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Looking Back at 2022: Reflecting on Downtown Harrisonburg’s Milestones at Celebration & Reception

January 3, 2023 by Andrea Dono

It’s been a few years since we had a chance to celebrate downtown milestones and the amazing partners and businesses who make our downtown the vibrant place we love so much.

On Wednesday, Nov. 9th, HDR invited our donors and sponsors to celebrate together at the beautiful Church of the Incarnation.

We began the evening with a toast to Jeff Hill, the founder of Local Chop & Grill and the Joshua Wilton House. Board member Andy Perrine put it best when he said that Jeff would have gotten a kick that we celebrated his life from the podium in a church sanctuary with beer in our hands. Board member Aaron Ludwig shared that Jeff spent a lot of time trying to take care of his teams during the pandemic shutdowns and is just one example of what a great man he was.

There was so much to celebrate from the last few years, with people at the heart of it all.

One thing we couldn’t let people leave without knowing is – everything HDR does and will do in Harrisonburg is made possible by you. You shop small, dine out, donate, volunteer, partner with us, and sponsor and attend events. HDR does nothing alone and downtown doesn’t get stronger without you. End of story.

The biggest news was that during our hardest years of 2020-2021, downtown had a net gain of businesses. This is huge considering national media reported for two years that national chains as well as mom and pops were closing throughout the U.S. OUR news is that we have been growing!

Our festivals had record attendance in 2022. Our events are built with community gathering in mind as much as economic development. Reformatting our events – from concentrating people at the Pavilion or Court Square to circulating them throughout downtown – boosts day-of sales for many as well as increases exposure to businesses. Sip & Stroll has been a big hit and something we’ll expand.

We’ve been leveling up. From funding a new gateway installation to paying for more extensive and sophisticated marketing to growing Taste of Downtown from a week of discounts to a month of culinary experiences, our work has matured. A full-color downtown dining guide, a holiday shopping guide, and shop small tv and streaming media commercials are just some of the ways we are building downtown’s brand and attracting people here.

We’ve got big plans!

  • We love that our organization and so many of our partners are already using the Downtown 2040 Master Plan. All your feedback that informed our road map to our future is not sitting on a shelf and we are already getting to work!
  • Along these lines, we no longer want to experience regret with the loss of historic buildings and we are working on recommendations to put protections in place in our downtown district. We can’t replace the irreplaceable and we can’t be a historic district without historic buildings.
  • On top of that, we are teaming with the Church of the Incarnation to design and help fund a downtown park where its parking lot is now, we will launch a new initiative to find ways to make downtown more accommodating to people with physical disabilities, and our Levitt AMP concert series begins next year!

Now that we took a look ahead, let’s take a look back and highlight those who helped make the last few years outstanding! Cheers to our Excellence Award winners and Downtown Superstars!

Volunteer of the Year 2022 – Barbara Camph

For unbridled enthusiasm and creative participation in HDR events with a special focus on the arts

Volunteer of the Year 2021 – Mary McMahan

For dedicated leadership of the Friendly City Merchants and entrepreneurial approach to engaging retail promotions

Partner of the Year 2022 – City of Harrisonburg Downtown 2040 Team

(Economic Development, Public Works, Community Development, City Manager)

For exemplary partnership & collaboration in leading a successful community-driven downtown master planning process

Community Builder of the Year 2022 – Jeff Guinn

For consistently finding ways to build community in Harrisonburg as an artist, business owner, and volunteer

Restaurant of the Year 2022 – Mashita

For growing from a food truck to bricks-and-mortar and then expanding in less than three years, all while serving up creative dishes, excellent customer service, and generous community support

Retailer of the Year 2022 – withSimplicity

For quality merchandise, exceptional entrepreneurship, and inspiring business savvy

Best Building Renovation 2022 – The Church of the Incarnation & Blueline

For vision and design excellence in the transformative interior and exterior renovation of 75 N Mason Street.

TrustFall 2022 – Sgt. Ron Howard & Harrisonburg Police Department

For creative, out-of-the-box thinking & problem solving necessary to create Harrisonburg’s Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area

Business of the Year 2022 – Magpie Diner & The Perch

For simply bring the best! Best building transformation, best catalyst project, best business concept, best design concept, best community support

Best Scene Maker 2021 – Sage Bird Ciderworks

For hosting creative entertainment, weekly activities, and special events including the signature Apple Harvest Festival and Harry Potter birthday celebration

Best Scene Maker 2022 – Pale Fire Brewing Co.

For consistently planning exciting recurring events, special events, concerts, and, of course, Townie Summer

Leaps and Bounds Award 2022 – Dinamic Cuts

For demonstrating the most growth and improvements in a short amount of time

Best Public Partner 2022 – Public Works Street Beautification Team

For dedicating early mornings and hard work to keep downtown beautiful

2022 Downtown Superstars

These individuals helped Downtown Harrisonburg shine bright. Thank you for your dedication to Downtown!

Danita Alt

Teresa Bayes

Jenny Burden

Allison Dugan

Missy Elliott

Braydon Hoover

Carly Knicely 

Peirce Macgill 

Billy Miller

Chris Quinn

Paul Riner

Theresa Rubasak  

Brian Shull

Amy Springer

Nick Swartz

Dawn Turner

Kelli Williams  

Special thank you to El Pasiano Bakery, Sage Bird Ciderworks, and Brothers Craft Brewing for providing refreshments during this celebration!

Thank you for our generous 2022 Celebration & Donor Reception Sponsors