Dagan African Market

Dagan African Market

We stopped into a hidden gem in the heart of Clarksville a while back and were completely surprised at what we found. Did you know there was a very cultured African market here in Clarksville? The Dagan African Market is right off Fort Campbell Blvd and is a family-owned operation by Adolph Dagan.

About Adolph Dagan

Adolph, originally from Togo, moved to America (IL) and joined the US Army. The Army brought him to Ft. Campbell where he served his term and got out in 2009. He loved serving his country but felt it was time to move on and start a new venture.

After getting out of the military in 2009, Adolph got a job as a teacher (teaching French) at Rossview Middle School and worked on getting his college degree during this time.

Since 2004, even before the Army, it has always been his dream to open his own business so he can bring some of his own country to Clarksville. However, he just didn’t feel the timing was right.

After years of debating back and forth, he decided to pull the trigger in August of 2019 because he saw an increase in the demand for an African Market. Previously, everyone had to drive all the way to Nashville for this!

About the Market

The Dagan African Market has so much more than you may think from the outset. They are loaded with real, organic foods from all over the world.

 

Everything from Yams, to authentic Clothing from Togo & Ghana, to organic toothpaste (from neem), raw honey, essential oils, and so many different types of leaves and spices!

One of the top selling items is actually a product that makes you *gain* weight. It’s called “epidoma” and Adolph said he cannot keep it in stock!

The thing that surprised me the most was just how *raw* everything was. It’s certainly a store that stocks its shelves with only the best, quality ingredients. You can get all types of raw fish, goat, chicken, and other meats from their huge stock of freezers.

 

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Conclusion

 

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The Dagan African Marketing is located at 1681 Fort Campbell Blvd, Suite D, here in Clarksville and is looking to expand in the future! Go check them out and tell them we sent you!

– Wes Foster – WesFoster.com – @realwesfoster

Bethlehem Bakery

Bethlehem Bakery

Bethlehem Mexican Bakery is a family-operated bakery in Clarksville, right outside of Ft. Campbell. They’ve been serving the city of Clarksville since 2011 and offer a huge variety of foods, desserts, and cultural snacks.

We stopped in here to learn more about the business and family and were pleasantly surprised at just how much was packed into this building!

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Where it all started

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The Bethlehem Mexican Bakery originally started in 2011 in a small ~1800 square feet office in Clarksville. Diego says, “It was small, but it was perfect. We made it work, opened up shop, and were so happy when we made our first sale of $70!”

Since then, the family has had to upgrade the building to accommodate the increase in demand!

The current location, which they moved into in 2016, is about 3,000 square feet. Inside, you’ll find a nice dining area, shelves upon shelves of pastries and desserts, and a huge menu detailing all the different foods they serve, including empanadas and burritos!

Diego and his family love serving the Clarksville area and specifically outside of Ft. Campbell because the culture is so diverse in the area.

What makes them unique

Bethlehem bakery, staying true to their culture, makes everything from scratch–with many of the recipes being passed down through multiple generations! Diego, one of the two sons who actively work in the business, walked us around and gave a grand tour of the shop!

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The baked-goods in this unique bakery tend to be less sweet than what you may be used to in a traditional American bakery. For this reason, customers from all over the map come in to get a taste of the not-so-sweet, but still-so-delicious desserts.

The majority of the desserts and pastries are under $1.50 and Diego says that you cannot beat that price. Since everything is handmade from scratch every morning, he can tell you every ingredient that goes into each and every pastry.

Go check them out!

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Bethlehem Mexican Bakery is a Christian bakery (hence the name “Bethlehem”) and their family whole-heartedly believes in the golden rule and treats every customer like family. Be sure to stop by their bakery and tell them we said hey!

Wes Foster
@realwesfoster

Artlink

Artlink

ArtLink Clarksville is a one-of-a-kind, non-profit, art studio located right in the heart of downtown Clarksville, TN. Since 2012, ArtLink has been empowering people, igniting passion, and building character through creativity and various art programs.

ArtLink was founded in 2012 by Maria Haycraft who, if you’ve ever met her, is not exactly what you’d expect from your average artist. While modern films portray artists as dry, philosophic, turtle-neck-wearing stiffs, Maria is fun, energetic, and very welcoming to everyone she’s around. Not only that, but Maria is extremely talented when it comes to her own personal style of art. She loves what she does, and it shines through with how she interacts with her students, teachers, friends, and everyone involved with ArtLink.

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Art is something most children grow up with at a young age. Whether it’s coloring with crayons and paint, secretly painting murals on the side of your dresser, or string macaroni into a necklace, art is a normal part of life for most children. But as children grow into adults, the arts are slowly replaced with science, math, geography, and life in general. Art tends to be looked at as childish busywork and not so much as a necessary outlet for many adults.

ArtLink’s Executive Director and Founder, Maria Haycraft, wants to change that.

About Maria

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Born in San Fernando, CA, and raised in Niagara Falls, NY, Maria has always had an interest in the arts. Not just visual arts either, but music as well. Maria started her art path through music in high school, where she admittedly took classes because she saw them as an easy out compared to the advanced math and science classes she “mistakenly” volunteered for. Once she dove into music head first, she realized that this was her calling all along.

After finishing out school and her music, life eventually brought her to Gainesville, FL where she was initially introduced to the art of stenciling by some of her friends. There was a legal graffiti wall that her friends would work on together so they asked her if she would like to go out stenciling with them. At the time, Maria had no idea what stenciling even was! But after that night, she was hooked–for life.

Life eventually brought Maria back to Niagara Falls, but this time, the art of stenciling came with her. She and some friends started “Sacer Clothing” and went on to sell custom artwork and clothing as a partnership. In 2012, Maria moved to Clarksville, TN, brought Sacer, and noticed the huge art void that Clarksville had. Not even a legal graffiti wall, anywhere!

Maria started ArtLink as a way to provide a creative outlet for those who want to explore and find new ways to channel their energy. Having been “saved” by art in her own life, Maria, and others who volunteer at the studio, see art as a way to express and develop confidence in one’s self.

At ArtLink, art is more than just fun and games, it’s an expression of one’s self, a therapy, and a unique way to bond with others in the community. Maria wants to bring all the joys that art brings to children and adults alike in Clarksville.

Classes & Projects

ArtLink offers a number of different types of creative arts, services, and events for all ages, such as:

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DIY ART KITS

Art Kits are purchased on ArtLink’s website, or in their store, and consist of all the art supplied needed to create the craft of the month. Students are led through the entire process by Maria, or another volunteer, virtually or from within the classroom. Even though the process is the same for everyone, students are encouraged to express themselves through their own color choices and patterns. The classes are fun, sometimes messy, and students walk away with a unique project and a higher sense of confidence in themselves.

ANNUAL CHALK WALK

One of the largest events put on by ArtLink, the annual “Chalk Walk,” is a world-wide favorite! Chalk artists from Clarksville, and all over the world come together to decorate sidewalk squares. These squares, which cover over 600 square feet, consist of various different styles, including 3D, and are mapped throughout downtown Clarksville for the local community to enjoy.

OTHER CLASSES

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ArtLink offers so much to students, and a lot of it for FREE. As a non-profit, ArtLink is supported by donations, sponsors, and the revenue generated from their events. Other things ArtLink is known for include:

  • “Turn it Up Tuesdays” Music Lessons

  • Macrame, Painting

  • Donated Goodie Bags

  • Kidz Zone Logo Contests

Or, if you’d like, you can simply come in and start slapping paint, drawing, coloring, and hanging out with others who love art! ArtLink provides a safe and fun environment to express yourself through art.

Go Visit!

ArtLink is currently located at 117B Strawberry Alley BUT will be moving across the street into a much larger studio very soon! You can learn more about ArtLink, Maria, the classes, and other volunteers at their website: https://artlinkclarksville.com/

Author: Wes Foster @realwesfoster

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Riverside Bicycle Shop

Riverside Bicycle Shop

Smokin Chikin

Tennessee Valley Brewing Company

Hey, Clarksville! Hope you’re having a great week. Do you have any plans for the weekend? Looking for a place to hang out and enjoy a nice cold one? I’ve got a great company I wanted to tell you guys about in this week’s #FeatureFriday.

Family, fun, friends. Caring, community, craftsmanship. The Tennessee Valley Brewing Company has the distinction of being Clarksville’s first nanobrewery, and I’d like to tell you a few reasons why they are also one of Clarksville’s favorite places to grab a brewski.

The owners, Wendy and Eric Brannstrom, aren’t originally from the area, but they have come to call Clarksville home, and have embraced the community like family. Their heart for the community and giving back is evident in just about everything they do, from their work they do with local charities like Big Brothers & Big Sisters, YAIPaks, Manna Cafe, Bikers Who Care and the United Way, to donating their spent hops and grains to local farmers to use for feed for their animals.

They epitomize the idea of keeping it local, right down to the water they use in their brewing. Eric uses Clarksville tap water and the only thing he does to prepare the water he uses in his brews is to filter out the chlorine.

The Tennessee Valley Brewing Company has something for just about everyone with 10 beers on tap, from stouts to ambers to reds to nut browns, just to name a few. Some are their base beers they always have available and they round out the options with special batches of a few seasonal beers throughout the year. Some see operating a nanobrewery as an opportunity to experiment with different types and flavors of beers since they are already crafting their beer offerings in smaller batches, and Eric and Wendy are adventurous when it comes to creating new flavors.

They also offer three ciders year round for those with gluten sensitivities looking to enjoy an alcoholic beverage. The canned ciders come from Gypsy Circus Cider Company, Tennessee’s original cidery, located in Kingsport, Tennessee.

So whether you consider yourself a beer aficionado, a craft brew connoisseur, you want to expand your beer drinking palate, or you don’t have a clue what to order, Eric, Wendy or their beerista, the magnificent Maggie, can help you out.

Want to know what beer to pair with your favorite food? They are a wealth of information in that arena as well. They even offer sample size or flights of beer if you want to sample several different beers.

Eric and Wendy both have ties to the Army and their unique beers do too. Eric was asked to make a beer especially for the 5th Special Forces Group stationed here at Fort Campbell, and he was more than happy to oblige.

A group of people from the unit were sitting around, enjoying some cold ones and discussing what they wanted in the beer made especially for them. As they discussed how they wanted it to taste, they agreed upon a name for their request…”Snake Eater.”

Rumor has it that those in Special Forces have to kill a snake and eat it as part of their survival training. I don’t know whether that is true, but Wendy says Snake Eater is their best selling beer. Another crowd favorite is the Screaming Eagle, specially requested by a Command Sergeant Major out of the 101st Airborne Division.

One of Eric’s specially crafted brews is called “Pachyderm Punch” after the 6th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, 101st Airborne Division who are nicknamed “Pachyderms” because their mission is to do the heavy lifting, like pachyderms can, with their Ch-47F Chinook helicopters. An interesting fact about this beer is that Eric uses Chinook hops in this beer. How cool is that??? So creative!

The Tennessee Valley Brewing Company has become a favorite local hangout for a number of reasons. Eric and Wendy have created a fun place to enjoy great beer with friends and family. If you visit the taproom you’ll know why. There is a spirit of comradery that fills the air, a spirit of belonging. I think that is something that is important, especially in a military town where friends and family are often deployed or transferred.

There are a couple of things you notice about the decor of the taproom. One is a large wooden flag mounted on the wall near the front of the taproom. The flag is surrounded by unit patches given to Eric and Wendy by their patrons. It’s obvious by the sheer number of unit patches surrounding the flag that the community has a special love for Wendy and Eric, and not just because of their beer.

Another decor standout is the collection of beer mugs hanging on the wall behind the bar and along the hall. There are 200 mugs in all, each with their own number. For $50 you can become a member of the Mug Club. Mug Club membership includes a 20-ounce handcrafted pottery mug, which hangs on the wall, ready and waiting for you to come in and enjoy your favorite beer, or try a new one, at a discounted price, 20 ounces for the price of a pint, 16 ounces.

Mug Club members also get notified first and get first dibs at upcoming events and new beers making their debut. The membership is good for one year, at which point you have the option of purchasing a newly designed mug so you can continue to enjoy the other perks as well. Last year’s mugs are red and black, the colors of Austin Peay State University. The upcoming year’s mugs will be yellow and black, the colors of the Nashville Predators hockey team.

In a military town that has a highly transitory population, it’s inevitable that at some point a Mug Club member will be deployed. Mugs belonging to deployed personnel have a small flag sticker placed on them to signify the owner’s status. Here’s another place where the feeling of belonging comes into play. Customers can purchase wooden nickels to place inside the mugs of deployed members, like they’re saying “Hey, let me buy you a drink.” When the deployed member returns, they can use the wooden nickels to purchase a beer or two, or if they have several coins, they can “buy” a beer for their friends if they choose.

There are also pewter mugs with engraved names hanging on the walls. Pewter mugs are for those special people who have supported Wendy and Eric along the way to help get their business up and running. As a special “Thank you,” to those people, they become permanent members of the Mug Club. They enjoy the reduced price craft beers and enjoy first dibs and notifications, but they don’t have to pay the yearly fee.

And if you’re celebrating something, or just feeling the urge to be a bit different, you can drink out of the Drinking Horn. It’s just what it sounds like…a beautifully engraved horn…and you can ask to drink out of it.

Tennessee Valley Brewing Company keeps an active social calendar, with fun stuff to do all week long. One crowd favorite is Trivia Tuesdays. Local radio personality, Joe Padula, keeps things interesting with his own brand of humor as he emcees this fast-paced, hilarious game night.

They also have comedy nights, live music, and themed parties throughout the year. Ring in 2020 at their Roaring 20s themed New Year’s Eve party. No cover charge, but free tickets are going fast.

The Tennessee Valley Brewing Company, is located at 2088 Lowe’s Drive, Suite H, Clarksville, TN 37040 in the small strip mall area next to Kroger and China King Buffet. Their hours of operation are Monday-Thursday from 3:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m., Friday-Saturday from 12:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m., and Sunday from 12:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. Their phone number is

(931) 906-3510.

 Stacie Shonkwiler

(Instagram the_wording_wizard)