The Rapp for July 12

This weekend at Castleton Festival

Stephen Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music” gets center stage at the Castleton Festival this weekend, with performances on Friday (July 13) at 7:30 p.m. and on Saturday (July 16) at 2 p.m. as well as a second Saturday performance at 7 p.m. and on Sunday (July 15) at 2. Based on Ingmar Bergman’s film “Smiles of a Summer Night,” the two-act musical tells the romantically charged story of a middle-aged man and his teenaged bride.

The following weekend (July 20-22) features song recitals and a spectacular finale performed by members of the C.A.T.S. (Castleton Artists Training Seminar), tomorrow’s stars.

The earlier performances, from Rossini and Bizet to Beethoven, have been spectacular themselves. So if you haven’t yet taken advantage of this unique, world-class opportunity right here in the county, the coming weekends will be your last chance this summer.

For seating and tickets, visit or call 866-974-0767.

Historic event(s) in Chester Gap

The Historical Society commemorates Chester Gap history on July 22 — and is looking for more.
The Historical Society commemorates Chester Gap history on July 22 — and is looking for more. Courtesy photo

Join the Rappahannock Historical Society on Sunday, July 22 to celebrate and augment our county’s history. Starting at 1 p.m. you can attend the dedication of two new Civil War Trails markers commemorating Chester Gap’s importance in the Civil War. These markers are located at the intersection of U.S. 522 and Route 610 (on the entrance road to the Chester Gap community, a glimpse of which is pictured here).

As a gateway to the Shenandoah Valley, Chester Gap was of great strategic importance during the war. Large bodies of troops from both sides passed here on a number of occasions, including a Union Corps on its way to a month long occupation of Rappahannock County in the summer of 1862.

Confederates used Chester Gap en route to and from the Battle of Gettysburg. On their retreat, a failed attempt was made by Union forces to block their passage in the hope of trapping and defeating Lee’s Army against the Blue Ridge near Front Royal. A 24-hour skirmish in the gap ended with Union cavalry withdrawing to Hume, allowing the Confederates to march to the safety of Culpeper.

After the dedication, refreshments will be available at the Chester Gap fire hall, where the second part of the day’s events will continue:

The Historical Society, begun in 1965, stores information on Rappahannock County, provides property searches and research facilities to interested persons, and generally serves as a repository for all things Rappahannock. The Society’s information on Chester Gap, its residents and history, is not complete, and the Society is asking residents to share their pictures, newspaper clippings, documents, family stories, etc.

At the fire hall in the afternoon, the Society will have a copier, scanner, camera, tape recorder and old-fashioned pen and paper to record information that residents can share. Of course, donations of memorabilia would be greatly appreciated, but the most important thing is to record the history we have now, before it gets lost.

This is a unique opportunity to add to the storehouse of Rappahannock history. The fire hall has graciously opened its doors in the hope that much Chester Gap history can be added to the collection for the use of later generations. For more information, contact the Society at 540-675-1163 or

Coons’ 1894 Steinway saves Castleton opening night

The Castleton Festival, founded by the Maazels, 25-year residents of Rappahannock, with a major helping of community spirit, has thrived this season through rare derechos, 100-degree heat waves and missing pianos. The Festival owes its success to a lot of quick thinking, helpful friends, ardently supportive neighbors and no shortage of luck!

Just such serendipity was evident on opening night, June 22.

Earlier this year, Castleton regulars and former U.S. ambassadors Carleton S. Coon and Jane Abell Coon of Washington, D.C. and Woodville, donated their fully restored historic Steinway to the Castleton Festival. The piano is a Steinway & Sons Model A grand, serial number 80,027, made in 1894 and valued at more than $20,000. It arrived at precisely 1 p.m. on June 22, opening day, and unbeknownst to Maestro Lorin Maazel, the piano had arrived just in time to save that night’s opening “Italian Extravaganza” concert.

During that concert, which featured Denyce Graves and the Castleton Festival Orchestra, Maazel conducted selections from beloved Italian composers – Puccini, Verdi, Rossini and Respighi. In Respighi’s “The Pines of Rome,” there is a prominent piano part, played from within the orchestra – critical to the performance. But just 10 minutes before the afternoon dress rehearsal, Castleton staff were informed that the instrument that had been ordered for the rehearsal and concert would not be arriving that day due to a shipping foul-up. It was almost precisely at that moment that the Coons’ Steinway was being delivered through the main entrance into the Festival Theatre foyer, having just arrived from D.C.

After consulting Castleton’s orchestra manager, Francoise Moquin, the piano movers and one very anxious piano technician, the Steinway was placed onstage. Maestro Maazel, knowing full well the 118-year-old piano was performance ready, was very grateful.

Since its auspicious debut, the instrument has been placed in its originally intended location in the Festival Theatre foyer. Here, it has served valiantly for “A Little Night Music” staging rehearsals and for the Festival’s popular and free pre-performance chamber music and cabaret concerts, performed by the wonderfully talented members of our CATS (Castleton Artists Training Seminar) program and young orchestral musicians.

The Coons are both longtime diplomats who have served together and in separate posts all over the world, including in Syria, India, Nepal, Germany and Bangladesh. In the early 1980s, they became the first husband-and-wife career diplomats to be U.S. ambassadors at the same time.

– Jenny Lawhorn

Staying cooler, cheaper in the park |

In an effort to give the region’s residents respite from the mid-Atlantic’s overheated summer, Aramark – the concessioner of the lodges inside Shenandoah National Park – is offering a promotion this month as part of their newly declared Neighbor Appreciation Month.

“Shenandoah was also impacted by the recent storm” said Wayne Soard, resident district manager for Skyland Resort and Big Meadows Lodge. “While our power has been fully restored, we recognize our neighbors in the communities around us are still inconvenienced from power outages and suffering from the heat. We encourage them to visit us in the cooler temperatures of the Blue Ridge Mountains and enjoy an escape from these issues.”

As part of July Neighbor Appreciation Month, Aramark is offering guests from the neighboring counties of the park a $25 resort voucher at check-in which can be used toward their room fee or in the restaurant. A current Virginia driver’s license is required at time of check-in to receive the voucher. The offer is not valid with other promotions or discounts and is based on availability at time of booking.

July Neighbor Appreciation Month is being offered by ARAMARK in conjunction with Shenandoah National Park’s designation of Shenandoah Neighbors Day – July 21 – when park entrance fees will be waived to residents of Albemarle, Augusta, Greene, Madison, Nelson, Page, Rappahannock, Rockingham and Warren counties.

If you do visit July 21, take advantage of the popular Blackberry Delight event that will be held at Big Meadows Wayside from 11 to 5, with live music, children’s crafts and face painting, wine tastings and lots of delicious food. The wayside is at mile 51.2 on Skyline Drive.

For more information or to book an escape from the summer heat, call 888-896-3833 or go to

You’re invited, not the invasives

The Rappahannock League for Environmental Protection’s (RLEP) program committee is sponsoring an Invasive Species Workshop at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 21 at the Theatre at Washington. There’ll be a panel of experts and a walk to the town of Washington’s future Butterfly Trail near Avon Hall to identify and learn about how to remove invasive plants. For more information, check out or call 540-675-1373.

The program committee is also considering a bear forum this fall, and reminds those interested in joining the July 28 butterfly count to check out the Old Rag Master Naturalists website at

Narmada wines: San Francisco awards

Four awards went to Narmada Winery in Amissville at the San Francisco International Wine Competition last month, including silver medals for the winery’s 2011 Viognier and 2010 Reflection, and bronze medals for its 2010 Tannat and Yash-Vir. “We are very pleased with these results and hope everyone comes out to try our award-winning wines,” said winery spokesperson Katie Clatterbuck.

New Knights of Columbus officers

Father Maurice du Castillon Knights of Columbus Council 14755 in Washington has announced its new officers for 2012-2013. They are: Grand Knight (or local president) William Jarrett, Washington; chaplain, Father Christopher Murphy, St. Peters Catholic Church, Washington; deputy grand knight, James Gannon, Huntly; chancellor, Bernard Cieplak, Rixeyville; and recorder, Stephen Dowell, Castleton.

Other officers are financial secretary Fred Eggers, Sperryville; treasurer David Kerr, Castleton; warden Jim Vititow, Chester Gap; and guards Hurley Smith and Jeff Knight, both of Washington.

The board of trustees includes Bob Benyo, Castleton; Robert Ward, Amissville; and Stephen Lambert, Monterey.

Grand Knight Jarrett has been a member of the Knights of Columbus for three years, serving in the positions of deputy grand knight and treasurer. Jarrett is retired and lives in Washington with his wife, Jeanne.

With 1.7 million members, the Knights of Columbus is the world’s largest Catholic family fraternal service organization. It provides members and their families with volunteer opportunities in service to the Catholic Church, the community, families and young people. In 2011, the Knights of Columbus organization raised and distributed $151 million to charity and rendered 69 million hours of volunteer service.

Pamplin award goes to Rutherford

Rappahannock County High School 2012 graduate Candace Rutherford will be attending Virginia Tech in the fall with the help of a scholarship from the family of Robert B. Pamplin. One such student from each Virginia public high school is awarded a $1,000 “Pamplin Leader” scholarship for academic achievement and service.

The Pamplin Leader is a one-year merit-based $1,000 tuition scholarship. The scholarship is presented annually to one student from each public high school in Virginia who has applied to Virginia Tech, is admitted and accepts the offer of admission. The scholarship is open to students applying to all majors. In Pamplin Leaders, students are sought with a record of outstanding academic achievement that is balanced with a commitment to community service and leadership experience.

About Staff/Contributed 5503 Articles
The Rappahannock News welcomes contributions from any and all members of the community. Email news and photos to or call us at 540-675-3338.