The Rapp: Fourth Friday, no; Farm Tour and Scottish folk, yes

Fourth (Estate) Friday . . . no

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Due to scheduling conflicts, this month’s usual Fourth (Estate) Friday, the Rappahannock News’ monthly, open-to-all story conference, will have to wait until Oct. 23 — which would make it next month’s Fourth (Estate) Friday, when we’ll invite you once again to join us for coffee and ideas.

In the meantime, however, do come to our next candidates forum — hear from and ask questions of candidates for sheriff, other constitutional officers and the soil and water conservation board — 7 p.m. this Monday (Sept. 28) at the Theatre at Washington.

The Farm Tour and Festival — yes!

Born yesterday — when this picture was taken on Tuesday, at least — this Mangalitsa piglet arrived (with seven siblings) at Sperryville's Heritage Hollow Farm just in time for this weekend's Farm Tour and Festival.
Born yesterday — when this picture was taken on Tuesday, at least — this Mangalitsa piglet arrived (with seven siblings) at Sperryville’s Heritage Hollow Farm just in time for this weekend’s Farm Tour and Festival. Molly M. Peterson
The 2015 Rappahannock County Farm Tour and Festival — a free, countywide event for which 30 farm and agriculture-related venues open their doors (and gates) for family-friendly fun, food and on-farm education and entertainment — goes on this Saturday and Sunday (Sept. 26-27).

It’s not too late to call your friends and family in the city and suggest they put on some comfortable, flat-soled, mud-resistant shoes, turn off their cell phones and get some fresh, country air in their lungs. The Farm Tour is just the ticket (except that it’s free, so there are no tickets).

Sheep at Heritage Hollow Farm.
Sheep at Heritage Hollow Farm. Molly M. Peterson
The self-guided Farm Tour includes an Artisans’ Market (at the Visitors Center off U.S. 211 near Washington) and a comprehensive tour guidebook that you can pick up at any venue — or, better yet, download in advance from the farm tour website at (Or skip the world’s longest web address and go to, which will take you directly to the guidebook, a PDF file that includes descriptions of all the venues and activities, and an annotated map.)

Tour and artisan market hours are 10 to 5 Saturday and 11 to 5 Sunday. Venues with activities and special tours range from Belle Meade Farm (lunch, hay wagon rides, Saturday only) Copper Fox Distillery (continuing tours), Lee’s Orchard (hayrides, apples galore) and The Farm at Sunnyside (farm tours, Saturday only) to herb walks at Green Comfort School of Herbal Medicine (11 a.m. both days), just-arrived Mangalitsa piglets at Heritage Hollow Farm (farm store open both days, farm tours at 11 and 4 on Sunday), beekeeping demonstrations at Woolf Lavender Farm and lots more.

Scottish folk at the Theatre Saturday

Scottish folk trio North Sea Gas brings their guitars, fiddles, banjo, bodhran, bouzouki — and banter — to the Theatre at Washington this Saturday.
Scottish folk trio North Sea Gas brings their guitars, fiddles, banjo, bodhran, bouzouki — and banter — to the Theatre at Washington this Saturday.

One of Scotland’s popular folk bands, North Sea Gas, returns to the Theatre at Washington for an evening of lively folk tunes — with a fair bit of Scottish banter thrown in, to be sure — this Saturday (Sept. 26) at 8 p.m.

Dave Gilfillan, Ronnie MacDonald and Grant Simpson play traditional folk music on guitar, banjo, mandola, bodhran, bouzouki and fiddle, all the while engaging in aforementioned genuine, good-humored banter. “The band displays an attachment and a reverence for their roots from the very start,” says Celtic Radio. “The music feels genuine, unpretentious and spontaneous, with a fondness for storytelling and beautiful harmonies.”

The band has been going for 30 years, and when not touring in the U.S., Canada, Germany, Austria, Turkey, Australia and elsewhere, the three full-time musicians are to be found at home in Scotland, where they regularly play to sold-out audiences at the annual Edinburgh Fringe Festival. North Sea Gas keeps up an extraordinarily busy schedule of concerts, festivals, and recording sessions.

Tickets ($25, $10 for students 17 and younger) at or call 540-675-1253.

Lunar eclipse party at Big Meadows

Shenandoah National Park celebrates Sunday’s total lunar eclipse with a park “star party” on Sunday (Sept. 27). Join park rangers, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory “Solar System Ambassador” Greg Redfern and local amateur astronomers at Big Meadows (mile 51 on Skyline Drive) for an evening of astronomy presentations and dark-sky viewing. Learn about the lunar eclipse, discover the importance of protecting dark-night skies and enjoy close-up views of stars and planets. The total lunar eclipse is also the evening of the harvest moon, the closest and largest full moon for 2015.

Starting at 6:30 p.m., Redfern will present “This Isn’t Your Granddaddy’s Moon” in the Byrd Visitor Center auditorium (mile 51), when he’ll talk about the moon and the total lunar eclipse. After the presentation, Rangers and volunteer astronomers will provide telescope viewing and constellation tours near the Rapidan Fire Road gate at Big Meadows. Rangers and volunteers will be on site until 11 p.m.

At 8 p.m. (and continuing until 1:30 a.m.), Redfern will rejoin the group in the meadow to share his “Under The Stars At Shenandoah National Park” presentation with sky lore and fascinating sky facts. Phases of the eclipse are expected to begin at 8:11 p.m. and last until 1:22 a.m. on the east coast. The total eclipse will begin at 10:11 p.m.

The presentation will be held regardless of weather, but night sky viewing may be cancelled depending on cloud cover. Dress for cool mountain nights and bring blankets, chairs and flashlights. Rapidan Fire Road is a short walk from Byrd Visitor Center. You do not need to register beforehand.

For more information about the lunar eclipse “star party” event, contact Byrd Visitor Center at 540-999-3500, ext. 3283. For questions about Redfern’s presentation, visit or call 877-247-9261.

RappCats, the café

Rappahannock’s first-ever Cat Café and coffeehouse is this Sunday (Sept. 27) from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on the porch of the Vierling Warehouse, 714 Zachary Taylor Hwy. (next to Settle’s service station) in Flint Hill. Buy a cup of coffee or tea and goodies, and meet the adorable, adoptable cats at the RappCats shelter inside. For more information, call 540-987-6050 or email

Cause for Paws, the raffle

RappCats is also kicking off its annual A Cause for Paws raffle at the Rappahannock County Farm Tour and Festival this weekend, at the Artisans’ Market at the county visitors center. Tickets will be on sale through the Studio and Gallery Tour Nov. 7-8, and will end with a drawing on Sunday, Nov. 8. Tickets can also be purchased through the RappCats website ( using PayPal, and at the RappCats Adoption Center or from RappCats volunteers.

Buy a raffle ticket for just $5 (or five for $20) and enter the drawing for a chance to win a romantic package for two including dinner at The Inn at Little Washington and a one-night stay at the luxurious Middleton Inn, one of a handful of Four Diamond Inns in the U.S. Only 500 tickets will be sold. Since the tickets and prizes were donated, 100 percent of the proceeds will benefit the RappCats Spay and Neuter Fund.

A Cause for Paws raffle was created in 2006 by Michelle and Gary Schwartz, owners of the former Heritage House B&B in Washington, in memory of Toby, their rescued cat and a guest favorite who was killed by a motorist on Main Street. The Schwartzes decided to turn the sad experience into something positive by creating the raffle in memory of Toby.

“Knowing that there were humane individuals in the county who rescued cats but couldn’t afford to spay or neuter them,” Gary says, “we originally worked with RAWL in creating a Feline Spay and Neuter Fund.” The Schwartzes agreed to hold the raffle and donate the proceeds as seed money for the fund.  About $14,000 has been raised in the nine raffles held since 2006. The raffle now benefits RappCats, a nonprofit supported organization that helps stray, abused, abandoned and unwanted cats of Rappahannock County.  

“We truly believe that if everyone makes an effort to spay and neuter, it will help continue to reduce the unwanted cat population in the county,” says Michelle. To those who don’t consider themselves to be cat lovers, she adds, “Please purchase a raffle ticket and help us control the cat population. It will make your dog and the songbirds of Rappahannock very, very happy!”

Meet April Moore

April Moore
April Moore

There’s the promise of wine and scrumptious appetizers at Little Washington Winery this Sunday (Sept. 27) at 5:30 p.m., at a benefit for 26th district Virginia senate candidate April Moore, an event sponsored by the Rappahannock County Democratic Committee ( For more information, call RCDC chair Ross O’Donoghue at 540-987-8019.

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