza. Our passport included a half slice of pizza (even that was HUGE) and a sample of any of their beers or ciders on tap. I, of course, chose a Bold Rock cider with pepperoni pizza. Melissa chose another beer. She also purchased a water. We met up there with a handful of friends and enjoyed chatting and catching up. (We left a tip here too.)

The next stop was Rusticae, a large shop with a western flair. I browsed the extensive collection of boots, sunglasses and jewelry. Melissa was busy checking out the denim. We had a great conversation with the owner, and someone I presume might be her daughter, but could be an employee, who said they had another location in Crozet. Their shop is a mix of new and gently worn items. We talked about dogs and clothes and everything in between. Melissa ended up purchasing a denim jacket with the event discount since the wind was picking up, and she was afraid it would get chilly as the evening continued. She was happy to do her small part to support a small business.

We then popped in to Luke’s Hobbies and checked out the model cars and kits. They gave us each a free lanyard. Melissa and I both knew people who used to buy kits like these, so it was a cool stop for us both.

We crossed the street to go to The Gumbo Hut. It was likely close to 5 p.m., and they were closed so we didn’t get to try the Gumbo that was advertised on our event passport.

Sadly Heritage on Main Street, Waynesboro Florist, Stella Bella and Lucy’s and The Green Leaf did not participate this year.

We then went in to Delly Up. I’ve had lunch there a few times, and Melissa has been there before for a slightly rowdy karaoke on a Thursday night. They were bustling with folks sitting at the bar. Melissa got her 1/4 sandwich sample and chips to go. I managed to eat mine there, since I had skipped lunch to make room for more “eats”. We also got a free beer sample. We each purchased a pineapple vodka infused Chambord martini to go, and off we went. (We left a tip here too).

Our next stop was C&C Bistro. We were both stuffed, but the owner was happy to pack our free barbecue slider to go. I had been there before when it was the City Foxes wine bar but hadn’t stopped in since ownership changed. My husband had that slider today for lunch, and he’s already asked me to get in touch to see if they offer it by the pound. He said it was Carolina style, and I would love it. (I need to email them.)

wayne on main concert series

We decided we should get another tea and peach Crown cocktail before we headed to the Wayne Theatre to catch its Wayne on Main summer concert series with live music from Jack and Davis Reid.

We found our friends from Benny’s now at the Burger Bar, so we sat down and chatted with them for awhile. After we got our cocktails, we headed up to the Wayne Theatre to take in the live music. Melissa got a small group dancing. One of the performers even came out and danced with them for awhile. I also bumped into Terry Short who is running for re-election to Waynesboro City Council this fall. He was enjoying music with his wife and daughter. (He didn’t have a petition with him but said he plans to hit our house up some time soon during his door-to-door campaign in Ward B). Wayne Theatre Executive Director Tracy Straight also reminded me the Rock the Block gala to benefit the theatre is next Friday.

We enjoyed bumping in to people that we knew and meeting new people at Tour the Town. Melissa got one more cocktail from the Wayne Theatre bar: a cranberry and rum spritzer, and she dropped in a tip for the theatre when volunteers came around with a bucket at intermission. (The performance was pay what you will). Before we left, Melissa also grabbed a popcorn (another freebie with the passport).

We never made it to Stone Soup Books at the South River, the Russell Museum, Waynesboro Music or Sam’s Hot Dog Stand. (We do have a coupon for Kline’s Dairy Bar for another day). Despite missing a few stops, we certainly felt like we got our money’s worth for the event.

We spent about 5 1/2 hours downtown on Wednesday. We took a ton of pictures, talked to a lot of people, and overall, had a wonderful time.

Melissa said afterwards this was “probably one of the best things I’ve done recently. Or should I say favorite? Definitely wish there were more events like this and one for Staunton.”

Hear that, Staunton? We need a tour of your downtown now.

Suggestions for next year

  • We’d love to pick up a tote bag at registration to put all of our purchases and freebies in. We did struggle a bit to manage everything. It would be cool too if the tote bag had a pocket to hold the passport. We definitely misplaced that a couple times during our tour.
  • A map of the downtown area would be great, especially for people from surrounding areas, who may not know their way around downtown. It was helpful that I knew my way around pretty well, but I didn’t know where Waynesboro Music was, for example. (On a side note, I also didn’t know that Magnolia Rose was no longer downtown. I’ll have to find out where they are now.)
  • Ask businesses to stay open until the end of the event. The Gumbo Hut was closed when we tried to go in, for example, and we were looking forward to trying it.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.