Brick storefronts hug the sidewalks, planters of bright flowers line the road, and the white dome of the Upshur County Courthouse peeks above the rooftops. It is for these reasons and many others why WV LIVING Magazine recently named Buckhannon one of the Best Small Towns in the state.
WV LIVING Magazine readers nominated and testified earlier this year to why their hometown deserved the title of West Virginia's best. Eight towns in eight regions were ultimately selected as winners of the inaugural competition.
Winners in each region are: Buckhannon (Mountain Lakes); Bridgeport (North Central); Barboursville (Metro); Lewisburg (Southern); Spencer (Mid-Ohio Valley); New Martinsville (Northern Panhandle); Shepherdstown (Eastern Panhandle); and Elkins (Potomac Highlands).
What truly makes a town desirable? The magazine reviewed reader testimonies, cost of living, crime, education, and amenities to gauge each town's winning attributes.
It doesn't come as a surprise that Buckhannon was voted a fan favorite.
"If you looked up 'hometown' in the dictionary it wouldn't be surprising to find a picture of this idyllic Mountain Lakes community," said Nikki Bowman, WV LIVING Magazine editor-in-chief.
Downtown Buckhannon is thriving because its people are invested. Restaurants and shops line Main Street. The Main Street Arts Cooperative, the Buckhannon Community Theatre, and multiple festivals make the town a central point of art and culture in the region.
During the course of several months, WV LIVING Magazine's staff traveled to each contending community and quickly realized a few key things.
"All of our winners have thriving arts communities, proving that art, music and culture play an important role in building better towns. Outdoor recreation is prevalent and residents spend a good bit of time outside. Crime is low, and, for the most part, the cost of living is below the national standards. All have charming main streets that serve as a hub for shopping and dining, and plentiful parking," Bowman said.
The eight winning towns are featured in the current issue of WV LIVING Magazine and online at wvliving.com.
"There is something special about each of our winners, but what we took away from all the entries this year is that it's our small towns that make our state special," said Bowman.