The Rapp for Sept. 4

Civil War: Ready for its close-up Sept. 6-7

Cannons will boom, muskets will fire, fifes and drums will play and songs will be sung as they were 150 years ago. The theme of this weekend’s Civil War Heritage Days, the last of a three-year living-history sesquicentennial commemoration of the Civil War in Rappahannock County, is “The Civil War: Up Close and Personal.”

On the grounds of the Rappahannock County Visitors Center on U.S. 211 near Washington from 9 to 5 Saturday and 9 to 3 Sunday, the program includes uniformed reenactors conducting infantry, artillery and cavalry demonstrations and drills on the actual historical campsite of Pope’s Army of Virginia (Union) in 1862. Period music is performed throughout by Evergreen Shade, plus there are lectures, fun Youth Boot Camps and reenactors on hand to talk one-on-one with kids and adults about life in those difficult days (including as part of a special program for Rappahannock students on Friday).

The parade through Washington is at 2:30 Saturday with a troop “Pass in Review” formation in front of the county courthouse on Gay Street, including musket fire volleys. On Sunday at about 1, there’s a reenactment of the Skirmish of Battle Mountain (also known as “Custer’s Almost Last Stand”).

Free admission. Follow the signs for parking. Food will be available for purchase both days. For more information, call 540-937-6644.

Get a move on

Something must be in the air — autumn, that’s our guess — as this week arrived notices of two new clubs forming: a weekly walking club, based at Little Washington Wellness Center & Spa, and a weekly (or possibly twice-weekly) running club, based at Belle Meade School in Sperryville.

The walking club will meet Friday mornings at the spa (261 Main St.), led by holistic trainer Laura East, for an hour-long walk at 9:30. Bring water, wear comfortable workout clothes and walking shoes, and also bring small hand or ankle weights or a weight vest if you like. It’s free to all ages. Call the spa (540-675-1031) for more information.

The all-ages running club is being organized by track and personal coach Alex Forte. She says an initial get-together for prospective runners from Rappahannock, Madison, Culpeper and Orange counties is 4 to 6 p.m. next Tuesday (Sept. 9) at Belle Meade School (351 F.T. Valley Rd.). Club membership ($50, free for Belle Meade students and their families) includes AAU/USATF membership fee, uniform/T-shirt and local travel. Email Forte for more information at

Back to art school

Nina Shephardson teaches the art of Pysanky, the Ukrainian style of decorating real eggshells, on Sept. 20 at the Studio School in Flint Hill.
Nina Shephardson teaches the art of Pysanky, the Ukrainian style of decorating real eggshells, on Sept. 20 at the Studio School in Flint Hill.

Last weekend’s open house at the Studio School and Mullany Art Studios in Flint Hill has been extended through this week, should you be interested in the school’s next session of classes —  including “process painting” with Barbara Heile (starting tomorrow, Sept. 5); decorating eggshells in the Ukrainian Pysanky style with Nina Shepardson (Sept. 20); mosaics workshops with Candace Clough; needle felting with Donna La Pre; bookbinding with Kerrie Mullany; and oil, acrylic and landscape painting classes with Tom Mullany. Call the school at 540-878-3687 or visit

‘Salt & Pepper’: Funny & poignant

RAAC Community Theatre opens its busy fall schedule Sept. 19-20 with “Salt & Pepper” by Santa Fe playwright Robert Benjamin.

The cast of “Salt & Pepper” includes (from left) John Lesinski, Mimi Forbes, Gary Grossman, Petrina Huston, Geoff Gowen, Barbara Black and Donna Chabot.
The cast of “Salt & Pepper” includes (from left) John Lesinski, Mimi Forbes, Gary Grossman, Petrina Huston, Geoff Gowen, Barbara Black and Donna Chabot. E. Raymond Boc

“Salt & Pepper is a gently provocative stage play about aging with grace, courage and humor,” says director Patty Hardee. “It consists of seven stories connected in theme, character, language and action. I think audiences will easily relate to this play.”

The play’s scenarios bring characters together in situations both funny and poignant. There’s the couple on their awkward first date (after meeting in a bereavement group). In another scene, older newlyweds bicker while visiting the first wife’s grave. And two friends meet at the post office where waiting for “forever” stamps takes on a deeper meaning.

The cast features actors from Rappahannock, Madison and Culpeper counties: Geoff Gowen, Barbara Black, Mimi Forbes, Petrina Huston, John Lesinski, Brendan Martyn, Gary Grossman and Donna Chabot.

Benjamin is a retired research physicist who now devotes his time to writing plays. “Salt & Pepper” has been produced in Santa Fe and New York. “Robert is working on a sequel to ‘Salt & Pepper’ that he hopes to have completed by early next year,” says Hardee. “If ‘Salt & Pepper’ is well-received here, I hope Robert will let us produce the sequel.”

“Salt & Pepper” goes on at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 19, and Saturday, Sept. 20, at RAAC Community Theatre (310 Gay St.,Washington); tickets are $15. To reserve and buy tickets, visit and click on “Community Theatre.” (No internet access? Call 800-695-6075.)

Miller talks farming Sept. 12 at the library

At 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 12, the Rappahannock Association for the Arts and Community (RAAC) kicks off a new season of Second Friday at the Library talks with a presentation by Cliff Miller, whose family has owned and farmed 845 acres in Sperryville for nearly 200 years. His talk will be a personal account of the changes he has made in the way he farms in the last 15 years, with the aim of continuing his family’s stewardship of this land.

There have been significant changes in the way Miller deals with the Thornton River, which runs through his property, and with the way the fields, livestock, infrastructure and wildlife are managed. Hear about how those changes have evolved, why he made them, how they have worked out and the trade-offs he has balanced.

Questions and answers follow the talk. Miller welcomes dissenting voices, in the hope of a lively and informative discussion. The talk is free. All are welcome. For more information, visit

Wine tasting, book signing

The Merry Moo Market of Flint Hill hosts Sheila Lamb, author of “Once a Goddess,” first in the Rappahannock author’s  historical fantasy trilogy about Brigid of Ireland, from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 12. Released in July by Solstice Publishing, “Once a Goddess” tells the story of Brigid of the supernatural Tuatha de Danann, who is forced to marry the prince of an enemy tribe and must save her people from destruction. Lamb, a Virginia native and Chester Gap resident who teaches English at Rappahannock County High School, will sign books as well as give a brief Q&A. Merry Moo Market owner Gail Reardon will be offering a wine tasting during the event.

Vignola and Raniolo return to the Theatre

Jazz guitarists Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo open the fall season at the Theatre at Washington (291 Gay St.) on Sunday, Sept. 14, with a 3 p.m. concert.

The duo’s collaboration began more than five years ago; they’ve played together at the Theatre every year since. Until now, their performances have always come in December to close out the season, but this year the New York musicians decided to forego the snow and blizzard travel conditions they have encountered here in the past.

The New York Times called Vignola “one of the brightest . . . stars of the guitar”; he was included on Les Paul’s “Five Most Admired Guitarists List” in the Wall Street Journal. He has played with Ringo Starr, Madonna, Wynton Marsalis, Lionel Hampton, Bucky Pizzarelli, Ken Peplowski and the Boston Pops, among many others. Besides playing more than a thousand concerts with Vignola, the youthful Raniolo has also performed and recorded with Pizzarelli, Tommy Emmanuel and David Grisman and  toured in more than 14 countries.

Tickets for the Sunday concert are $25 ($10 ages 18 and younger). For reservations, contact the Theatre at 540-675-1253 or

Farm Tour invades Manassas

Rappahannock County has invaded Manassas — or at least the Virginia Welcome Center, located on westbound I-66 just east. For the month of September, the 2014 Rappahannock County Farm Tour & Festival will be the featured event at the busy tourist-information hub.

Display at the I-66 welcome center on Rappahannock County’s Farm Tour & Festival Sept. 26-27 will be up for the entire month.
Display at the I-66 welcome center on Rappahannock County’s Farm Tour & Festival Sept. 26-27 will be up for the entire month. Courtesy photo

By participating in the Virginia Tourism “blitz” program, our two-day celebration of local farms and farm-related businesses, scheduled for the last weekend of September, accesses the skills of an experienced team of event boosters. The travel counselors who staff the center mention the tour to virtually every one of the dozens of patrons who enter the brightly lit, rack-card-festooned building throughout the day.

During the launch of the blitz on Monday (Sept. 1), welcome center manager Kathleen Reilly greeted visitors with a tour postcard and urged them to attend “this fabulous event.” She is no stranger to Rappahannock County, and she and her staff said they were excited to lend their support to efforts to attract more visitors here.

Even before visitors received the “Reilly treatment,” the first thing they saw when they entered the facility was a display table filled with farm tour information. Nearby, a colorful basket of fresh apples donated by Lee’s Orchard tempted visitors. A tour banner adorns the front of the service desk, and tour postcards are stacked or fanned out on desks and shelves throughout the room.

The welcome center is open 8:30 to 5 seven days a week. A free event, the upcoming farm tour and festival is scheduled for Sept. 27-28 and features 33 local farms and farm-related businesses.

— Cathie Shiff

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