1 Nov

Missed TubaChristmas in 2010?
Check out this performance of Hark the Herald!

Now you are in the mood for some TUBA…we need YOU!

All ages and ability levels!
TubaChristmas is coming back to Blacksburg to join the Winter Lights Festival. Join in the fun as downtown Blacksburg celebrates with the annual lighting of the tree, parade, Holiday Market, Horse & Carriage rides, Art Crawl and more. TubaChristmas will make this the best holiday celebration ever! Bring your tubas, euphoniums and all of your friends to downtown Blacksburg on Friday, December 2nd , 2011.

Participants, please RSVP to

Schedule and Details:
• Parking: Kent Square Parking Garage – 207 Draper Rd, Blacksburg, VA 24060.
• Registration: 3:00 to 4:00pm – $5.00 per musician (Department of Music, rm. 243, Squires Virginia Tech)
• Rehearsal: 4:00 to 5:15pm (Department of Music, rm. 243, Squires Virginia Tech)
• Break: 5:15pm to 6pm (Dinner will be provided for the musicians.) Pizza, hot chocolate, coffee and water.
• Performance: 6pm to 7pm, Market Square Park, outside with heaters. (Warm weather dress and plastic mouthpieces are in order.)
• Available for purchase: TubaChristmas hats and/or scarves, Music ‘Carols for a Merry TubaChristmas ,  and Commemorative buttons.

TubaChristmas is sponsored by Downtown Blacksburg, Inc.and the Department of Music at Virginia Tech

About TubaChristmas

You are again invited to participate in one or more of the TUBACHRISTMAS concerts/events presented throughout the world. TUBACHRISTMAS was conceived in 1974 as a tribute to the late artist/teacher William J. Bell, born on Christmas Day, 1902. Through the legendary William J. Bell we reflect on our heritage and honor all great artists/teachers whose legacy has given us high performance standards, well structured pedagogy, professional integrity, personal values and a camaraderie envied by all other instrumentalists. The first TUBACHRISTMAS was conducted by the late Paul Lavalle in New York City’s Rockefeller Plaza Ice Rink on Sunday, December 22, 1974. Traditional Christmas music performed at the first TUBACHRISTMAS was arranged by American composer Alec Wilder who ironically died on Christmas Eve, 1980. Wilder composed many solo and ensemble compositions for tuba and euphonium. He was a loyal supporter of every effort to improve the literature and public image of our chosen instruments. Through Alec Wilder we express our respect and gratitude to all composers who continue to embrace our instruments with their compositions and contribute to the ever growing solo and ensemble repertoire for tuba and euphonium.
Every Christmas season, tuba and euphonium players of all ages, from specific geographic areas, gather to pay respect – through William J. Bell – to all the great artists/teachers who represent their heritage. Every TUBACHRISTMAS performance features traditional Christmas carols especially arranged for the first TUBACHRISTMAS, (December 22, 1974 in NYC’s Rockefeller Plaza) by American composer Alec Wilder (died Christmas Eve, 1980). Through Wilder, TUBACHRISTMAS concerts pay grateful tribute to composers who have embraced these noble instruments with solo and ensemble compositions. Depending on the population of any given geographic area, TUBACHRISTMAS ensembles may attract multiples of 100 participants aged 8 to 85 years! The warm, rich organ-like sound of the tuba-euphonium choir has won the ears and hearts of every audience. It is no wonder that TUBACHRISTMAS is an established Christmas tradition in cities throughout the world.

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If you don’t play Tuba come downtown and enjoy a spectacular performance on December 2nd at 6:00pm in Market Square Park.

Please share your favorite TubaChristmas story in the comments section below! The best story will win a TubaChristmas commemorative button!

TUBACHRISTMAS is a property and presentation of the
P.O. Box 933 • Bloomington, IN 47402-0933
(812) 824-8833 • FAX (812) 824-4462
e-mail: Web site:
“. . .dedicated to developing, expanding, and preserving the music arts. . .”

Guess Who’s Celebrating 25 Years in Downtown Blacksburg!?!

29 Oct Matrix

Post written by Karen Quina Doyle

Revised: 11/16/12- Matrix Gallery is celebrating it’s 25th Birthday! Another year older and another year better and better! Come and join the celebration 11/16/12 4-8pm in Matrix Gallery.

Stepping into Matrix Gallery  on a late October day that might best be described as a mix of drizzle and bluster with a touch of grey, the forecast immediately brightens as shop owner Lana Jaurez ushers me in with her warm smile and easy way.

Lana Juarez

A few steps more, and I’m fully immersed in the company and domain of the attractive, petite shop owner with chocolate eyes and silvering bob.  I know in an instant I’ve just entered the realm of someone who is right in her element, doing exactly what she loves and even more obviously meant to do.

The Road to Blacksburg

As an Art Major at Tech in the ’70s, Juarez had her heart set on working at a Downtown Blacksburg craft shop in the spot that is now Poor Billy’s.  It closed before she got that chance.  Waiting and wishing for someone to reopen it, she took to the road as a juried artist specializing in stained glass, a craft, which by her own admission, she hasn’t pursued in a while.

The journey would ultimately take her across the country just as it had as a young “Navy brat” transported from California to D.C..  It was during these more recent ventures that she met most of the artists and artisans “from all over” she still represents to this day.  Even though she has long since left the juried arts circuit, the latest works of those early acquaintances are still exquisitely displayed right next to her more recent finds.

Opening the Doors on a New Chapter

Realizing she could no longer wait for someone else to reopen that craft shop, she, along with two others who have since moved on, opened the gallery November 7, 1987 just a few blocks up the road in what has remained its permanent location at 115 North Main Street.

Working Her Magic

During a visit that was altogether too brief, I immediately grasped the notion behind her success when two random gentlemen, one with a clear agenda and one without, appeared in her doorway. The more decisive of the two made quick work of coveting a dove sculpture, a premeditated gift for (it was apparent) a very special lady, though he was in no apparent hurry.

Every dog has his day!

He and the engaging Juarez lingered over musicians and friends they had in common along with a shared love for Keb’ Mo’, who (unbeknownst to him) had prompted the whole exchange by way of Lana’s sound system.   The other, asking where one “might find antiques in town”, was greeted with the news that he could easily find “future antiques” right there in Matrix Gallery!  It was clear to me that no one could open that door without feeling the urge to come in and find what would surely become a treasured heirloom.  Even I was not immune.  I ended up leaving with the perfect gift for a friend’s new arrival: a baby rattle crafted out of a single piece of American black cherry at the hands of Victoria, TX wood turner and furniture maker, George Bagnall.

Art from All Parts

The array of artists reads like a travelogue as diverse as Juarez’ journeys — Whiting, WA; Burlington, ND; Corrales, NM; Easthampton, MA; Arcata, CA; Haiku, HI — though weight and prominence are equally given to local and regional artists including Blacksburg’s own David Crane, Beverly Nachlas, and Sally Mook as well as Floyd’s Sarah McCarthy, Richmond’s Robin Cage, and the Shenandoah Valley’s Marsha Heatwole.  The offerings range from pottery to glass, jewelry and wood, leatherwork, and hand-forged steel among a variety of other media.

“I believe it’s important to continue the tradition of honoring things made by hand,” Juarez intones.  “Even though this is new,” she urges, cradling a pottery mug with heartfelt appreciation, “it’s ancient.”  With a compassion that is hard to miss, she emphasizes how hard it is for the American artist to make it, especially now as things are moving too fast at the hands of technology.  “It’s something we can’t afford to lose,” she says with an impassioned plea.

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Tell Us What You’ve Found There

Do have a favorite artist or prized acquisition from Matrix Gallery?  We’d love to hear about it. Please share your story with us in the comments section, below.

When you’re through, go by and wish Lana a Happy 24th Downtown Blacksburg Anniversary!  We dare you to leave empty-handed.

Matrix Gallery is open seven days a week.

Learn more at


27 Oct Ritas5

Post written By Lauryn Tamburello

Rita’s manager, Jim Hagan, originally from Frederick, Maryland came here to start the “water” ice and custard shop after coaching football for many years.
Jim tries to get involved with the local community as much as possible by sponsoring children’s sports such as football, wrestling, volleyball and baseball.
This fall you will also be able to find Rita’s at a second location- in the concourse area of the Basketball arena! The stand will be located on the football stadium side during Men’s basketball games.
You can also find Rita’s at all of the Downtown Blacksburg events such as Summer Solstice, Steppin’ Out and Gobblerfest.
The most popular flavor enjoyed at Rita’s is Mango, and the Ice and Custard are equally top sellers. You can enjoy seasonal flavors such as Pumpkin, Cranberry and even Iced Hot Chocolate.Rita’s specializes in “water” ice, meaning it’s not as solid as Italian ice; the ice is made fresh everyday and Jim adds, “the custard is like nothing around here, it’s a soft serve with egg,” which leaves it thick and creamy. ”

For future business owners, Jim says, “the hardest step is the first step, do your due diligence and don’t get into the paralysis of analysis.”

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Jim sees the importance of small businesses working together and regularly features a special deal- bring in your receipt from a purchase at any downtown store and receive a 10% discount off your Rita’s purchase, Monday through Thursday. Another favorite cause is Alex’s Lemonade Stand. Each June, the Rita’s franchise partners and treat team members at 550+ locations work hard to support the mission of curing childhood cancer by asking guests to donate $1 to purchase a paper lemon. Guests personalize their paper lemons, which are then proudly displayed as a part of the local store’s “Wall of Hope,” a visual tribute to their community’s participation in the fundraiser. Since becoming a corporate sponsor, Rita’s has raised more than $2.5 million for pediatric cancer research and is the leading corporate donor in terms of dollars raised! Rita’s in Blacksburg enhance their fundraising effort by selling Alex’s Lemonade lemons during Summer Solstice Fest. In 2011 the Blacksburg store raised $900 for this cause.

Rita’s Blacksburg opened May 22, 2009 and is open all year round.
Rita’s is located on College Avenue between Green’s and The Lyric Theatre. Please visit their website for more information Rita’s

And don’t forget to shop downtown and take your receipt to Rita’s for 10% off your icy delicious treat, Monday through Thursday every week!

NEW- Rita’s now sells Custard cookies and cakes in addition to the regular wonderful ices and custard treats!

What is your favorite Rita’s flavor?

So you want to own a restaurant……

26 Oct

Being the owner/manager of a small  restaurant business can be a fun and  rewarding experience– OR it can be a  difficult and demanding job! And, the  current economic environment makes  everything more challenging. Find out how to set the stage to make your business an exciting one– for you and your customers. This FREE workshop will expose you to the steps to launching and managing a  successful restaurant business.

Entrepreneur Express:
The Business of Restaurants
A Workshop on Starting and Managing a Successful Restaurant
November 21, 2011   8:00 am-  12:00 pm
Holiday Inn Christiansburg–  NRV Mall
99 Bradley Dr. Christiansburg, VA 24073

Register for FREE at
Advanced Registration Required
Questions? Contact:
Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce: 540-552-2636
Virginia Department of Business Assistance: 276-676-3768

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8:00am  Registration & Breakfast

8:30am  Sponsor ~     Phillip Vaught

8:40am  Introductions – Catherine Sutton/MCCC

8:55am   Reasons Why Restaurants Fail- Kitty Barker/VTC

9:15am   Steps & Resources for Starting/Operating  a Successful Business in Virginia- Sandy Ratliff/VDBA

9:35am   Business Plans- David Shanks/Radford University College of  Business

9:50am  Financially Sustaining a Restaurant-Joe Rollison/Wells Fargo, People Source Inc.

10:00am  Tax Requirements-Alice Jones/Montgomery County   Commissioner of Revenue

10:15am  Liability Insurance-Tripp Godsey/Farmers Insurance

10:35am  Testimonial- Kevin Shaw/Domino’s Pizza

10:45am  Break & Networking

10:55am  Marketing, Promotion, Customer Service- Randy Rose/VTS

11:15am  Testimonial- Patrick Dobbins/Sal’s Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria

11:25am  Building Codes– Blacksburg/Christiansburg, Health Department guidelines,  Q&A- Cathy Cook,(Town of Blacksburg Building Official),  Jerry Heinline, (Town of Christiansburg, Building Official)

12:15am  Evaluations & Adjournment

Featured Vendors: US Food Group, Hethwood Market, PME Comp

Restaurant Seminar brought to you by: Downtown Blacksburg, Inc., The Blacksburg Partnership, Montgomery County Chamber of CommerceMontgomery County Economic Development,Virginia Department of Business Assistance, and the  Virginia Tourism Corporation. With sponsorship from and Wells Fargo.

Trick or treat!

19 Oct 310rosemont

Downtown Halloween Happenings

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Downtown Trick or Treating, special entertainment, costume contest for the under 12’s and other Halloween activities for the young, and the young at heart!

Come downtown with the family and enjoy the fun filled schedule Downtown Blacksburg, Inc. has to offer. As always this is a rain or shine event.All of our downtown stores and restaurants will be handing out candy from 4-5:30pm.

Firm favorites- “Scary Strings” by Community Celloworks will perform their spooky music at 5pm under the shelter in Market Square Park.

This year the Costume Contest will take place in Market Square Park under the shelters allowing our many contestants some extra room to “strut their stuff”!   Contestants will be divided into three categories- 0-3yrs, 4-7yrs and 8-12yrs. Prizes are awarded to three contestants in each category and a treat bag is given to ALL PARTICIPANTS! So get creative with those costumes, we love to see your imagination at work!

In addition to our traditional activities we are adding two more fun components to the Downtown Halloween Happenings this year. Come down to Market Square Park between 4-6pm to have a professional photo taken of your little ghostly ghouls, superheroes and villains. Cost $10 for the  1st print and $5 for each additional print. Proceeds to benefit United Way and Downtown Blacksburg, Inc.  

Picture taken, candy collected? Come to Market Square Park to catch the Haunted Hayride round the downtown area.  Fee will apply, cost subsidized by Downtown Blacksburg, Inc.

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4:00-6:00 pm Halloween pictures by Katie Thacker Photography

4:00-5:30 pm Downtown Trick or Treat at participating businesses
5:00-5:30 pm Gather in Market Square Park for special entertainment from Scary Strings (Community Celloworks)
5:30 pm Costume Contest for ages 12 and under in Market Square Park
4:00- 7:00 pm- Haunted Hayrides with the Headless Horseman! Catch your ride in Market Square Park.

Trick or Treat participating businesses include:
Bollo’s, Fringe Benefit, Matrix Gallery, Subway, Kent Jewelers, polished by claire v., Boudreaux’s, Happy Wok, Gillie’s, Clay Corner Inn, Mish Mish, The Lyric Theatre, Beaux Arts Galleria, The Cellar Restaurant & 6 Pak Store, Creekmore Law Firm, The Bike Barn, DP Dough, XYZ Gallery, Main Street Inn, National Bank of Blacksburg, Greenhouse Boardshop, Poor Billy’s, Big Al’s, 310 Rosemont, Mad Dog, John’s Camera, Campus Emporium, Pita Vera with more to follow! with more to follow!

Co-sponsored by Town of Blacksburg

Design the 2012 Steppin’ Out t-shirt

17 Oct



$500 Prize

Downtown Blacksburg, Inc. is sponsoring

 a design competition for the

Steppin’ Out 2012 T-Shirt

Steppin’ Out is a summer festival sponsored by the Downtown Blacksburg, Inc. and held on the first weekend in August of each year. August 3 & 4, 2012 will mark the 32nd annual celebration. The activities include live music, arts & crafts booths, merchant booths, children’s art & craft activities, displays by local nonprofit groups, the Draper Mile running race, and lots of food.

Profits from T-shirt sales not only fund this event, but also are used to support downtown and community improvements and activities such as the Farmers Market, the Downtown Master Plan, downtown benches, the Hand-in-Hand playground, the Arts Initiative, economic development and numerous downtown festivals.

Designs should reflect the character of Steppin’ Out, downtown Blacksburg, or the region.

Judging will be done by a panel of downtown merchants.  The winning artist will be profiled through advertising/news articles, in store windows where t-shirts are sold prior to the festival, and at Steppin’ Out.

Requirements: Maximum of 6 colors on shirt back and 2 colors for pocket logo. The shirt back design must incorporate the words “Downtown Blacksburg” and the date “August 3 & 4, 2012”. The pocket logo should include the words “Steppin’ Out”.


Concept sketches are due by December 15, 2011

They should be delivered to the Downtown Blacksburg, Inc. office located at 149 College Avenue, Blacksburg, VA, in the Community Arts Information Office, or they should be mailed to P.O. Box 233, Blacksburg, VA  24063.

Design/artist will be chosen and final camera ready artwork will be due by March 1, 2012.


Visit our website at to see past years’ designs!

 Steppin Out Design Competition Entry form

Elephant poop paper anyone?

13 Oct homebody

Looking for a unique gift, maybe something a little exotic?  Or how about clothing made from organic cotton?  Vintage costume jewelry anyone?

Homebody specializes in ethically produced products that are part of the fair trade and sweatshop-free revolution that is becoming more important in our global economy.

Products include clothing, jewelry, accessories, crafts, cards and organic bath soaps.  “Our customers like us because they can find gifts that are not expensive, but unusual,” says Margaret Breslau, owner of Homebody.

Elephant Poop Paper: It’s OK to touch it – and don’t worry, it doesn’t smell!

Where else can you find elephant poop paper?  Or purses made from seat belts or zippers?

Margaret has long been a proponent of living local and being environmentally conscious.  In her more than 10 years living in Blacksburg, she has gotten very involved in the community both politically and economically and also works with various VT student groups.  She is a mainstay in the downtown Blacksburg recycling program which collects used batteries, printer cartridges, and CFL lightbulbs.  Also, if you go to the Homebody website – – you can subscribe to “The Politics of Shopping” newsletter.

Purses made from seat belts!

Margaret was used to living in cities before she moved to Blacksburg when her husband, Daniel Breslau, became a professor in the Department of Science and Technology in Society.   When she first moved to Blacksburg after living in Tel Aviv, Israel for 7 years, she asked a local, “What do you do here in Blacksburg?”  One answer was, “Well, we’re all sort of homebodies.”  That led to the name of her new store, which is now celebrating its 10th Anniversary.

Stop by Homebody for a unique gift or non-mainstream clothing and jewelry.  New items are added every week!
Written by Peg Warren, Assistant Director of Downtown Blacksburg, Inc.

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Know your Town Council

6 Sep

Citizens First invites you to the:
Blacksburg Town Council Candidate Forum
Wednesday, September 14th, 7pm-9pm
Community Room, Blacksburg Library

Come hear the positions of Blacksburg Town Council Candidates on the important issues facing Blacksburg in the coming years:
School property development
Blacksburg quality of life
Residential code enforcement
Downtown revitalization
Bikeways and safe routes to schools
Relations with Virginia Tech
Sustainable landscapes
Candidate management style

There are 5 candidates running for 3 positions this year:
John Bush
Leslie Hager-Smith
Melvyn Jay “Mel” Huber
Paul Lancaster
Michael Stuphin

Election Information
The election of members of Town Council and the Mayor are held on the general election date in November of odd-numbered years beginning in November 2009. The mayor serves a four-year term and the council members serve four-year staggered terms.

Citizens age 18 and over may register to vote at the Montgomery County Voter Registration Office, Room 220, Christiansburg, VA, 540-382-5741; at the DMV when applying for a motor vehicle driver’s license; by mail (applications available at the Blacksburg Library, Blacksburg Post Office, DMV, Christiansburg Library); or in person at special registration locations set-up prior to elections.

Blacksburg has two polling places for local elections: the Blacksburg Community Center and the Library. Call 540-382-5741 for voter registration information and locations that provide public assistance or are primarily engaged in serving persons with disabilities.
Blacksburg Town Council

Citizens First for Blacksburg is a non-partisan Political Action Committee constituted by Blacksburg area residents (including Montgomery County & Christiansburg) to promote good governance and vibrant citizen democracy.
You can find out more about Citizens First

What makes Steppin’ Out tick?

3 Aug collage1

Two days away from Blacksburg’s premier festival seems like a great time to take a look behind the scenes to find out what it takes to make Steppin’ Out great.

Admnission to Steppin’ Out is FREE!

Downtown Blacksburg, Inc.(formerly Downtown Merchants of Blacksburg) has been bringing Steppin’ Out to the Blacksburg Community for 31 years.

Work begins in December when Steppin’ Out Craft Vendor Application packets are updated and compiled and Sponsorship Packages are sent out.

There are only two staff members working part time all year round putting together all of Downtown Blacksburg, Inc. events and services.

Approximately 50 volunteers working 200 hours are needed to keep the festival running smoothly.

Food vendors from our downtown restaurants have to submit their applications for Health Department permits a month before the festival.

Town of Blacksburg Public Works Department staff are out putting up tents, tables, chairs,stages and more in the wee hours of Friday morning to be ready for the start of the festival at 10am.

Steppin’ Out t-shirts help to pay for the festival each year.

DLP Concerts schedule the excellent entertainment for all three stages.

Blacksburg Fire and Rescue Squad set up their center of operations at Steppin’ Out.

NRV Varmints Pet Sitting Agency provide a safe, fun area for dogs while their owners visit the festival.

There have been family reunions, high school reunions, college reunions,and even wedding receptions at Steppin’ Out.

This year will be the biggest and best Steppin’ Out ever with an expanded footprint into the Market Square Park and down College Ave to Otey St. containing 246 craft vendors and downtown merchants booths.

50 non profit and community groups participate in the event.

It takes many hours in the hot sun to mark the booth spaces for 296 booth spaces!

So now let’s hear from you? Send in and share your favorite Steppin’ Out story.

See you at Steppin’ Out!

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Art at the Market

8 Jul Mccabecoolidge

Passionate about art? Love our Blacksburg Farmers Market? Is breakfast your favorite meal of the day? Love to buy local?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, we have the event for you! Saturday, July 16th, sees the return of Downtown Blacksburg, Inc.’s annual Art at the Market. The event has been around for nigh on 20 some years and changed locations and titles three time. It has grown from a handful of artists displaying their latest paintings on a fence of Henderson Lawn on College Avenue under the dubious protection of a handheld umbrella; “Art on the Fence”; to artists showing their work in the alley behind the original Farmers Market; “Art Along the Alley”;to over forty artists in 2010 filling 10×10 booth spaces on the lawn of the Media Building on Draper Rd; “Art at the Market”.

Local artist, Sally Mook, remembers the event well having been a participant since 1987. “Art at the Market started out as Art Along the Fence, the fence being the one that enclosed Henderson Lawn from Main street to Squires Student Center on College Ave. Some artists brought their own setups, but a lot of us hung our paintings from the fence by looping the painting’s wire over the fence spikes or leaning paintings against the fence and resting them on the brick wall……
There was good shade from all the trees along Henderson Lawn and College Ave…. There was good camaraderie among the artists then just as there is now.
The idea that didn’t work out was “Art Along the Alley” – it was waaaay too hot there and that must have been the low point for Blacksburg’s sidewalk art show as I believe there were only 7 of us artists.
No matter what the weather, I’ve always loved being a part of this show. So many people come downtown to look at art and to visit, it’s truly a fun, hometown event for me.”
Nancy Norton, stained glass artist, shares an enthusiastic view of the event; “This will be my fifth year at Art at the Market. Through heat and rain and perfect weather, it is always a treat to see so many folks downtown and for them to have a delightful opportunity to see what our local artists are doing.”

Without a doubt this exposition of unique works showcasing local artists in all visual media has seen its popularity and success increase as each year passes. Attracting an increasing number of artists each year it has become the premiere arts event in Blacksburg.

Art at the Market is now held each year in conjunction with Breakfast at the Farmer’s Market, a family event featuring wonderful locally grown food, live music and the best produce the farmer’s have to offer! This is the ideal opportunity to take in a little art with your breakfast.

Art at the Market is another great event brought to you by Downtown Blacksburg, Inc. with sponsorship from
Fringe Benefit, the Community Arts Information Office, and Mish Mish

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