Letter: Thanks to all who made the Farm Tour successful

On behalf of the dynamic team that made the 2013 Rappahannock County Farm Tour & Festival a success, I would like to thank the following people:

I thank the 31 tour venues who opened their farms and businesses — and hearts — to visitors for, in most cases, an entire weekend. The variety of experience for visitors was extraordinary, and we have received enthusiastic feedback from people who recognized the effort required for being a part of the tour.

Her annual Farm Tour duties finished, Cathy Shiff of Amissville’s Wits’ End Farm apparently couldn’t sit still; she’s shown here helping the Rappahannock Lions Club stir their apple butter last week at the Keezletown Community Cannery. Photo by Don Audette.
Her annual Farm Tour duties finished, Cathy Shiff of Amissville’s Wits’ End Farm apparently couldn’t sit still; she’s shown here helping the Rappahannock Lions Club stir their apple butter last week at the Keezletown Community Cannery. Photo by Don Audette.

The venues were (in order by venue number): Wits End Farm, Windemeer Farm, Narmada Winery, Keysville Stable, Muskrat Haven Farm & Store, Williams Landscaping & Tree Service, Merry Moo Market, Flint Hill Public House Restaurant & Country Inn, Mountain Laurel Montessori Junior High, Blue Ridge Grocery, Caledonia Farm-1812 B&B, Lee’s Orchard, Stonyman Gourmet Farmer, Little Washington Wellness & Spa, the Farm at Sunnyside, Gadino Cellars, Little Washington Winery, Reality Farm & Quievremont Winery, Roy’s Orchard & Market, Waterpenny Farm, Copper Fox Distillery, Coterie: Artisans, Creations & Wares, Sperryville Corner Store, Jenkins Orchard, Belle Meade School & Farm, Central Coffee Roasters, Glassworks Gallery, Sleepywood Rustic Furniture, MTO Kombucha Sperryville and Thornton River Orchard.

I thank my sister-in-arms, Beth Hall, who solicited vendors and efficiently rode herd on the Artisans’ Market at Avon Hall from conception to pulling the last sign out of the ground. We both thank the following market participants for having the fortitude to chance a new, outdoor location: Ronda Ann Gregorio Photography, Rachel Summers of Crowfoot Farm, the nimble fingers of Charlotte Laing, the 4-H kids and their beloved critters, Acti-Care, The Bee Hive/Hair Buzz, BSharp Art, Far Ridge Ceramics, Farms of Walnut Grove, Living Sky Foundation, MICHE, One Year Only, Peckerwood Chainsaw Carving, Rappahannock Friends and Lovers of our Watersheds (RappFLOW), Old Rag Master Naturalists, Reality Farm, Shade Tree Metal Art, Skyline Candle Co., Stag Hill Natural Soap, The Art Speaks, Sterling Peacock Gallery, Strike Daeleins Designs, Summerfield Soaps, Farm at Sunnyside, T.A. Brown Fine Art, Triple Oak Bakery and the Rappahannock League for Environmental Protection.

Heartfelt thanks also go to the Rappahannock Lions Club for providing the big tent at Avon Hall that was so useful over the weekend. Special thanks go to the following crew who set it up on Thursday and then returned on Monday to take it down: Jim Blubaugh, Jim Manwaring, Dave Shiff, Gordon Axelson and Ross O’Donoghue.

Thanks go to members of RappFLOW and Old Rag Master Naturalists, who worked over the summer to restore the grounds around the pond in front of Avon Hall and to plant a delightful butterfly trail on Leggett Lane. In preparation for the weekend, they produced maps, brochures and displays that greatly enhanced the experience for tour participants. For this work, I thank: Forrest, Jonathan and Donna Marquisee, Janet Davis, Marc Malik, Helen Hutchinson, Ben Espes, Jack Kauffman and Ed Dorsey.

What can I say about Kymber Messersmith and Tim Ayers, whose advice and assistance with publicity was worth millions? I am nominating Ronda Ann Gregorio for sainthood for the use of her stunning images that made our publicity materials something special. Special thanks to super-spouse Dave Shiff for distributing thousands of event postcards, successfully evading VDOT while hanging banners on the highway, delivering an SUV-full of venue signs for the weekend and other acts of heroism without number.

I would also like to thank the Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors for the grubstake that paid for a portion of event expenses, and the Washington Town Council for approving our use of Avon Hall. Special thanks to Candace Wroth of John McCarthy’s office for timely advice and the county Office of Tourism for help in getting the word out.

Finally, we’d like to thank our fellow county residents for participating in the event. We hope you found some new places that you’d never visited before and met a least one person during the tour that inspired you. We know that we did.

Cathie Shiff
Committee chairman