The Rapp for July 20

Ferment here

By John McCaslin
Kevin Kraditor and Sherri Fickel, owners of Hopkins Ordinary Bed & Breakfast and Ale Works, posing this week in their cellar brewhouse.

The welcome mat is out at the Rappahannock County Administrator’s Office, as seen in the photograph, to budding brewers, distillers and vintners interested in carving out space here. And for good reason.

There are a lot of thirsty people in Virginia, residents and visitors alike, and the more quenching that can be accomplished in Rappahannock the better for the local economy. Despite its relatively small size, Rappahannock is already home to a trailblazing whisky and gin distillery, two popular craft beer breweries, and almost a dozen award-winning wineries with additional vineyards.

Virginia recently surpassed Texas in the number of wineries per state — 287 to 269 respectively — ranking the Old Dominion 5th in the country behind the leading California, Washington, Oregon and New York. According to state figures, Virginia’s wine industry is now contributing more than $1.37 billion annually to the state’s economy, an 83 percent increase over five years.

If you think that’s a sizable economic impact, Virginia’s 206 licensed breweries (more than double the number from just 2014, and now surpassing brewery-heavy North Carolina) are contributing more than $9.34 billion annually to the state’s economy. So-called “beer tourism” has become a major driver in attracting visitors to the state, especially to rural regions like Rappahannock.

Finally, there are 42 distilleries (a number that is also rapidly expanding, with one soon to open in Amissville) in Virginia, producing everything from rye whisky to vodka, gin and even rum.

 Ticks ‘rampant’

The Virginia Farm Bureau Federation is warning farmers — and everybody else — to be careful because ticks of every shape and size “are rampant” during this summer of 2017.

“This year has been terrible for ticks,” exclaims Bill Latane, the bureau’s assistant director of field services. “I’m pretty much finding them any time I go to the farm, even with spraying my pants down with DEET.”

Latane notes that he is extra cautious after being diagnosed recently with Rocky Mountain spotted fever [RMSF].

“It’s often the ones you don’t see that cause a problem,” explains Dr. Amy Johnson, a family nurse practitioner quoted by the farm bureau. She points out that ticks typically have to be attached to the skin for 24 hours, and any serious symptoms usually occur seven to 10 days after the bite.

Lyme disease is more prevalent than RMSF in Virginia, although both have similar initial symptoms, including fatigue, fever and joint pain.

Everything’s peachy

On the sunnier side of farms, everything is peachy this summer, according to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Farmers, including Rappahannock’s numerous fruit growers, anticipate a very good peach harvest between now and the end of August.

Plenty of rain this spring has been good for the trees, and for that matter drier conditions in June and July have been perfect for bringing out the fruit’s sugar to develop a sweeter tasting peach.

And who knew there were so many varieties of peaches being harvested around the state: Ruby Prince, Red Haven, Summer Pearl, Sure Prince, Challenger, LA White and Topaz, to be followed by Blake, Encore, Laurol, Loring, Redhaven, Sentry, Sugar Giant, Sugar May and White Lady.

According to U.S. Census figures, Virginia produces an annual average of 6,500 tons of peaches valued at almost $6 million. The five-year ag census will be updated after the 2017 growing season.

Happy trails

The Rappahannock Trails project launched its website this week.

RappTrails mission is to make the outdoors accessible for Rappahannock County residents and visitors of all ages to safely enjoy walking, jogging, and biking for health, fitness, and community through establishment of a public trail system.

The first section will connect the villages of Sperryville and Washington via a multi-use trail along U.S. 211. The trail is currently in the planning and development stage. You can learn more about the project and sign up to receive news and updates via www.rapptrails.org.

Sweet 16

Congratulations to Kevin Kraditor and Sherri Fickel, who while educating a visitor on the history of Hopkins Ordinary Bed & Breakfast and Ale Works (plus a real cool beer garden) realized that this past Sunday was their 16th anniversary of purchasing the 1820s building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“It was long-term rentals at the time,” Sherri notes. “We started renovating it in August 2004 and opened the inn in June 2005. So we have been innkeepers for just over 12 years. The brewery was licensed in September 2014 and opened in November 2014.”

The B&B, located at 47 Main Street in Sperryville, consists of five spacious bedrooms and a charming garden cottage. Hand crafted ales such as Little Devil Blonde are poured in the cellar.

Wanted: pigs, dragons

RAAC Community Theatre is seeking pigs, cow, horses, and dragons for fall and holiday productions.

The theatre in historic Washington will hold auditions in coming weeks for its main fall production, “Animal Farm,” and its holiday show, “St. George and the Dragon at Christmastide.”

RAAC’s production of “Animal Farm” will be a staged reading with actors using scripts. Published in 1945, “Animal Farm” is a cutting satire about tyrannical government and the evils of Russian communism.

Set on Mr. Jones’ Manor Farm, the animals, led by the pigs, run Jones off and build the newly named Animal Farm into a kind of utopia. But, after false promises, internal feuding, barnyard purges, and violence, life on the farm eventually becomes as bad, or worse, as it was under Jones. This is a story you won’t want to miss.

“Animal Farm” auditions will be held August 5 and 6 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Performances will be September 15, 16 and 17. We’re looking for seven actors to play 15 or more roles, including pigs, horses, chickens and cows. Auditions will be reading from the script. Rehearsals will begin the week following auditions.

“St. George and the Dragon at Christmastide” features a colorful cast of characters and lots of roles for children and adults. This inter-generational, heartwarming play is a classic holiday offering. A traditional mummer’s play (a primitive English folk drama) with a contemporary flair, the script is based on the story of St. George of dragon slayer fame. It is considered by many as a celebration of the Christmas Holiday and the Winter Solstice.

“St. George” auditions will be held August 19 and 20 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., and again on September 9 and 10 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Performances will be December 1, 2, 8, 9 and 10. Rehearsals will begin the week following September auditions.

All auditions and performances will be at the theatre at 310 Gay Street. For additional information, email Patty Hardee at pahardee@gmail.com or call 540-675-2506.

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