Is Elkmont, Alabama the next Marfa?

June 26, 2014 | By | Comments (18)

Elkmont, AL

If it’s up to Tasia Malakasis, Elkmont Alabama will be the next Marfa. The place where all the cool kids travel miles out of their way to get to. We think she’s onto something. The world-famous cheesemaker took a chance on Elkmont when she bought Belle Chevre creamery in 2007. Last year she opened an 8,000 square foot creamery. Now, right down the street from Belle Chevre and its sister tasting room, kindred spirits are following suit. We sat down with Tasia–yes there was goat cheese and candied bacon involved–recently and learned all about what’s happening in Elkmont.

This small town, once made strong by cotton and the railroad, is poised for a resurgence, led by artisans, creatives, and enterprising business owners. “Elkmont is steeped in a very rich Southern history and culture and is now embracing its historical respect for the arts, food, and the maker in a modern way,” she says, nibbling on sandwiches with what else but goat cheese.

“Saving old buildings that once housed cotton from its own fertile soil, artists are being lifted up and celebrated in monumental ways, and architects and historians are bringing traditions forward with a playful nod to the future of the town and the South as a whole.” cheese board Is Elkmont, Alabama the next Marfa? So far the creamery, which offers tours and tasting, and the tasting room, has been the main draw for visitors. In the coming months, two new businesses will open just down the street from Belle Chevre, which Tasia believes will bring likeminded visitors to the tiny town.

Next month, U.G. Mercantile opens an outpost in the building which once housed a feed store, barber shop, and antiques store. The sister store to the Athens U.G. Mercantile (just down the road), it’ll be packed with similar goods — cast iron skillets, candy by the pound,  oil lamps, and Patagonia. Plus there will also be a spot where visitors can rent outdoor equipment. (An 8.8.-mile Rails-to-Trails path starts at the restored railroad depot just outside the shop.)

Then in August, Artisan South opens next door. Owned by brothers Robert and Lonnie Key, the store will feature handmade, artisan goods from around the region. “No, we’re going to sell real things made by real people,” Robert says. Among the items that will be featured: furniture by Tennessee-based Alan Daigre Designs, handblown glass by Alabama-based Orbix Hot Glass and Cotton and Quill linens. Down the street there’s the Red Caboose, which brings in singer-songwriters from around the region (13 Grammy winners so far).

And up the road, buildings are being refinished for the next person who becomes intrigued by the possibility of Elkmont. So what’s with the Marfa talk? It’s the “shared language for all genres of art swirling around” Elkmont these days and the hope of attracting visitors with similar interests. Consider us intrigued.

Elkmont, Alabama is located in North Central AL, 45 miles Northwest of Hunstville, 131 miles Southwest of Chattanooga. Belle Chevre’s inaugural “Running With The Goats” (think: Pamplona’s running with the bulls, but with goats) takes place Saturday, July 12.  10k, 5k, and fun run, and of course goat cheese.

COMMENTS

  1. Daveen

    The Gin House is the VERY BEST place to eat in Elkmont! Great food, good prices!

    October 16, 2014 at 11:16 pm
  2. 5 Things You Need To Know in the South Right Now | Your Hub for Southern Culture

    […] Southerners unite. As we reported in the “Is Elkmont, Alabama, the next Marfa?” piece, we have our eye on this town. This weekend is the perfect time to make a trip to the […]

    October 13, 2014 at 10:00 am
  3. Diane

    I’ve often thought the sweet town of Elkmont could be a mini State Park to highlight its Civil War history…the Battle of Sulphur Springs was fought just a short walk south on the Rails to Trails which runs through Elkmont. It’s exciting to see the growth of this nearby town.

    July 14, 2014 at 8:29 am
  4. Gary Compton

    Attended the “Running With The Goats” event today. Wow, Downtown area was packed with around 900 runners and about twice that many spectators. Great day for our Town.

    July 12, 2014 at 5:05 pm
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    July 12, 2014 at 2:09 pm
  6. Gayle

    Surprised you didn’t mention the Hilltop Arts Festival. It’s a showcase for art, music, and crafts of all kinds. This year it will be on Nov. 1st. Proceeds go to the Pinkerton Scholarship Award.
    Also, this is the 10th anniversary of the 10k run sponsored by the Elkmont Lions Club in Sept. (when it’s a little cooler).
    You also just missed the annual Railroad St. BBQ cookoff, (also a Lions Club event) where 29 teams competed to knock the socks off the judges.
    Elkmont is a rocking little town.

    Gayle

    July 1, 2014 at 10:55 am
  7. keith

    Right before the building across from the red caboose became Aardvark Screen printing, it was “The X-Change” youth outreach for 3 years. Kids would ride their bikes and skateboards there on Friday nites to play pool. foosball, air-hockey and hear live Christian heavy metal bands!

    June 28, 2014 at 7:01 pm
  8. Julie

    THE BEST goat cheese EVER on the face of the earth. Went to Belle Chèvre when it was located behind a log house in Elkmont. It was closed and I knocked on the door of the log house thinking it might be the office. WELL, I was greeted by a woman in a robe and wet hair wraped in a towel. Wasn’t the office! Funny! I went back the next time I was in the neighborhood and met the nicest lady and learned that they were relocating to new building in two weeks. I have been to the new building also. You have to try the pimento cheese on hamburgers and the honey in French toast with strawberries. You JUST have to experience the goat cheese and then you won’t want any other goat cheese! TRUST ME! Thanks Tasia!
    Julie

    June 28, 2014 at 12:35 am
  9. Starr

    And right around the corner in a little blue building you will find Devilicious! Breakfast and lunch served Thursday, Friday and Sat,

    June 27, 2014 at 11:51 pm
  10. Nelson B.

    That would be U.G. WHITE Mercantile in Athens, not U.G. Mercantile. People who call themselves “journalists” these days usually aren’t.

    June 27, 2014 at 11:35 pm
  11. Donnie Bama marlow

    I love my old town I live there all my life. So good to see it growing.

    June 27, 2014 at 9:18 pm
  12. Mary Frank Madera

    Oh my stars! My granddaddy, Carl Robison, owned the general store there when I was a little girl! How lovely it is growing again.

    June 27, 2014 at 7:40 pm
  13. Shela Wales

    Love this town and its residents!!!!!! Elkmont definately has something special to offer.. looking forward to great things to happen to this town………..

    June 27, 2014 at 6:18 pm
  14. larry pierce

    North Alabama’s largest coupon group The Coupon Patrol is home based in Elkmont with close to 5000 members to date…Each month the group sponsers two needy families from Limestone Co and donates food,,cleaning supplies. and health & beauty aids to them.

    June 27, 2014 at 3:15 pm
  15. Mary Catherine

    Thank you for highlighting this little gem! I am thrilled to have Cotton + Quill be a part of this growing area and Artisan South!

    June 27, 2014 at 9:51 am
  16. Allison Crawford

    And Fort Hampton Outfitters!! They offer kayak rentals on the Upper Elk River at access to the Limestone County Canoe and Kayak Trail. There are five entry and exit points. Many options available; most people prefer the 6 mile trip which takes about two to 2.5 hours. Can provide half day and even full day trips. Provide shuttle service, boat rentals, paddles, PFD’s. Presently require clients to schedule trips. Contract with Joe Wheeler State Park to provide SUP (stand up paddleboards) lessons and rentals. Licensed Jackson kayak and BOTE SUP retailer. Offers ASRT members discounts and also family and group discount

    June 27, 2014 at 9:09 am
  17. nancy

    This is awesome!

    June 27, 2014 at 7:49 am
  18. Taylor Morris

    Dont forget Aardvark Screen printing! An amazing Family owned, screen printing shop. It has started from a small shop decades ago, and is now a national treasure for conventions all around the U.S.! The Hardy family now has a six figure business, that is designing and selling out to not only local small businesses. There graphic designing is skilled to the point that major retail stores have stolen a design or two, they had not trade marked! (That is a story for another day!) Its next door to the red caboose! The family are AMAZING Christians, and there product is elite!

    June 26, 2014 at 11:04 pm

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