Category Archives: Virginia Tourism

Shenandoah Acres

“In the Draft,” the Facebook page dedicated to Stuarts Draft in the southern part of Augusta County, had such interesting historical information this week that I decided to post it here as a reference for future years.

Shenandoah Acres has been a popular tourist destination in the central Shenandoah Valley as well as well known and loved by local residents. Here is what “In the Draft” wrote about this local treasure:

Good morning Stuarts Draft! It’s time for a new ITD Person Of The Week. Actually, this week we have “Persons” of the week. This is long overdue – these 2 guys (brothers) should have been the 1st people I featured on this page. I have no excuse, except that even though I’ve known who they were basically all of my life, I had never been introduced to them. They didn’t know me and I just kept thinking I would run into them someday and take advantage of that opportunity. I was seriously intimidated about calling them. I mean, in my opinion, this family is responsible for putting Stuarts Draft on the map and making our community what it is today.

I know most of you already know these guys, but if not, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Jack & Harold Blacka. I have some pictures of Jack that I got from his daughter Cindi. Harold told me the 1st time I spoke to him that I couldn’t take his picture, he might’ve been joking, because he has a great sense of humor, but I certainly didn’t ask a 2nd time – I was so excited to actually sit down and talk to them that I would have agreed to anything!

So, you know who they are, right? The Blacka family owned and operated Shenandoah Acres for 70 years. I say that they “put us on the map” because you can travel anywhere and when someone asks where you’re from and you say things like “The Shenandoah Valley Of Virginia”, “about 30 miles west of Charlottesville, VA”, “3 hours south of DC”, etc – it is not uncommon for the person you’re talking to to ask “Is that near Shenandoah Acres?”

It was not at all unusual for Shenandoah Acres to have visitors from every state (and some other countries as well) in any given summer. They once received a postcard from overseas that was simply addressed “Shenandoah Acres, Virginia, USA”.

Let me give you a little history. Rupert A. Blacka was a traveling salesman from Scottdale, PA. He sold a line of pots & pans that were designed to retain the vitamins in cooking. He had studied medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and dreamed of one day having a health resort.

In his travels, he came across Dodge Pond on a farm that had been owned by Dr William Dodge. Dr Dodge had charged folks 10 cents to swim and picnic on the property.

In 1935 Rupert Blacka returned to Pennsylvania and mortgaged everything he owned to buy the 312 acre apple farm from the Dodge estate. He brought his family – his wife Helen and, I think there were 2 children at that time, to Stuarts Draft, Va. Five more kids would be born in the next few years.

Jack showed me a picture of the small cabin where they lived in those 1st few years. He said the kids slept in sleeping bags on the floor. It was right where the state road ended at that time and Jack says they had to keep the ditches cleaned out, or when it rained it would flood into the cabin and get the sleeping bags wet.

Mr Blacka immediately went to work transforming the muddy spring-fed lake into a clean, clear swimming area and water park. (Rupert Blacka was obviously way far ahead of his time!). Jack & Harold told me that in the winter their dad would return to traveling sales as the lake was a very seasonal business.

The Blacka family continued to develop the property, soon offering an awesome beach house, horseback riding, miniature golf, tennis courts, shuffle board, bike rentals, volleyball & a softball field. I believe they told me that it was in the late 40’s when the diving tower and zip-line type cable was added (again, way ahead of their time). Jack said that the power company actually came over and set the poles for the platform.

According to Harold, the camping started in the 40’s when folks would stay all day and ask Rupert if they could just pitch a tent across the road in the picnic area. Shenandoah Acres had cabins available to rent, but in the early 60’s started developing campsites back in the woods behind the lake. Jack & Harold say that camping really took off in the mid 60’s and at that time they doubled the size of the bath house.

The brothers grew up on the lake – they say that they could swim before they walked. Harold says he learned to dive when Jack dropped him off of the platform into the lake.

Everything was so clean and well maintained – the lake was drained & cleaned every Spring. If you lost a ring or something while swimming, they would take your number and usually found it for you the following Spring. When folks asked Mr Blacka how he kept everything in such pristine shape, he would tell them that his kids did it – most people probably thought 2 or 3 – not realizing there were 7 Blacka children.

So, Jack & Harold Blacka grew up at Shenandoah Acres and graduated from Wilson Memorial High School. (Jack was in the first graduating class of kids who attended Wilson for 4 years. It had previously been an Army hospital.) After high school both of these wonderful guys enlisted in the Marines. Jack was sent to Camp Pendleton, CA for basic training and later was stationed in Okinawa. Harold went first to Parris Island and was later stationed in Yuma, AZ. (There were other stations, but talking to these two gentlemen is so interesting, that I occasionally forgot to take notes – y’all know how flighty I am.)

Of the 7 siblings, Jack and Harold were the 2 that returned to Stuarts Draft. They followed in Rupert’s footsteps – devoting their lives to their families and the Stuarts Draft community – working the lake during the summer, providing a super fun experience for all of us, and picking up other work in the off season.

They stayed busy. Both were involved in and served as Presidents of every travel/tourist association that existed. All of this in addition to raising their children, with their lovely wives, of course. Harold & Elise’s daughter Aaron was quite the athlete and Harold coached her & many other local young ladies in softball for years. Jack & Kay had Brian, Cindi & Kevin.

If you are a younger member of our community, you may not remember Kay. Sadly she passed away in 1981. If you’re my age, you most likely think of Elisa “Lisa” Kenney Blacka when you think of Jack’s wife – she was always working around the Acres. They were married for almost 27 years before she passed away unexpectedly in May of 2017 of a suspected pulmonary embolism.

The Blacka family sold Shenandoah Acres in 2005, after 70 years of serving our community. After a couple of ownership changes, in 2014, the husband & wife team of Garland Eutsler and Carolynn Rubino purchased and reopened the resort.

They have done wonderful things over there and brought back a place that is so special to our community. Garland has said that they are “building on the Blacka legacy”.

Last Spring they opened the “Blacka Pond” on the property in honor of the Blacka family. (The guys told me that their father had always wanted a fishing pond).

Jack and Harold still live on Lake road, both homes are within walking distance of Shenandoah Acres. They still stay super busy. Jack has season tickets to UVA men’s basketball, women’s basketball, football & baseball and he NEVER misses a home game.

Both guys are super close to their families. Harold & Elise’s daughter and her family are down in the Blacksburg area and they are often down there. Jack’s kids and grandkids are here and they keep him busy too – as you can see from these pictures.

I so appreciate Jack and Harold’s graciousness, for welcoming me into Jack’s home and taking time to talk to me. I heard some REALLY good stories and enjoyed my time with them so much. When you see Harold or Jack around the Draft, stop to introduce yourself and thank them all they have done for our community throughout the years. If you’re lucky, you might get to hear a good story too.

And now you know the rest of the story.

Visit the website for more information about Shenandoah Acres.

‘The Eyes of the World Are Upon You’

[Today marks 74 years since the D-Day invasion. Two years ago the small community of Bedford, Virginia, invited Virginia and the world to commemorate the 72nd anniversary of Operation Overlord. Here are photos from that day (see also Part 2).]

DSCN1760 (2)“Fifty-seven years ago, America and the nations of Europe formed a bond that has never been broken. And all of us incurred a debt that can never be repaid. Today, as America dedicates our D-Day Memorial, we pray that our country will always be worthy of the courage that delivered us from evil and saved the free world.” –President George W. Bush (at National D-Day Memorial dedication, June 6, 2001)

Monday, June 6, 2016, was a day for sights and sounds and memories and stories from some of the few remaining veterans who survived June 6, 1944. It was the 72nd anniversary of Operation Overlord — the allied invasion of Normandy, known as D-Day — that marked the beginning of the end of World War II.

Exiting the four-lane highway in Bedford and turning onto Overlord Drive, it is a quiet drive through open fields up the hill to a place of reverence and thankfulness. Surrounded by the peaceful Virginia countryside with the Blue Ridge Mountains, including Sharp Top and Flat Top mountains that form the Peaks of Otter in the distance, the National D-Day Memorial provides an opportunity to learn and reflect on a pivoting event in America’s — and the world’s — history.

The overwhelming extent of the sacrifices made as well as the huge operation that involved 150,000 Allied troops, 5,000 ships, 11,000 aircraft, and huge losses of more than 9,000 Allied soldiers who died, including 2,499 American soldiers, in the largest amphibious landing the world had ever seen, was sobering.

The liberation of Europe began that day and, though the war would continue for almost a year longer, the Normandy invasion gave Allied forces an opening to begin working their way across Europe to defeat Hitler.

Thankfully, the vision of D-Day veteran Bob Slaughter to have a national site to remember and honor those involved was achieved, and the National D-Day Memorial was dedicated on June 6th, 2001, by President George W. Bush.

My husband and I arrived early on June 6, 2016, and stayed into the afternoon, attending the 11:00 am ceremony, strolling the grounds, reading the historical plaques, and listening to the roll call of names. We left with a renewed appreciation for the Greatest Generation. Below are photos that capture a small part of the day. May we never forget.

Why Bedford for the national memorial? As explained in the video, the memorial is a reminder of the extreme sacrifice the small Virginia town at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains made during the invasion on June 6, 1946. They lost more men per capita than any other location in America. Of the 30 Bedford soldiers in Company A, 19 perished that day and four others during the war. That sacrifice by the Bedford Boys was the reason their town was chosen as the site for the national memorial. For photos of the memorial’s tribute to the Bedford Boys, see 72 years later … the Bedford Boys.

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For the first time ever the roll call of the names of the 2,499 Americans killed on D-Day was read by volunteers whose voices could be heard throughout the memorial’s grounds. The honoring of the fallen continued for three hours into the afternoon with names read by veterans, families, volunteers, and dignitaries.

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“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them.” –Laurence Binyon

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The Bedford Boys seemed to come to life Monday.

DSCN1771 (2)Visitors began arriving prior to the 11am ceremony. Veterans were seated under shady awnings out of the sun’s glare.

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DSCN1797 (2)The 29th Division Drum and Fife band and honor guard.

DSCN1804 (2)A P-51 Mustang circled the site and made two passes over the memorial at the beginning of the ceremony. The World War II vintage aircraft was an American long-range, single-seat fighter-bomber used throughout the war and on D-Day (see Air Power Over the Normandy Beaches and Beyond). The pilots who flew the aircraft (see WW II pilot remembers D-Day, 72 years later) and gliders (see The Flying Coffins of World War II) were instrumental to allied forces, flying bombing missions and delivering troops and supplies.

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See also….

Part 2: Bedford D-Day Memorial Remembrance, Reading of Names of Those Lost on June 6, 1944

Remembering D-Day With the Bedford Boys

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell

14 Inches of Snow Fall on Central Shenandoah Valley


The calendar said it was the second day of spring but Old Man Winter was reluctant to let go as the fourth nor’easter in three weeks hit the East Coast. This time my corner of the central Shenandoah Valley of Virginia got hit with over a foot of snow — 14 inches, to be exact, in my back yard. My camera and I took a walkabout in the winter wonderland of the yard to get pictures of flocked trees and deep snow on the ground as the snow continued to fall.


There’s a picnic table under there, somewhere…..

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
March 21, 2018

George Freeman Pollock’s ‘Skyland Resort’ in November

Ahhh. November in Virginia with leaves on the ground and the return of the winter woods.

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Weekend Escape to the Fall Colors of Sherando, Blue Ridge Parkway

Sherando Lake | Augusta County, Va.

There’s something extremely rewarding about roaming the back roads of the Blue Ridge Mountains during the color season of autumn so two weeks ago I picked up friend Barb one day when the temperature was in the low 70s and ladybugs were swarming and leaves seemed to shimmer in the sunshine. Here are photos of our trek through our corner of Virginia where there is so much to love.


Old Howardsville Turnpike | George Washington National Forest | Blue Ridge Mountains |Augusta County, Va.

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Autumn Drive Along the Skyline


Afton Mountain

Mr. Mitchell and I woke Thursday, grabbed the picnic basket, cooler, and our jackets, and headed to the southern section of Skyline Drive. The mountains were calling! I love October and leaf season, and look forward to it every year.

The mountains had been calling for a while but a busy autumn had delayed our annual trek to Shenandoah National Park to see the leaves. With heavy rain in the forecast for Sunday, we wanted to do some leaf peeping before precipitation and wind hit, sending leaves to the ground and leaving behind bare trees.

As we drove up I-64 to Afton from the Shenandoah Valley, leaf color was definitely in the process and had occurred since the weekend just four days earlier when it was still green.

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Skyline Drive, South Entrance Station

There were five cars ahead of us in line waiting at the entrance station. Our son and his wife were on the Drive last weekend and counted 16 cars ahead of them so this was a short wait, not to mention we usually try to avoid weekends in October.

The $25 daily fee (that is good for seven days) is in danger of being almost tripled with a proposal by the National Park Service to raise the entrance fee to $70. If enacted, it would also affect 16 other National Parks, the most popular ones in the system, possibly putting the parks out of the price range of many who would no longer be able to afford enjoy America’s playground. There is a 30-day comment period now through November 23, 2017, to share your opinion about the proposed fee increase (link to comment is here). I already wrote to let them know I was against it.

Beagle Gap

Hikers were at Beagle Gap where the color was not yet at peak.

Leaves, berries, vistas, flora and fauna … the following are photos (iPhone and Nikon) of the day. We picnicked at Loft Mountain Campground where we have spent many years as a family tent camping and hiking. It was in the 40s and cold with a wind … perfect for an autumn day.

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October 2017: 20 Things To Do In and Around Staunton, Va

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Historic Wharf District in downtown Staunton.

It’s autumn in western Virginia.

Voted as one of America’s Top 20 Main Streets by Travel and Leisure magazine, the central Shenandoah Valley city of Staunton was also recently named one of the 20 Best Small Towns in America by Smithsonian magazine. Known as the Queen City, Staunton was founded in 1747 and was named for Lady Rebecca Staunton, wife of Virginia’s Governor William Gooch.

With views east toward the Blue Ridge Mountains and west toward the Appalachians, Staunton is an historic slice of Virginia that offers restored Victorian homes, cozy downtown shops, and small-town atmosphere.

There are many things to do during leaf season that peaks in October so here are some places and events you may find interesting. Enjoy!

1. Trolleys
A great way to get around downtown, Staunton’s two trolleys are inexpensive — 25 cents — and pick up and discharge passengers at stops located throughout the city. Check here for parking around Staunton. More information can be found at the Visitors Center on New Street.

2. Frontier Culture Museum of Virginia
This unique hands-on outdoor museum in Staunton brings the past alive with costumed interpreters and farm animals that can be seen along a two-mile trail that connects the English, Irish, German, and African farms with the New World’s American homesteads. They tell the story of America’s settlement. Picnic tables on the grounds.
 Octoberfest – Oct. 7: Enjoy a traditional Oktoberfest celebration at the German farm with music, children’s activities, self-guided tours of this hands-on museum, and your favorite brew.

3. Staunton-Augusta Farmers Market
Voted one of the best farmers markets in Virginia, the Staunton-Augusta Farmers Market offers fresh, locally grown produce, flowers, herbs, eggs, fruits, meats, and more from the convenience of the Wharf parking lot in downtown Staunton. Free parking. Open Saturdays from 7 a.m.-noon.

4. King’s Gourmet Popcorn at Afton Mountain
It’s not just an October thing but if you have a snack attack while around Afton, be sure to stop by King’s Gourmet Popcorn and say hello to Ron King. He has kettle and caramel corn, and many other flavors along with pork rinds, hotdogs, cold beverages, coffee, and more. Umbrella-covered picnic tables provide a respite during a day of sightseeing. Located at the top of Afton Mountain on Rt. 250 where I-64, Skyline Drive, Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Appalachian Trail all cross. Look for the bright yellow food truck.

5. Hands & Harvest Festival in Highland County
October 6-8. While enjoying the spectacular autumn colors and crisp mountain air, drive an hour west of Staunton to Highland County for their Hands & Harvest Festival. This event grows bigger every year. Visit area sugar camps for apple butter and cider making, BBQ and other food, pumpkin carving, wagon rides, farmers market, and entertainment. A complete list of activities and locations throughout the county is available at the website.

6. Myers Pumpkin Farm
Myers Pumpkin Farm offers pumpkins, gourds, corn stalks, chrysanthemums, and other seasonal decorations at reasonable prices. There is a pick-your-own pumpkin patch and corn maze to round out the farm experience. Myers Farm is located east of Harrisonburg off Rt. 33.

7. Fall Foliage Festival Art Show
The weekend of October 14-15 will see the Virginia Fall Foliage Festival Art Show take over the streets of downtown Waynesboro as they are turned into an outdoor art gallery. More than 200 booths of fine arts and fine crafts will line Main Street and Wayne Avenue featuring artists from all over the country.  It has been named one of the top shows in the East with paintings of all kinds, pottery, jewelry, sculpture, and more.

8. Shenandoah Fall Foliage Bike Festival
October 20-22. At the peak of fall leaf season for the Shenandoah Valley and surrounding mountains, the Fall Foliage Bike Festival based out of Staunton will be held the third weekend in October. Enjoy warm days and cool nights riding the back roads through scenic vistas of rural beauty.

9. Blackfriars Theater
The Blackfriars Theater was built in downtown Staunton in 2001, the world’s only exact replica of William Shakespeare’s indoor theater, and is home to the American Shakespeare Center. What a great place to catch a play, tour the facility, or get involved in their camps for young and old alike. Check their website for current plays and activities.

10. Staunton’s Ghostly Evening Tours
What better way to see the architecture of historic downtown Staunton than with the Ghosts of Staunton Tour? Spooky historical tours of the Depot train station, Mary Baldwin College, and other downtown buildings. If you are looking for something different and unusual, this is the tour for you. Reservations strongly recommended.

11. Shenandoah National Park
Nature’s calling! Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains east of Staunton, Shenandoah National Park offers 200,000 acres of wilderness, campgrounds, picnic areas, hiking trails, horseback riding, lodges, and visitor centers along the 100-mile-long Skyline Drive. Big Meadows Lodge and Skyland Resort and several campgrounds provide overnight accommodations. Escape to the quiet beauty of the mountains.

12. Humpback Rock Farm Visitor Center, Picnic, and Hike
A mountain homestead much like the ones from the nineteenth century, Humpback Rock Farm is located at Milepost 5.8 on the Blue Ridge Parkway south of Afton and I-64. Costumed interpreters and musicians are on hand weekends throughout the fall to answer questions and demonstrate crafts from a bygone era. Farm animals, a working garden, mountain music, and more round out the experience. Visitor Center and picnic tables are available on the site. Hike to the top of Humpback Rock, grill out in the picnic area, or go back in time at the farm.

13. Dayton Farmers Market
A favorite with visitors and locals alike, the Dayton Farmers Market is located on Rt. 42 about 30 minutes northwest of Staunton. Featuring the “best big soft pretzels on the East Coast,” it also has a restaurant as well as a variety of shops offering goods plus fresh produce with apples and pumpkins. Outside is a hitching post for the Old Order Mennonites to park their horse and buggies when they stop by to do a little shopping of their own.

14. Green Valley Book Fair
Open September 30-October 23, the Green Valley Book Fair offers hundreds of thousands of books at up to 90% off retail price that include classics, children’s, political, novels, fiction, history, health and self-help, religion, science, sports, cookbooks, home and garden, crafts, art, reference, computer, nature, and outdoors. Convenient free parking, no admission charge. Located in Mt. Crawford 20 minutes north of Staunton, it’s a bookworm’s paradise.

15. Virginia Mennonite Relief Sale
The Mennonite Relief Sale is September 29-30 at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds located on Rt. 11 south of Harrisonburg. Each year, thousands of volunteers come together to raise money at Relief Sales for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) for the relief of suffering in the world. Entertainment, quilts, crafts, food, baked goods, antiques, silent auction, live auction, farmers market.

16. Nichols Apple Barn
Located in Middleburg, Nichols Apple Barn offers a wide range of apples right at the orchard. Walk in the barn, get a bag or box, and start picking out your favorites straight from the wooden apple crates a few steps away from the orchard where Staymans and other juicy varities grow.

17. Paugh’s Orchard Roadside Stand
Located in a curve along Rt. 42 in Shenandoah County, Paugh’s Orchard offers an explosion of fall goodies including many varieties of apples, pumpkins, mums; mini pumpkins, gourds, and Indian corn for decorating; jars of jams and jellies and other goodies. See Autumn afternoon road trip to apple country and Apple season in Shenandoah County, Va. They are closed on Saturdays.

18. Massanutten Fall Festival
The annual Massanutten Fall Festival will be held on October 14 with chairlift rides, arts and crafts, food vendors, beer garden, wine tasting, kids activities, entertainment, and more. Takes place at the scenic Massanutten Ski Resort east of Harrisonburg.

19. Dayton Days Autumn Celebration
One of the largest craft and food festivals of the fall, this year will be the 38th annual Dayton Days Autumn Festival has celebrated the arrival of autumn since 1980 by closing the small historic downtown area to all but foot traffic. Thousands of visitors enjoy crafts, live music, entertainment, exhibits, arts, children’s games, and food food food. If you’ve never been, you’ve missed a fantastic day. Dayton is located smack in the middle of Old Order Mennonite country.

20. Lots of Eats
There are plenty of places to grab great eats in the Valley. Here are a few: Depot Grille, Byers Street Bistro, Split Banana, Shenandoah Pizza Clock Tower, Kline’s, Green Leaf Grille, Wright’s Drive-In, Mill Street Grill, Emilio’s, and Sorrel’s in Staunton’s Stonewall Jackson Hotel.

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Chasing Autumn in Rockingham County in Western Virginia

Friend Barb and I took Tuesday to chase autumn and spend time together enjoying the beautiful Shenandoah Valley where we both live. Besides the fun of back roads and stunning mountain vistas that we both enjoy, we found all kinds of fall décor for our houses.

Our first stop was Myers Pumpkins just east of Harrisonburg, a family-run farm that provides already-picked pumpkins and gourds, chrysanthemums, pick-your-own pumpkin patch, corn maze, and corn stalks ready for decorating. This was a new place for me that Barb introduced to me, and they were well stocked.

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Jenna Bush Hager to Keynote Fundraiser for Virginia Women’s Monument in RVA

Adèle Goodman Clark’s name is not well known but a monument honoring her as well as other groundbreaking women will be the recipient of a September fundraiser featuring Jenna Bush Hager as the keynote speaker.

Located in Capitol Square, the Virginia Women’s Monument, subtitled Voices from the Garden, is the first of its kind in the nation recognizing the full range of Virginia women’s achievements, from the first president of a bank, to the chief of the Pamunkeys, to women’s sufferage, to a 1700s newspaper publisher. The monument recognizes and honors their achievements.

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Tourism: Night Sky Festival and Eclipse at Shenandoah National Park

Celebrate the night sky in Shenandoah National Park by attending the Second Annual Night Sky Festival. Join in the fun Friday, August 18, through Monday, August 21, at various locations along Skyline Drive:

– Guest presentations by astronomy experts
– Ranger programs
– Constellation tours
– Solar scope viewing
– Telescope viewing
– Junior Ranger programs
– Audio-visual presentations
– Hands-on activities

The weekend will culminate on Monday, August 21, with the 2017 solar eclipse that will cross the continental United States, the first since 1979. While Shenandoah National Park will only experience 80-85% coverage of the sun at approximately 2:40 pm, and will not experience a total eclipse, it is still a great place to join a Ranger to learn about why a solar eclipse happens, what to expect, and how to view it safely. Dickey Ridge Visitor Center (mile 4.6) AND Byrd Visitor Center (mile 51)

Below are workshops and events available throughout the weekend:

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Summer 2017: 40 Things to Do In and Around Staunton, Va

Voted as one of America’s Top 20 Main Streets by Travel and Leisure magazine, the central Shenandoah Valley city of Staunton was also named one of the 20 Best Small Towns in America by Smithsonian magazine as well as many others who have discovered this quaint corner of Virginia.

With views east toward the Blue Ridge Mountains and west toward the Appalachians, Staunton is an historic slice of Virginia that offers restored Victorian homes, cozy downtown shops, and small-town atmosphere. Patriotic holidays find Beverley Street, the main thoroughfare that is lined with restaurants, store fronts, the Dixie Theater, the city courthouse, and old-fashioned lamp posts, lined with American flags. Be sure and check the Staunton Convention and Visitor Center Calendar of Events for all the latest happenings including art exhibits and live entertainment.

There’s lots to do during the carefree summer months so here are some places and events, in no particular order, that may appeal to those visiting the area.

1. Trolleys
A great way to get around downtown, Staunton’s two trolleys pick up and discharge passengers at stops located throughout the city. It’s one of the best deals around, and offers a way to see the city without driving. Cost is $0.25 a ride or free to visitors with tokens from the Visitor Center. More information can be found at the Staunton Visitors Center on New Street.

2. Wright’s Dairy-Rite
Ever heard of the country group The Statler Brothers? They grew up hanging out at the 1950s-era Wright’s Dairy-Rite Drive-In, and it is very much the same today. Pull to the curb, order from the authentic call box, and have a carhop deliver your freshly-cooked meal while listening to 50s music — hamburgers, onion rings, ice cream goodies, fries, and lots more. Or go inside to the 1950s-decorated interior complete with tables, booths, and a historical display of those who have visited over the years including the Statler Brothers and Virginia Governor/U.S. Senator George Allen. It’s a local favorite.

3. Ox-Eye Vineyards Tasting Room
Ox-Eye Vineyards is owned by John and Susan Kiers who lovingly renovated an historic building in the Wharf area of downtown Staunton. The Tasting Room offers wine tastings of their varied selections of reds and whites. Ox-Eye Vineyards displayed at the 2012 Shenandoah Valley Wine and Jazz Festival at the Frontier Culture Museum, and in April 2013 the Washington Post named them one of the Top 10 Mid-Atlantic wineries to visit. Where did the name “Ox-Eye” come from? It’s the name of the common field daisy with a yellow center and white petals that grows all around Ox-Eye Farm. Hint: If you like white wines, try their Riesling and White Ox.

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Bluegrass Music Sunday at Humpback Rocks Farm

If you’ve not been to Humpback Rocks Farm’s concert series, you may want to plan a visit to western Virginia and get lost in the music of the mountains.

Wander the historic mountain farmstead, hike Humpback Rock trail to a rock outcropping with a view across the Shenandoah Valley to the Appalachians, picnic under the trees, and soak in the beauty of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains as you listen to talented musicians entertain guests in the shade of the big tree near the cabin.

This Sunday, July 16, the Bill Wellington String Band will be on stage at 2:00. All concerts are FREE in the series that continues through October 1.

July 16 – The Bill Wellington String Band
Aug 6 – Harmony Hill
Aug 20 – Grassy Ridge
Sep 3 – The Mutton Busters
Sep 17 – Blue Mountain Sunrise
Oct 1 – Uncle Henry’s Favorites

Humpback Rocks Farm is located at Milepost 5.8 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Entertainment for 2017 includes some favorite bands from the past, and several new ones. Power and sound equipment have been upgraded, thanks to Friends of the Blue Ride Parkway’s Humpback Rocks Chapter and the generous donations of friends. Volunteers are always welcomed to help with set-up, table attendants, clean-up, and parking attendants to help with overflow crowds.

Come prepared to have fun. Bring a chair, and don’t be surprised if clogging breaks out!

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Blue Ridge Parkway, Humpback Rocks Farm 2017 Free Concert Series

If you’ve not been to Humpback Rocks Farm’s concert series, plan to visit the Blue Ridge and get lost in the music of the mountains! Wander the historic farmstead, hike Humpback Rock trail, picnic, and soak in the beauty of Virginia while you kick back to listen while talented musicians entertain guests under the big old tree near the cabin.

And it’s all FREE on select Sunday afternoons at 2:00pm on the farm located at Milepost 5.8. Bands will include some old favorites and several new ones. Power and sound equipment has been upgraded, thanks to some generous donations, and there will be more concerts this summer than ever before.

June 18 – Farm Use String Band
July 2 – The Lovell Coleman Band
July 16 – The Bill Wellington String Band
Aug 6 – Harmony Hill
Aug 20 – Grassy Ridge
Sep 3 – The Mutton Busters
Sep 17 – Blue Mountain Sunrise
Oct 1 – Uncle Henry’s Favorites

This is possible through Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway — Humpback Rocks Chapter. Roles for volunteers are available: help with set-up, table attendant(s), clean-up, and parking attendants to help with the overflow crowds, all while enjoying fabulous mountain music! Follow the Humpback Rocks Chapter Friends on Facebook for the latest on participating bands.

Mark your calendars and then join in the fun! Bring a chair, lunch or snack, and be ready if clogging breaks out. Most of all, come prepared to have fun. See you on the mountain!

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Festivals, Saunders Brothers, Blue Ridge Mountains … just another day in paradise

By Lynn R. Mitchell

[Editor’s Note: With the unofficial start of summer behind us, here’s a rerun column about the variety of events and activities available in the Shenandoah Valley.]

??????????It’s summer with all the festivals and events that are available in the Shenandoah Valley and beyond so today we decided to spend the day just going where the wind took us. We plopped our straw hats on the back seat — I burst out laughing when I saw them and had to take a picture — and off we went. Our first stop was at our friends’ house near Crimora for a garage sale. After visiting a while and paying for our purchases, we headed to Waynesboro where the first day of the 2014 Extravaganza was going on.

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We were fairly early to this annual event that features spectacular fireworks, ahead of the crowds that began showing up by the time we left. Crafters, artists, games, pony rides, carnival rides, food vendors, and live entertainment … there was plenty to do. We enjoyed talking with local photographer Brent McGuirt (www.brentmcguirtphotography.com) whose stunningly beautiful work showcasing the Shenandoah Valley and beyond was on display. (Check out his Facebook page for his latest works.)

It was great to run into Bill and Jean Ann Bolling who were spending the weekend nearby in the cool of the mountains.

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