The Rapp for June 4

In the amphitheatre at Stone Hill this Saturday (from left): John Lescault as Gen. Sherman; Judge David Tatel as Secretary of War Edwin Stanton; Amanda Stephens as Mary Chestnut and Jim Duffy as Col. Alfred Rhett.
In the amphitheatre at Stone Hill this Saturday (from left): John Lescault as Gen. Sherman; Judge David Tatel as Secretary of War Edwin Stanton; Amanda Stephens as Mary Chestnut and Jim Duffy as Col. Alfred Rhett. | Rappahannock News

‘Sherman the Peacemaker’

The premiere of James Reston’s new play, “Sherman the Peacemaker” this Saturday (June 6) also marks the opening of John Henry’s spectacular new Stone Hill Amphitheater (2.4 miles east of Flint Hill off Crest Hill Road). Starring veteran Washington actor John Lescault and an illustrious cast of “citizen actors” (including Sidney Blumenthal, Gen. John Douglas, federal Judge David Tatel, Richard Viguerie and Andrew Cockburn), the play tells the little-known story of Union Gen. Sherman’s attempt to make peace at the end of the Civil War. Gates open at 5:30 for picnicking; the play starts at 7. Suggested donation of $20 benefits the Kid Pan Alley songwriting program for children. (Rain date is June 14.) For more information and directions, visit

The Rev. Jennings W. Hobson III, shortly after his arrival in Rappahannock in 1973.
The Rev. Jennings W. Hobson III, shortly after his arrival in Rappahannock in 1973.

Ice cream and appreciation

The gala ice cream social at the Washington fire hall from 3 to 6 p.m. this Sunday (June 7) celebrates retiring Trinity Episcopal Church rector Jenks and his wife Molly Hobson’s 42 years in the community. All are invited to enjoy ice cream and cake and reminiscences, sign their quilt and guest book, and help wish them a happy retirement. For more information, contact Helen Williams at

Going solar together

Neighbors in Rappahannock County are forming a solar co-op to leverage their group buying power to go solar together and obtain a discount on the installation price for their systems. The Rappahannock League for Environmental Protection (RLEP) and VA SUN, the co-op’s sponsors, are hosting a second informational meeting at 2 p.m. June 14 at the Theatre at Washington (291 Gay St.) to further inform the community about the process.

“The group discount on materials and installation costs offsets Virginia’s lackluster benefits for going solar,” said Rick Kohler, president of RLEP. “The discount averages as much as 20 percent. Combined with the 30-percent federal tax credit and net metering by Rappahannock Electric, we can generate substantial savings for Rappahannock citizens. VA SUN has created these co-ops in other areas of Virginia with great success, and we look forward to Rappahannock County becoming a solar leader in the Commonwealth. VA SUN is almost ready to launch, so join now!”

Virginia Solar United Neighborhoods (VA SUN) is a nonprofit that helps make solar more affordable and accessible. It has worked with more than 600 solar co-op members in Virginia, already saving Virginia residents nearly $400,000 in the past year. Residents interested in joining the co-op can already sign up online at

Joining the co-op is not a commitment to purchase panels. Once the group is large enough, VA SUN will help the co-op solicit competitive bids from area solar installers and select a single company to complete all of the installations. Co-op members will then have the option to purchase panels based upon the installer’s offer individually.

RAAC/Castleton art competition winners

Patricia Underwood's winning "Etude #4" will be on the cover of this year's Castleton Festival program.
Patricia Underwood’s winning “Etude #4” will be on the cover of this year’s Castleton Festival program.

The Castleton Festival and Rappahannock Association for the Arts and the Community (RAAC) announced the winners this week of their invitational competition that celebrates music through the visual arts. The grand winner is Patricia Underwood, whose linocut, “Etude #4,” will be featured on the cover of the 2015 Castleton Festival program guide.

Four adult and five student finalists were also selected by the judges, so congratulate adults Barbara Heile, Jo Levine, Margot Neuhaus and Darien Reece and students Claudia Barnes, Sara Garcia, Renee Jenkins, Alyssa Rogers, and Alisha Stanley.

The winning artwork will be on exhibit at Sperryville’s Middle Street Gallery June 19 through July 26. (There’s an opening reception at 3 p.m. Saturday, June 20). The panel of judges included Nedra Smith (artist and Castleton Festival board member), Andy Grundberg (dean, Corcoran School of Art & Design) and Kevin Adams (artist and RAAC board member).

Young artists are invited to join this summer's RappCats mural project in Flint Hill.
Young artists are invited to join this summer’s RappCats mural project in Flint Hill.

Kids, paints, cats: A mural project

Young artists ages 8 to 12 are encouraged to participate in a project this summer by artists Kerrie Mullany and Darien Reece to create a mural for the RappCats cat shelter in Flint Hill. The program, funded by a grant from RAAC’s Claudia Mitchell Arts Fund, starts with two sessions June 16-17 (9 to 11 a.m. at the Studio School, next door to the shelter in Flint Hill) in which there will be cat-drawing and sharing of ideas for the overall design of the mural — which, when finished, will hang inside the RappCats shelter front hall. More sessions are planned for July and August, and a grand unveiling in the fall. Contact Kerrie Mullany at or 540-878-3687 for more information.

Farm Tour & Festival kickoff

Ready for the farm tour? Don't be sheepish; show up at a June 11 kickoff meeting.
Ready for the farm tour? Don’t be sheepish; show up at a June 11 kickoff meeting. Cathie Shiff | Rappahannock News

It’s time to begin planning the 2015 Rappahannock County Farm Tour & Festival, scheduled for Sept. 26-27. All returning and prospective farm tour venue participants are invited to a brief kickoff meeting next Thursday, June 11, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m at the Rappahannock Extension office conference room (311 Gay St., second floor).

“We had a huge crowd during last year’s tour, and we hope to maintain the forward momentum of this popular free two-day event that showcases our county’s diverse and enterprising agricultural community,” writes farm tour committee chair Cathie Shiff. “The organizing committee has begun contacting farms and local agriculturally related businesses that participated in previous years, plus we are always on the lookout for new participants. No farm is too small or too large to be a part of the tour.”

Shiff notes that the farm tour costs you nothing and nets you lots of free publicity both in print and online media. There’s a Facebook page with more than 800 followers and a website ( The event features a popular Artisans’ Market (this year on the grounds of the countyVisitors Center, just east of Washington on U.S. 211).

For more information, contact Shiff at 540-219-8396 or

Shenandoah Neighbors’ Day June 20

Shenandoah National Park staff are again inviting community neighbors to enjoy a fee-free day in the park in celebration of Shenandoah Neighbors Day June 20. Entrance fees will be waived for residents living in the nine counties bordering the park including Albemarle, Augusta, Greene, Madison, Nelson, Page, Rappahannock, Rockingham, and Warren.

Visitors are encouraged to stop by the “Community Connections Tent” at Byrd Visitor Center to learn about the rich heritage and diverse activities, events and amenities available in surrounding communities; the exhibit also showcases  the activities the park’s community partners undertake to support Shenandoah National Park.

“Shenandoah National Park is one part of the fabric of our communities, providing nearly $80 million in economic benefit, as well as health benefits and recreational opportunities,” said Superintendent Jim Northup. “The Park’s surrounding communities enrich our lives and our visitors’ experiences through vibrant downtowns, agritourism, and historical resources, including Civil War battlefields and so much more.”

Delaware North, the park’s official concessioner, is also providing park neighbors (with proof of residence) 10 percent discounts on select items in their retail stores and on food and some beverage items at all their restaurants on June 20. The Shenandoah National Park Association is offering a 20-percent discount on all items in their bookstores in the Dickey Ridge and Byrd visitor centers.

Meanwhile, this Saturday (June 6) at the park, you can celebrate the American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day with guided hikes and hands-on demonstrations throughout the day sponsored by the park and the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC). The program invites new hikers and experienced backpackers to learn new trail skills at PATC Trail Patrol’s “Beyond the Trailhead” event at Byrd Visitor Center (milepost 51 on Skyline Drive) from 9:15 am to 3:30 p.m., among other events.

PATC and Trail Patrol are charging no fees to attend or participate in any hike, workshop or demonstration connected with the event (but the park’s $20-per-car entrance fee to the park still applies this weekend).

For more on park events, visit

Rappahannock's July 4th celebration is coming up in Sperryville next month.
Rappahannock’s July 4th celebration is coming up in Sperryville next month. Dennis Brack | Rappahannock News

Rappahannock’s Fourth of July

The Sperryville Volunteer Fire Department’s ninth annual Rappahannock County 4th of July Celebration takes place this year on July 4 (of course) at Sperryville’s Thornton Hill Hounds Racecourse — but this year, July 4 arrives on a Saturday, so the SVFD’s volunteers will be working extra hard to make things safe and comfortable for a crowd likely to exceed 5,000.

And for an event that includes one of the best fireworks displays, in one of the most fetching spots in the region, for $25 per carload.

The festivities at 4137 Sperryville Pike (U.S. 522, three miles south of Sperryville) start at 1 p.m. and include live music by Dontez Inferno and the Gold Top County Ramblers, food, skydivers, antique cars and tractors, local nonprofit displays, children’s games, face painting, kiddie rides, a Cliff Hanger slide, dunk tank, helicopter display, a $10,000 cash raffle drawing at 9 and fireworks at dusk.

“The event is work intensive and supported by every member of the Sperryville Volunteer Fire Department,” says event committee chair Gary Settle. “And because of increasing costs associated with putting on an event of this magnitude, continued underwriter support is needed each year in order to sustain the event at its current level. With this, very special thanks goes out to our current underwriters, Jamie, Lilla and Bill Fletcher, Hampton Foundation, B&B Signal Company, Cheri Woodard Realty, Eppard Construction, Greg Williams Tree & Landscaping Service, Greve Foundation, Hampton Inn Warrenton, Pepsi and Union Bank & Trust. Their continued support allows the citizens of Rappahannock County and its neighbors to enjoy fellowship and celebration at a location that is arguably one of the most breathtaking venues in Rappahannock County.”

General admission is $25 per vehicle; tailgating spots (with a better view, and room for a tent) are $50. For corporate sponsorships ($450 — or $500 after June 15), contact Settle at For general information, call 540-987-8124 or visit

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