Join a team of endangered-horse experts from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) who’ll discuss the challenges of trying to breed the legendary wild Asian Przewalski’s Horse, at this Friday’s (April 11) Second Friday at the Library program sponsored by the Rappahannock Association for the Arts and the Community (RAAC).
This horse’s native Mongolian habitat had shrunk to the point where, in 1969, it was declared extinct in the wild. Reintroduction efforts in Asia by Smithsonian and partner organizations have brought this animal back from the brink, while captive breeding efforts at Front Royal aimed to protect the gene pool and adapt domestic horse-breeding techniques to this unique wild species; in June of 2013, SCBI scientists produced the first-ever Przewalski’s horse via artificial insemination.
SCBI scientist Buddha Pukathenthi and his doctoral student, Parker Pennington, tell their stories at the library program, which is free and starts at 8 p.m. SCBI’s head of strategic development Ruth Anna Stolk will give an update on new projects at SCBI’s Front Royal headquarters and more. For more information, visit raac.org.
Worthy events abound in this weekend’s calendar and beyond, including a plant workshop Friday at Hearthstone, Appalachian music Sunday at Flint Hill Baptist, breakfast at the Senior Center, a fundraising Chili Bowl, several open-house events and more music Sunday at Flint Hill Public House and Sperryville’s Central Coffee Roasters.
The Theatre at Washington offers an unusual double bill this weekend: At 8 p.m. Saturday, Rappahannock’s favorite jazz pianist Bill Harris returns for an evening of tunes made popular by Frank Sinatra; Sunday at 3, in a weather-rescheduled matinee, the Smithsonian at Little Washington series brings a performance of Bach sonatas by violinist Robert Mealy and harpsichordist Kenneth Slowik.
And Sunday at 4 at Castleton’s Theatre House, “certified lunatic and master of the impossible” Tomáš Kubínek offers his unique blend of comedy, acrobatics, vaudeville, magic and more.
Madeline MacNeil, renowned folksinger and virtuoso of the mountain and hammered dulcimers, performs at 2 p.m. Sunday at Flint Hill Baptist Church, a presentation of the Rappahannock Historical Society.
A first-generation Virginian who traces her ancestry to New England and Canada, MacNeil says it was her interest in stories that led her in the 1960s to Appalachian music and to the dulcimer.
The hammered dulcimer is an instrument with a centuries-long history that spans Persia (santur), Hungary (cymbalom) and China (yangqin). In Germany, it influenced the development of the piano, and became known as a dulcimer in England, many of whose emigrants brought it with them to America. The mountain dulcimer developed primarily from the German scheitholt, which came here with the German settlers. As those settlers began moving, often through the Shenandoah Valley and notably to western North Carolina and eastern Kentucky, the scheitholt changed — and eventually adopted the “dulcimer” name some 200 years ago.
For much of the 1970s, MacNeil lived at Skyland, in Shenandoah National Park, delighting visitors from all over the world with her dulcimer playing. She began recording in 1983 and has many notable albums available today, including “Heart’s Ease,” awarded the 1989 String Music Album of the Year by the National Association of Independent Record Distributors. She has written many books for Mel Bay Publications as well as histories of Appalachian music with Ralph Lee Smith, and has performed throughout the U.S. and in Virginia as a touring artist for the Virginia Commission for the Arts. She has performed in Ireland, Scotland and other venues in Great Britain. “Hearing Madeline MacNeil sing ‘Shenandoah’ brought tears to my eyes,” actor Gregory Peck once said after hearing her perform her signature song.
Refreshments will be served. Donations of $5 to the RHS are appreciated. For more information, call 540-675-1163.
There’s an opening reception from 2 to 4 Saturday, April 19 at River District Arts for the artist cooperative’s second annual “Rappahannock Creates” exhibit (up through June 15), which showcases the abundance of talent in Rappahannock County. Participating artists — many of whom you can meet at the reception — include Kevin Adams, Sara Adams, Mary B. Allen, Matthew Black, Ray Boc, Susan Dienelt, Branden Eastwood, Jane Forth, Joyce Harman, Barbara Heile, Libet Henze, Bette Hileman, Nancy Keyser, Nina Moore, Phyllis Northup, Francie Schroeder, Jan Settle, Nedra Smith, Patricia Underwood, Geneva Welch, Cathy Wolniewicz and Mike Wolniewicz.
At 6 p.m. Saturday, April 19, at Rappahannock County High School, a Rappahannock County Law Enforcement all-star team faces Culpeper County Law Enforcement challengers in a basketball match-up meant to raise funds for the RCSO’s Children’s Foundation (which funds the annual Shop With a Deputy program, among others).
We hear that both sheriffs — our Connie C. Smith and their Scott Jenkins — will be playing on teams made up of sheriff’s office and Virginia State Police officers. Rappahannock’s roster also includes the RCSO’s Roger Jenkins, Cody Dodson, Christopher Koglin, David Teitelbaum, Brandan Smoot, Janice Wilson, Crystal Weakly, Eric Smith, Ryan Carter, Ronnie Dodson, Dan Stevens and Chris Lambert and VSP’s Capt. Gary Settle, Lt. Wayne Sumner and Don Corbin.
Belle Meade wins PEC garden award
The Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) this week announced winners in its annual Community and School Garden competition, which recognizes gardens that celebrate the relationship between nature, food and community. Among the winners were the organic garden at Belle Meade School, which shares its Sperryville home with a 138-acre holistic farm and a B&B.
PEC began accepting nominations last spring, and required all entrants to be active during the 2013 growing season. “We reviewed applicants from a wide range of groups, including schools, neighborhoods and nursing homes,” said James Barnes, sustainable habitat program manager of PEC.
Though all of the entrants were recognized for their efforts, six were chosen to receive cash awards. Hillside Hawks Vegetable Garden in Loudoun County, Belle Meade School Garden and Urban Agriculture Collective of Charlottesville (Albemarle County) each won $500.
Three additional gardens were selected to receive a $300 award, including the Earlysville Forest Community Garden (Albemarle), Millwood Community Garden (Clarke) and 4H Fox’s Garden (Culpeper).
“Gardening provides a great common language from which a community can understand and learn from one another about ecology, healthy food and working together. We hope that these awards will help provide some nourishment to help these conversations continue to grow and reach a larger audience,” said Don Loock, agriculture and rural economy program manager of PEC.
Belle Meade School’s mission is to combine academic excellence and sustainable living. Students gain an in-depth understanding of sustainable living and farming from staff, volunteers and parents who manage the school’s garden. Gardening at Belle Meade School is incorporated into electives that include planting, watering, weeding, harvesting and preserving the harvest.