Looking for something to do this weekend? Head on down to Bristol. This charming city is in two states – Virginia and Tennessee. You don’t want to miss the award-winning Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion.
“It isn’t just a music festival. It’s an infectious, three-day music experience, bursting with creative passion, electricity, and soul–a celebration of Bristol’s heritage as the Birthplace of Country Music.” In 1927, on State Street, the first country music recordings were made with The Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, Ernest Stoneman and others. These recordings are known as the Bristol Sessions and are known as the “big bang” of country music. (http://www.bristolrhythm.com/)
Every third weekend in September (this year it is September 16-18), State Street in historic Downtown Bristol, TN/VA is packed with music from Appalachia’s past, present and future. The Reunion offers 20 stages of live music that include five outdoor stages, a dance tent, 15 indoor venues and a children’s stage on Saturday from 9am-1pm for a fun event for families.
The best part, Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion is among the most affordable music festivals around!
Where were you on September 11, 2001? I was on my way out the door, headed to class, during my final semester of college when the news came across the TV. I stopped in my tracks, sat on the futon, and didn’t move for hours.
First Annual Virginia Freedom Festival
We all have a story and none of us could have been left unaffected by the events of that day. In remembrance, here are events you’ll find in Virginia this weekend.
September 9-11 – First Annual Virginia Freedom Festival at Chesapeake City Park in Chesapeake – Come in remembrance of the lives lost 9/11/01, and in honor of our military and public servants. A Ground Zero artifact will be dedicated and permanently displayed. Additionally, the weekend holds performances by Phil Vassar, Blackberry Smoke, Ray & Kasey Meks and River City Gang. Don’t miss the fireworks!
September 11, 6-7:30 p.m. – 9/11 remembrance Ceremony and First Responder’s Monument Dedication in Purcellville - Attend the dedication of the First Responder’s Monument. It’s made from the stone of a barn near the Shanksville, Pennsylvania site, a piece of steel from 2 World Trade Center, and a flag that flew over the Pentagon that fateful day.
See the 9/11 Angel on display at Miracle Valley Vineyard year ’round, Thursday through Monday, noon to 5 p.m. The sculpture was created by Lei Hennessey-Owen, and this is just one of many that she has placed across America. Henessey-Owen chooses sites where traumatic events have occurred or sites that are used for quiet healing of the spirit and body.
The 24-mile Colonial National Historical Parkway is a Scenic Byway connecting Jamestown and Yorktown. If it’s your heart’s desire to escape the busyness of the Hampton Roads area, wind along this peaceful corridor.
The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail meanders through Southwest Virginia and traces the musical roots of Virginia’s bluegrass and Old Time music. Higher mountain elevations make it a wonderful drive for your day-long leaf peeping pleasure. Consider:
If you’ve never crossed the Bay to the Eastern Shore, do it this fall. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel is half the adventure as it carries you 17 miles across the Bay. When you arrive, you’ll find yourself smitten with the small towns.
To shoot from the tip of the Shore to Maryland, stay on Route 13. It’s 70 miles and you’ll want to stop in quaint Onancock along the way. However …
If you take Route 175 from the VA/MD border, you’ll find the famed Chincoteague ponies at the end.
If you take Route 184 from the southern tip, you’ll find sweet Cape Charles with its beach, Bay Creek Resort, and superb dining.
From historic Lexington take Route 39 west. It’s a fun drive that runs along Goshen Pass – a boulder-strewn gorge the Maury River courses through. Do stop at the scenic overlook for the view on high, and then pull off to get the down low. Amazingly beautiful foliage curtains the steep mountainsides, and birds of prey frequent the area. Continue on to Hot Springs. By way of Highway 220 south, you’ll find The Homestead, a renowned four-season resort offering golf, horseback riding, carriage rides, and more. Their quaint boutiques will make any shopper swoon.
Loudoun County is Virginia’s hotbed for outstanding wine and cuisine. This is one drive you’ll want to pair with.
Beginning in Leesburg, head south on Highway 15, then west on Highway 50. Stop at Chrysalis Vineyards for a taste of whatever’s flowing that day. Head into Middleburg for great shopping in Virginia’s horse country. Market Salamander offers a gourmet picnic, if you’d like one for later.
Head back east and pick up Route 748 north, then 734 northwest for Philomont General Store, a historic, fun stop before you arrive at Great Country Farms in Bluemont. Head east on Route 7 for Purcellville and then north on 287. Choose from a variety of wineries to spread your picnic blanket. Leesburg offers amazing dining. Enjoy!
Route 11 is the road less traveled through the Shenandoah Valley, and one you’ll want to be on this fall. It parallels Interstate 81 and delivers drivers to sweet small towns. For a great beginning/end, choose Staunton and Winchester. Noted for their historic hotels, you can’t go wrong spending time in either city. Along the way and not too far off the beaten path, consider:
From Gordonsville, travel Route 231 to Orange for lunch at Elmwood at Sparks, a casual bistro with delicious eats. Roll on the Constitution Highway (Route 20) to Montpelier, home of President James and Dolley and Madison. Stroll the grounds and enjoy the tour of the newly restored home before having dinner at Barboursville Vineyards’ Palladio Restaurant.
Take rural Route 6 along the James River from just west of Richmond to Walton’s Mountain. As you meander through Goochland and Scottsville, note the historic churches, courthouses and homes. Take County Road 800 to arrive in Schuyler, where the Walton’s Mountain Museum is located. Schuyler is the home of Earl Hamner, the creator of the classic television series “The Waltons.”
For more great ideas about how to spend your fall in Virginia, visit Virginia.org/Fall.
What words come to your mind when you think about Halloween? Ghosts? Goblins? Costumes? Candy? Those words probably work for you! However, when I think about Halloween in Virginia, I think of words like Howl-O-Scream, Halloween Haunt, Halloween Madness, Fright Light Laser Show, and even NASCAR. You see, my words are actually events.
Halloween Haunt at Kings Dominion
Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays here in Richmond. Kings Dominion is about 30 miles north and it constructs a Halloween Haunt every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night. There are haunted mazes and shows and all of the rides are “thrilling.” They do have a non-scary atmosphere during the day but the atmos-fear definitely changes at night! Sixty miles east of Richmond, there is Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg. Again, this is on weekend nights but it is amazing. Along with shows, mazes, and lurking creatures, the rides are also open, weather-permitting. See the fright come to life! It’s worth the scare.
If you’re looking for a smaller-scale scare, there are plenty of options around the state. At Big Gem Park in Page County, there’s the Terror Trail. Children must be accompanied by an adult on this tour since it is one of the scariest you will go on. There are more than 20 acres at the aptly named Fields of Fear at Cox Farm in Centreville. This also isn’t recommended for children under the age of 12.
Looking for family-friendly? How about a laser show? The Virginia Living Museum has the Fright Light Laser Show that includes music from the likes of Garbage, The Who, and Black Sabbath set to an eclectic mix of terror-istic images. Historic Marion has a trick-or-treat fest all during the day before the “Halloween Madness” begins at night At Oatlands Historic House and Gardens, the Oatlands after Five Paranormal Tours begin at 5:00pm. These evening tours feature different ghost tales and unexplained happenings fit for the whole family.
Talk about some scary stuff … high speeds and fast cars! Martinsville Speedway even has a NASCAR race, the TUMS Fast Relief 500, on Sunday, October 30. The track is the only short-track stop in the Chase! NASCAR and scary-yes, they pretty much fit right together.
So between the large amusement parks and the small town events, this Halloween is sure to be spooktacular around our great state! For additional events, check out the entire listing here: www.Virginia.org/Halloween Happy hunting for a haunting Halloween!!!
Jane Govoruhk is the Assistant International Marketing Manager at Virginia Tourism Corporation, avid Hokie and Steelers fan, NASCAR enthusiast, music junkie, and author of this post.
New to tent camping? Fall is the optimal season to give it your first go. The weather is cooler, but not cold; a crackling fire is desired, not just necessary; and the mosquitoes aren’t a problem!
Bear Creek Lake State Park
The best way to get “broken in” with tent camping is to stay at a campground or state park where other campers and rangers are available if you need assistance.
Basic tips for basic tent camping:
Tarps and Bungee Cords - Bring one tarp for under your tent and one for over your tent. Use the bungee cords to *gently* suspend a tarp above your tent by way of trees. The tarps help to protect your tent from the elements.
Lantern with extra fuel and/or flashlights with extra batteries.
Waterproof matches and a few fire starter sticks or fatwood.
Find decent sized rocks to create a fire ring. If you have a small camp shovel, dig a pit and line it with the rocks. Lowering your fire below ground level will help protect it from the wind. Be sure the fire area is clear of limbs and foliage up to 3-5 yards. Check for low-hanging limbs, too.
Inquire with the park or campground about firewood. Some allow you to gather your own or they have it for purchase. Rarely is firewood allowed to be carried in.
Plastic zipper bags will keep dry the things that need to be dry.
A large plastic bin is great for food storage. (Ahem, critters have a keen sense of smell.)
Multi-tool. Many include knives, corkscrews, screwdrivers, a bottle opener … you never know what you might be able to make use of.
Bring a skillet, a small pot, a large pot and metal skewers. Oh, and don’t forget a potholder or oven mit! Those pieces will get hot over the fire. Use the large pot to heat water over the fire for the purpose of washing your dirty pots and dishes. Skewers are great for hot dogs, marshmallows, and kebabs (if you feel like going that far).
Sleeping bag, a few extra pairs of socks, and clothes that enable layering will make your adventure much more comfortable. The nights are chilly!
When you’re considering the purchase of a tent, bigger is better, in my opinion. If you’re taking a family of four camping, choose a tent that sleeps more than four or you’re going to be lined up like sardines. Our family’s preference is a tent with rooms. Yes, I’m a tent camping diva.