Inn public relations director leaving after 18 years
Like many of you, I heard over the past few weeks that Rachel Hayden, director of public relations at The Inn at Little Washington, will be leaving her longtime position. Several weeks ago, on my way home from work, I saw Rachel crossing the street and stopped to chat. I asked her if she was leaving, and she replied, “Yes, I am.” While we were chatting, I could tell she loved her job, loved working with the employees, and loved meeting new people.
Rachel said she had been working at The Inn for 18 years and that “it was time to take a different path.” When asked what she would be doing, Rachel said she would be a consultant this summer and hoped to move into a full-time position this fall.
She started in 1999 as chef Patrick’s O’Connell’s assistant. Very early on she started working with the press and assisting Patrick and Joyce Evans with the interior design projects. She added: “Today, at the end of my time here, I am the director of public relations, which includes building our social media presence, media relations, marketing (which includes working with travel agents), and acting as a project manager for the room and design projects, including the Mayor’s House, Gamekeeper’s, Claiborne House, Parsonage, and most recently, the Norman House.”
In addition, she has coordinated all of the off-site events, which means she was privileged to travel with Patrick and represent The Inn in many amazing locations (including London, New York, Sonoma, Chicago, the Dominican Republic, Miami, Dallas and San Francisco). Rachel worked on two of Patrick’s book projects – “Refined American Cuisine” and “Magnificent Obsession” — and the accompanying launches and promotional tours. She was intimately involved in the planning of many of the major events in The Inn’s history, including the 25th and 30th anniversaries, the fundraising dinner in the legendary Peacock Room at the Freer Gallery, “and Phyllis Richman’s retirement party in 2000, where I met many of my culinary idols, including Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, Thomas Keller and Jean Louis Palladin.”
“This wonderful place is intrinsically intertwined with my personal life and has so many amazing memories. I was engaged here on New Year’s Eve in 1999. I celebrated my wedding with Patrick and the staff on New Year’s Eve in 2002. My husband I have met so many lifelong friends through The Inn. I will miss seeing everyone daily, but I am delighted to know that so many of these people will continue to be in my life,” said Rachel.
I would often see Rachel in town, walking at a fast pace and always with a smile on her face. I could tell that her job was her first priority. As years went by, she seemed like a part of the family in the town.
By email, Patrick O’Connell said: “Everyone here will certainly miss having Rachel with us. She’s witnessed a lot of change in her 18 years here and has become a walking encyclopedia of everything related to the Inn’s long and colorful history, while meeting some fascinating people along the way. Few young women possess her natural poise and social graces. Those talents have served her well in her role as Director of Public relations here and will no doubt benefit her in all her future endeavors.
All of us wish her the very best in the next chapter of her life and are grateful for the many contributions she’s made to The Inn’s ongoing evolution and success.”
I told Rachel we surely will miss her around the town, and she replied, “Oh, I will be coming back to the Inn’s Market on Sundays.”
I have talked with several of the Inn’s employees, and they said Rachel will be dearly missed. “Rachel is an outstanding person,” said Beverly Exline. “I myself will really miss her, as she goes out of her way for everyone . . . She’s been the only one who could work with Chef, do what he needed, and keep Chef O’Connell happy. He’s going to miss her, too. She always has done an amazing job with all the photo shoots that have taken place there. Yesterday and today was her last photo shoot she will do at the Inn!”
Rachel, I wish you the best of luck in your new endeavors. For me, it’s like saying goodbye to a member of the family.
Rachel and her husband, George Knauf, live in Warrenton with their two dogs, a Newfoundland named Murphy and a hound/boxer named Jonah.
There is a new craze going on around town, and it has kids and adults alike walking all over town looking for painted rocks. Yes, painted rocks. If you search for “RappRocks” on Facebook, you will come upon a page that will tell you how to play — which involves painting a rock (or a few), taking and posting pictures of the rocks to the page, and hiding them somewhere in Rappahannock County.You can also look for the rocks that are hidden around, take pictures of them when you find them, and you can keep them or re-hide them for the next lucky person to find.
Rocks have been found in Sperryville and Flint Hill as well.
My grandchildren spent this past weekend with me, and I told them we were going to the Rappahannock County Park. While we were there, I told them about the rocks, and they were searching everywhere. I believe, between the three of them, they found six painted rocks. They were so excited looking all over the park. I don’t think they even used the playground equipment, since they were too busy looking for those rocks.
On Sunday, I was driving through town, and my granddaughter Olivia looked out the window and saw two of the painted rocks lying on porches. This is a great thing for the kids and adults to do together, and it’s something that gets them outside and walking around.
It also encourages creativity, since children are encouraged to paint and create clever designs. The next time my grandchildren come to visit, we are going to paint a bunch and hide them all around the county for the next lucky person to find.
Summer Chorus Concert
If you’re looking for something to do tonight (Thursday, June 29, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.), you might want to check out the free choral concert at the Rappahannock County Elementary School auditorium. Sponsored by the Headwaters Foundation, the concert will be given by the Rappahannock Summer Chorus — a group of students from Rappahannock County who have been attending choir camp this month at the elementary school. Under the direction of Kelsey Rose and Keith Hudspeth, this small choral ensemble will be accompanied by Wendy Aichele. The music featured will include popular choral pieces from different cultures and musical styles that showcase the unique sound of young female voices.
Summer choir camp for the Rappahannock Summer Chorus was open to all Rappahannock County residents in grades 5-12, and featured students from Rappahannock County High School, Rappahannock County Elementary School, Hearthstone School and Wakefield Country Day School. Many of the students singing this evening may be familiar to you, as they have participated in various musical and drama performances in the area.
The Summer Chorus was partially funded through a generous grant from the Claudia Mitchell Fund at RAAC. There is no charge to attend the concert, and a light reception will follow the concert. The final concert for these very dedicated young students promises to be a wonderful evening. All are welcome!
American Festival Concert
Colonel John Bourgeois, the 25th director of “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band and a longtime Rappahannock resident, will be conducting American Festival Concert this Saturday (July 1) at Avon Hall in Washington.
The public is invited to this free event. Bring your lawn chairs, blankets, and a picnic lunch. There will be special activities for the children. The concert begins at 5 p.m., although the Avon Hall grounds will open at noon. Come early.
Hope to see you all there! And I want to thank Bill Fischer and Drew Mitchell, owners of Avon Hill, for having this event on their property. It brings back fond memories of years ago when I used to take my children into town on July 4. Along with other members of the family, we would take food and stay all day long. The streets would be filled with so many people. I often think of the Washington Volunteer Fire Department, who would have the dollar bill line collecting money for the department on Gay Street. I still can see Ann Spieker and Jennings Hobson collecting the dollar bills and taping them to the long line of them. Good memories indeed.
Birthday wishes go out to my brother, John Wayne Burke of Front Royal. He will celebrate his special day on Wednesday, July 5. Happy birthday, Wayne!
Happy July 4th
As we celebrate our nation’s birth and heritage, hopefully everyone will enjoy the day in the spirit it was intended, a day of independence and fun for all.
Don’t forget to attend the Rappahannock County’s July 4th celebration, to benefit the SVFD, starting at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Thornton Hill Race Course (4137 Sperryville Pike, Sperryville) with music, amusements, food, tailgating and fireworks at dusk.
Just by chance, if you run into Richie Burke, Gary Settle or Mike Leake while celebrating in Sperryville, be sure to thank them for their long hours of work, and also don’t forget to thank Bill Fletcher for the use of his field for this year’s celebration. Our county is really lucky to have people like these to work together and provide such enjoyable times for everyone. Thanks, guys!
Let’s show our American pride by flying our U.S. flag high in the sky. Let’s be proud of our heritage. I wish all our readers a happy and safe Fourth of July, and urge everyone to use caution and prudence in order to avoid happiness turning into tragedy. (A reminder: The Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office and the Virginia State Police will be working full force on the highways to make sure that everyone will have a safe and enjoyable holiday.)
Have a wonderful week.