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Family Friendly New Years Eve

by Tom | Posted on December 22nd, 2011

Winchester New Years Apple

Winchester New Years Apple

Technically, “First” Night should be “Last” Night, especially for those of us who don’t make it past 12 anymore. But ever since the family-centric movement started in Boston in 1976, these celebrations have popped up in hundreds of cities around the country.

If you’re looking for a family-friendly, arts and culturally-based event on the last night of December, look no further than a First Night.

Of course, your kids need the stamina to stay up that late, but you’re sure to find a high-quality, beer-bottle-free good time. Just don’t forget the right “bottles” for your little ones.

Some notable First Nights in Virginia:

For a more complete list of First Night and New Years events in the Old Dominion, check out this page on Virginia.org.



Events, Family, The Holidays, Winter | 1 Comment

Honoring Veterans in the Commonwealth

by Tom | Posted on November 2nd, 2011

While it’s not the flashiest holiday on the calendar, Veterans Day is right up our alley. Nothing says Virginia more than tradition, history, and honoring those who have blazed a way to a better future.

In fact, it was a notable Virginia-born president, Woodrow Wilson, born in Staunton, Virginia, who got the ball rolling with Armistice Day in 1919. Originally designed to honor those who served in World War I and to celebrate the end of “The Great War”, the holiday finally came to rest in the 1970′s as Veterans Day on the 11th of every November, the same day as the original WWI Armistice signing.

National Museum of the Marine Corps

Servicemen greet a young visitor to the National Museum of the Marine Corps

And there’s probably no better place in the country for sheer volume of closely-located sites honoring our military heroes. Within a weekend (maybe without getting out of your car) you can easily visit  the National Museum of the Marine Corps, Arlington National Cemetery, the Air Force Memorial, the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond, and the Tomb of the Unknowns.

This of course doesn’t even begin to account for the number of Civil War sites and historic homes like Mount Vernon sprinkled liberally up and down the I-95 corridor. You can’t swing a ceremonial parade saber without hitting a Virginia site honoring her veterans.

Veterans Day events and sites are not exclusive to the Washington D.C. region, either. Nearly every Virginia city and town has a parade or similar event celebrating our men and women in uniform past and present. You can find many of them here at http://www.virginia.org/VeteransDay.

 
 



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War Between the Grapes

by Tom | Posted on September 27th, 2011

If you are that special breed of traveler who is a fan of Civil War history and wine tasting, the Virginia Wine Board and 23 Virginia wineries have got a regiment-sized diversion for you.

When your metal-detector Monitor Vs Virginiastarts to get heavy, or you’re just tired of playing another battlefield casualty, stop by a participating winery and sample one of the dozens of specially-labeled wines commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War and Emancipation. There are themes for everyone, from James River Cellar’s Monitor Vs. Virginia red, marking the famous ironclad battles, to Democracy Vineyards’ 2010 Emancipation Merlot in celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation, to Casanel Vineyards’ 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, which pays tribute to all the men and women on both sides who suffered and sacrificed so much for their cause.

Virginia Winery Passport

Virginia Sesquicentennial Winery Passport

To keep track of all the great wines and stories you’ll experience, the Virginia Wine Board has created a handy and detailed Virginia Sesquicentennial Winery Passport. This compact little book contains descriptions of all the featured vintages,  descriptions of the battles and people commemorated, and a fold-out map with the locations of nearby Civil War sites. To make your visit complete your passport also leaves space for that all-important stamp.

While you still have several years to fill your Passport (and glass), this October is Virginia Wine Month, an ideal time to get started and “Find Your Perfect Crush”. Ask for Virginia wine at your favorite restaurant or visit a wine festival; chances are good there’s a Civil War site waiting to be explored just minutes away.



Civil War, Fall in Virginia, Food and Wine | 2 Comments

September in Virginia

by Tom | Posted on August 24th, 2011

Clarksville Hydroplanes

Racing at the Clarksville Hydroplane Challenge

Hopefully all that earthquake business is behind us now. Not something we see every day, uh, hundred years here in the Old Dominion.

And even though hurricane Irene is heading this way, I’m really more focused right now on shedding this August heat and enjoying September, now only a week away!

Our September here is still shirt-sleeves warm, but cool enough to seriously enjoy the many, many outdoor festivals and events throughout the state.

Here are some highlights:

Labor Day: Kick off the month with a Labor Day weekend event (or deal).

Onancock: Onancock Harborfest – Sept. 9-10
Begins with the Second Friday Art Stroll and includes an outdoor concert at the wharf, a 5K run, kayak/canoe race, Critter Parade, Rubber Duck Race, Great Paper Boat Race, and still more on Saturday.

Bristol: Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion – Sept. 16-18
Twenty-two stages of live music, 16 indoor venues and a children’s stage on Saturday.

Clarksville: Clarksville Hydroplane Challenge – Sept. 24-25
A fan-friendly race event where boats take to Buggs Island Lake/John H. Kerr Reservoir and compete on a one-mile, oval course. Great viewing from the causeway and local bridge!

 



Events, Fall in Virginia | 1 Comment

Peaches & Cream (of the Crop)

by Tom | Posted on August 4th, 2011

Virginia Peaches at Carter Mountain Orchard

It's peak peach season in Virginia.

While you can’t really pick a Virginia peanut, and apple season isn’t quite here, don’t think there aren’t lots of great opportunities to pick some juicy treats this summer in the Old Dominion.

Virginia’s prime peach season is mid-July through the end of August, and this year promises to be a good one. According to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), “The peaches are ripe, the harvest looks very good and the festivals are gearing up.” We may be hating our typical muggy, late summer heat, but combine that with this past Spring’s plentiful rains, and the sugar levels in local peaches are spiking.

The only thing that could make the harvest sweeter is knowing you picked that cobbler filling with your own two hands (or maybe your child’s two hands). Sweet!

For great fruit festivals and pick-your-own venues try these:

  • The Virginia State Peach festival in Stuart, VA has been going strong since 1988.
  • The Peach Festival at Marker Miller’s orchard in Winchester is easily accessible right off Interstate 81.
  • No festival is more aptly named than the Dog Days Peach Festival at Great Country Farms in Loudoun County. Beat the partisan heat in D.C. and enjoy a cool peach slushie (hmmm).
  • Check out all the peach goodies at Chiles Peach Orchard in Crozet, just outside Charlottesville. They’re open May through Thanksgiving for all kinds of fruit.
  • If you’re close to Charlottesville why not make the short trip down to Wintergreen and Dickie Brother’s Orchard, where they’re currently featuring Peaches, Nectarines, Plums and Golden Supreme Apples.



Family, Food, Pick-your-own | Comments Off