basted, roasted, smoked, and sauced: jacktown’s brew-b-que throwdown.

The day started ominously. It was rainy that July morning and unusually cool. I remember because it was the morning of Art in the Park with Blake Somers and LEGOs. (By the way, he is still collecting LEGO donations, and he won’t stop until he has enough for his sculpture, so now’s as good a time as any to give him some.) And, we all remember Harrisonburg’s last beer fest back in April… who can forget that downpour and the nature-made slip-n-slide? Would Jacktown’s Brew-B-Que Throwdown suffer the same messy fate?

Thankfully, no. At least, by the time we got there it was warm and sunny and all shades of happy. The event took place in the lot next to Jack Brown’s. For a mere $10 admission, you got a beer (provided by Abita) and a plate of food–pork butt, chicken wings, or pulled chicken. If you wanted more, you could purchase more wooden nickels.

Folks were eating and drinking, playing corn hole, hula hooping, and dancing to a reggae band, Inner Visions. I liked them. They were so positive and smiley.

We ran into lots of folks we know, starting with Jake Melvin, who recently returned from Belize and who’s been a nomad of sorts for quite some time. He’s been to forty-nine state, and when we asked which one he’d not visited, he replied, “The one that’s not attached.” To which Brandy and I simultaneously blurted, “Alaska!”

Turns out it was Hawaii. I always forget about that little guy, all tucked away in the middle of the Pacific.

Then this bizarre “Six Degrees of Brandy and Katie” thing occurred, starting with Shannon Dean, whom we work with. Then we saw former BHS students Katrina Hudy and Daniel Mumbauer. You might know Katrina from Wine on Water where she works as a manager. We did a post about them not long ago. Daniel and I commiserated for a bit about always being remembered as the tall one… “You know, she’s that tall girl…” I get that a lot.  Then we ran into Phil Carr, who graduated high school with Brandy. What you might not know is that I was a long-term substitute for Brandy’s twelfth-grade English class. Phil Carr was in that class, too. And when the regular teacher returned from maternity leave, the class presented me with a cake that said, “Get The Hell Out.” It was really touching. And delicious.

there’s sassy Shannon, what with her wedges and her wrist band pushed up! :)

phil and friends.

And then we saw someone who seemed so familiar… he knew Jeremiah Jenkins, whom we also know… and I threatened to refer to him in this post as Nicodemus Schmidt if he didn’t just tell us his name already. Tim. And then when we told him where we work, it all fell into place. Turns out we work with his dad, Jim Peters. Tim was instantly mortified and begged us not to tell his dad that he’d said a couple bad words. Heh heh. School’s back in in a couple of weeks, my friend! :)

we know your dad!

All this socializing was making me hungry, so we gobbled down some wings with blueberry sauce and pulled chicken with buffalo sauce. YUM. All locally sourced and very fresh. And we listened to the band and chatted, and before long it was all over.

Thank you, Aaron and Jeremiah and the Jacktown staff for an evening of succulent food and mellow music, interesting conversations and weird coincidences. Can’t wait to do that again, so plan something soon, will ya? Before it gets cold.

Copyright © 2012 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Photos by Brandy Somers. Written content by Katie Mitchell. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

the happiest place on earth no. 21: rocktown beer and music festival.

It was a day of music, singing, and dancing; of froth and foam and cheers-ing; of sideways rain and tropical-storm winds gusting; of sunshine and warmth and rainbows shining; of laughter and smiles and happy loving; of food and friends and mud-stained frolicking… it was, quite simply, a perfect day. The most wonderful day of the year. The day of the Rocktown Beer and Music Festival.

From 2:30 til 9pm on April 21st, throngs of music-loving, beer-craving people of all ages, from tiny tots to retirees, college girls and frat boys to yuppies, hippies, parents, and all the rest, assembled at the Turner Pavilion to sample beer from 30 breweries, hear music from Yarn, the No BS! Brass Band, and The War on Drugs, and nibble freshly prepared dishes from the Joshua Wilton House, Jack Brown’s, Dave’s Taverna, Billy Jack’s, Clementine, and Hank’s Barbeque.

Having purchased our tickets ahead of time (the event sold out earlier that week), getting into the festival was a snap and much more efficient than last year (not that last year was inefficient… just sayin’). While we were still in line in front of the municipal building, volunteers came along and checked our IDs, took our tickets, and installed our wristbands.

The gates opened and everyone just walked in, easy-peasy. We received our mugs and programs and although we both wanted to make a bee line to the beer vendors, we decide to lug our stuff to the grass and get set up. We knew the weather forecast; at this point it was sunny and gorgeous, and Brandy wanted to take as many photos as she could before the rain came.

The No BS Brass Band was on first, and although I really didn’t know much about them before the festival, I really really liked them. Especially the number that sounded like something the Ladies Man might sing to a lady friend over a glass of courvoisier. I also enjoyed the cover of Led Zeppelin’s “The Ocean.”

Next up was Yarn, and it was during this performance, if I’m not mistaken, that the rains came. People go absolutely crazy for Yarn. The band is so happy and high energy, people just start moving and spinning around, almost like a flash mob. There they all are, innocently milling around, and at the first note by Yarn, everyone’s in front of the stage boogying down.

We watched as clouds ominously advanced. We were armed with extra clothes, a rain jacket, and two umbrellas. Other things to remember to bring or wear to an all-day festival: chapstick. Sunscreen. A hat. Comfy underpants. Eh. Anyway, when the rain started, we decided (I forget why) to stay in our seats on the lawn. Brandy stuffed her camera under her shirt (the lens hung out the bottom and it was kinda funny looking–hee hee!) and we huddled under umbrellas in our seats. Brandy couldn’t resist sneaking the camera out a few times to take some shots of how ridiculous the rain was. I mean, we were drenched. Wringing wet.

I remember screaming. It was somehow raining upwards, under the umbrellas. And then we finally decided to run under the pavilion with the other 2998 people. It was packed. I remember thinking, “Man, the fire marshal would NOT like this.” Except that we were outside. And it was raining.

Snakes of people slithered through the crowd to reach beer vendors for a refill. This is where trust becomes important. In any situation involving crowds and a small space, I usually wonder how long it’ll be before someone goes psycho and causes some kind of ruckus. But here, in our friendly city, nothing like that occurred. Everyone was patient and happy and kind, and polite–lots of “excuse me”s and “sorry!”s and “woopsie”s, and one girl who kept repeating the word “willow” to us. We tried so hard to understand what she meant so we could help her or answer her.

Then, because we were wet, we were cold. Rachel Jenner and Brandy had to help me figure out how to put on a shirt under my wet shirt, and leggings on under my soaked skirt, without completely disrobing in front of everyone. I never would have accomplished it without them. At any rate, the rain stopped, the music continued, the beer flowed, and we were all warm and fuzzy again before too long. And you know? When there’s a mud puddle nearby, everyone becomes the same age: four and a half. Brandy and I did not slide belly down through the mud puddle pool (although we did let our feet get quite squishy), but we loved watching everyone else get down and dirty. We saw children splashing and dancing in the mud; we witnessed the destruction of many gorgeous sundresses worn by young women who lost their footing; we watched a grandma fall allll the way down, onto her back, and still get up and keep dancing with the grandkids! We loved it! Every single moment, every droplet of mud, every smile and person there… we loved it all. Our city.

By now, The War on Drugs had hit the stage. What a treat they were. They were a great pick-me-up for weary revelers, re-energizing the crowd as the sun went down. Honestly, all three bands were fantastic, and the combination of bands couldn’t have been better. Just before sundown–a rainbow. Can I get a “hallelujah”?!

Later as we walked to the Nile to see Cinnamon Band, we talked about the day–the people, the fun, the spirit, and yes–the beer. What did we like best about the Rocktown Beer and Music Festival? Everything. Everything.

Already looking forward to next year! Stay tuned all week for more photos from the Fest!

Copyright © 2012 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Photos by Brandy Somers. Written content by Katie Mitchell. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

city legend gets a different drummer no. 20: bongo restaurant and lounge.

Something strange always happens.

Brandy and I were excited to attend the invitation-only pre-grand opening on April 18 of Bongo Restaurant and Lounge on South Main Street in Harrisonburg. We were greeted at the door by a friendly hostess who pointed us in the direction of the bar. Once settled on our stools, we ordered a couple of drinks and started chatting it up. Servers carried trays of appetizers around the busy restaurant while people mingled, laughed, and enjoyed themselves. It was a very comfortable atmosphere.

I turned to grab a quesadilla from one server’s tray when I heard her say, “Ms. Mitchell! I haven’t seen you in years!” It was Jordan, a former student of mine from way back when. I was instantly reminded of the time she helped me break up a fight between two kids at my school years ago…. Scratch that, she didn’t help me—she did it single-handedly while I stood there helplessly screaming, “Ladies!” at the two girls rolling around on the floor outside my classroom. It was a strange scene—the two girls were engaged in an all-out brawl complete with eye gouging and hair pulling… in total silence. It was like two mimes fighting. I asked a male student nearby to help me break it up and he just smiled and said, “No way.” Heh heh. And just when I was going to push the red oh-dear-Lord-someone-get-down-here-and-help-me button on the wall, Jordan sailed in (in my memory, she’s glowing and moving in slow motion) and ripped them off of each other. When I got back from walking the two girls up to the office, I noticed clumps of hair all over the floor. Ick. After that school year, I didn’t see Jordan again until this night. Small world.

Originally Lloyd’s Steakhouse (and same owners), Bongo serves traditional American classics and Latin American food. To guarantee a successful reinvention of the establishment, they hired celebrity chef Ricardo Cardona  to shape the menu and train the staff. Hailing from New York City where he serves as head chef to the New York Yankees and owns four Manhattan restaurants, Cardona brings twenty-five years of experience and skill to our friendly city. He even stars in the TV show Mission Menu, and Brandy and I got to interview him!!

But first we settled in at the bar to sample the goods. The all-girl bar staff offered three specialty drinks—a margarita, Bongo Punch, and sangria—as well as a few varieties of beer and wine. As this was their preliminary opening, they had a limited menu, but now their menu (they serve lunch and dinner) is extensive and they have a full bar. For their complete menu, visit the Bongo web site. We nibbled on all sorts of lovelies prepared by Chef Cardona, including chicken quesadillas with guacamole and sour cream; chicken and beef empanadas (what happy, puffy triangles!); the Bongo burger; meat on a stick with barbeque sauce; and chicken skewers, with which I managed to stab my tonsil. By the end of our binge we had quite a collection of sharp, pointy sticks, but before Brandy could get a photo, our conscientious bartender scooped ‘em all up.

Before long we were invited into the kitchen to meet Chef Cardona. We didn’t want to bring all our purses and raincoats and such into the kitchen, so we left our seats at the bar and asked a group of strangers to watch our stuff. Eh. It is the Friendly City, after all.

We introduced ourselves. “I do the photos!” Brandy announced. “I do the writing!” I added. And Chef Cardona replied, “I do the cooking… and the yelling!” He was a bit busy, so Brandy took a few photos and we got out of his hair.
A bit later he was able to sit down with us in a separate room, the lounge. The lounge is a really large room with an urban, swanky feel. A long
bar runs along the front half of the room with tons of seating in an adjacent dining area; the back half of the room is a spacious dance floor and a DJ booth. They host dance parties on Thursday and Friday nights—Thursday nights are for college students only—and Latin dancing on Saturday nights.

We were so excited to sit down with Chef Cardona, although he had just a few minutes before he had to get back to the kitchen. He explained to us that his role at Bongo is that of consultant. He lives in New York, where, as mentioned earlier, he owns several restaurants but also consults with other restaurants in hopes of improving them, which is the premise for his upcoming show, Mission Menu. The show’s five cast members, including Cardona, find restaurants in need of help and overhaul their menus to bring in new life and flavor. Cardona has done this for Bongo, too. He consults with the Bongo staff on a bi-weekly basis to help them consistently provide delicious and interesting food and build a strong customer base.
Since he’s spent so much time in the Burg, we had to ask him… “What’s your favorite restaurant here?” (Other than Bongo, of course.) He hedged a bit, stating that we have many, many wonderful restaurants (yay, Burg!!!), but his favorite is Clementine, with Beyond getting “high marks,” too. Ya can’t argue with that, can ya, Praserth?
So after lots of delicious food and a fun chat with the chef, it was time for us to call it a night. Thanks, Bongo, for the lovely evening. Visit them soon at 2455 South Main next to Kline’s Dairy Bar, open Tuesday through Thursday til 9pm, and Friday through Sunday til 2am.

Copyright © 2012 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Photos by Brandy Somers. Written content by Katie Mitchell. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

family outing no. 15: kopecky family band.

Remember years ago before Clementine existed (wait–there was life before Clementine??), when it was Main Street Bar and Grill? I saw Dokken there. Yes–Dokken. And Don Dokken wore a white feather boa and it was AWESOME. It was a comeback tour, and there were only two original band members, but man, it took me back. I bet you didn’t peg me for a metal fan, huh?

Well, this might blow your mind, but I think I liked Kopecky Family Band‘s performance at Clementine last month ever better. I’d seen them a few other times–twice at Clementine (yep)–the first time I was actually there to see Dear Wolfgang perform because a friend of mine was in that band; KFB took the stage after them. I loved it. Brandy was with me the next time–one winter night more than a year ago. Just before this most recent show, I’d seen them at a bar called PJ Kelly’s. Since that first show, they’ve played larger and larger venues, including Bonnaroo, the Dave Matthews Caravan, SXSW, and the CMJ Music Marathon, and they’ve even toured with bands like Givers and Gomez. And this year? LOLLAPALOOZA! What?! So it’s super-nice of them to visit little ol’ Harrisonburg. I think they like us.

The group is made of six self-proclaimed choir- and band-geeks: Kelsey, Gabe, Markus, Corey, Steven, and David. On this night, Brandy and I scored a prime photo location at the bar and ordered a Paulaner and a Ranger IPA. The band opened with a song from their soon-to-be-released fourth album (eeeeeeeek!!), then followed with a few familiar ones. There are a couple main reasons we love this band so much. One, they are all uber-talented. I think they’re better live than recorded because a track on a CD just can’t contain the sound and the energy they produce on stage. They each play like a zillion instruments. Well, I counted fourteen instruments, to be exact. Six people ÷ fourteen instruments = ridiculous skill. For example, Gabe sings, plays guitar, and plays trombone AT THE SAME TIME. Corey, too. At one point I think Kelsey was singing and playing the keyboards (or maybe the accordion), a tambourine, and a drum SIMULTANEOUSLY. And they pick ’em up and set ’em down like it’s nothing. Markus will be one moment sitting there regally playing his cello, then suddenly throw the bow down, jump up on a chair, and start beating the mess out of a tambourine.

 A tambourine has never looked so manly. Must be the tattoo.

Their sound is rich and crisp, and layered and loud… some songs, like “Embraces” and “Disaster” (by the way, I swear I hear a little early Radiohead influence in there) start slowly and build to an emotional, perfectly layered and harmonious, yet raw, finale. Others, like “Little Baby Sister” are just sweet the whole way through.

If you’d like to see/hear a little snippet, here are a couple links to some new songs, “Angry Eyes” and “My Way.”

It’s crowded on the stage with all those people and equipment. There were a few close calls with Markus’ tambourine and Kelsey’s head. But, and this is reason number 2, they’re so fun to watch. All that instrument switching calls for a lot of movement on stage–crawling, crouching, kneeling, wedging, sneaking, scooting… it’s really a sight to see if you ever get the chance. While we’re at it, why not check out their tour dates, right here?

One last note, in addition to designing the album artwork and posters for the band, Kelsey’s also involved in another project called Feather and Belle, in which she collaborates with her friend Laura on their debut album, Pockets Run Deep. They played at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. This got us to thinking, and Brandy suggested having a “all-girls band” night featuring as many female bands as possible. Wouldn’t that be fun?? Give us your feedback and let’s get that ball rollin’!

Thanks to Clementine and Kopecky Family Band for another fun evening. Can’t wait to see you all again!

Copyright © 2012 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Photos by Brandy Somers. Written content by Katie Mitchell. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

 

terminally harrisonburg no. 11: union station.

Katie and Jen

You know how it is when winter starts to lift. You’ve finally taken down the Christmas decorations, just in time for St. Patty’s day; daylight streams into your house at a different slant and intensity; your kids have been bickering for weeks, having been cooped up with each other since October; and you’re going crazy. That’s how it was a couple of weeks ago for Brandy, Jen, Danielle, and me. When I drove away from the sitter’s house on that chilly but bright afternoon, I breathed a sigh of relief that stretched across the entire city. An evening with the girls–finally! Even if only til 7pm. Even better, it happened to be Harrisonburg’s Taste of Downtown week. This glorious event in Harrisonburg provides an opportunity to try local cuisine–lunch and/or dinner–for seven days in a row and snag some really good deals. Right now, while you’re thinking about it and before you read any further, mark your calendar for August 12 – 18–the next Taste of Downtown week.

We decided on Union Station. They were offering a specialty burger (a different one each night of the week) served on a frisbee plus four 4-ounce draft beers, all for $12.    $12!!!   (They offer this special every Monday, by the way, but I can’t guarantee which burger they’ll feature.) The specialty burger this night had Girls’ Night Out written all over it: a patty topped with spinach, feta, and tomato. And we got to choose which four beers we sampled. That evening they offered Stella Artois, Dogfish IPA, Hoegaarden, Weeping Radish, Jefferson Reserve, Brooklyn Lager, and Legend Lager.
The beers were served on cute wooden paddles, which took me back to my elementary school days. Ah, public school in South Carolina. My second grade teacher–yes, YOU, Mrs. Ross–paddled me one day for sharpening my pencil without asking permission. In my defense, it was my FIRST DAY of school in South Carolina, having recently moved from New Jersey, and I didn’t know the pencil sharpening policies. Nor had I ever seen a paddle in my life. You can imagine my surprise when she came up behind me and hit me with that thing–I scraped my forehead on the pencil sharpener, screamed “STOP KILLING ME!” and ran like some kind of wild animal up and down the hall, just trying to get OUT OF THAT CRAZY PLACE. My dad had to pick me up early… it was a mess. Years later, Mrs. Ross moved into my neighborhood. I bet there’s STILL toilet paper hanging from her trees. Nevertheless, I went back to school the day after that fiasco, and here I am today. Ta-da! Anyway, that memory faded as the beer glasses emptied and our conversation turned to other topics. Girl topics. Like that show The Biggest Loser. How much Jillian Michaels scares us, how no one liked that one blonde trainer (Kim Lyons), and how Bob is just awesome.
At this point my memory gets blurry and my notes sparse… apparently I said a few embarrassing things you won’t read here. That’s the advantage of being the writer, see? When I say something stupid, it doesn’t get recorded. I vaguely remember Brandy saying something like, “I wish I was writin’ this crap!” Sorry. Heh heh! But when I got home, I found spinach in my teeth. Ah, karma.

Then “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac came on, and I thought of my dad, and then there were some tears. And Jen nearly broke her glass. Finally Cassie Baker–owner of Union Station–came over and organized our conversation.

Katie, Danielle, Jen, and Cassie
(Brandy's behind the lens)

When Cassie bought the property, she spent some time researching its history and wanted to do all she could to preserve that history for her clientele. She certainly succeeded there. Not only is the building beautifully renovated with many architectural details of the 1930s and 40s, but the servers at the restaurant provide brief lessons about certain historical landmarks around the city. Union Station was the name of a train depot built by B&O in 1911. It was actually located where the jail now stands. The Wetsel Seed Company purchased the property in 1944 and retained ownership of it until eminent domain rendered it city property in 1991. If you’ve not been there, it’s truly a beautiful restaurant, with a large dining area, an ample bar, a cute backroom, and a new banquet room that can seat 65.

dining room

We couldn’t leave without asking about the big math error in that back room.

1991 - 1911 does not = 89.

Cassie told us it was just a joke left by the painters, long ago.

It was nearing seven o’clock and we all had to get back to our real lives. We were so silly that evening we knew we had tons of ridiculous photos to share with you all. That reminded us of the photo of Brandy and me at Beyond in which Brandy thinks she looks like a man (puh-lease!), and I feel I have too much flesh between my sternum and my chin. What is it with my excessive neck-y-ness?? Ugh! Jen sternly told me, “Oh, Katie, that’s just your throat!” Well, that doesn’t make it any better, friend. So, thanks for reading and not looking (click here and scroll all the way down). And for the rest of this week, we’ll feature more photos we wish didn’t exist.

Union Station is located on the corner of Liberty and Market Street (Rt. 33) in downtown Harrisonburg. See you there soon!

harrisonburg outing no. 2: the little grill

On the way to the Little Grill Collective (a Harrisonburg original and LEGEND) with Brandy and my kids, a discussion occurred about superheroes. I’m sure Cal started it because he’s absolutely obsessed with taking over the universe. The super power he would most want to have is to shoot “fire lasers” out of his eyes. Bree wants the power of invisibility; Brandy’s son, Blake wishes he could see a thought bubble over people’s heads so he can literally read their minds. How cool would THAT be? And would the bubbles make that sound like on VH1’s Pop-Up Video? Even better. Brandy touts time travel as her superpower of choice (and to be honest, that’s not a bad idea for me, either). I’ve already named her Brandybot because of her ability to take awesome photos of herself using her Gumby/Elastigirl/bionic arm.

Anyway, to the Grill we went, camera and notebook in tow. MexiNite. Oh, baby. Two-dollar Dos Equis and all-you-can-eat authentic Mexican food, prepared with authentically fresh ingredients, by deliciously authentic people.

We were a bit early–Mexi nite doesn’t actually start til 5pm. We were greeted by two employees prepping the food we’d be privileged to soon devour; one other occupied table; and Dr. Dog on the stereo. You know, it’s good it was not crowded when we arrived. Brandy was able to move around and photograph things without awkwardly dangling her strap in someone’s face, and Cal was full of himself and a bit annoying. I mean “enthusiastic.” No matter; by our second beer, the place was slammed.

Our waitress was Camille, and I had what I thought was a senior moment/deja vu because I could have sworn she worked somewhere else and NOT at the Grill. I checked my surroundings: bike, Gonzo, Yoda, Trivial Pursuit cards… yes, this is the Grill.

Turns out she also works at Jack Brown’s and USED to work at Clementine. Of course! She’s served me many a beer there. Funny how you only recognize people in their “original environments.” Anyhoo, in talking with Camille, we learned that not only is she working two jobs, but she’s also involved in a documentary about the Maasai culture and the change it’s undergoing. You can find information about it here. If you like what you see, you can attend the fundraiser Camille’s organizing to raise money for farming initiatives in Kenya, being held at the Blue Nile in March. Talk about super powers—someone give this woman a cape.

It was nice chatting with Camille, and her service was great. The food, as always, was excellent. My favorite is the potato roll-up. But honestly, any food that delivers sour cream to my mouth is a favorite.

I could go on and on about why I love the Little Grill so much. I’ve been going there since I moved here in 1993 and it’s one of my favorite places in the entire world. Just being in there makes me grateful to have something so unique and humbly special in my town. So here are just a few reasons why we love the Grill.

1. Sunday brunch. ‘Nuff said. There are no words; just go and try it. It’s religious.

2. The people who work there are just cool. As Brandy put it, “this place is full of slashers.” Take Camille. She works at the Grill/Jack Browns/Kenya. Ashley Hunter, who was also there tonight: LGC employee/fantastic singer. Chris Howdyshell, whose face was notably absent the day we were there: LGC employee/musician/Open Mic host/happy guy. And the list goes on. And they’re all worker/owners, too, which is why the food and the service is always perfect.

3. They are socially conscious. From the food quality to the shirts they sell, the Grill cares about the planet, the local economy, and you. They buy as much locally-produced food as they possibly can, and organic/cruelty free to boot. They make everything from scratch so you know what you’re eating is wholesome and nutritious. They buy fair trade items so you know your purchase is not exploiting someone somewhere. Many of the shirts they sell are actually re-purposed—they buy shirts at thrift stores, then screen print the LGC design on them.

They operate a soup kitchen and hold lots of community events at Our Community Place, which opened a few years ago (BTW, I tried to link to their website, but it doesn’t appear to be working). They’ve just been a peace-loving, forward-thinking part of our community for a very long time and I can’t say enough about them. Go there. You’ll feel it when you walk in.

4. They promote the goings-on in Harrisonburg. Whether it’s an art show, a local band, a benefit, a museum exhibit, a film festival… you can find it all on their giant bulletin board. They are truly community-minded, and most of the folks who work there are also heavily involved in these community events themselves.

5. There’s so much to do in that teeny, tiny place. While we were there, we (obviously) ate a great meal and had lots of laughs, but I also played Crazy Eights with my kids (Cal kicked our butts pretty soundly).

Brandy and I looked through the Muppets lunchbox stuffed with random notes people have left over the years. Bree and Cal played with the big bucket of Potato Heads. You can also enjoy trivia, look through old photo albums, and write in the “Book of Alternative Commandments,” or whatever it’s called—it was missing tonight when we were there. Has anyone seen it??

And…
6.The Elvis picture. It speaks for itself. I won’t even try.

Obviously, you HAVE to go to the Little Grill as soon as humanly possible. It’s on North Main St., north of Chanello’s where Main and Liberty meet, and just past the (garish) NAPA Auto-Parts store. Park on the street. Sunday brunch starts at nine, but you better get there at 8:30 if you want to make the first seating.  Don’t worry; you’ll have great conversations with other Harrisonburgonians while you wait. Just wear your sidewalk shoes. I promise you’ll feel good when you come out of there.