The Rapp for May 18

Bus pull anyone?

Volunteers for the Rappahannock County Relay for Life continue to fight for a cancer cure, and no better day to show your support — “Mardi Gras Style” — than by showing up this Saturday, May 20, at Rappahannock Elementary School, where the day’s events will include the 1st Annual Bus Pull.

Activities and games will be held from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and there will be raffles throughout the day and evening. Be sure to wear your Mardi Gras Beads!

Check out this swell list of events:

11 to 11:30 a.m. — Opening and registration for Bus Pull

11:45 to 1:30 p.m.— Bus Pulls

1:45 — Ransom Harmony

3:00 — Opening Ceremony

4:00 — Survivor Lap

5:00 — Picnic catered by The Little Country Store

6:00 — Bobby G and Friends

7:00 — Scavenger Hunt

8:00 —        Donnie Carter

8:30 – 9:30 — Luminaria Ceremony

10:45 p.m. — Closing of Relay

Funds from Relay help with finding lodging and transportation, emotional support, and financial and insurance questions. The American Cancer Society is there 24/7 to help at 1-800-227-2345.

‘Give Local’ winners

Official “Give Local Piedmont” figures are in: over two-thirds of the 151 participating charities during the local giving day on May 2 received 10 or more donations — and several organizations brought more than 100 donations, ranging from the minimum of $10 to as high as $27,000.

A $100,000 bonus pool was shared proportionately among the 151 participating nonprofits. Grand Prize winners for large nonprofits were: First prize, $2,500, Fauquier Free Clinic; Second prize, $1,500, Highland School; Third prize, $1,000, Fauquier SPCA.

Grand Prize winners for small nonprofits include two from Rappahannock County: First prize, $2,500, Mental Health Association of Fauquier; Second prize, $1,500, Kid Pan Alley; and Third prize, $1,000, RappCats.

All told, Give Local Piedmont raised $772,741.

Dedication day

After a bit of delay you can set this date in stone: this Saturday, May 20, at 10 a.m. at the Thornton River Orchard and Market on US 211 west of Sperryville, a memorial will be dedicated honoring the Rappahannock families displaced during the 1920s and 30s for the creation of Shenandoah National Park..

The Blue Ridge Heritage Project is honoring families by building memorials in each of the eight counties affected by the park’s formation, which will serve to educate visitors about their lives and mountain culture. The project’s Rappahannock committee has worked for two years with descendants and local citizens to construct this county’s memorial.

“The location of this memorial is perfect because park visitors will see it before they enter the park and can stop to learn about the park’s history before or after they visit the park,” says Missy Sutton, committee chair and great-great granddaughter of William Jackson Rutherford, whose 300 acres were condemned to make room for the park.

The shape of the memorial, a stone chimney, is significant because homes were burned down to prevent families from returning, leaving only stone chimneys. Hikers in the park today, she points out, often stumble upon chimneys and other remnants of home sites, including stone walls, springs, flowers, and apple trees, yet many have no idea of their origin.

Kids to Shenandoah

This Saturday, May 20, is “Kids to Parks Day” at Shenandoah National Park, a full day of events to get visitors up close and personal with nature. Activities will take place at Dickey Ridge Visitor Center, Byrd Visitor Center and the Big Meadows Amphitheater.

The theme this year surrounds the amazing birds that live in and migrate through Shenandoah National Park. Most activities will take place between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Cheers to Francis

Front door sign welcoming visitors to Francis. Photo by John McCaslin

Construction has ended and saw dust swept up at the Sperryville Corner Store, which now counts four spaces under one roof for dining and provisioning needs.

Just weeks after the Rappahannock Pizza Kitchen (RPK) opened to much fanfare — and subsequent rave reviews — in the rear of the historic general store, the Batchelor Family of owners has cut the ribbon for bar Francis, an intimate watering hole where Rudy’s Pizza was once located.

Owner Craig Batchelor is pleased to welcome patrons to Francis. Photo by John McCaslin

There are several “Francis Originals” and “Francis Classics” cocktails to choose from bearing intriguing if not familiar names like the Spirit of Sperryville, Appalachian Aviation, Rush River Aged Negroni, Rock Mills Goes French, and Hanky Panky, among others.

When we stopped in recently Colleen O’Bryant of Wild Roots Apothecary (WRA) was behind the bar expertly mixing botanical elixirs into the drink recipes, creating delicious and eye-appealing collaborations. Take the non-alcoholic Subtle Vacancy, consisting of strawberries, cucumber, lemon, verbena, WRA rosehip hibiscus, lemon juice, and soda.

“Bar Francis is a collaborative effort with Colleen,” says Craig Batchelor. “Colleen is the mixologist genius behind our cocktail menu. She is brilliant. Nearly every cocktail on our list includes one of her hand-crafted ingredients. Her unique sense of flavor combinations and balance is truly amazing. She has her own riff on all the stand-by classics, plus a lot of completely unique cocktails that capture and express her creativity. We are lucky to have her as part of our team.”

A simple glass of water at Francis is as colorful — and healthy — as they come. Photo by John McCaslin

Francis also offers an impressive wine selection (not surprising, given Craig’s experience in the vineyards) as well as bottled and draft beers, including wheat, pale and amber ales, dark beers and Belgian styles.

As for the name Francis, the highway marker near the junction of Main Street and U.S. 211 in Sperryville explains that the town was laid out by Francis Thornton Jr. in 1817. Then again, there were no less than six Francis Thorntons associated with Rappahannock County between 1731 and 1840.

In fact, in 1731 Francis II was granted a patent by King George II for 3,000 acres of land along what is now the Thornton River, including the stretch that flows through Sperryville right past bar Francis.

“Naming our bar ‘Francis’ is a way of bringing that history into the modern conversation,” Batchelor notes. “I hope everyone asks ‘why the name Francis?’ because there’s a great story to tell.”

Colleen O’Bryant of Wild Roots Apothecary (WRA) in Sperryville is behind the Francis bar expertly mixing her botanical elixirs. Photo by John McCaslin

Concludes Batchelor: “Bar Francis was designed to be small, special and sophisticated; a place where one immediately gets the sense that everything is well thought out and crafted with care. It’s warm wood finishes give a natural, clean and slightly old-fashioned industrial feel. At night it has a wonderful yellow glow from the low-watt Edison bulb chandelier. We take our drinks seriously and we are unabashedly geeky about what goes into them. We’ve got all the usual basics covered, but we’ve also got some wonderfully unusual and unique things for adventurous drinkers.”

‘Hints of madness’

Local artist Wayne Paige is showing art “from the bottom of the inkwell” at the Middle Street Gallery in Sperryville. His show, Around the Edge, is joined by works from other gallery members and will run through June 18.

Paige, a long-standing member of the county’s non-profit artists’ cooperative, will show his trademark pen-and- ink drawings of featureless beings — with hints of madness, melancholy, and mystery — in imaginary landscapes of mountains, waterways, and woodlands.

Local artist Wayne Paige’s show “from the bottom of the inkwell” runs through June 18 at the Middle Street Gallery in Sperryville. Courtesy image

“Many are cliff dwellers seeking escape while others are just engaging in daily activities,” Paige says. “Events unfold as a celestial armada encroaches their environment — causing consternation and portending everlasting change. All takes place under a moonlit sky around and over the edge.

“In only working with the traditional media of pencils, pens and paper, my inspiration derives from personal perceptions of contemporary life and the reality of encroachment,” Paige says. “Conflict, dreams, and humor are often woven within.”

Goosebumps anyone?

When we ran into Kit Johnston, president of the Literacy Council of Madison County, she admitted having “goosebumps in anticipation” of a concert this Sunday at 4 p.m. titled “One Alleluia.”

“The concert will feature the two internationally acclaimed and nationally diverse choirs of Hartland College, the Madison Presbyterian Church Choir, and the Madison Choral Society,” Johnston explained over a cup of coffee in Sperryville. “When at the end of the concert all four choral groups perform ‘Let Heavenly Music Fill This Place,’ some 80 voices will simultaneously fill the sanctuary with a sacred message of love of God and all humankind.”

Kit Johnston Photo by John McCaslin

Madison County’s only four-year institution of higher education, Hartland College was founded for young people on a path to Christian missionary training. Students come from many countries and backgrounds, and those performing on Sunday will wear their native costumes.

The concert will be at Beth Car Baptist Church in downtown Madison, across Main Street from the library.

Rimoldi to Castleton

Acclaimed Italian concert pianist Emanuel Rimoldi, winner of the Manhattan International Music Competition, will perform Emanual Rimoldi: Keyboard Charitable Trust Concert this Sunday, May 21, at 4 p.m., at Castleton.

Acclaimed Italian concert pianist Emanuel Rimoldi. Courtesy photo

The Castleton in Performance (CiP) concert includes a variety of classical pieces by renowned composers, beginning with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Piano Sonata No.8 K.310, followed by two Frédéric Chopin pieces — Nocturne Op.61 No.1 and Polonaise fantaisie Op.61. Following an intermission, Rimoldi will perform Giuseppe Verdi’s Danza sacra e duetto finale from Aida, and end with Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Ten Preludes Op.23.

Tickets for this CiP 20th Anniversary concert range from $20 to $40, and the performance will be held in the Theatre House, an intimate, state-of-the-art 140-seat proscenium theatre.

In addition to winning a parade of competitions, the young pianist has garnered the attention of some of the greatest artists of the 21st century. Eminent Austrian pianist Paul Badura-Skoda proclaims that Rimoldi “combines in his playing youthful freshness and vitality with a maturity well beyond his age. He is predestined for an international career.”

Free Mozart

That would be the Madison (not the county) Chamber Players performing Mozart and Dvorak in Washington this Sunday, May 21, at 7:30 p.m. And get this: admission is free!

The renowned Piano Quintet in A Major, one of the most beloved of all works of Antonin Dvorak, will be featured at the Little Washington Theatre. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Dissonant” string quartet, K 428, will also be on the program, as well as several smaller pieces.

Rappahannock violist Al Regnery (far left) and several other members of the the Madison Chamber Players are performing Mozart and Dvorak May 21, at Little Washington Theatre. Courtesy photo

The Players include first violinist Daniel Pierson of the US Army Strings; cellist Richard Skarnes from Middleburg; Michael Hansen, who teaches at St. Alban’s School in the big Washington; Jim Allison, piano, who is the program director at 90.9 FM, WETA; and Rappahannock violist Al Regnery.

“We have played in many different halls in DC and Virginia,” notes Regnery, “and are pleased to be able to present this great music to our friends in Rappahannock County.”

Boost for ‘Friends’

The Virginia Environmental Endowment has announced awards of $277,500 to 14 statewide organizations, including two local recipients, dedicated to protecting and improving natural resources and the environment.

Friends of the Rappahannock received $15,000 to support trout restoration projects and work with property owners to restore riparian buffers along streams and rivers; while $16,000 went to the Piedmont Environmental Council to improve the Goose Creek watershed in Loudoun and Fauquier counties, which is an important public drinking water source.

They will come

Here’s an interesting tidbit on the tourism potential of Rappahannock County: Of the 650-plus people who visited “The Meadows” estate in Washington during Historic Garden Week in Virginia “only 6 percent were from Rappahannock,” reveals Washington Mayor John Fox Sullivan.

The Meadows, the home of Sullivan and his wife Beverly, was one of five properties in and around the historic town that opened their doors three weeks ago to the prestigious garden tour, which attracted almost 800 people to the county that day.

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