Inside the WV communities that get “live local” right

Living local is nothing new to West Virginia.

Since colonial and frontier times, West Virginia has been marked by self-sufficiency and local sustainability. Our rugged mountains and hollows have made us very good at (and prideful of) thriving off of our local resources.

Today many West Virginia towns continue this tradition of eating, shopping and celebrating locally, right from the source.

Here are a few of the best towns to find great weekly farmers’ markets, farm-to-table restaurants and local businesses.

1. Lewisburg

This southeastern WV city is one of the mountain state’s greatest cultural hubs, with excellent food and entertainment venues. It was voted as a “coolest small town” by Budget Travel magazine (Fayetteville also holds this honor), and recently received a distinction from America in Bloom, which recognizes communities for their “greening up” efforts.

Many of Lewisburg’s best activities are also distinctively local. Stella’s Tea House and the Livery Tavern are both owned by entrepreneur John Hirt and focus on local “farm-to-table” food. Jim’s Drive-in is also a longtime local favorite and has been featured in the Southern Living cookbook and on the Food Network’s show “Southern Fried Roadtrip.”

Local involvement is also key to Lewisburg’s community festivals and events like Taste of Our Towns (TOOT), the Lewisburg Chocolate Festival, and its literary festival.

2. Fayetteville

Affordable living, a beautiful setting and amazing outdoor recreation have made Fayetteville a hotspot, so it is no surprise it has a strong local vibe. If you need to stop into a bike or climbing shop for gear, try local favorites like Waterstone Outdoors, Marathon Bikes or New River Bikes. There’s a good chance that you’ll wind up chatting with one of the owners about local outdoor adventures.

Most of the restaurants in Fayetteville’s quaint downtown are locally owned and operated, and some like Secret Sandwich Society and Vandal’s Kitchen make serious efforts to incorporate local and seasonal ingredients into their menus. Some restaurant are also likely to be featuring the latest beers from Bridge Brew works, Fayetteville’s much-loved craft brewery. And if you prefer to cook your own food, don’t forget to check out the Fayette County Farmers Market every Saturday morning.

3. Buckhannon

This small college town nestled in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains of north-central West Virginia has a very vibrant local scene. Its theater, community arts cooperative and shops like Artistry on Main juggle local works with world-renowned artists. Start a night before a local show with a meal at the Market Bistro, which maintains tight relationships with local farms and markets. They serve up seasonal delicacies, many of which originate within a few miles of town.

The center of Buckhannon’s local scene is probably its Main Street. “It’s one of our strongest and most notable points,” said Laura Meadows of the Upshur County Conventions and Visitors Bureau. “Within just 3 blocks, you can visit so many locally owned and operated restaurants, specialty shops and art shops. I truly feel that this community works together for the best of Buckhannon.”

And with programs like the city’s Facade Grant, which matches funds for aesthetic storefont improvements, it’s clear that Buckhannon wants the best for its local shops and restaurants— so expect that local community to keep growing!

4. Hinton

The small town of Hinton, located just upstream from the New River’s entrance into its spectacular gorge, has reshaped its cultural scene in the last few years with a revival of local living values. There are great local farms like Bluestone Mountain Farms, which crafts handmade soap, local honey, cornmeal, and popcorn. Rainbow Farm, just downstream near Sandstone, specializes in sustainable pasture-raised poultry and eggs.

Locally owned restaurants like The Market at Courthouse Square and Chestnut Revival often source locally, and are always hangouts for locals and visitors alike. And, with 2 farmers markets– the Summers Tailgate Market and Hinton Farmers Market— it’s always easy to find locally produced goodies in town.

What are your favorite local West Virginia stops?

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This post was last updated on July 16, 2020