The Rapp for Feb. 20

Please tip your cat-tender

Tomorrow night (Friday, Feb. 21) at Griffin Tavern in Flint Hill, three guest bartenders will vie for tips to be donated to RappCats, Rappahannock’s cat rescue squad: Behind the bar from 5 to 8 p.m. you will find Cole Johnson, Dr. John McCue and Bryant Lee. For those three hours, 10 percent of all Griffin sales will also be donated to the all-volunteer organization that looks after the stray, abused and abandoned cats of Rappahannock County. Ryan Jewel provides acoustic music later.

The spring races start at Thornton Hill

Photo by Liz Callar
Photo by Liz Callar

On Saturday, March 1, Thornton Hill Fort Valley Hounds launches Virginia’s 2014 spring point-to-point season at the Thornton Hill racecourse, on U.S. 522 just south of Sperryville. Post time is noon for the first race of the third annual Spring Thornton Hill Fort Valley Hounds Point-to-Point.

Many are counting on predictions that this winter’s snow and ice will be long gone by then — so you can stand along a fence, or relax at your tailgate (speaking of which, general parking admission is $20 per car) and enjoy some beautiful thoroughbreds and intrepid jockeys vying amid the hills and flags at Thornton Hill, one of the steeplechase circuit’s most scenic and challenging courses. For more information, call 540-987-8338 or visit

Be on RAAC’s studio and gallery tour

The 10th annual Rappahannock Open Studio and Gallery Tour, scheduled for Nov. 1-2 this year, is ready to hear from all artists and gallery owners in Rappahannock who are interested in participating (including those who have participated before as well as those new to the tour). Those interested should contact Robert Ballard ( or Nancy Raines ( by March 31. Art Tour committee members will visit the studios of new artists in early April.

Stonyman’s James leads Backyard Farming program

At Les Dames d’Escoffier’s “Celebrating Food! Ninth Salute to Women in Gastronomy” symposium next month in College Park, Md., Susan James, owner of Washington’s Stonyman Gourmet Farmer, will chair a program on Backyard Farming

The international organization for women of achievement in the culinary profession hosts the biannual symposium March 8 at the University of Maryland, featuring more than 40 speakers in 16 sessions where participants can learn about cooking, food, food writing and food sources, including celebrated local chefs and other food professionals. Local celebrity chef Carla Hall, a “Top Chef” finalist and co-host of “The Chew” on ABC-TV, will be the keynote speaker.

James’ Backyard Farming program brings together experts and practitioners of beekeeping, intensive cultivation techniques that produce high yields on small plots for horticulture and home food supply, and backyard coop egg production. “The Facts of Backyard Farming Life” is meant to show how backyard farming offers an exciting range of innovation-driven agriculture at the leading edge of the DIY and local food movements. It provides valuable life lessons, puts superb food on the table, and can be an incubator for establishing agriculture-related livelihoods.

A farmer, trained cheese maker and owner of a local farm-based gourmet food business with locations ranging from the Blue Ridge to greater Washington, D.C., James is particularly interested in the impact that backyard farming can have on food sourcing and trends in local food consumption. She observes that more than ever before consumers are seeing that they have an increasing variety of choices for supplying food for the family meal.

“It’s terrific to see the interest in backyard farming from Les Dames d’Escoffier. Backyard growers have become a pillar in the local food movement and are likely to continue growing rapidly. Rather than creating competition, backyard farming and the DIY ag movement only stimulate urban and suburban dwellers’ interest in visiting rural areas like Rappahannock County,” she said.

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