Sperryville column for Feb. 3

Winning winter combination

An artisan demonstrates during the weekend wine-and-oyster event at Farm to Fork Market, which cosponsored the event with River District Arts and Little Washington Winery. | Rappahannock News
An artisan demonstrates during the weekend wine-and-oyster event at Farm to Fork Market, which cosponsored the event with River District Arts and Little Washington Winery.

The synergy of Little Washington Winery, Rappahannock River Oysters, Farm to Fork Market, Middle Street Gallery, barbecue with all the fixings, working artists, grass-fed meats, local farm-raised chickens and homemade bread and baked goods, all supported by extensive web-based marketing, drew steady crowds to River District Arts and the Farm to Fork Market all day Saturday. I interviewed several people to ask if they had ever been to Sperryville. Not even one that I happened to talk with had been here. They were from Fredericksburg, Manassas, Middleburg and Washington, D.C. Two people had come because they had “liked” on Facebook a grocery store in Virginia Beach. This led them to a web site about Chesapeake, which led them to the Little Washington Winery’s Facebook ad about the wine and oyster event. Several Virginia wine newsletters were the source of information about the event for others. Hats off to the creative business minds that put this model cooperative event together and for the extensive use of web marketing. It was a success by any measure, even in the dead of January.

Interestingly enough, Larry Clark in Nethers had sent this email to me about the dilemma of winter business in Rappahannock County on Jan. 26: “If winter is the break point, how do we combat it? What if every winter month you take two weekends, two wineries, a farm visit, one or two artists, music, dinner and a combined B&B and vacation rental house program? Add the mountains (find a good place for coffee – take Cafe Indigo and make it breakfast and lunch with lots of coffee choices), work with the local bakery. I think the wineries do a good job of supporting each other, but the other parts of the community need to learn how to better share the visitors that come. Possibly take a winery and an artist – the vineyard shows the artist’s work and the artist has the vineyard’s wine at his/her workspace. The bottom line is we are slowly gaining our economic footing and it is easer to go forward working together than doing it on your own. This is a community – people make it work.”

The extensive email lists of Little Washington Winery, Rappahannnock Oyster Company, Rappahannock County and wine web sites made this cooperative event a success. Is this a model for the future? We look forward to the next event . . . who will plan it?

77th birthday

Mark Malik’s wife and friends send him warm wishes for a very happy 77th birthday today (Feb. 2).

Do you know a polar bear?

Did she take cold showers and ice baths to get ready for the icy dip into the Chesapeake? Trudi Spires is a polar bear and jumped into the cold waters at the annual Maryland Polar Bear Plunge at Sandy Point State Park last Saturday. Trudi, whom many of you know as one of our local massage therapists, joined her father’s team a few years ago to help raise funds for the Special Olympics. This year, that team raised $5,000 for that organization. Her personal fundraising goal for next year is to ask a thousand people to donate $1 each. Go, Trudi! If you want to reach her to make a donation – or to schedule a massage – call 540-987-9148.

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