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Relax at ReAwaken Spa

ReAwaken Spa owner Shanda Hileman bases her business on wellness. As a massage therapist, she believes that successful service focuses solely on the wellness of the client—rather than profit for the company. She trusts that the positive results will bring new and repeat clients to her door.

That is the mission of ReAwaken Spa -- offering personalized therapeutic care at “Ashland’s gem of peacefulness.”


Opening the front door, you walk into lavender, vanilla and cherry wafting from the soaps and candles displayed for sale. “All of our products are chemical free - pure and simple,” Hileman said proudly.


Inside the spa, you will see fun and sassy t-shirts, reasonably priced jewelry, and Arbonne and Juice Plus products available for purchase. Each month, Hileman showcases a different product line. She swears by the Juice Plus supplement line saying, “I never get sick, which is amazing because I never even get a flu shot.” 

As you walk toward the back, you will see several peaceful massage rooms and an infrared sauna. Hileman explains that infrared technology is “seven times more detoxing than a traditional sauna.”

Want to experience this gem of peacefulness for yourself? The Grand Opening of ReAwaken Spa is September 20 from 6:00-8:00pm and is open to all. Come and enjoy refreshments and music on the outside patio!

Plus, don’t miss weekly specials and membership benefits year-round.


ReAwaken Spa
112E Thompson Street
Ashland, VA 23005
(804) 299-2385

Yoga in the Center of the Universe

Yoga on Center celebrates its Grand Opening today from 5-7pm at 403 S. Center Street!

Tour the sun-filled studio and historic, trackside building. Meet owner Lorie Lower and her team of teachers who welcome yogis of all abilities for classes seven days a week.

 We recently chatted with Lorie about why she chose Downtown Ashland for her home and business.


Why did you choose Downtown Ashland?

My husband, Brad, and I looked to Ashland as we began to consider downsizing from a home in Short Pump.  With one daughter in college and one nearing the end of high school at the time, the idea of a college town and small community appealed to us both.

That said, we failed miserably at downsizing! Our family took on not one, but two historic properties on Center Street. My parents, Peggy and Dick, now live in the purple house next door.

How did you decide to start the business, Yoga on Center?

We were inspired by the bright, airy front room of our home. Plus, I have a degree in Business and Economics from the College of Charleston and a 200 hour Registered Yoga Teacher training course from OmOn Yoga. So, it was serendipity!

We started by looking around to see if there was a need, if there were any other studios in town, and asking the neighbors.  Support began to blossom, and we just started teaching classes. If you build it, they will come!

What makes Yoga on Center special?

We focus on the same things that make Ashland unique. We’ve integrated the trains that roll through town and instructors with local roots. We are committed to the community, as you can see from our partnerships with many local non-profits.

It’s what makes Ashland a community, all of us working in harmony.  We support each other, champion each other, and celebrate each other’s successes.  You can feel the happiness on the streets, in the shops and schools, and in the studio.  We are all so proud of Ashland!

Welcome to Ashland, Lorie! For class rates and a full schedule visit:

Volunteer of the Year

Bill Gatewood is an extraordinary volunteer and Ashland community member. On July 24, he was named Virginia Main Street Volunteer of the Year. As seen in the video above, Bill’s volunteerism with Downtown Ashland Association brought the statewide accolade.

Gatewood serves as Chair of Ashland Train Day, a street festival that celebrates Ashland’s love for trains on the first Saturday of November each year. Additionally, he has led Downtown Ashland Association as President and on the Board of Directors since 2012. A retired police sergeant, Gatewood spent nearly 30 years at Ashland Police Department. He is a dedicated public servant, in and out of uniform.

Bill and Cindy Gatewood volunteering at Ashland Train Day

Bill and Cindy Gatewood volunteering at Ashland Train Day

“Bill is the heart and soul of Ashland Train Day,” says Lorie Foley, President of the Downtown Ashland Association. He oversees every aspect, including food vendors, entertainment, sanitation, kiddie trains, signage, history, marketing, public safety, parking, volunteers, and cleanup. Under his leadership, the event grew from a small celebration held inside Ashland Library, to a street festival throughout Downtown Ashland. More than 10,000 people attended Ashland Train Day in 2018.

Gatewood devotes over 400 hours of planning and work for Ashland Train Day each year. One can only imagine the total number of hours Bill has volunteered throughout his tenure. When asked about the workload, his wife Cindy Gatewood states, “It never really stops. Even though July through November is when most of the organizing happens, whenever we go anywhere Bill is always looking for new ideas to improve Train Day.” 

Gatewood explains that he loves the event because “Train Day represents Ashland; so many kids and men and women love trains and what Train Day represents. So, I see it as a way to give back to the town and community.”

It was Bill who first proposed sponsorship of Ashland Train Day to Downtown Ashland Association in 2012. The Board of Directors agreed to take on responsibility for hosting the annual event, so long as Bill joined its ranks. He served for nearly seven years, including as President for 2016 and 2017. 

DHCD Director Erik Johnston and Virginia Main Street Volunteer of the Year Bill Gatewood

DHCD Director Erik Johnston and Virginia Main Street Volunteer of the Year Bill Gatewood

Beyond his involvement with Downtown Ashland Association, Bill serves the community by organizing special events. He serves on the board of Ashland Strawberry Faire and organizes annual Easter and Christmas events for children in Ashland and the Richmond region.

“Bill’s impact on our downtown district is immense.  He is our hero because he is organized, dependable and always cheerful,” says Lorie Foley. “Bill is great at thinking about the little things--the things no one else would ever think about--when putting an event together. And he is a people-person; he can light up a room.”

Cindy Gatewood agrees, “Bill has always been a go-getter and when he sees something that needs to get done, he does it.”

Upon receiving the Virginia Main Street Volunteer of the Year Award, Bill simply stated that he is “happy to have the opportunity to give back,” and “glad I can put smiles on the faces of so many.” Downtown Ashland Association thanks Bill Gatewood for his commitment to our community.

Ashland Train Day Awarded 2019 Commemoration Finale Grant

Photo: Diane Stoakley

Photo: Diane Stoakley

Downtown Ashland Association has been awarded a 2019 Commemoration Finale Grant for Ashland Train Day. Train Day, now in its 16th year and one of Downtown Ashland Association’s signature events, is a free and family-friendly festival that draws thousands of visitors to Ashland’s historic downtown each year. Ashland Train Day 2019 will take place Saturday, November 2nd from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm.

“Downtown Ashland Association is thrilled to receive this support, especially in light of our recent re-branding efforts and expanded mission to encourage tourism downtown,” said Maggie Longest, Executive Director of Downtown Ashland Association.

Photo: Diane Stoakley

Photo: Diane Stoakley

The 2019 Commemoration, American Evolution Finale Grants were awarded for 16 events statewide taking place in November. Ashland Train Day and other recipients will be promoted as part of the Virginia Customs, Cultures and Cuisine Festival. The program is administered by Virginia Tourism Corporation.

Through a partnership with The Hanover County Black Heritage Society and the Ashland Museum, Downtown Ashland Association will utilize the grant to launch new permanent exhibits that focus on Virginia’s railway evolution and history, the impact on Virginia’s towns and communities, and stories of local and state railway figures. In addition, a scavenger hunt will bring the evolution of Virginia’s railroads and trackside communities to life for participants of all ages.

“Through these new exhibits, we hope to encourage our visitors to look deeper at the resulting social communities, laborers, travelers, tycoons, and towns,” Longest added. “The Hanover County Black Heritage Society will showcase the impact of railway development in the black community to highlight the experiences of African Americans who worked, and were impacted by the rail industry, including laborers, porters and travelers.”

Photo: Diane Stoakley

Photo: Diane Stoakley

The month-long Virginia Customs, Cultures and Cuisine Festival, presented by TowneBank, will be filled with local, regional and statewide events honoring early Virginia history with cultures and styles that have shaped America over 400 years. This special capstone to the 2019 Commemoration will foster statewide participation, tourism, marketing and promotion, and public events to create a contemporary experience for all ages.

The Virginia Customs, Culture and Cuisine Festival is a strategic part of the larger 2019 Commemoration, that recognizes the 400th anniversary of pivotal 1619 Virginia events that forever changed the trajectory of Virginia and America’s history. These 1619 events include the first official English Thanksgiving in North America, the arrival of the first recorded Africans to English North America, the recruitment of English women in significant numbers to the Virginia colony, the launch of entrepreneurship and innovation in the Commonwealth and more.

We look forward to welcoming you for Ashland Train Day 2019 on November 2nd!

Ashland by Bike: Family-Friendly Itinerary for Summer Fun

Enjoy summer fun with the whole family and explore Downtown Ashland by bike. With trails, shaded streets, and an array of exciting family-friendly stops, we have your pedal-by-pedal guide to taking in all that Ashland has to offer!



Check out the Trains & Brains two-mile bike route. Beginning at Ashland Train Station, follow the tracks north to a designated bike trail and past Railside Park. On the return trip, you’ll pedal the shady streets of Randolph-Macon College. Make sure you stop to enjoy the fountain plaza!


When you’ve finished the route, it’s a quick jaunt along England Street to sweetFrog for frozen yogurt. The business is tucked into one of Downtown Ashland’s historic properties at 210 England Street, originally built for the Ashland Ice Company in 1921. How fitting!

Image courtesy of    Kiwanis Club of Ashland

Image courtesy of Kiwanis Club of Ashland


Refreshed and refueled, you can pedal west to Kiwanis Pufferbelly Park and enjoy the expansive new playground. Kids can test their skills at the skate park, or find creative ways to climb the spider web and merry-go-round. Little ones will enjoy swings, slides, and a sandbox in the shade.


Once you have conquered the park, cross the street to Sports Page Grill for your choice of American fare. The restaurant honors local youth and college sports teams, alongside televised professional sports.



For the finale, pedal to Ashland Theatre to catch the 7pm movie. July 19 through August 8, see Disney’s the Lion King in its new live-action version with a celebrity cast (buy tickets here). Spending the evening at the fully-renovated historic theatre is a perfect capstone to an Ashland adventure.