Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Fine First Fest

Ms. B. proved to be the main draw at my table.
I think I'll keep her.

As I had posted last week, Brewed Awakening Café in Danville, VA, formerly Binding Time in Martinsville, VA, hosted its first annual book festival yesterday, continuing the tradition it had begun at its original location several years ago. I have participated in each, and while I miss having the shop in my old hometown, the owners — John and Bonnie Hale — appear to have made the right decision by relocating. Since its grand opening last week, the café-slash-bookstore has already made an indelible mark in town, generating remarkably positive publicity and drawing substantial crowds since day one. All my copies of my novels Blue Devil Island and The Monarchs sold out quickly. I kept replenishing my stock with various books lurking in my devilish bookbag, and those, too, departed post haste, all having been rightly devalued with my distinctive John Hancock.

Brewed Awakening, at 610 Craghead Street, Danville, VA, occupies an old brick warehouse building, one of many that has been renovated after years of disuse in what had, decades ago, been a thriving industrial district. With tobacco and textiles, once the city's economic foundation, now moribund in the southeastern US, Danville has taken admirable steps to rebuild its infrastructure and its image, and while it still has a long way to go, its efforts are showing measurable results. There are numerous new, upscale restaurants, taverns, and shops, a first-class library, countless historical buildings and monuments, Averett University, and parks and trails that are unrivaled in the region. Not only did Brewed Awakening's book fest draw a bigger crowd than the past two or three fests in Martinsville combined, the economic benefit spilled over to other businesses in the area. After the event, Kimberly and I visited the new, nearby Golden Leaf Bistro to celebrate with a couple of glasses of wine, and who should appear but veritable hordes of festival attendees — including writers and patrons — all but storming the castle.

One of many distinctive old buildings
in Danville's warehouse district
If you like antiques, you could have yourself a rectangular spasm in Lou's Antique Mall at 231 Main Street, Danville, VA. It's located in what appears to be a typical, mid-size retail store on a downtown street corner, but what you get is a three-story labyrinth of goods from countless ages past, of varying quality and prices. I am admittedly not so much an aficionado of antiques and such, yet I couldn't help but be sucked in by the sheer quantity of wares both familiar to me from my youth and just outright neat/fascinating/weird. Now, some of the items I saw were priced way beyond what I would have ever considered paying, but the proprietor was friendly and attentive, and even insistent that we not pay full price for whatever items caught our eye. I did end up leaving with at least one Christmas present that I think will be quite meaningful for the recipient. And finding that, I must admit, meant the world to me.

And geocaches? Danville is full of them; in fact, there's one at the farmer's market directly across the street from Brewed Awakening — "The Crossing," (GC1BR2C), and another, "The Forgotten Door," (GC5PKJ2) which is particularly memorable for me (story here), just two blocks away. My favorite recollection of the book fest was talking to a rather striking and most assuredly engaging young lady who turned out to be the local library's book acquisition manager, who is also, of all things, a geocacher. As fate would have it, there just happens to be highly challenging geocache — which I have not yet found — inside the library where she works. We enjoyed trading a few stories about books, writing, local history, and geocaching, though, when I suggested she might be able to shed some light on the location of the cache, she went close-mouthed as if her lips had been sewn together with barbed wire. However — ha! — I have years of experience, well over eight-thousand caches to my credit, and more than a passing familiarity with the cache's setting. Make no mistake, I will surmount this geocaching challenge, and our reticent young book acquisitions manager shall bear witness, this I promise.

It was a good day.
All set up and rarin' to go
The local turkey buzzard population must have known something was up because,
just about the time the book fest opened, the scavengers began circling.
Doing the necessary devaluing of the book
Rudolph (apparently, the sun had filtered into the alley sufficiently to scorch one's nose) and ye old
geocaching horror writer at Golden Leaf Bistro, celebrating an excellent book festival
Still life with flowers, a brusque sign, and razor wire

1 comment:

Angie Barrett said...

I found your blog while searching for the history of the Building that Brewed Awakening is in! I had no idea that there were/are a lot of good geocaching here! Who knew! I've been wanting to get into that more! I'll have to look into it! Oo and I love that "Forgotten Door"! I've used it as a back drop for many photos!