The Rapp for July 21

Castleton: third time’s the charm

Photo courtesy

First of all, for details of the final handful of performances remaining in this year’s Castleton Festival, which ends this weekend, visit

And if you haven’t been to a show — or volunteered housing to a young musician or singer, or brought the family to the festival’s handful of free events, including the concerts and fireworks the weekend before the Fourth — you’ve been missing something special.

Free shows Sunday

The Castleton Festival has two more free shows this Sunday.

Though there hasn’t been time to check in with Lorin and Dietlinde Maazel to see how they think it’s going, we can tell you it gets better each year. From performances we’ve seen since the opening “La Boheme” last month to last Friday’s astonishingly innovative twinned productions of Kurt Weill’s “Seven Deadly Sins” and Ravel’s “L’enfant et les sortileges,” the festival ought to be a source of pride to any Rappahannocker who sees tourism as a significant part of its future.

Aside from the Maazels and the up-and-coming singers and musicians and production staff (in particular stage director William Kerley and set and costume designer Nicholas Vaughan), thanks should also go to Rappahannock’s Anne Pallie for her incredibly hard work on the opening night gala and to volunteer coordinator Melanie Kopjanski for finding housing for the artists and matching volunteers with the work to be done.
— Roger Piantadosi

Hot for history this weekend

The 7th Virginia, currently commanded by Lt. Steve Hensley of Castleton (not shown here), from left: Pvt. Trevor Pradis, Capt. William Graham III, 1st Sgt. Brian Pretlow, 2nd Cpl. Robert Yowell, Pvt. David Yowell, Pvt. Mark Dupuis, Pvt. Colton Weaver and 2nd Sgt. L.T. Fox.

The thermometer is edging upward to 100 degrees. All day long, they’re outside clad in long-sleeved, high-neck wool jackets and wool pants.

That would be Rappahannock’s own Ron Frazier and David Yowell — plus about 10,000 fellow reenactors expected this weekend (July 23 and 24) to commemorate the First Battle of Manassas, or First Bull Run. The National Weather Service forecasts a high of 100 degrees Saturday, slightly less Sunday.

“Prehydration is the word of the day,” says Frazier, who is part of the 7th Virginia Calvary, Company A (not to mention Board of Supervisors, Rappahannock County). He recommends carrying a canteen or two of water.

David Yowell of Gid Brown Hollow will become “a lowly private” in what was the 82nd Virginia Militia before the Civil War, and the 7th Virginia Infantry, Company A, after the war began. He and about 10 of his comrades, including, he says, his son, Robert Yowell, will join in the reenactment of the battle that was the first significant engagement between Confederate and Union forces.

The real battle took place July 21, 1861, and lasted 10 hours before the novice Union army under Brig. Gen. McDowell retreated to Washington, D.C., leaving almost 3,000 of his men on the field.

The 21st-century battle will commence around 9:30 Saturday and Sunday mornings, Yowell says, and continue about four hours each day. Some 11,000 pairs of eyes are expected to watch, according to Nikki Brown, assistant communications director for Prince William County. That figure is the number of tickets sold as of July 19.

Debbie Haight, executive director of Historic Manassas Inc., expects 30,000 to 40,000 tourists over the course of the four-day event, which begins today (July 21).

“Heat is definitely a concern,” says Yowell. He has heard of many cases of heat exhaustion during previous reenactments at Manassas.

“If heat becomes an issue for you,” Yowell says, repeating the frequent counsel given to soldiers who find themselves performing in midsummer, “go on and die.”

Information sent to some of the soldiers, which Yowell passed on in an email, suggests that anyone feeling the heat should “use their head and take a hit. You can then surrender and the Yanks will take you back to a tree line, or you can hobble to the CS rear and return to camp. Please don’t be a hero.”

Our spies tell us Union reenactors are given similar orders.
— Alisa Booze Troetschel

Roger Piantadosi
About Roger Piantadosi 544 Articles
Former Rappahannock News editor Roger Piantadosi is a writer and works on web and video projects for Rappahannock Media and his own Synergist Media company. Before joining the News in 2009, he was a staff writer, editor and web developer at The Washington Post for almost 30 years.