On this, the final day of August, we wrap up our series featuring the wide world of places military families are stationed. We’ve traveled the globe together, from Hawaii to Korea and Japan, and now we head to one of the biggest installations to learn more about Fayetteville. It’s so much more than just “outside Fort Bragg.” Enjoy! ~Rebecca
Fayetteville sucks. At least that’s what people told me. “Make sure you don’t shop at the Walmart on Skibo Road after dark!” “Never, ever go downtown alone.” “Do you have a Concealed Carry Permit?” These were just a few of the comments made when people found out my husband had orders for Fort Bragg, North Carolina. But I didn’t buy into it.
Fayetteville is Beautiful
I woke up this morning and shuffled out to my redwood deck. Coffee in one hand and plush saddle blanket wrapped around me, I sank into my overstuffed patio chair to stare into the woods that line my property. We back up to the state forest, so the morning in the woods is always a great start to the day. The scent of pine filled the air while cardinals and canaries fought for their spot on one of our bird feeders. I sat there for a while, just breathing in the sounds of the forest, and feeling the “almost” autumn breeze on my face. This is my most favorite spot on earth. Fayetteville, North Carolina.
After a bit, I got ready for work, kissed my kids goodbye, and headed downtown. For the last two years, I have had the honor of working as the Director of Events and Promotions at a 28-year-old nonprofit called CEED. It is a challenging and rewarding job, and I have met some of the most amazing people in the world. We work out of a historic building on Hay Street. I am originally from the West Coast, and the history here in Fayetteville still takes my breath away. Our building is over 100 years old. Ikea furniture and WiFi have replaced the horse carriages, but there’s this little spot in our lobby where if you wiggle the heel of your shoe just right you can tell that its dirt underneath. It’s awesome.
Fayetteville is Fun
Tonight was the monthly Fayetteville 4th Friday event held in downtown. Part of my job is running a concierge service for local food truck owners. I had arranged for four trucks to participate in tonight’s event and needed to make sure that the street was clear for them to park. But first I had a meeting with a local realtor.
I meet with realtors several times a month, but I’m not moving any time soon. The average time most people live in Fayetteville is four years. That means there are a lot of realtors around and most of them are looking for a way to get involved in the community. Fayetteville is an incredibly philanthropic city and meeting with donors is my favorite part of this job. If you are moving to the area, I’d encourage you to ask your real estate agency what they do for the local community. Nicole Williams is one of 150 agents with Keller Williams that have given to our poverty prevention programs this year. She wanted to know how she could help in a more significant way.
I had scheduled our meeting at The Coffee Cup, an adorable little shop with a living room in the back that is perfect for consultations. The girls behind the counter go to my church and recognize me when I walk in. While there, I bump into one of my favorite Fayetteville people, Jenny Bell. Jenny runs www.gofayetteville.com, a fantastic blog sponsored by the local visitor’s bureau. As much as I tried to make this post into a visitor’s blog, I can’t. Just follow Jenny. Anyhow, we had a good chat about some of the challenges we’ve faced with our food truck program. It has been so rainy this summer! Great for my skin. Terrible for food truck events. We brainstormed for a minute then went our separate ways. I had a great meeting with Nicole and headed down the road to check on food truck parking.
Fayetteville has History
Thirty years ago, “walking Hay Street” met something completely different than it does today. Anyone who refers to Fayetteville as “Fayettenam” has not been downtown in several years. Don’t listen to them. I left the Coffee Cup and swung into Pressed, an awesome little variety store with tons of Fayetteville swag, great gifts, and these popsicle things called Loco Pops that have contributed to my waistband expansion project. I intended to check out some fun 1990’s toys that they have in stock right now, but I ended up chatting with the owner Jon Thompson for so long I forgot to buy something.
Walking down to the food trucks’ assigned street and realized that parking had NOT been blocked off. No worries. Officer Scott, one of the downtown pedestrian police officers, jumped in to help me get the traffic cones set up. She is a staple in Downtown, and while I’m sure she deserves a promotion, I hope she never stops running the street because the place is better when she’s around.
Our food trucks showed up right on time and within the hour, lines wrapped around the corner to get some excellent burgers, tacos, pizza-by-the-slice, and soft-serve ice cream (did I mention my waistband expansion project?). After making sure that the trucks were all set, I headed the other direction to see how my friend, Johanna Brumm, was doing at her new grocery and gift store. The Downtown Market is on Anderson Street, and she carries local farm to market foods including milk and eggs. She has tons of local gifts, bread, and even furniture. I was hoping she’d have her Huskies with her. Benny and Bandit have their own Facebook page, but if you’re ever downtown, you can usually spot them walking Johanna around the block several times a day. They bring me much joy.
There is so much more to say about Fayetteville but know this. I am a better person because of Fayetteville and the people here. It’s safe. It’s beautiful. It’s home.
Alyssa Hennessy is a true American Girl – having lived in every part of the United States over the course of her life. For the time being, she has settled in North Carolina where she and her husband hope to spend the next several years raising their children and resting their souls. Most days, you can find her sitting on her deck sipping coffee, or sitting on her friend’s deck sipping wine, or sitting at her desk sipping tea…. generally she likes to be somewhere hydrating.