HARRISONBURG — A new Rocktown Bites Food Tour tells the history of downtown Harrisonburg in 1969 through food.
Rocktown Bites’ “50 Years of Love — Historic Food Tour” will include five restaurant stops at Heritage Bakery in the Hardesty-Higgins House, Jess’ Lunch, Union Station Restaurant & Bar, Friendly City Food Co-op — the site of the former Mick-or-Mack grocery store — and Kline’s Dairy Bar. The walking tour will end at the sixth stop, Glen’s Fair Price Store.
“During the entire tour, the tour guide will give history and stories of 1969 Harrisonburg and Madison College and other interesting facts about the area during that era,” said Eddie Bumbaugh, spokesman for the Hotel Madison and Shenandoah Valley Conference Center.
Hotel Madison began operating Rocktown Bites last year after the organizers who founded the tour company around six years ago decided to step down. They approached Bumbaugh, the former executive director of Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance, about finding a new operator.
“We had a conversation here with the management at Hotel Madison and decided that it would be a good match,” he said. “So last fall we began offering tours in much the same manner as the ladies had before.”
The food tour will be offered during the next five Saturdays, starting this weekend through June 8, in celebration of Virginia Tourism Corp.’s “50 Years of Love” campaign for the 50th anniversary of the “Virginia Is For Lovers” slogan, created in 1969 by Martin & Woltz, an advertising agency based in Richmond.
Harrisonburg Tourism and Visitor Services received a $10,000 grant from the Virginia Tourism Corp.’s “50 Years of Love” marketing fund. Harrisonburg Tourism is partnering with Hotel Madison and other local businesses to celebrate half a century of “Love” in Harrisonburg, according to a press release.
“We want everyone to celebrate finding what they LOVE in Harrisonburg and Virginia,” stated Brenda Black, former manager of Harrisonburg Tourism and Visitor Services in a press release.
Participants will receive samples of food at each restaurant along the route. The food that will be served for the tour is determined by the restaurant management, who will speak to guests about their establishment and its history.
“Each stop will give food samples that would be characteristic of their menu and what may have been appropriate for 1969,” Bumbaugh said. “The restaurants tend to highlight what their specialties are and they make it a memorable experience.”
The tour begins at Hotel Madison, located at 710 S. Main St. Guests are transported to the first stop and the rest of the tour is walked.
Bumbaugh recommends participants eat a very light lunch before the tour starts at 1:30 p.m. The three-hour food journey will conclude at 4:30 p.m.
The “50 Years of Love — Historic Food Tour” costs $50 per person. A maximum of 12 people can sign up for each tour, which is intended only for adults 18 and older.
To purchase tickets, visit www.rocktownbites.com.