A few highlights of upcoming events from the calendar:
Tonight: In “Travels with Max,” environmentalist, educator and author Gregory Zeigler speaks about his experiences retracing John Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charley” route — and writing his own book, “Travels with Max: In Search of Steinbeck’s America Fifty Years Later” — at 7:30 p.m. at the Rappahannock Library. The free program is sponsored by Wakefield Country Day School; call 540-635-8555 (ext. 223) for more information.
Friday: RAAC’s “Second Friday at the Library” lecture series ends its outstanding 2014 season with a talk by Rappahannock’s own Bill Dietel, who recounts his days as head of the nation’s oldest boarding school for girls, in the turbulent 1960s, at 8 p.m. at the library. This program’s also free; contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details (or to pass on speaker suggestions for when the program resumes in 2015).
Saturday: The Rappahannock Lions Club’s annual hot date — their ChiliFest and Grand Raffle fundraiser — starts at 4 p.m. at the Sperryville fire hall, with the best batches of chili from the county’s commercial and home chefs. Tickets are $100 (only 150 available) and include a shot at the grand prize. For tickets or information, contact any Lions Club member, or Jim Manwaring (540-987-8433 or email@example.com).
Everybody who’s anybody, especially if they have kids, will be at the Rappahannock County High School Fall Festival and Corn Hole Tournament on Oct. 18, so if you haven’t signed up to be a vendor yet, contact Karen Sanborn (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Natasha White (email@example.com) soon, or the barrel train will leave without you.
The Saturday festival is 11:30 to 3:30 at RCHS — with barbecue, rummage sales, moon bounce, pony rides, live music by Ryan Jewel and — though not for sure yet, says Sanborn — barrel train rides. During the festival, across the highway on the Blue Rock Inn grounds, the sheriff’s office is sponsoring 15-minute helicopter tours of the county for $25 per person. The helicopter rides benefit the Rappahannock Children’s Foundation; the festival is a fundraiser for RCHS class activities and clubs. Call 540-675-5300 about the helicopter rides; call 540-227-0745 about the festival.
Now in its fifth year, American Craft Week is one of the country’s largest celebrations of American craft and design. The Artisans Center of Virginia (ACV), promoters of the Rappahannock Artisan Trail, is a sponsor of this year’s American Craft Week (Oct. 3-12).
To quote American Craft Week promoters, “Supporting America’s craftspeople and products is so important. When we buy these beautifully made items, we are investing in our country’s traditions and enriching our own lives. The economic advantages are staggering, from creating local jobs to building creative, lively communities. American Craft Week celebrates the people who make, sell and exhibit handmade items.”
This weekend, in celebration of American Craft Week, Sperryville’s Coterie Shop is presenting its “Autumn Artisan Showcase,” a local opportunity to meet some of the artisans of Coterie — including Tom Pendleton of Shade Tree Metal Art, Colleen O’Bryant of Wild Roots Apothecary with her hand-crafted herbal syrups, Kat Habib with hand-built functional and sculptural ceramics, Patricia Brennan of De’Danann Glassworks, who’ll explain her stained glass techniques, Cathy Wolniewicz of Tree Top Studios with beautiful spirit boxes, Chris Russell with Casey Dogg Woodworking and Jan Barbano and her autumn dried-flower wreaths. The artisans (and other local artisan items) will be at the shop (12018A Lee Hwy.) both Saturday and Sunday (Oct. 11-12); call 540-987-8249 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Schoolhouse Nine, the nine-hole golf course under construction next to the Sperryville Schoolhouse, is offering lifetime memberships to a limited number of interested parties (an offer that ends when the course opens next July). Schoolhouse owner Cliff Miller IV says he’s offering the player-for-life deal for $5,000 (65 and older: $3,000).
It includes free unlimited play on Schoolhouse Nine Golf Course, plus a roundtable discussion with architect Michael McCartin (at 2 p.m. Oct. 25) and wildflower meadow walk with course superintendent Sean Mullan and a Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) expert; two weeks of life-member-only advance play in June 2015, an opening barbecue banquet June 27 and a day of lessons from Erika Larkin, 2012 Mid-Atlantic PGA Teacher of the Year, next September. Call Cliff at 540-987-5008 or visit schoolhousenine.com and click on the application-form link.
At the Byrd Visitor Center at Big Meadows last Thursday, photographer Sandy Long, Shenandoah National Park’s first-ever artist-in-residence, shared her experience and presented an eight-minute slideshow of some of her more than 4,000 images shot during her two-week residency.
“In an artist-in-residence program,” explained Ranger Bob during his introduction, “an artist is given the opportunity to live in the park with the purpose of documenting that park with their own skills and talents. While Sandy has many skills, she documented her experience in Shenandoah with her camera.”
Long’s passion and enthusiasm for connections with nature are evident. Although she is from the Poconos of Pennsylvania, Sandy credits her inspiration to work as an “advocate for wilderness” to her childhood experiences in Shenandoah National Park on family camping trips, and her little Instamatic 126 camera with the rotating flash-cube as her introduction to the world of photography.
“These past two weeks, I have been prowling around with a camera, visiting peaks, valleys, trails, overlooks and literally sticking my nose into the meadow, which is a highly satisfying experience!” she said.
Her recognition of the importance of all senses in connecting to nature leads her to immerse herself in her subject matter. That total immersion is evident in the details of her photographs of spider webs, lichen on rocks, fallen leaves and acorns juxtaposed against her dramatic images of sunsets, misty mountains and valley views capped with dramatic clouds.
On the “casual exploration” of Big Meadows she led during her first week, she was joined by a group whose ages spanned 12 to 90. “Photography is not just about seeing. It is about looking and feeling and hearing, about capturing with a camera, rather than taking. The camera is a portal to explore the world and the lens allows you to focus on a direct experience with the natural world. I think that is the kind of thing that wakes the love of nature in us. That is why it is so important that children have the opportunity to experience that, so they will care for special places like Shenandoah after us.”
Long will donate one of her original images to Shenandoah National Park. Her images will also be available on her website at heronseye.com. The park’s artist-in-residence program is supported by the Shenandoah National Park Trust.
— Rose Ann Smythe
The Castleton Festival announced this week the first four offerings in its 2014 Castleton in Performance (CiP) series this fall: “J.S. Bach: A Three-Part Invention” with pianist Stefano Greco and Rappahannock’s Col. John Bourgeois, on Oct. 26; “La boîte à joujoux” (“The Toy Box”), a Debussy-inspired puppet ballet with Salzburg Marionette Theater and pianist Orion Weiss on Nov. 9; “The Little Flower,” a one-man comedy show about New York City’s colorful mayor, Fiorello La Guardia, with actor Tony Lo Bianco on Nov. 16; and “Hidden Music,” a program of Persia-inspired music by Rappahannock composer and guitarist Shahin Shahida and his ensemble, interspersed with transcendent poetry by Rumi, read by actor and Castleton artistic director Dietlinde Turban Maazel, on Dec. 6.
The all-Bach Oct. 26 program is a 4 p.m. Sunday concert. Pianist Greco will perform the complete Goldberg Variations, followed by a “Coffee Cantata” (afternoon tea/coffee and discussion between the performers and the audience) and concluded with Bourgeois’ arrangement of the Goldberg Variations for chamber winds and timpani, conducted by Bourgeois, a longtime Rappahannock resident and retired conductor of “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band at the White House.
Tickets to the all-Bach program, which is a tribute to the late Castleton founder and lifetime Bach aficionado Lorin Maazel, are $20 to $40 ($20 for ages 17 and younger), and available at castletonfestival.org or 866-974-0767.