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Believe in Bristol seeks national award!


ANDRE TEAGUE/BRISTOL HERALD COURIER Ecstatic fans watch Mumford & Sons concert in August.
January 09, 2013
Check out this BIB article BY DAVID MCGEE | BRISTOL HERALD COURIER
Posted: Tuesday, January 1, 2013 6:34 pm | Updated: 4:18 pm, Fri Jan 4, 2013.

Believe in Bristol has applied for a Great American Main Street Award, national recognition for its efforts to improve the Twin City’s downtown.

Each year, the National Trust Main Street Center, a nonprofit organization, recognizes five Main Street communities. Winners are chosen for passion, innovation, and inspiring success that serve as a model for communities throughout the nation, according to the organization’s website.

Believe in Bristol secured Tennessee Main Street status in 2006 and similar recognition from Virginia in 2011.

“With all we do and all we’ve accomplished, we feel pretty good about our chances,” Believe in Bristol Executive Director Christina Blevins said. “Look how much has changed. It’s just amazing. There are other communities in the region that do not have the success we’ve had. So we are doing something different. We are really, truly impacting Bristol.”

Since 2006, 44 new businesses began operating in the downtown area and there are now more than 40 loft apartments. The total investment in downtown – during that time — exceeds $20 million, Blevins said.

Selected by a nationwide jury of community development experts, each of the national winners “has proven that incremental progress — and persistence — pays off, creating economic vitality, a unique sense of place, and a greater commitment to community by all of its residents,” according to the national trust website.

Cooperation is the key, Blevins said, crediting the organization’s relationships with both city governments, downtown business and property owners, the Chamber of Commerce and other organizations.

That cooperation was at the center of the successful Mumford & Sons event in August that attracted about 20,000 people to downtown.

“Mumford was the cherry on top. We are so blessed to have gotten those guys here in town,” Blevins said. “Everybody is so busy and has so much on their plate – and we’re all stressed out all the time – but we really did focus. It went off without a hitch. We all communicated a lot. It was so much work behind the scenes but it was exciting, we all learned a lot and we got to work with some amazing folks at AC Entertainment.”

The city of Bristol, Va., netted a $5 million impact from that event, according to a Virginia tourism study, but the total number was likely much greater, Blevins said.

“We know Bristol, Va., alone saw $5 million and we know that across the state line they probably saw more than that. Just me guessing, I’d say it was at least $15 million in our region,” Blevins said.

That weekend began with an antique car show which attracted another large crowd to downtown.

Believe in Bristol has also focused extensively on its arts and entertainment district designation, promoting a series of events from tours of local art galleries, to art classes, the annual art in public places competition and a state of the arts weekend.

While special events attract crowds, the downtown’s future is the stability of its commercial tenants.

“It’s harder than it used to be to put people in empty spaces. State Street is expensive compared to side streets. It’s where people want to walk and shop. Just to be in downtown, isn’t difficult, but State Street is the thoroughfare,” Blevins said. “What we need to get people thinking is we can separate spaces. There are huge properties in downtown and we have to learn how to get a couple different businesses working together or a couple developers working together to maximize those spaces.

“I think we have a lot of opportunities with the technology sector. We are so advanced but technology people don’t think about us. We’ve got this awesome fiber-optic but people aren’t aware enough,” Blevins said.

There is also an educational component to what the organization does.

“Our biggest focus has been getting Bristol to like Bristol,” Blevins said. “People should be proud of where we are because this is so cool. I go to Main Street meetings all over the country and those people would give me their right arm to have what we have to work with right here.”

dmcgee@bristolnews.com, (276) 645-2532

Downtown Bristol Blog

Children's Workshop at blowfish emporium

January 12, 2013
Come join the Children's Workshop at blowfish emporium on Saturday, January 12, 12-2pm. Kids will be working hands-on with several different art projects of their choosing. Cost is $22 and includes everything! You must register for workshops in advance so give blowfish a ring on 276-644-1428.

Swing Dance Class at Bristol Ballet

January 11, 2013
Come out to the Bristol Ballet for the January ballroom class — the dance style for January is "Swing"! The class will be held on January 11th and the cost is $10.00. Class from 7:30-8:30, and social dance from 8:30-9:30. Refreshments will be provided. For more information, email info@bristolballet.org or call (276) 669-6051; 519 State Street, Bristol, VA.

Student Art Brightens the New Year in Downtown Bristol

January 09, 2013
The Arts and Entertainment District is hosting the 2nd Annual Student Art Display in Downtown Bristol. In an effort to “Cultivate Bristol’s Creativity,” we have invited the local schools to help us beautify our community by providing art to decorate the front windows of the former Hayes Furniture Building on State Street. Each school that participates will have a month-long display period to present their students’ art in the space. Our fourth student gallery of art went up on January 3, showcasing vibrant charcoal and pastel drawings from 3rd and 4th grade students at Highland View and Stonewall Jackson Elementary Schools.
Click here to read more.

Calling all vendors for Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion 2013

January 09, 2013
Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion is calling all vendors, returning and otherwise, to fill out applications for the 2013 event to be held Sept. 20-22. Applications for food and craft vendors should be filled in online by March 1, 2013 through the festival's website, BristolRhythm.com.
Click here to read more.

Vote for venues, businesses and events in Downtown Bristol in the Best of Virginia 2013 Readers' Survey!

January 09, 2013
The Best of Virginia 2013 Readers’ Survey is a great opportunity for us to vote for Bristol’s Best, and perhaps even win in various categories and appear in the May issue of Virginia Living, which celebrates Virginia’s Best.
Click here to read more.

Be a Believer and Support Believe in Bristol's Annual Campaign!

January 09, 2013
When you look down State Street and see the unique Bristol Sign all lit up, trees and flowers in bloom, the hustle of patrons browsing from shop to shop and those dining at local restaurants, it is easy to forget that it has taken a lot of time and energy to produce the kind of charm found in Historic Downtown Bristol. We have such a treasure right here in Northeast Tennessee /Southwest Virginia and within the past several years, Believe in Bristol is winning back the hearts of those in our community as well as visitors from all over the world by recruiting and sustaining businesses, preserving and highlighting our historical roots, hosting concerts of both small and big name bands, and much more! With such variety and one of-a-kind-venues, it is no wonder that so many people find themselves shopping, dining, playing, living and working in this energetic environment. As a new mom, I am excited about raising my children in a community that is eager to be creative and innovative as we go after those seemingly impossible projects. I am also extremely proud to be part of an organization that is not fearful of dreaming big! The double lines of our State Street certainly divide two states, but we work hard to keep “One State of Mind”.
Click here to read more.

Studio 6 Apparel has moved!

January 09, 2013
Studio 6 Apparel is a locally owned women's boutique with unique fun styles for young to mature women. The boutique has just moved to 509 State Street so go check out their new space and start shopping — there's something for everyone at Studio 6! Open Mon — Sat, 10:00 am — 5:00 pm.

Shelbee's Vintage Cafe Starts Soulful Weekends!

January 09, 2013
Shelbee's Vintage Cafe will be offering Soulful Weekends on the 1st and 3rd weekend of each month. They will offer: collard greens, yams, mac n cheese, beans, meat options will change weekly, banana pudding, cobblers and much more! Soulful Weekends kicked off this past weekend; the next Soulful Weekend is Saturday, January 19, 1-6p.m. and Sunday, January 20, 11 until the food is gone. FIRST COME, FIRST SERVED! Shelbee's Vintage Cafe & Premiere Catering: "THE SWEETEST SECRET IN BRISTOL WITH SOUL," 504 STATE ST. BRISTOL, TN. Dine in or Carry out. Check Facebook for menu details.

Upcoming Events

Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion Day Passes on Sale Now

December 06, 2012 - August 31, 2013

Bristol Rhythm & Roots Weekend Passes on Sale for $45

January 01 - May 31, 2013

January Storytime, Various Youth Activities, and the Nevermore Book Club at the Bristol Public Library

January 01 - 31, 2013

606 State Street Jammers at 606 State Street Gallery in January

January 01 - 31, 2013

606 State Street Gallery: January Featured Artist is Linda Hamilton & Student Featured Artist is Lurah Lowry

January 01 - 31, 2013

Virgie R. Fleenor Art Gallery to Feature Twin City Photo Club in Exhibit in January & February

January 03 - February 27, 2013

Beer Tasting at Inari Wines

January 11, 2013

January Ballroom Class at Bristol Ballet — Swing Dance!

January 11, 2013

Big Gene and Danny Lee's Loud Park

January 11, 2013

Wine Tasting at Inari Wines

January 12, 2013

The Honey Badgers with Darrel Webb at 620 State

January 12, 2013

Children's Workshop at blowfish emporium

January 12, 2013

Laura Thurston at O'Mainnin's Pub

January 17, 2013

Barlow Gin at Machiavelli's

January 18, 2013

Roots of a Rebellion at 620 State

January 18, 2013

James Meadows at State Line Bar and Grille

January 18, 2013

Beer Tasting at Inari Wines

January 18, 2013

Soulful Weekends at Shelbee's Vintage Cafe and Premiere Catering

January 19 - 20, 2013

Pinterest Saturday at blowfish emporium: Window Pane Workshop

January 19, 2013

An Evening With Paul Thorn at Theatre Bristol: A Fundraiser for the Birthplace of Country Music

January 19, 2013

Wine Tasting at Inari Wines

January 19, 2013

A Lesson in Glowing Light at blowfish emporium

January 23, 2013

Beer Tasting at Inari Wines

January 25, 2013

The Masters of Bluegrass at the Paramount

January 25, 2013

Pinterest Saturday at blowfish emporium: Scale Art Workshop

January 26, 2013

Wine Tasting at Inari Wines

January 26, 2013

Intermediate Japalachian Bonsai Workshop at blowfish emporium

January 30, 2013

Andy Crawford at O'Mainnin's Pub

January 31, 2013

606 State Street Gallery presents February's Featured Student Artist: Kandee Wallace

February 01 - 28, 2013

Beer Tasting at Inari Wines

February 01, 2013

The Sound Drivers at Machiavelli's

February 01, 2013

Wine Tasting at Inari Wines

February 02, 2013

Buechner Institute Lecture by Michael Perry

February 04, 2013

Beaver Creek Storytellers at 606 State Street Gallery

February 07, 2013

Beer Tasting at Inari Wines

February 08, 2013

Wine Tasting at Inari Wines

February 09, 2013

Father and Daughter Dance at Bristol Ballet

February 10, 2013

606 State Street Jammers at 606 State Street Gallery

February 11, 2013

The StereoFidelics at O'Mainnin's Pub

February 14, 2013

Ray Cashman at Stateline Bar & Grill

February 15, 2013

Beer Tasting at Inari Wines

February 15, 2013

Wine Tasting at Inari Wines

February 16, 2013

More Upcoming Events »