The Rapp: Royalty at the Inn, park history in Sperryville

The Spanish flag (second from the left) was flying at the Inn earlier this month for quite a royal reason.
The Spanish flag (second from the left) was flying at the Inn earlier this month for quite a royal reason. Luke Christopher

Royals on Main Street

We have it on good authority that those Spanish flags you might have noticed hanging outside the Inn at Little Washington and its Parsonage annex a couple of weekends ago were there for a very good reason — that being a short-notice, high-security visit by Queen Letizia of Spain and her entourage, who stopped by for dinner and an overnight stay at the famous Inn.

A source this week confirmed the one-night visit by the queen and enough of her staff and family to fill a bunch rooms at the Parsonage and the Inn proper; a diner who recognized the queen said she appeared “extraordinarily gracious” as she toured the kitchen after dinner to thank chef Patrick O’Connell and the rest of the staff.

For those keeping count, Queen Letizia is the third royal matriarch to dine at the Inn in its three and a half decades on Middle Street — the others being Queen Noor of Jordan and Queen Elizabeth II.

Perhaps Queen Letizia will be back, and next time will bring along her husband, King Felipe VI.

Dodge speaks Friday at the library

Early childhood expert Diane Dodge speaks Friday at the library.
Early childhood expert Diane Dodge speaks Friday at the library.

The Second Friday series of talks at the library starts a new season tomorrow (Friday, Sept. 11) at 8 p.m., when Diane Dodge speaks at the Rappahannock library. Dodge is one of the leading figures in the field of early childhood education. She’s worked all over the world — in Mississippi, in the earliest days of the Head Start program; in the Middle East; and in Rappahannock, where she is on the board of the Child Care and Learning Center. Dodge will talk about what she has learned in her long career and how CCLC uses her innovative teaching program.

Second Friday talks are sponsored by RAAC, the Rappahannock Association for Arts and Community. The talks are free, and all are welcome. For more information, please contact Edward Dolnick at 301-246-0022.

Hear Eisenfeld’s ‘Shenandoah’ story Sept. 20

Author Sue Eisenfeld speaks Sept. 20 as part of the Rappahannock Historical Society's special annual meeting at Reynolds Baptist Church.
Author Sue Eisenfeld speaks Sept. 20 as part of the Rappahannock Historical Society’s special annual meeting at Reynolds Baptist Church.

Sue Eisenfeld first encountered the Shenandoah National Park as a weekend visitor and hiker of its more well worn paths. She appreciated its beauty and wildness, and was proud of its position of one of the best of the eastern national parks, providing relief and excitement to many millions of people every year. But the more she visited and enjoyed, the more she learned about its emotional beginnings, and about those displaced families whose memories are still bitter after 75 years. Her book, “Shenandoah:  A Story of Conservation and Betrayal” is her take on its history, and on how her research and investigation into its story has allowed her to integrate the often tragic beginnings with the ongoing pride and enjoyment the park provides, has provided and will provide to generations.

Those of us, “been heres” and “come heres,” in the area from which the park was created, should have a special regard for her journey, and Eisenfeld will talk about that and her book as part of the 50th annual meeting of the Rappahannock Historical Society from 3 to 5 p.m. Sept. 20 at Reynolds Memorial Church in Sperryville. Because she did not confine her investigations to the maps, surveys, deeds, letters and books that tell the story, but also chose to walk  miles and miles through rough terrain, finding and exploring home sites, cemeteries, and the detritus left from sad departures, her story is all the more real, and all the more integrated, so that, in the end, she can justify the park’s poignant beginnings with its wonderful present, and promising future.

Eisenfeld is a journalist and resident of Arlington.

The fall festival is Sept. 19

The barrel train rolls, singer Ryan Jewel rocks and Nathaniel Moore enjoys his caboose ride at the Oct. 19 RCHS Fall Festival.
A scene from last year’s Fall Festival.

This year’s family-friendly Rappahannock County Fall Festival goes on again at the high school from 11 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19 — with fun inflatables (including the 27-foot Cliffhanger), food and lots of other vendors, games and prizes, face-painting, Chinese auction, cotton candy, snow cones and a barrel train. Proceeds benefit activities for RCHS’ classes of 2016 through 2020. For more information (or to sign up for vendor space), visit the event’s Facebook page. (Sightseeing helicopter rides, usually offered simultaneously across U.S. 211 and sponsored by the sheriff’s office, are not part of this year’s festival, but might occur later in the season when the fall foliage is at its peak.)

Following in the footsteps of Cronyn and Tandy

In “The Gin Game” at RAAC Community Theatre Sept. 25 and 26, local actors Andy Platt and Joyce Abell join a pantheon of well-known actors who have starred in the same play over the years. The married couple Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy originated the roles on Broadway in 1977, followed by E. G. Marshall and Maureen Stapleton. Charles Durning and Julie Harris starred in the 1997 revival, and it is being revived again this fall on Broadway with James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson.

In the play, written by Donald Coburn, elderly nursing home residents Weller Martin (Andy) and Fonsia Dorsey (Joyce) strike up an acquaintance over games of gin rummy. As they talk about their families and their lives outside the nursing home, gradually, each conversation becomes a battle, ruining their brief friendship. The production is directed by Mike Mahoney.

The Gin Game, September 25 and 26, 8:00 pm. RAAC Community Theatre, 310 Gay Street, Washington, VA. $15. For reservations, visit If you don’t have e-mail, call 1-800-695-6075 ext. 1. Note: The play contains some strong language.

Aging Together: Caregiver outreach and education

Providing support for those who care for family or friends with Alzheimer’s, dementia or a serious illness is one of the central focuses of Aging Together. At the monthly meeting of the Rappahannock chapter Aug. 27 at the library, AT executive director Chris Miller presented extensive workbooks, guides and DVDs designed to help caregivers get the respite they need.

The Savvy Caregiver Program, developed by the Alzheimer’s Association, consists of a comprehensive manual and four DVDs that make up a free, five-session training series for family caregivers. “The program is endorsed by the Rosalynn Carter Institute [RCI] for Caregiving,” said Miller, “and addresses the emotional impact of caregiving.”

Another program, “Caring for You, Caring for Me: Education and Support for Family and Professional Caregivers, 2nd Edition,” was developed by RCI to help family and professional caregivers. The program helps social services professionals guide caregivers through the difficulties and rewards associated with all types of caregiving.

— Patty Hardee

RAWL rabies clinic: Sept. 26

The next rabies vaccination clinic is 9 to 1 on Saturday, Sept. 26 at RAWL (the Rappahannock Animal Welfare League), 160 Weaver Rd., Amissville, with $10 vaccinations available for dogs or cats at least 4 months old, from any county. No appointment necessary for the service, which donated by Renée and John Nolan; all proceeds benefit RAWL. Cats should be in carriers, and dogs best left in the car. For more information, call 540-937-3283 or visit

Fantasy and reality at Middle Street

Wayne Paige's "Two Among Many" is part of his "Duets" exhibit at Middle Street Gallery through Oct. 18.
Wayne Paige’s “Two Among Many” is part of his “Duets” exhibit at Middle Street Gallery through Oct. 18.

Wayne Paige will bring his celebrated “clothespin” figures to the Middle Street Gallery in Sperryville from this Friday (Sept. 11) through Oct. 18, with a reception for the public this Saturday (Sept. 12) from 3 to 5 p.m.

The exhibition, “Duets,” is about “fantasy and reality — split themes and social commentary, [with] contrasting images and personal observations,” Paige says. “Much of the art that I have created over the past 20 years concentrates on duality. Duets is an expansion of the earlier formats focusing on displaying only two-panel works of art.”

In addition, five other gallery members will display smaller, eclectic assortment of their works. Ann Currie will have several colored drawings of plants and flowers. “Summer is the best time to explore nature through artist eyes,” she says.

Among other artists' work at Middle Street this month and next is Susan Raines' portraits of women and girls taken during her recent trip to Vietnam.
Among other artists’ work at Middle Street this month and next is Susan Raines’ portraits of women and girls taken during her recent trip to Vietnam.

Meanwhile, Mary Allen will have a handful of mono prints and collages depicting the personalities of the hat. “My fascination with the characteristics portrayed by the chapeau is playfully dealt with in paper, string, and print,” she says.

Painter Barbara Heile continues her move from landscapes into simpler abstract art forms, saying, “I have made a leap inward that creates paintings that are surprising and spare.” Joan Wiberg will have “images of abandoned local rural structures in acrylic on canvas,” while photographer Susan Raines will offer portraits of Vietnamese women and girls taken during her recent trip to Vietnam.

Paige, a member of the gallery co-operative, has exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the country, including the Corcoran Museum, the Anderson Gallery and the Katzen Arts Center. The Katzen recently included one of his works in the “Washington Art Matters II: 1940s – 1980s” exhibition at the American University Museum in Washington.  

The gallery is open 11 to 5 Friday-Sunday next to River District Arts (3 River Lane, Sperryville). Call 540-987-9330 or visit for more information.

— Gary Anthes

RCHS alum is top triathlon athlete

David Stubbs competing in a recent TEAM USA event.
David Stubbs competing in a recent TEAM USA event.
In 2009, Triathlon athlete David Stubbs of Culpeper, then 35, found himself facing midlife and made some crucial decisions. “I was out of shape and inactive,” said Dave, a 1993 graduate of Rappahannock County High School, “so I quit smoking and started exercising.”

He saw an article about the annual Culpeper Sprint Triathlon and decided to go for it. “I competed that year and came in 110th,”he said, “but I just fell in love with the sport,” which consists of a 750-meter swim, 16-mile bike ride and a 5K run.

This year, at age 41, he came in first and is headed to the TEAM USA World Championships in Chicago next month, to compete against athletes from all over the world. “I’ve also qualified for next year’s TEAM USA World Championships,” said Dave. “That event will be in Cozumel, Mexico next September. I’ll be going from swimming in 60-degree water this year in Chicago to swimming in Mexico’s 80-degree water, which I much prefer.”

Besides loving the sport and enjoying the people he meets, Dave’s main inspiration to continue comes from his 21-year-old son. “My oldest child is autistic,” he said. Dave sometimes competes in events designed to raise money for various groups that research and address autism. “It’s a personal passion of mine, another way I can do what I do and get something good from it. My local sponsor Bike Stop shares my enthusiasm for autism and has been very supportive of my efforts.”

— P.H.

Rural Historic District update

Looks like property owners in the proposed Ben Venue Rural Historic District and adjacent property owners will get a public meeting do-over before the district nomination is finally settled. The Virginia Department of Historic Resources announced this week that the Sept. 17 meeting in Richmond of the State Review Board and the Board of Historic Resources for the final consideration of the nomination has been postponed until Dec. 10.

This is due to confusion created by the distribution of inaccurate maps before a rather lively public meeting at Griffin Tavern on Aug 13. A new correct map will be mailed to owners and adjacent owners and a new public hearing will be scheduled for November. At press time, the precise date had not been set.  

— P.H.

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