Kentucky Monthly Magazine got it right: Danville, Kentucky deserves its spot at the top of the Magazine's "5 Coolest College Towns in Kentucky." Danville has always been special, with its history, its handsome homes and the sweet liveliness that acclaimed Centre College adds through its excellent performance and presentation schedule.
And then there's the Great American Brass Band Festival, where I once thought my soul might lift on out of my body in the joy of processing through the streets while surrounded by members of world-class jazz bands. That one half-hour nearly erased the misery of five years in a public school marching band.
The Chicago Sun-Times picked Danville's Pioneer Playhouse as one of its five don't-miss midwest theater choices for 2011. Writer Mary Lu Laffey applauded Pioneer Playhouse's authenticity and longevity (61 years!) as a classic summer stock venue, as well as its role in launching careers for John Travolta and "Six Million Dollar Man" star Lee Majors.
Let us praise, too, the real-dealness of Danville's famous downtown people magnet, Burke's Bakery. People in Danville (and lucky visitors) cherish Burke's, a fifth generation family owned "scratch" bakery, as Patty Burke explains in less than two minutes in Antony Boshier's video, below. (Be amazed when guys from the local football team show up to perform heroic feats during a baking emergency.) Building on the goodness already present, $800,000 in recent investments in downtown Danville dining raise the quality of life in this already splendid town to a new level. Adam Johnson, the dynamo who heads up the Danville Convention & Visitors Bureau, shared the investment figure as he guided nine Kentucky food bloggers on our inaugural field trip in late August, 2011. We visited six charming, hospitable businesses that have opened or expanded, every one of them in a handsomely redone renovation to an existing downtown building. Each business HAD business late on a summer afternoon, and each is a place I could happily visit often, bringing others along for the fun:
V the Market: An emporium for carefully curated cheeses, chocolates, Bourbons, and craft beers from around the world. Proprietor Mary Robin generously shared her research on her store's fine stock, and her enthusiasm made me want to come back for a lot more learning and tasting.
Mermaids Bar & Bistro (facebook): Old house dining with new flair, focused on seafood specialties and proudly offering locally grown premium beef. The internally lit bar, also locally sourced, throws out a captivating, underwater-ish sea-blue light that makes dining feel like a party.
303 W of Danville: This beauty of a pool hall greeted us with a long table of crunchy fried favorites, freshly prepared. The restored interior, including the pressed tin ceiling, glowed. The pool tables are 100+ years old, and they were in constant use as we enjoyed the hospitality.
Bluegrass Pizza & Pub: Packed on a weeknight, and every night, we heard. Locals enjoyed telling us their families' favorite pizzas and oohing over the array of breadsticks, cheese-toasts, and white pizza offered to us outsiders.
Beer Engine: No bottles here. At least 12 brews are on tap, apparently. Some are brewed in-house, and some are "guested." Four just-right small glasses came on a chalked piece of slate, each offering a different take on the theme of beer.
The Hub Coffee House & Café: This wonderful reuse of an old department store, credited with helping launch Danville's downtown renaissance, stayed open past closing time so our food blogger field trippers could taste our gift cupcakes from Twisted Sifter (our flavors were a bit more traditional than the Maple Bacon flavor they sometimes offer), peek into our packed Burke's Bakery and Karamel Kreations gift bags, and say proper thanks to our hosts and our fellow bloggers, Mindy Wilson and Lori Rice, who had organized the field trip.
The combination of new renovations of historic buildings and fresh places to eat and drink add new energy and live to lovely downtown Danville. More new eateries are under construction and will open soon.
My fellow food bloggers wrote extensively about our Danville outing. Enjoy their detailed descriptions and fine photography from the first Kentucky food blogger field trip.
Kentucky Food Bloggers in Danville, from Crazy Englishwoman Cooks
Danville, KY—A Hidden Gem, from My Fiancé Likes It So It Must Be Good
Kentucky Food Bloggers Tasting Event in Danville, Kentucky, from The World in My Kitchen
Food and Fellow Bloggers in Danville, Kentucky!, from Fake Food Free
Take a Danville Restaurant Tour, from The Goodness of the Garden...All Year Round
Kentucky Food Bloggers Night Out, from Mirabelle's Creations
For more posts from the more than 50 Kentucky food bloggers, visit Kentucky Food Bloggers Association on facebook.
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