Sperryville column for Jan. 7

Sherlene Yantz BradburySherlene Yantz Bradbury
Jeff Watson and the Downtown Band performs at the Castleton Festival’s annual Christmas party.

A Castleton Christmas

Nina and Colby May, in conjunction with the Castleton Festival, recently hosted a Christmas party celebrated in the Opera House. The evening was a fundraiser for  Castleton, and for $50, a person patrons enjoyed a sumptuous buffet, featuring a variety of appetizers and main courses, such as a succulent roast beef dish, as well as a steaming hot cauldron filled with Nina’s trademark homemade venison stew. Assorted desserts were keenly savored as well. The open bar was manned with cheery Castleton Elves, the wine flowed effortlessly and with abundance, and the dance floor was packed with folks cutting the rug to the fantastic sounds of Jeff Watson and the Downtown Band.

Dietlinde Maazel could be seen throughout the evening, donning a beautiful,  serene smile, a woman of worldly charm and grace, clearly enjoying her guests. A surprise performance provided perhaps the evening’s highlight, a troupe of Castleton Festival’s operatic angels, sang arias to rousing audience applause and ovations ranging from Franz Lehar’s The Merry Widow (Die lustige Witwe) to Giacomo Puccini’s Turandot; the beloved aria, Nessun Dorma, conjuring up visions of Pavarotti, brought tears to many an eye, especially mine. They concluded their individual performances with a group medley of traditional Christmas songs. Many hope the event will become an annual Rappahannock yuletide tradition. It was a resounding success.

Peterson published, part 2

Several months ago, we reported about the recently published book “Growing Tomorrow,” by Forrest Pritchard, the New York Times bestselling author. It is a farm-to-table journey in photos and recipes, in which Molly Peterson of Sperryville’s Heritage Hollow Farms, showcases her flawless, gorgeous photographs.

Now, the second publication of 804ork cookbooks (Molly also provided her photographic genius to the first edition) has also just come out. According to 804ork, the publication is “a who’s who, a what’s what, filled with recipes, inspiring photographs, and words of victual wisdom from Richmond’s most admired chef and restaurateurs.” Molly’s photos grace many of the pages, the volumes are rich in prose as well as in photography. And as my son is a chef in Richmond, Santa purchased both volumes for him. They are available at www.804.ork.com.

For more about Molly and her husband Mike’s Heritage Hollow Farms Store in Sperryville in the Copper Fox complex, visit the website, heritagehollowfarms.net, or Molly’s photography website at www.mollympeterson.com. Congratulations Molly, you are truly a Rappahannock treasure and a tireless cheerleader — and on-the-ground trooper — for local food and sustainable farming.
Beagles (and Van Damme) debut

Beagles (and Van Damme) debut

Sperryville’s John Hallberg, an independent producer, has a new film: “Attack of the Flying Beagles.” We reported several months ago on the film’s progress, and now the local premier will be held at Forge Studios (located in the old Washington school house) on Friday, Jan. 15, at 8 p.m. While comedic and farcical, the film is in concert with promoting the serious and profound cause of the Beagle Freedom Project (beagleproject.org). John owns a beagle, and he has a deep passion for the cause.

His beagle’s name is Missy, but he calls her a “freeagle,” meaning a beagle freed from laboratory use. More than 65,000 beagles nationwide are used for animal experiments in research labs, and the Beagle Freedom Project’s mission, according to their website, “is to place unwanted beagles in loving homes and work to encourage more research labs to release animals and give them a chance at life, instead of destroying adoptable pets.” John’s movie has a fun plot that involves a host of local acting talent, including Howard Coon, Channing Elizabeth, Sariah Sparks, Cheyanne Garcia, Chris Masil, Dawn Schimke and Andy Thompson.

Jean-Claude Van Damme also appears via green screen footage, and the film’s team is working with Van Damme’s attorneys to try to license this material. In the meantime, the only place to see this film is at next Friday’s premier. Cost is $5 and there will be Beagle Freedom Project info and t-shirts, and John tells that the hosting Forge Studios are revving-up the old Panther popcorn machine! For more information, visit www.attackoftheflyingbeagles.com.

It’s (equine) graduation time

Rappahannock is celebrating a graduation…from a rather unique equine school. We’ve written about gifted riders Ronda Gregorio and Meghan Kavanah, two horse enthusiasts and trainers who adopted mustangs — wild mustangs. Their journey inspired Meghan to found a nonprofit, The American Mustang Organization. The group seeks to adopt mustangs, to be gentled by a partnership she’s created with natural horsemanship trainers, so they are ready to be adoptable and loved by families and children. Her mission is to not only promote adoption, and the preservation of these beautiful creatures, but also to spread the word in the horse community that mustangs are indeed potential performance horses.

Landay, Meghan’s beloved mustang is just such a horse. She is a majestic creature, clearly of Andalusian heritage. Not long ago, Landay was totally wild, her name an expression of freedom, as landays are anonymous oral verses, and thus belong to no one — a perfect fit for mustangs, who are, by definition, ownerless beasts. She is now The American Mustang Organization’s first graduate. TAMO’s website, TAMO-US.org, contains a recent video of Landay’s progress. Bryan Elijah Smith, filmed, edited and provided the music for this breathtaking film, a testament to Meghan’s skill, patience and love for this fine animal, a wild mustang barely a year under saddle. Congratulations Meghan on your first graduate. She’s a beauty.  


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