Like the blooming of the first azalea bush or the buzz of the first honeybee, the opening of the Community Market is a sure sign that spring has sprung in Danville, a city of 50,000 in Southside Virginia.
Danville Community Market
Housed in a 24,000 warehouse built around 1904, the Community Market is now celebrating its 10th season of freshening up Danville's kitchens and dinning room tables. "This is a really good setting," Marilou Magliore told The Danville Register Bee. "It's just a neat old place."
Magliore is one of the market's 60 regular vendors who offer the 1,500 to 2,000 shoppers who come by each Saturday morning from May to October everything from fresh greens to all-natural roast beef and chicken, from impatiens and petunias to butter beans and black-eyed peas.
"Tobacco has always been the king of crops in our part of the world," explained Market manager Dennis Forslund, "but it's clear that we have lots and lots more to offer. Our vendors come from all over Virginia and North Carolina. So, if you want to buy local, buy fresh and buy delicious there's no better place than our market."
The Community Market is one of a number of major attractions at Crossing at the Dan, the City's long-term and successful effort to revitalize its historic Tobacco Warehouse District.
Just fifty yards away, Amtrak's Crescent on its run from New Orleans to New York stops daily at the Passenger Rail Station, also home of Danville's Science Museum. Nearby is the trailhead for the 7.5 mile - and growing - Riverwalk, a paved trail along the Dan river accessible to hikers, joggers, bicyclists, roller-bladers and, even, moms and dads pushing a stroller. And, finally, there's Carrington Pavilion, a perfect place for a picnic and an evening of music beneath the stars.
"A few years back our Tobacco District didn't seem to have much of a future. It was a storage area, not a focal point of community life" said Jerry Fischer, the City's Director of Community Development that has marshaled HUD Community Development Block Grant, Department of Transportation and other Federal and private funds for the area's renaissance. "But look at it now."
"Thanks to a lot of hard work by a lot of people, the Crossing at the Dan has become a destination for people from across the region. And once folks shop at the Community Market, enjoy a concert, hike the Riverwalk tour the Science Museum or just watch The Crescent pull into Danville, they're sure to visit again - and again and again."
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