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| P E O N Y PA R T Y

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Introducing the Inaugural Best of Virginia Celebration!

Serving Up in food, drink, music

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Features 98

JUNE 2015


If you know how to right a capsized canoe and start a one-match fire, you probably went to summer camp. A look at why Virginia’s camp tradition endures. BY CAROLINE KETTLEWELL



After a prolonged conflict between Virginia’s horsemen and Colonial Downs in New Kent County, the track closed its doors last year, effectively halting thoroughbred horseracing in Virginia. Has the state’s flat racing flatlined? BY AYNSLEY MILLER FISHER

On the Cover Bringing whimsy to the modern afternoon tea.

Thoroughbreds at Eagle Point Farm in Ashland.

Departments 17 | U P F R O N T

Fireflies, Middleburg’s new Mount Defiance Cidery & Distillery, shipwrecked in Virginia Beach, the newly renovated Inn at Wise and the Edith Bolling Wilson Hotel in Wytheville, race day style and more!

photo by adam ewing

41 | A B O U T T O W N

Galas and gatherings around the state, supporting art, institutions and charities.

45 | E V E N T S

Our picks for the most interesting goings-on this season.


Virginia’s new poet laureate Ron Smith wants you to like poetry. A talk with the state’s top wordsmith.


Traditional afternoon tea has a new, modern edge with inventive fare and the addition of cocktails to the menu. Tea time has never been more fun. BY LISA ANTONELLI BACON

51 | V I R G I N I A N A

For more than 50 years, U.S. presidents, scientists and thought leaders convened at Airlie, a private retreat near Warrenton now open to the public.


68 | T R AV E L

An adventure in Southern Norway’s Stavanger region and its spectacular fjords. BY TERRY WARD

82 | H O M E

55 | G A R D E N

Nature’s most dramatic and glamorous bloom—the peony—flourishes at Pharsalia, a 200-year-old Nelson County farm.


At Bramblewood Farm in Albemarle County, exquisite details meet thoughtful design.


112 | D E PA R T U R E

The glory days of Richmond’s original movie palace, the Byrd Theatre. BY DEAN KING

JUNE 2015

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58 | F O O D

47 | P R O F I L E



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E DITOR ’ S LETTER GREAT EXPECTATIONS Virginia traditions worth preserving.


in 1927. Contributing editor Caroline Kettlewell visited the bucolic Bath County camp and met Ann Warner, who is the third generation of her family to have attended CMS and today, with her mother, owns the camp (which her grandmother bought around 1950). The memories Ann shared with us are rich. For its alumnae, the lessons learned during those idyllic Virginia summers have lasted a lifetime, as they have for the other campers Caroline spoke with, including those from Camp Strawderman in Edinburg, Westview on the James in Goochland, Camp War Dancer winning the Virginia in Goshen and St. George’s 2013 Virginia Derby. in Orkney Springs. In the process of putting together the story, we came across many more wonderful old photos than we could publish, so we have assembled an extended slideshow on our website, including links to video from seasons past (get ready for some spirited choruses of “Boom Chicka Boom” and other camp faves). And there is more in this issue, including a sailing adventure through Southern Norway’s splendid fjords, recipes for the “modern afternoon tea,” a tour of the stunning stone farmhouse and home of Jim and Becky Craig in Albemarle County, a profile of Virginia’s poet laureate Ron Smith, a visit to 200-year-old Pharsalia, a Nelson County farm whose energetic mistress, Foxie Morgan, shows us how to make peonies thrive, and much more. And finally, we are excited to bring you Best of Virginia 2015, the results of our fourth annual readers’ survey, held online in January. More than 40,000 ballots were cast in 95 categories representing all five regions of the state. Wow! Thank you for voting and sharing your “bests” with us. I hope you will continue to make Best of Virginia your guide to all things great in our state. Please enjoy both of our issues!

bout a year ago, when Taylor Pilkington joined us as associate editor, he brought with him an idea for a story about thoroughbred horseracing in Virginia. Taylor’s interest in the sport comes from having grown up in Charlottesville, where a deep equestrian history makes knowing horses come naturally, and from his college years in horse-rich Kentucky. While we were batting around ideas and considering how we might approach the story, we learned that a dust-up had been brewing between the state’s horsemen and the owners of Colonial Downs in New Kent County, the only racetrack in the state. The result of this disagreement has been the end of racing at Colonial Downs; no thoroughbred has seen the homestretch of the 17-year-old track since 2013. But why, exactly, has the track closed? Who is impacted? Will thoroughbred racing ever take place at Colonial Downs again? To find out, Taylor worked with freelance writer Aynsley Miller Fisher, an accomplished equestrienne and author of other fine stories for us about Virginia’s horse culture. For this story, Fisher canvassed industry players including breeders, trainers, owners, representatives of all of the major equine-related state associations and, of course, the folks from Colonial Downs. The story (page 104) is an interesting read, the issue complex, and the people involved, impassioned. So are we, and we are hopeful that Virginia’s thoroughbreds can once again compete in major stakes races on home turf. Another story that has been on our radar for some time is our feature about Virginia’s enduring summer camp traditions (page 98). We knew the time was right when word came to us last December that 88-year-old Camp Mont Shenandoah had been designated a Virginia Historical Landmark, a rare honor for such an institution. (We learned in April that it has also been added to the National Historic Register.) Multiple generations of girls have donned “whites and ties” at the camp since it was founded

Erin Parkhurst, Editor WRITE TO US!


Great feature on Hudson Heritage Farms (“Modern Farmers,” February 2015). Denise is great and very much deserving of this credit with your publication. Awesome job! Chad Hinnant Halifax

THE LATEST FROM TWITTER: Fantastic article in @VirginiaLiving on danagibsondesign! She is so talented. xoxo @anitasdavis Congrats on this awesome article danagibsondesign in Virginia Living! Looks sooooo good! @addisonweeks

top photo by coady photography

@VirginiaLiving thanks for the Lex Love in your April issue! @ProntoGelateria

THE LATEST FROM FACEBOOK: Love The Georges and Deveron Timberlake is such a fabulous writer. Lexington is such a great place. (“32 Reasons to Love Lexington,” April 2015) –Bettina Fuchs McCarthy

We love receiving letters and emails from Virginia Living readers and hearing your reactions to our stories. Don’t keep your thoughts to yourself. Write them down, or type them up instead. Email us at or write to us at Letters to the Editor, Cape Fear Publishing, 109 E. Cary St., Richmond, Va. 23219. Please include your name, address, phone number and city of residence. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. For subscriptions, see our website, Kindly address all other editorial queries to

I’m a regular subscriber and I thoroughly enjoyed the article “Hidden Treasures” (April 2015). – Brad Hedrick

JUNE 2015

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Cape Fear Publishing Company

109 E. Cary St., Richmond, Virginia 23219 Telephone (804) 343-7539, Facsimile (804) 649-0306


Airlie was “a close-enough occasion to merit a first overnight away from our newborn this past fall. If a crisis occurred, we could be back to Alexandria in 45 minutes,” says Pipkin, of the former private political retreat near Warrenton where she attended a seven-course wine dinner, and the subject of our Virginiana column this issue. A freelance journalist whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Chesapeake Bay Journal and other publications, Pipkin says it was more than proximity that drew her to the now public hotel—it was its intricate history that includes heads of state like Jimmy Carter and political leaders like Martin Luther King Jr.




Bland Crowder, Bill Glose, Caroline Kettlewell, Dean King, Sarah Sargent, Sandra Shelley, Greg Weatherford CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

Ellen F. Brown, Aynsley Miller Fisher, Whitney Pipkin, Corinne Reilly, Martha Steger, Joe Tennis, Kathleen Toler, Terry Ward CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS

Mark Edward Atkinson, Ash Daniel, Adam Ewing, Andrea Hubell CONTRIBUTING ILLUSTRATORS

Gary Hovland, Robert Meganck, David Hollenbach EDITORIAL INTERNS

Sarah Martin ART INTERNS

Erick Gowins, KC Johnson, Xiangrong Qi


“Visualizing our models living in their illustrated world was a lot of fun,” says Wright, the Richmond-based photographer who worked on our special issue, Best of Virginia 2015. “It was such a cool experience,” he says of collaborating with art director, Sonda Andersson Pappan, on the shots that evoke iconic sporting experiences in each region of the state. Wright shoots advertising campaigns for national clients and video for digital media and broadcast, but says that it is the imagery he creates for magazines that is “the most freeing creatively.”


SALES MANAGER Torrey Munford

(804) 343-0782,

Carrington Urban


(804) 622-2611,

“When I visited Camp Mont Shenandoah, I suffered an immediate and overwhelming urge to move to Bath County and live by the Cowpasture River,” says Kettlewell, a freelance writer and Virginia Living contributing editor, of her story in this issue about Virginia’s summer camp tradition. Although she never attended summer camp herself, Kettlewell grew up at the foot of the Blue Ridge and spent a lot of time “running around in the woods,” she says. “I completely understood what all the camp alumni were talking about when they spoke about the wonderful feelings of freedom and independence they experienced at camp.”


Jessica Pick

(804) 622-2614,

Julia Price

(804) 622-2602,


Alexandra Ammar

(804) 622-2603,


Russell Wiles

(804) 622-2609,



Don’t forget, you can find even more Virginia Living online!


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contributed photos

Contact John-Lawrence Smith, Publisher, at (804) 343-7539 or


Virginia Living is a registered trademark of Cape Fear Publishing Company, Inc. Copyright 2008, all rights reserved. Reproduction without written permission from the publisher is strictly prohibited.


(USPS) ISSN 1534-9984 VirginiaLiving is published bimonthly by Cape Fear Publishing Company, 109 E. Cary St., Richmond, VA 23219. Periodical postage permit 021-875 at Richmond, VA.

SWEET SOUNDS OF SUMMER Visit us online for an extended slideshow and videos from summer camps like Mont Shenandoah in Bath County (“Into the Woods,” pg. 98), plus a directory of Virginia’s iconic camps!

JUNE 2015

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WE ALSO encourage you to connect with us via social media. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram! See all the latest from Virginia Living, including exciting and exclusive giveaways and contests!


4/23/15 12:47 PM

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For Williamsburg boat maker Ben Thacker-Gwaltney, craft is everything.

BOAT WHISPERER By Corinne Reilly

Photograph by

Mark Edward Atkinson JUNE 2015

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A Different Kind of Family Port “Life on the River”

Kristen at 16

Kristen Hank at 16 at 9 Cathy

4 ft. x 6 ft.

Wesley & Kristen Hank

at 9

on Canvas 4 ft. x 6 Acrylic ft.

4 ft. x 6 ft.

Wesley & Kristen



Hank at 9







“Life on the “Life onRiver” the River”

Having just purchased a beautiful waterfront home on the York River, Chip and Cathy were looking for just the right piece of art for their stunning family room. They had followed David’s work for more than 20 years and decided to contact him and have him come take a look at the space. They all agreed that this was a perfect spot for a family portrait.

Giclee Prints of this painting were given to various family members

Call or e-mail David with your questions or ideas.

Email: Studio: 703.684.7855 Web:

Chip and Cathy decided that the painting would include themselves, their two children and their spouses and the beloved family dogs (past and present). The background would include the river view and some precious memories from the children’s earlier years. Dave took measurements, gathered family photos and did a quick sketch of his ideas. They decided on a 4x6 foot painting. Chip and Cathy were glad to hear that David worked from photos and they did not have to gather for a sitting.

A Different Kind of Family Portrait

Hank Kristen at 16




Wesley & Kristen


Having just purchased a beautiful waterfront home on the York River, Chip and Cathy were


Having justthepurchased a for beautiful waterfront home the York River, Chip and Cathy were looking for just right piece of art their stunning family room. They had on followed looking just than the20 right art for their stunning David’s workfor for more years andpiece decided of to contact him and have him come takefamily room. They had followed David’s forallmore than decided to contact him and have him come take a look at thework space. They agreed that this 20 was ayears perfect and spot for a family portrait. a look at the space. They all agreed that this was a perfect spot for a family portrait.


Much to the family’s delight, the unveiled on Christmas. It now ador wall in the family room, creating a warm and inviting environment.

Chip and Cathy decided that the painting would include themselves, their two children and theirand spouses and the beloved familythat dogs (past present). The background would themselves, their two children Chip Cathy decided theand painting would include includetheir the river view and some memories family from the dogs children’s earlierand years.present). The background would and spouses and precious the beloved (past Dave took measurements, gatheredand familysome photos and did a quick memories sketch of his ideas. include the river view precious from the children’s earlier years. They decided on a 4x6 foot painting. Chip and Cathy were glad to hear that David worked Dave took measurements, gathered family photos and did a quick sketch of his ideas. from photos and theyon did not have to gather for a sitting.Chip and Cathy were glad to hear that David worked They decided a 4x6 foot painting. Much to the family’s delight, the painting was unveiled on Christmas. It now adorns the stone wall in the family room, creating a permanently Call or e-mail David with your questions or ideas. Giclee Prints of this painting were given to various family warm and members inviting environment.

from photos and they did not have to gather for a sitting. Giclee Prints of this painting were given to various family members

Email: Studio: 703.684.7855 Web: Pearl

Acrylic on C

Call or e-mail David with your questions or ideas.

Email: Studio: 703.684.7855 Web:

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M u w w


bottom photo courtesy of ben thacker-gwaltney

In his garage on a quiet street in Williamsburg, Ben ThackerGwaltney is leaning over the wooden skeleton of what eventually will become an 11-foot paddleboard. He runs a hand down its length in the direction of the grain. “This took about three months,” says the 47-year-old father of two. First he built a frame. Then he began wrapping it, cutting thin strips of cedar and carefully gluing each into its intended place. Next will come several days of sanding, and then a coating of clear fiberglass through which the cedar will show. “You get the beauty of the wood with the strength of the fiberglass,” Thacker-Gwaltney says, running his hand back the other way. Suddenly, he is interrupted by a thought. “Oh, I’ve got two more boats in the backyard that I forgot to show you!” To lose count of them, you have to keep a lot of boats around, and Thacker-Gwaltney does—12 on this winter afternoon, half of them works in progress. Some he made from scratch: the Dacron skin-on-frame yellow kayak that weighs just 25 pounds and harkens back to the vessel’s origins, when hunters stretched seal skin over wood. Others he finds on the verge of death and restores: the 11-foot, red and white Moth sailboat that a customer in Mathews County gave him for free. Built in the 1960s, it had been in the man’s yard for years, slowly decaying. One look at its curves, and Thacker-Gwaltney took it. “It’s a boat that deserved to live,” he says. Each of Thacker-Gwaltney’s vessels has its own story—one of a hundred reasons he says he loves his hobby-turned-profession—but they have things in common, too. At a time when quick and cheap have become standards of manufacturing, each of Thacker-Gwaltney’s boats is made (or remade) with the opposite philosophy. In his home shop in his wooded neighborhood, ThackerGwaltney takes his time. He does it all himself, and all by hand. He is finished with a boat not only when it looks just right, but when it feels just right carrying him over water. He says boats are individuals—things to be fallen in love with, for their shapes and lines as well as for their functionality. “For all of their history,” he says, “boats have been really organic things, built by people who had a specific need. I’m fascinated by that, and that’s what turns me off about the factory-based market.” He adds, “It’s a deeper thing for me, definitely. I see it as a craft, more akin to art than to manufacturing.” Boats, not surprisingly, have always been a part of Thacker-Gwaltney’s life. Growing up in Smithfield, he loved exploring Cypress Creek. “We always had a little motorboat that we’d take out,” Thacker-Gwaltney recalls. In the early 1970s, his father’s family sold their 100-year-old business, now known as Gwaltney Foods, giving Thacker-Gwaltney’s father the time and cash to pursue his interests. He loved the water—his own dad was a fisherman—and he had wanted to be an architect, so he designed a boat and hired a builder. Thacker-Gwaltney has clear memories of playing inside its half-finished hull, and in the years after it was done, he loved tagging along to the marina to help with its upkeep. Thacker-Gwaltney was in his late 20s when he decided to try building a vessel of his own. He and his wife, Susan, were living in Charlottesville, where she had just begun a PhD in reading education at the University of Virginia. Thacker-Gwaltney (his wife’s maiden name is Thacker—the couple hyphenated their names after they married), who studied English and religion at the College of William and Mary, was working for Virginia Organizing, a statewide nonprofit that takes on a variety of social justice and environmental issues. He built a 12-foot, skin-on-frame canoe that was light enough to carry on hikes. “My first few were all canoes,” he remembers. “I realized I liked buildJUNE 2015

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Above: ThackerGwaltney working in his shop. Left: On the water in a skin-onframe canoe.

ing them as much as I liked being in them.” Nearly 20 years later, Tidewater Small Craft is his full-time job. Customers tend to find him through his website or through word of mouth. Sometimes he uses a marine designer’s plans and sometimes he builds by eye. He always adapts to customers’ needs. “He understands and accepts you exactly where you are,” says Rebecca Wheeler, who lives in Newport News and was new to the sport when she bought one of Thacker-Gwaltney’s kayaks last year. She mentioned that she was apprehensive about tipping it, so Thacker-Gwaltney made some adjustments and then met her on the water to show her a few tricks for recovering. Among Wheeler’s favorite things about the kayak is the way sunlight shines through its fabric sides, illuminating the wooden frame beneath. “At my last job,” Thacker-Gwaltney says, “so much of what we achieved was intangible. I love that I’m making something that someone will use.” He says he loves the solitude of his work, too, and giving new life to old things. A lot of the rehabs find him, like the one from Mathews County. Others he has spotted just driving down the street. “Usually, if a boat is sitting in someone’s front yard, it’s for sale,” he says, “even if there isn’t a sign.” He has traded for old boats, and turned canoes into sailboats and sailboats into row boats. “Sometimes,” he says, “you just have to imagine what something can become.” ❉



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illustration by robert meganck


n important thing you should

know for summer: A firefly is not a fly. Neither, for that matter, is a lightning bug a bug. Either or both, one and the other, what you have is a beetle. Also known variously as a moon bug, glow fly, glowworm, fire devil, big dipper—and of course, as everyone knows, “szentjánosbogár” in Hungarian—fireflies are found around the world on every continent except Antarctica, favoring warmish, wettish environments—like summer in Virginia. Sometime in early summer you’ll see it, that first brief burst of yellow-green flashing in the deepening twilight. Fireflies are among the Earth’s bioluminescent creatures, organisms that have marshaled chemistry to create light. Though not lending itself to easy explanation in layperson’s terms, the process by which the firefly generates its glow (in the part of its abdomen known, aptly, as its “lantern”) is a complex and not fully understood marvel of efficiency, involving the interplay of oxygen and two biochemical components, luciferin and luciferase (from the Latin for “light

bringer” or “light bearing”). Called “cold light,” bioluminescence is almost all light and almost no heat; not surprisingly, it is, therefore, the subject of avid scientific inquiry as researchers try to understand and emulate the process and the structure of firefly bioluminescence to create more energy efficient lighting for human needs. Among the estimated 2,000 firefly species worldwide, not all produce light, and of those that do, not all emit the familiar yellow-green. The ghost firefly (or “blue ghost”), which can be found in undisturbed forest areas along the Appalachians from Virginia south, produces a bluish-green, continuous glow as it drifts just above the forest floor. What you are likely to see in your own backyard or in a roadside meadow, however, is the brief on-and-off, yellow-green incandescence of the more common species found in Virginia; perhaps you chased those lights as a child, until out of the darkness you cupped a firefly gently into your hands. Each species of firefly has a unique flash pattern, which serves to attract mates of its own kind. Lovely to contemplate on a summer eve, all those delicate glimmers, though, might tell JUNE 2015




Don’t let her lovely luminescence fool you, the firefly is a tough predator.

N AT I V E S |


a more unsettling tale at the level of the firefly. In particular, the female Photuris is a devious thing. Sometimes referred to as the femme fatale of fireflies, she engages in a behavior known as “aggressive mimicry,” in which she feigns the signal of another species in order to lure in a hapless male. Unfortunately for him, he’s not her date—he’s her dinner. It is theorized that fireflies also glow in order to warn predators that they don’t taste good. As messaging points go, this seems rather cryptic and, obviously, fails to sway the opinion of the female Photuris. One likely reason Photuris females have a particular taste for Photinus males is because Photinus come with a healthy serving of a defensive compound (“lucibufagins”— which sounds like a character out of Tolkien) that the female Photuris cannot produce herself. Photinus carolinus is a particular Photinus found commonly in Virginia. In one part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, these fireflies regularly, year after year, engage in a rare behavior of synchronous flashing—which, as the name suggests, involves large numbers of the fireflies all flashing on and off together, at the same time. So many tourists are drawn to the park to witness this annual phenomenon that the park runs a “firefly shuttle” to transport visitors to the site. A reader contributor to reported witnessing another incident of synchronous flashing at a fireworks display in the Midwest, noting that each time one particular kind of firework exploded in the sky, the pyrotechnic light would be mirrored by a burst of firefly light nearby. Even firefly eggs sometimes glow, as do the larvae, which is what earned them the colloquial name “glowworm,” though firefly larvae don’t look a thing like worms. What they resemble is something like a sturgeon with legs. In their lives, fireflies go from egg to larva to pupa to adult, a process known in the insect world as “complete metamorphosis,” but they spend most of their time in larval form, during which interlude they are not the gentle winged creatures of summer evenings, but rather the marauding scourge of earthworms, snails, slugs and other soft-bodied ground-dwellers. Firefly larvae seize upon their prey, injecting a toxin that paralyzes and then liquefies (or, to put it euphemistically, “pre-digests”) the innards of the unfortunate victim. But wait—things go even more horror-movie at the next stage of metamorphosis, in which the pupal firefly more or less digests itself. It dissolves its own larval body, and then, from this goo, assembles the adult that will emerge a few weeks later. Imagine lying down for a nap as yourself and waking up as—well, you see where Kafka got his inspiration. Transformed, a firefly passes only a few bright weeks as an adult, seeking love above your moonlit garden. Then the brief, magical glimmer of firefly light in velvety darkness, like summer itself, is too soon gone. ❉


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UPFRONT GOOD EARTH Christiansburg fields new farmers’ market.


WHO DOESN’T LOVE a farmers’ market? Nowhere else can a foodie find enough vine-ripened tomatoes, kale and beets to satisfy even the most sudden urge for fresh produce. Yes, a farmers’ market is a good thing. And the citizens of Christiansburg are finding out just how good it can be. In May, they opened the first town-sponsored farmers’ market (a privately-owned market was open briefly in 2011), which runs 3-7 p.m. Thursdays through October on Hickok Street. Vendors must grow or make


to have fun and also make something that tastes good.” Chretien and his partners researched Virginia’s colonial past to focus on what the founding fathers would have been drinking; rum, cider, apple brandy and other boutique liqueurs are featured in vintage cocktails served at the distillery’s in-house bar. “We have Ben Franklin’s shrub and George Washington’s rum bombe,” says Chretien. “We are serving historical drinks—with the addition of ice cubes, of course.” Mount Defiance buys only local apples to make a halfdozen varieties of hard ciders, including ginger and farmhouse styles, and runs a 50-gallon pot still to craft its spirits. The still may only produce a few gallons of 160-proof spirits each batch, but it allows the team to experiment with small runs to test new liqueurs. “We don’t have a huge production area so we do things by hand,” explains Chretien. “For example, for the almond liqueur, we use handground fresh almonds.” The group recently started producing absinthe, a tricky spirit to make because of the variety of herbs required. Chretien and his team are growing wormwood and other herbs and sourcing many of the rest in Virginia. “The one thing we have to import is golden fennel seed from Provence,” he says. “Only that is acceptable to absinthe purists.” Mount Defiance hopes to distribute spirits in Maryland and D.C. by the end of the year, with national expansion later. “But first,” Chretien says, “we have to concentrate on Virginia.”

Ed Jenkins, cidery production manager; Sandra Mezzanotte, partner; Marc Chretien and wife Betsy Haines.


The new Mount Defiance Cidery and Distillery is small but potent.


ider was america’s daily drink until

the beer favored by Eastern European immigrants eclipsed it in the early 1900s. Today, a cidery in Middleburg aims to bring back cider’s glory days. An eclectic mix of four partners—including a former war correspondent for the Washington Post and a former foreign policy advisor to now retired USMC Gen. John Allen—opened Mount Defiance Cidery and Distillery last August. The distillery sells its wares wholesale and also at its own bar and store. “[Distiller] Peter Ahlf and myself love history,” says co-owner Marc Chretien, 60, a former policy advisor. (Ahlf is a former NASA rocket scientist.) “We want

HOP HEADS built his new hops processing facility to correct an agricultural catch-22. “Hops have a moment of peak harvest, and you must use them really fast unless they are processed,” he explains. “The reason nobody was growing them in Virginia is because there was nowhere to process, and the reason nobody was processing is because nobody was growing.” The hops flower (it looks like a small green cone) is added to beer

for its aroma (ranging from floral to citrusy), flavor (usually bitter) and preservative properties. Staples, 49, is one of three partners in Richmond’s James River Distillery, which uses hops to flavor its Commonwealth Gin. Now, with Black Hops Farm in Lucketts, Staples will turn this year’s area harvest of fresh “wet” hops into a dry, pelletized, shelfstable product. Most U.S. hops are grown in the Pacific Northwest, but now area JUNE 2015



—By Erin Parkhurst

farmers will be able to process their crops before they start degrading and losing potency. Black Hops Farm is the only commercial hops processer in the mid-Atlantic (the next closest is in New York) and can process up to 100 acres of hops per season. The plan is already working. Staples says that three farmers near Middleburg are putting in 20-25 acres total of new hops fields. Ten acres of that will be managed by Organarchy, an established organic hops grower that is shifting from Maryland to grow in Virginia. “Now a farmer can go to a bank with a reasonable business plan for financing a hops field,” Staples says. “We are on the way to making Virginia the East Coast capital of beer.”

Black Hops Farm brings commercial hops processing to the Commonwealth. JONATHAN STAPLES

their product within a 100-mile radius of the downtown district. Last fall, the town conducted a survey to find out what folks wanted to see at their new market. No unusual requests or flights of fruit fancy here, says Randy Wingfield, assistant town manager. “Veggies were number one,” he says, followed by fruit, eggs, honey and herbs. But that’s OK with town leaders. Says Allison Long, the town’s public information specialist who compiled the results: “People are just excited it’s happening.”


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UPFRONT LA BELLE VIE Bringing new life to decorative objets.

Documenting shipwrecks in Virginia Beach.


IN 1999, WITH JUST TWO weeks to go until the 200th anniversary celebration of George Washington’s death, Mount Vernon curators were scrambling: Some of Washington’s china service had degraded so much that it wasn’t in suitable shape to be displayed. The curators called McHugh’s Restorations, and the team renewed the china—a blueedged plate with the eagle insignia of the Society of the Cincinnati—in time for the celebration, saving the day. Today, the Richmond business remains the only private restoration studio ever to work on objects off of Mount Vernon’s premises. Thirty-five years after Louise and Desmond McHugh moved to Richmond from Philadelphia to open McHugh’s Restorations, the studio has built a



The Old Coast Guard Station. Right: Kathryn Fisher.


or 56 years, the building that

stood on the corner of Atlantic Avenue and 24th Street in Virginia Beach was an active Coast Guard Station, housing the men who risked their lives to rescue others. In 1959, the station was decommissioned and stood empty for 10 years, until it found new life as the Virginia Beach Maritime Museum. While the museum’s mission is to preserve the maritime heritage and history of Coastal Virginia, its reach stretches to any spot of sand where flotsam comes ashore. When the stern of the Francisco Bella Gamba (an Italian ship that sank in 1878 while sailing from Genoa, Italy, to Baltimore) was uncovered in a Virginia Beach dune after a storm in 1983, the museum retrieved a recliner-sized chunk of the stern, which is displayed on the museum’s lawn. Inspired by the Gamba, the museum launched the Shipwreck Documentation Project in 1989 to document all wreckage that washes ashore. Some incredible finds, like a carved lion’s head from the stern of the 1891 shipwreck of the Dictator (a Norwegian merchant ship), are displayed at the museum. Most items—the project has documented 134 since its inception— are tagged, documented, and left in place. Since

most of the found wreckage, which looks like weathered lumber, cannot be identified as coming from a specific ship, the project doesn’t retrieve it to display to the public. Instead, as wind and waves move the piece along the coast, the museum follows up each time it is rediscovered and reported, tracking its movement and further deterioration to provide valuable data on the natural lifecycle of wreckage. “It’s a neat way for the public to be involved with history,” says the museum’s executive director, Kathryn Fisher. “Almost all the finds have come from someone out jogging on the beach or walking their dog and calling us up and saying, ‘Guess what I found?’” The Shipwreck Documentation Project hopes to someday connect its database with those from other states to create a map linking found pieces and track their journey through tide and time. To aid in their quest, anytime you find something washed ashore that might have once been a hewn timber from a ship, just pick up the phone and call. Says Fisher, “It’s sort of a way for an average person to feel like Indiana Jones, but without all the bad guys.” 757-422-1587. —By Bill Glose

IT’S A VERY DAIRY WORLD IF YOU’RE LACTOSE intolerant, this may not

be the event for you. But if you appreciate fine cheeses, made by artisans who can imbue a ball of mozzarella with luscious creaminess or ripen an emmental to pitch perfect piquancy, then save the date and plan to attend the first Virginia Cheese Festival Saturday, June 13 at Virginia Tech’s Moss Arts Center. A dozen cheesemakers—from throughout

strong reputation for restoring damaged decorative objets, both antique and modern. Its devoted customer base includes institutions like The Valentine museum and Washington & Lee University, as well as private collectors in the U.S. and abroad. Kimberley McHugh Overman (daughter of Louise and Desmond) took over the business in 1983; sister Brigid McHugh Jones joined in 1998; and in the past year, Kimberly’s daughter Emily began working with her mother, aunt and grandmother. (Desmond passed away in 1999.) In addition to Washington’s china, McHugh’s has restored a variety of objects ranging from the priceless to the sentimental, including a plate that belonged to Abraham Lincoln while he lived in the White House and a 2,000-yearold figurine from a tomb in China. The goal is always the same: to preserve an object’s original beauty without altering its essence. “We work to put a damaged object together and make it stable,” says Kimberley, “but you should be able to reverse the repairs completely.” —By Taylor Pilkington

Blacksburg hosts the first Virginia Cheese Festival. Virginia and the mid-Atlantic region—will be there ready to delight your senses with samples as well as offer advice for pairing their creations with wine and beer. Virginia favorites, including Caromont Farm and Ziegenwald Dairy, will be among the cheesemakers exhibiting. A limited number of VIP tickets will provide admission to small group presentations by

JUNE 2015


Kimberley, Louise, Emily and Brigid.


winemakers and brewers. Educational sessions, live music and family activities, including a petting zoo and a regional art show, are in the offing, as well as a 5K “Rat Race” the day before the event. Yes, many calories will be consumed, but if you fancy cheese, it will be worth it. —By Erin Parkhurst


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Nostalgia sells for popular 1980s tribute band.

“OUR VERY FIRST show was a house

party that was busted by the cops,” says Matt Kelly, aka Cru Jones, guitarist for ’80s cover band the Legwarmers. “It was like an ’80s movie: During ‘Eye of the Tiger’ the police busted in and said, ‘You’re just too darn loud!’ and shut down the show.” Now the police are more likely to be working the doors than breaking them down at Legwarmers' shows. The Arlington-based band, formed in 2002, plays all the hits of the ’80s in



1993 and sat in limbo until 2007, when it was purchased by the Wise County Industrial Development Authority. After a multi-million-dollar renovation, the reopened hotel contains 49 rooms on its three floors, accessible by a grand staircase. Dining options include the new Colonial Dining Room and the laidback, ’50s-style Corner Diner, complete with an original Peggy Ann jukebox playing golden oldies. Farther west, Wytheville’s Bolling Wilson Hotel was known as the George Wythe Hotel when it opened in 1927. At the time, the town was enjoying a tourism boom, spurred by visitors seeking the relief of cool southwest Virginia summers prior to the advent of air-conditioning. “It was a hotel through 1973,” says Farron Smith, who has owned and operated the hotel with her husband Bill since December 2010. In the years between, it was the home of a bank. Today, this boutique hotel takes its name from the wife of President Woodrow Wilson, Edith Bolling, who was born Oct. 12, 1872, at the Bolling Building just across Wytheville’s Main Street, where the Smiths founded the small Edith Bolling Birthplace Museum. In addition to showcasing views of the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains (especially from a rooftop terrace called the Perch), the hotel also incorporates touches that evoke chapters in the former First Lady’s life. Floral fabrics featuring orchids are a reminder of a time when, Smith says, “The president gave her an orchid every day of their courtship.”,


The restored columns and balcony of the Inn at Wise.

Two grand Virginia hotels are restored for the modern age.


t’s a tale of two historic hotels. each

top left photo by tim & angel cox; top right photo by eileen colton

stands in a courthouse town of Southwest Virginia, and both lost their way: The Inn at Wise was left vacant, almost facing a wrecking ball, while the Bolling Wilson Hotel had for years been used as a bank. The story has a happy ending, though: In late 2014, both properties reopened after having been restored to their original elegance. Built in 1910, the Inn at Wise rises at a prominent corner overlooking the Wise County Courthouse. A coal-town landmark, “It has been used as weekly apartments, used as an inn, used as a residence,” says Nicole Green, the hotel’s assistant general manager. It also has a special college connection: The idea for the University of Virginia’s College at Wise was conceived during a conversation in the hotel lobby during the 1950s. Still, the old structure was shuttered in

—By Joe Tennis

TRAIL NOTES History and nature meet along Saltville’s salt trail. IN THE BEGINNING there was salt. “My wife likes to say Saltville is part of the Genesis story,” says Harry Haynes, manager of the town’s Museum of the Middle Appalachians where latePleistocene epoch fossils and bones of the mastodon, woolly mammoth, musk ox and other species are on display. Before humans, prehistoric creatures came to the valley for the extensive salt deposits left by a

receding glacier’s inland sea, leaving behind fossils that have been uncovered in the area since the 18th century. (Salt has been continuously produced here since the 1780s.) Today, the same paths once trod by ancient creatures are enjoyed by bikers, hikers, equestrians and birders on the Salt Trail, a repurposed railway bed winding through nearly nine miles of woods and marsh between downtown Saltville and nearby Glade Spring. JUNE 2015



The trail cuts through open fields and wooded areas, where pools of water amid groves of dense vegetation may be eons-old salt brine bubbling to the surface. Reconstructed cabins and a salt

sold-out venues up and down the east coast. And they are back in Virginia this summer, with shows booked for June 5 at the NorVa in Norfolk, June 6 at the National in Richmond and June 12 at the Jefferson Theater in Charlottesville. The seven band members, who are in their early or mid-30s, say their audiences range from true children of the ’80s to younger fans. Says guitarist Jorge Pezzimenti (stage name: Gordon Cantrell), “We’re always pining for the good ole times, even if we weren’t there.” But, says Kelly, “Just because you didn’t see Whitesnake live in 1984 doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy ‘Here I Go Again’ in 2015.” —By Taylor Pilkington

furnace at the nearby Salt Park demostrate the historic process of making salt, and an attached playground provides recreation opportunities for younger visitors. While the Salt Trail connects with other notable southwest Virginia routes— including the Crooked Road Heritage Music Trail, the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail and the Round the Mountain artisan network—perhaps its most important connection is the one between past and present. —By Martha Steger


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Floridians are “making a great ado” because fruits and vegetables, produced virtually year-round in the Sunshine State, are shipped elsewhere only to come back home for sale as canned goods. Feh! spits the Warren Sentinel: “That is nothing.” Warren County, the story reads, ships carloads of cattle and hogs north every year, where they are slaughtered and then shipped back in “various forms” that are sold at “many times the original price paid our farmers.” Tomatoes, ditto. The result, reads the article, is the bleeding of thousands of dollars from the county each year “for such foolishness.” Surely this issue won’t still trouble us a century from now.




A FINE KETTLE OF FISH After a long winter’s respite, fishing season is a sure sign of summer.

illustration by gary hovland


ell, folks, for the most part, i guess

you could say that fishing season is upon us.” Low-key and down-home though it may sound, that decree clearly ended a long wait for the weather to warm up enough that R.C. Watkins could use it to open his “Fish Stories & Buck Tales” column in the Albemarle County Bulletin. “People are starting to catch a little bit of everything,” wrote Watkins. With a little bit of anything. To wit: Bobby Pollard and Billy Searcy had just caught 75 bream and a crappie at Totier Reservoir, a 66-acre fishing hot spot. And their success came on “nothing more than ‘garden hackle’ [earthworms] dug out of Bobby’s backyard.” On arriving at Totier, they met two other fisherfolk heading out with 75 crappie, caught on doll flies. Doll fly is defined by Outdoor Life as “a lead-head, bright-colored crappie and bass lure.” Originally a trademark—Doll-Fly, named in the early 1950s for Tennessean Elmer “Doll” Thompson—the name has now gone generic. Jack Shanklin’s youngest boy, Dale, and his bride of just a year, Stephanie, went fishing on the James near Howardsville, where, “on madtoms” (freshwater catfish), she caught a four-pound, sevenounce smallmouth bass and he got a three-pound, fourounce one. “Darn nice fish, in my way of thinking!” wrote Watkins. The honeymoon, apparently, was not over! And fish were flying everywhere: at Brookneal, on the Rappahannock and on the Chick (ahominy). As for Watkins: “I haven’t had a chance to wet a line since the trip to Lake Anna,” he wrote, recalling a fishing trip made, presumably the season before, to the spot in nearby Louisa and Spotsylvania counties. His tardiness wasn’t due to his lethargy: He’d been busy

prepping for the Scottsville Ruritan Club’s Seventh Annual Fishing Rodeos, which offered competitive slots for virtually everyone between cradle and grave. Older fishing types were gearing up for the Family Rodeo in early June, but first, the small fry—the Youth Rodeo, in mid-May, for those 16 or younger—and it offered free red wigglers! There were a few expectations. It was cool if adults cast for the youngest participants, but the children had to hook and land their fish themselves. Another requirement—each child had to come equipped with his or her own personal stringer, on which to maintain what might win a prize for biggest bass, biggest bream, biggest crappie, or biggest “other.” There were also prizes for biggest catch of the day by a boy and by a girl, and total most pounds of fish caught. For the larval stages, there was even a prize for the littlest fish. And in case a fisherchild wound up with a less-than-crowded stringer, everybody got a free goodie bag to allay disappointment. Fishing was allowed from the banks only, and each participant could fish two rods, using “any bait that is legal in the state.” What baits are illegal? Today, madtom, crawfish and salamanders may not be bought or sold as bait. Even for some of the legal baits, there’s a limit on how much one may legally possess. For example, 50 minnows is it, unless you bought them and have the receipt to prove it, according to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Sadly, the Scottsville Ruritan Club and its rodeo are no more, but fear not; there are more than 25 fishing events for children in Virginia in May and June (go to for details). As R.C. Watkins said, “Take time to take someone into the great outdoors”!


JUNE 2015



Rapidan is suddenly whinny city! Champion Belgian stallion Violon de Saintes is en route, blares an ad in the Culpeper Exponent, and the gene pool’s rising. At stud here for “the season of 1940,” he was raised in the Belgian town of Saintes. A photograph depicts him well-groomed, his mane done up in a rank of seven man-made “flowers,” a stylish note often given draft horses in shows. The sire is listed as “Espoin de L. Ange,” most probably a misspelling of “Espoir de l’Ange,” Angel’s Hope. His name echoes Mom’s: Violette de Saintes. The ad calls Violon “many times noted” and “sure with his mares.” His name means violin, but it doesn’t sound like he’d string the gals along.



Chief of Staff of the Army General Harold K. Johnson is concerned over “the use of offensive language and the telling of off-color stories by army instructors” and directs that “the practice be discontinued forthwith,” reports the Fairfax Herald. Reasons the writer: “Johnny’s” family surely is upset when their son comes home recounting tales that might have been “culled from the more uninhibited pages of Rabelais or the naughtier comedies of Congreve.” Johnson might have suggested, supposes the writer, that his charges emulate Captain Cochran in H.M.S. Pinafore, who “never swore a big, big D.” The writer recalls a Confederate general who tried to elevate the morals in his troops, whom a mule driver countered, “But Gineral, if I gits religion, who’s goin’ to drive them mules?”



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fter the body of 24-year-

old Christopher McCandless was discovered in 1992, Jon Krakauer wrote about the adventurer’s solo trek into the Alaskan wilderness for Outside Magazine (January 1993). That article generated tremendous reader response and propelled Krakauer to expand the story into the book Into the Wild. He researched McCandless’ life growing up in Annandale, Virginia, leading up to the fatal journey and conducted extensive interviews with McCandless’ sister, Carine, and their parents, Walt and Billie. Carine revealed to Krakauer why she thought Chris had risked his life the way he had. The story she told was one of abusive parents and family skeletons they all worked to hide from the world. Walt had two families; he was married to one woman, spending two weeks with one family then two weeks with the other. Billie—Chris and Carine’s mother—was really his mistress, the couple only pretending to be married. Eventually, the first wife divorced Walt and moved away, but Walt and Billie maintained their façade. Fed up with the deception, Chris confronted his parents while he was a student at Emory University, and when they stonewalled him, he left on a grand trek that would take him down to Mexico and up to Alaska. This was the amazing story Carine shared with Krakauer. There was just one catch: She made Krakauer promise not to publish her revelations. “I wanted my parents to have the opportunity to learn from Chris’ passing,” Carine explains from her home today in Virginia Beach, “and to learn from the mistakes that they had made that caused him to leave the way he did .‥” Unfortunately, it caused a lot of people to have misconceptions. As Krakauer’s book became an international bestseller and Sean Penn adapted

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the story into a movie, Carine was invited to speak to schools and other groups about her brother, whose Alaskan adventure had inspired scores of others to trek out into the wilderness to visit the abandoned bus where his body was found. But the misconceptions fostered in Krakauer’s book about Chris splintered the groups into antagonistic factions, one camp believing Chris was stupid and self-absorbed, the other that he was brilliant and heroic. This is the crux of McCandless’ new book: admitting the truth and bearing the consequences of it. Throughout the book, McCandless praises Krakauer’s work as masterful, but she also makes it clear that her book, The Wild Truth, is more than just a companion to Into the Wild: It is a correction. The book begins like most memoirs, at the moment of earliest childhood memories. Carine’s father Walt is portrayed as a narcissistic tyrant and her mother Billie as a flip-flopping drama queen. Her brother Chris, a few years older than Carine, acts as protector, and the two of them manage to avoid most of the violence swirling around them in their dysfunctional family. But they are swallowed by another vortex—the lie in which they all participate, but hide from the world. Billie often threatens to leave Walt, sometimes taking the kids on rides around Annandale to look for a new home. Chris and Carine are excited, but they soon learn this too is all part of the charade. Any time they fall for Billie’s promises of leaving, she switches position and belittles them for not appreciating what they have. Walt is rich, and Billie makes it clear that this is why she won’t leave. In a later scene, after Walt’s first wife Marcia moves to Colorado, one of her children says how much luckier she was to have gotten away.


Marcia was unable to provide the luxuries that Chris and Carine had, but her children were raised with the one thing that mattered: love. In the chapters about Chris’ disappearance, Carine explains how eschewing materialism and pretense was at the core of her brother’s quest. Nature can be cruel, but it does not lie, and money holds no sway over it. So the wilderness was where he turned. When his emaciated body was discovered, Carine hoped her parents might finally step out of the shadows of their lies. Instead they pointed to the exclusion of family wrongdoing in Krakauer’s book as proof that it never happened, so Carine put pen to paper and exposed their secrets in this memoir. Her parent’s response came in a statement released to the media: “We concluded that this fictionalized writing has absolutely nothing to do with our beloved son, Chris, or his character. The whole unfortunate event in Chris’ life 22 years ago is about Chris and his dreams—not a spiteful, hyped up, attention-getting story about his family.” It is up to you, the reader, to determine which version is The Wild Truth.

An Innocent Abroad: Life-Changing Trips from 35 Great Writers

Earth is My Witness: The Photography of Art Wolfe



Thirty-five noted authors share personal stories of travels into unfamiliar situations in foreign lands, and the lessons gained from all of them are impactful. David Baldacci discourses on the importance of family during a vacation to the town of his forebears in Italy; Mary Karr tells how she came to love the jungle; and Dave Eggers tells of unintended (and non-sexual) encounters with prostitution in Asia and Africa. A wonderful collection of short, insightful travel essays.

JUNE 2015



The sister of an idealistic adventurer sets the record straight.

From one of the world’s most renowned photographers comes a collection of work spanning the past five decades, shot in every region of the globe. Between resplendent scenes of nature and gritty shots of native culture, we bear witness to a disappearing world. From nomadic camel trains crossing the desert to night fishermen in China’s Li River stroking the bellies of trained cormorants, Wolfe provides an insider’s view of daily routines instead of artificially posed scenes.



Historian Lorri Glover shows how the home lives of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, James Madison and George Mason influenced the decisions that were instrumental in forming the United States of America. As plantation era patriarchs, their private concerns were of agricultural conditions, labor costs and the management of a town-sized estate. As architects of our nation, it was only natural these concerns would also find their way into the Constitution. Founders as Fathers is an intriguing read.


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SPACEBOMB, THE Richmond music collective led by Matthew E. White, draws its ethos from 1960s soulmusic production houses such as Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. White’s follow up to 2012’s acclaimed Big Inner catches some of that spirit but prizes musicianship over overt emotion. Pick hit: “Rock and Roll Is Cold.”

HOME AND AWAY Harrisonburg’s Steel Wheels.


Major and the Monbacks (self-released)

REACHING BACK to the heyday of Southern soul, Norfolk’s Major and the Monbacks bring gritty vocals, horns and a powerhouse rhythm section. Think Otis Redding, early Isleys and the best of the Blues Brothers: party perfection. Pick hit: “Annabelle.” MajorandtheMonbacks.


photo by rubysky photography

Natalie Prass (Spacebomb) AFTER RELEASING a two-song EP (reviewed here) last year, Prass joined childhood friend White for this full-length album. Supported by Spacebomb’s crack house band, strings and horns, Prass’ light voice and smart songs shine within White’s gorgeous arrangements. Comparisons to Feist and Dusty Springfield are apt, but Prass makes it clear she follows her own muse. Pick hit: “Why Don’t You Believe in Me.”


few years back the

four members of the Steel Wheels had a decision to make. Through five years of touring and a series of albums, the Harrisonburg-based band had made fans around the country with its brand of acoustic Americana. They’d played at festivals and on the radio and built up a successful touring career. But in those years they had also started families—today all four are married with young children. Thus the dilemma: Should they quit their day jobs and become full-time musicians, with all the travel and family disruption that entailed? They weighed the good and bad, talked to their wives, their friends and colleagues. All four of the members of the Steel Wheels grew up in Mennonite households and value home and family as much as they value hard work and craftsmanship. Could playing music be an honorable business, a trade to be proud of? One worth spending months away from home? They decided to do it. Now, five years on and its members in their 30s, “We consider ourselves middle-class musicians,” says band founder and lead vocalist Trent Wagler. “It’s our profession, our trade, and we approach it that way.” Not that it was an easy decision. “It was a bit terrifying,” says fiddler Eric Brubaker, “but we’ve made it work.” That tension between going away for work and coming home is at the


JUNE 2015


heart of the band’s new album, Leave Some Things Behind, out on their own record label, Big Ring. “We have built our business and our band around the idea that we have something to come home for,” Wagler says. “If you’re going to go away, you’d better do it for something that means something.” The members of what would become the Steel Wheels met in the early 2000s at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg. All had grown up relatively secular Mennonites—not to be confused with branches of the faith that reject most modern culture—and loved and played music. After We consider college, Wagler, a theater major, ourselves landed an acting in Lexington. middle-class job One of the shows musicians.” he worked on, a musical called “Stonewall Country,” featured songs by Robin and Linda Williams, two of the founding figures in the rootsmusic revival. The Williamses sang of ancient themes but also of modern life, managing to be simultaneously traditional and contemporary. Wagler fell in love with the music. In 2004, he got back in touch with former bandmate Brian Dickel, who joined him on stand-up bass. They added Brubaker on fiddle, then Jay Lapp on mandolin. Between 2004 and 2010, the group fine-tuned its sound, expanded its touring schedule and




Fresh Blood (Spacebomb)

recorded albums under various names. They played songs from the roots-music canon like “Shady Grove” and “Wayfaring Stranger” alongside original tunes. In 2010, the Steel Wheels released its first album under that name. Red Wing drew from many strands of traditional and popular music. Wagler’s vocals eschewed the high lonesome wail of traditionalists like Ralph Stanley for an audience-friendly tenor that at times took on a Bryan Adams rock ‘n’ roll rasp. The band’s instrumentation and smooth, close harmonies brought elements of gospel, blues and folk. Among the guests on Red Wing were Robin and Linda Williams. The album was warmly received. It spent 13 weeks on the Americana Music Association’s radio charts and was among the top 100 Americana albums of 2010. The album received seven Independent Music Award nominations, winning Best Country Song, along with Best Gospel Song in the awards’ popular-vote competition. Within a few years, the Steel Wheels were playing at major festivals, including MerleFest, in North Carolina. They appeared on the National Public Radio program “Mountain Stage.” They recorded and released their own music and now play more than 120 shows a year. And they have built a small industry around the band. Their Mennonite heritage helped. “There are certain ethics we draw from that inform they way we tour and interact with people,” says Brubaker. “A commitment to honest living, to honest dealings, and a bit of self-reliance.” One sign of that philosophy is its Red Wing Roots Music Festival, now in its third year at Natural Chimneys Park, not far from Harrisonburg, where the Steel Wheels are still based. Wagler says the band was inspired to create the festival by similar ones they’d played in North Carolina and Kansas—family-friendly celebrations of music, traditional arts and the community. “We come home to one of the most beautiful spots in the United States. We realized we can create this beautiful, boutique festival right here,” says Wagler, “and bring our families to work with us.”


Brian Dickel, Trent Wagler, Eric Brubaker and Jay Lapp.


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wig murray, curator at

Alexandria’s Athenaeum, came up with the idea for Saturate—on view June 4 through July 19—about a year ago, when she first encountered the work of Charlottesville artist Abby Kasonik: “I was intrigued with the sensation of wetness I got from looking at her work and decided it would be interesting to present different artists’ approaches to conveying this particular quality.” The interdisciplinary show features pieces by Kasonik along with those of Stephen Estrada, Hannele Lahti, Eve Stockton, Naomi Edelberg Janches and Thomas Teasley. Kasonik, a 1998 graduate of VCUarts department of sculpture, creates mystical, dreamlike vignettes ranging from the abstract to more distinct sea and landscapes. In these moody, atmospheric pieces, the sky takes up most of the picture plane, emphasizing the infinity of space and engendering a sense of contemplative peace. Kasonik’s process is laborious. She builds up her surfaces with alternating layers of acrylic paint and a glaze of clear pigment. In between layers she uses water almost like an eraser to help form clouds, trees and land mass. When she’s satisfied with the image, she takes a squirt bottle and sprays water in a pattern of even rivulets that run down the panel before sealing it within the glaze coat. She repeats these steps



through many layers. The results are luscious. Both surface and depth are emphasized; the image remains intact and smooth behind a watery undulating curtain of line. Estrada’s work is more literal and more confrontational. He places the viewer at the interstices of water and land, earth and sky. It is here where the graduate of the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C., feels the beauty and power of nature are on full display. Citing the work of mystic author Carlos Castaneda, who advocated using a combination of He places extreme physical exertion the viewer and psilocybin mushrooms to “slip into the thin opening to at the another dimension,” he says believes art has the same interstices he power: “That’s my goal in the places I seek out to paint ‘at of water the slender edge.’” and land ...” Estrada is drawn to waves and clouds, which vary greatly physically and emotionally depending on conditions of weather or time of day. They can be serene or foreboding, fearsome or benign, and provide myriad opportunities for the artist to stretch his narrative and formal range. In “Morning Wave,” for example, Estrada uses the light and palette to convey a sense of simmering unease that exists despite the tame surf.

■ Fralin Museum of Art, UVA, Charlottesville, “What is a Line?”

■ The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum, Hollins University, Roanoke, “Women Working with Clay.”

JUNE 2015




Light and water suspended in motion at the Athenaeum.



Lahti also seems to be after the “slender edges,” with photographs that present reality imbued with an aura of spirituality. Lahti grew up on a lake in rural central Maine and clearly has a reverence for nature, especially water. She attended Rochester Institute of Technology, earning a BFA in photographic illustration. Shot from the side looking up, Lahti’s “Niagara” preserves this natural icon’s grandiosity while creating an unexpected sense of intimacy. Lahti’s choice of light, composition and perspective breathes freshness into what Eve Stockton, could be a hackneyed “Silver Seascape image. Instead, we Diptych 2.” admire the beauty of the waterfall, ethereally positioned between mist and sky. Eve Stockton’s large-scale wood block prints are inspired by nature and science. Made using three-foot square woodblocks that she hand carves, each layer of color requires a different block. The challenges involved with working with large blocks of wood reveal Stockton’s mastery of the woodcut technique and why this particular approach is so unusual. Stockton, who grew up in Ohio and moved to Alexandria five years ago, evokes abstraction and narration, cellular renderings and observed nature. Her “Silver Seascape Diptych” is a meditation on the ocean. The piece has a subtlety and power, and entails a micro/macro approach. Stockton manages to convey the diversity of waves within the ocean chop, while the all-over quality of the image across the diptych’s six feet suggests an endless expanse of water. Glass artist and Montreal native, Naomi Edelberg Janches, and Northern Virginia-based percussionist and composer, Thomas Teasley, round out the exhibition. Janches’ stained glass piece represents water and liquidity suspended in motion. Mounted in a large, high window at the Athenaeum, the piece casts a fluid “shadow” of light, if you will, distorted by the glass, as sunlight passes through it, bathing the gallery in watery effects of light and movement. Teasley’s multimedia exploration, “Secrets of a Wine Dark Sea” adds the captivating dimension of sound to the show. Teasley overlays an atonal musical version of whale song onto a restrained, yet jazzy under beat. Both haunting and catchy, the music is combined with a video of amorphous white shapes floating in a sea of blue. The shapes coalesce and break apart while ripples dance against them. The effect is mesmerizing. Saturate brings together a diverse group of artists in terms of style and medium. Using different approaches to depict the quality of water, they each succeed in conveying that universal yet elusive substance and its sensual effects with unique and inventive voices.

■ Arlington Arts Center, “Spring Solos.”


4/20/15 4:39 PM

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A compendium of news and notes from around the state.

Virginia, it seems, never tires of making history, and last year was one for the agricultural record books. In 2014, the Commonwealth’s world famous peanut crop set a national record, according to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Virginia’s bumper crop weighed in at 4,350 pounds per acre, outpacing the national average of 3,932 pounds per acre. According to reports by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, the Commonwealth’s 175 peanut growers harvested more than 82 million pounds of peanuts from 19,000 acres last year. Growers point to better seed varieties, good growing conditions (particularly in the rich, sandy soil of the Virginia Tidewater) and longer crop rotations. That’s nuts.,

A Boost from BeyoncÉ How does a clothing designer go from Etsy, the online shop for hand- or homemade items, to Beyoncé without even trying? Brooklyn-based designer and Virginia Beach native Reuben Reuel isn’t completely clear on the details, but one day an acquaintance (who happens to be Beyoncé’s stylist) asked him to pull some items for the singer to try out. She posted a pic on Instagram of herself wearing two pieces from his line, Demestiks New York, and tagged him in the photo. She even included a picture of him with a brief bio on her website under the header, “Beyoncé Spotlight: New and Now Male Designers.” While Etsy is still his primary storefront, he says Beyoncé gave him the boost to the big time. Now, about that location.,


Top Crop

A Tunnel to Somewhere In March, Waynesboro’s City Council agreed to donate $10,500 to Nelson County’s effort to restore the Blue Ridge Tunnel, also called the Claudius Crozet Blue Ridge Tunnel. (When it was completed in 1858, it was America’s longest tunnel.) The project will open the tunnel, which has been closed since 1944, to create a walking trail across the Blue Ridge Mountains at Rockfish Gap in Afton. City Council hopes that the 1-mile hiking trail will bump up tourism as well as plump city coffers by funneling hikers into the city. Phase I includes construction of a parking area and trails feeding into the tunnel. But don’t dig out those hiking boots yet. There is no completion date set for the project, which began in October 2014. Waynesboro.Va.US

contributed photos

Don’t Blame the Cakes When the International Association of Culinary Professionals decided to mark celebrity chef Jacques Pepin’s 80th birthday, it came up with a sweet way to do it: present him with a cake for every year, at IACP’s annual conference in March in Washington, D.C. The cakes’ bakers included culinary luminaries from all over, like Daniel Boulud and Lidia Bastianich. And Virginia was well represented. David Guas of Arlington’s Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery crafted a confection that looked like Pepin’s traditional toque under a draped ribbon in the colors of the French flag. And Patrick O’Connell of the Inn at Little Washington brought a lobster in a bronze pot, all made of sugar. Sadly, the once personal chef to former French president Charles De Gaulle and star of many public television cooking series could only be piped in (via Skype), after suffering what appeared to be a stroke five days earlier … before the cakes appeared.

Social Media Savvy The requirements to be considered a renaissance man, it seems, have expanded to include social media. The University of Richmond’s new president, Ronald A. Crutcher, is not only a symphony-level cellist and an educator—he is a whiz at Twitter. He Tweets updates on his activities, and also reveals his social conscience. In one Tweet, he speaks out (in 140 characters) against gun violence. He also uses Twitter to encourage student athletes and to talk about music. And he received many verbal high fives via Twitter when he took the job. As one supporter Tweeted about UR’s 10th (and first AfricanAmerican) president, “Nice guys do finish 1st.” @racrutcher,

JUNE 2015




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Lou Centini, Stephanie Snell, Janet Centini and Richard Snell

{ Keswick }


Madison, Monroe and Jill Bussey Harris


Peyton Lacy, Caroline Harding and Amanda Galanti

Ellen and Michael Geismar

UVA Children’s Hospital On Feb. 6, UVA Children’s Hospital presented its annual gala, the Main Event, at Keswick Hall. The event’s 400 attendees helped to raise $325,000 for the hospital’s new Child Health Research Center.

Phil Whiteway and Bruce Miller

Tom and Rebecca L'Ecuyer Stuart Houston, Hans Ackerman and Michelle Kang

{ Richmond }

Virginia Rep The third annual Anything Goes Gala took place Jan. 31 at the Historic John Marshall Ballrooms. The event, attended by more than 350 people, raised $318,000.

Maurice Wallace, Pamela Sutton-Wallace, Karin League and Walter Skeen

Laura Lee Chandler, Paul Galanti and Cal Jennison

{ Williamsburg }

VIMS 75th Anniversary

contributed photos

Taylor Reveley and John Wells

John Wells and Floyd, Helga and Matt Gottwald

Approximately 100 guests attended the Virginia Institute of Marine Science’s 75th anniversary celebration at the NewMarket Corporate Pavillion in Richmond. The event, hosted by Teddy Gottwald, included remarks by Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

Kirk Havens and John Belniak

Thomas Innes and Teddy Gottwald

JUNE 2015



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UPFRONT Reo and Roxann Hatfield

{ Fair fax }

Robin Kramer, Kristi Goerl and Melanie Celenza


Ryan Lopynski Big Heart Foundation


Judith Pfennig and David Denson

The Ryan Lopynski Big Heart Foundation’s third annual Every Heart Counts Gala drew more than 300 guests. The event, held at the Country Club of Fairfax, raised close to $60,000 to help provide free EKG screenings for youth athletes.

Johnny Lopynski, Peggy Fox and Jeremy Lopynski Jacqueline and Eric Tran

Jean and Tamara Ellis (seated), Justina Buckles and Naomi Salamon (standing)

{ Staunton }

Habitat for Humanity Robert and Loretta Madelmayer

Staunton-Augusta-Waynesboro Habitat for Humanity hosted 150 guests at its annual Hope for Homes Gala Jan. 24. Held at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel, the sold-out event raised $107,000.

Christy Guth, Jerry Davis and Taylor Franklin

Josh and Anna Canada

Ken Huber and Nancy Sowers

Matt and Maria Ellmer

{ Virginia Beach }

On March 28, the Virginia Beach SPCA held its Western Wags & Whiskers Gala at Priority Certified at Town Center. The sold-out event, attended by nearly 500 guests, raised more than $125,000. Emily Franklin and Scott Rigell

Jacoby Ponder, Staci Jelly and Luke Barton

JUNE 2015




contributed photos

Virginia Beach SPCA

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May 24 at 8 pm and 9:30 pm NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT ~ Honoring our American heroes for over 25 years, the NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT pays tribute to the service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform, their families at home and all those who have given their lives for our country. May 29 at 9 pm GREAT PERFORMANCES: Boston Symphony Orchestra–Andris Nelsons Inaugural Concert ~ This one-night-only event celebrates the start of BSO music director Andris Nelsons’ tenure as the 15th music director of the orchestra and features two of the conductor’s close colleagues, the acclaimed Latvian soprano Kristine Opolais and the internationally acclaimed German tenor Jonas Kaufmann.

Begins June 21 at 9 pm POLDARK ON MASTERPIECE ~ Originally aired on MASTERPIECE in the 1970s and starred Robin Ellis as the dashing squire, Ross Poldark. With its romantic storyline and breathtaking Cornwall backdrop, Poldark became one of MASTERPIECE’s most beloved titles. In the new adaptation, Aidan Turner (The Hobbit) plays the lead, with Mr. Ellis returning in the role of Reverend Halse. Wednesdays, June 24-July 1 at 9 pm FIRST PEOPLES ~ See how the mixing of prehistoric human genes led the way for our species to survive and thrive around the globe. Archaeology, genetics and anthropology cast new light on 200,000 years of history, detailing how early humans became dominant.

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| MAY~JUNE 2015

You know a podcast has made it big when the show and its creators get the Saturday Night Live treatment. Put faces to the voices heard on the most popular podcast in the world when Sarah Koenig and Julie Snyder come to the Filene Center at Wolf Trap for An Evening with the Creators of Serial. They’ll share their thoughts on modern journalism and, of course, their wildly successful This American Life spinoff. The program will include a lecture with an audio-visual component and a Q&A session. Just don't ask them how to pronounce Mail Chimp.




JUNE 13 TELLING TALL SAILS, Cape Charles Cutters, sloops and schooners pull into port for the fourth annual Tall Ships at Cape Charles Festival. Get up close to the kind of pine decks and gaff rigs that would have been manned by the pirates and sailors of yore during deck tours, and also enjoy day and sunset sails. Among the participating ships is Hindu, which was designed by the prolific William H. Hand Jr. and built in 1925. Plus, face painting, carriage rides, live music and plenty of food, as well as pirate tours for all the wannabe Jack Sparrows.

MAY 23 I BEG YOUR PARDON… Prince William



Stumbling across records by the Stanley Brothers helped inspire a teenage Gary Reid to later start his bluegrass record label, Copper Creek. Reid pays homage to the brothers with his one-man play, The Life and Times of Carter Stanley. The show looks at Stanley’s youth, his struggles with alcoholism (he died from cirrhosis of the liver at age 41) and time spent on tour, and is sure to inspire a new generation of fans.

Tennessee has Bonaroo, California has Coachella; and if the folks behind the Lava Music Festival have their say, Virginia will be next on the list of must-see festival destinations. The first annual gathering has a lineup chock full of indie all-stars, including Of Montreal, Mutemath, Kishi Bashi and headliners Fitz and the Tantrums. Rocking out can work up an appetite, so food trucks serving up festival favorites like tacos and barbeque will be standing by.

The Ben Lomond Historic Site can indeed promise you a rose garden– one of the largest, in fact, in the D.C. metro area. Sip afternoon tea and enjoy light refreshments during a talk about roses and flowers, surrounded, of course, by beautiful blossoms. The house, once a Confederate hospital, is located five miles from the Bull Run battlefield. 703-367-7872

MAY 30 IT’S A MAD, MEN WORLD Richmond The Virginia Historical Society takes a look at colonial newspaper ads, digital age advertisments and more in Before and After Mad Men: Advertising and the American Dream, an exhibit exploring how the shills “both mirrored and created” traditional American ideals. Tickets are $17, but members get a $7 discount.

MAY 16-17 SKY HIGH, Orange If you prefer a vicarious adrenaline rush, the Virginia Formation Skydiving Festival at Skydive Orange will oblige. Pros from around the Virginia-D.C.-Maryland area will demonstrate tandem and freefall formation skydiving. If you want to do some freefalling of your own, check out their skydiving school. The doors open at 8 a.m. and the jumping commences at 10 a.m. The festival is free, but keep tabs on the forecast: everything is weather dependent.

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For one weekend in June, Norfolk and New Orleans will have much more in common than just humidity. The Bayou Boogaloo & Cajun Food Festival brings jambalaya, muffuletta, andouille sausages and beignets to Tidewater. At the Art Market of New Orleans, artists from a variety of mediums will exhibit their wares, and live music will be played on two stages. Held right on the waterfront in Town Point Park, the first day is free and open to the public from noon to 4 p.m., but you’ll need tickets to make a full weekend of it.



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E.A. CLORE SONS has been a family-owned furniture manufacturer since 1830. Specializing in solid hardwoods of walnut, cherry, mahogany and oak, we handcraft heirloom furniture using traditional methods of joinery, like mortise and tenon joints and dovetail corners. Our line has something for almost every room in your home, but we offer custom work as well. We also offer American-made upholstery by Norwalk Furniture, Tempur-Pedic mattresses and Simon Pearce. Delivery available. 303 Clore Place, Madison, Virginia • 540-948-5821 • • Follow us on Facebook!

BREMO AUCTIONS FINE & DECORATIVE ARTS AUCTION • SATURDAY, MAY 16, 2015 AT 10:00AM EDT • Preview: Wednesday, May 13 & Thursday, May 14: 10am–5pm; Friday, May 15: 10am–6:30pm View auction with multiple photographs or bid online at Accepting quality consignments for future auctions by appointment 320 Pantops Ctr., Charlottesville, VA 22911 • 434-293-1267 • BremoAuctions.comz

GOOD LUCK CELLARS Born from the barren landscape of a sand and gravel mine, Good Luck Cellars has become a flourishing vineyard and an award-winning estate winery. Over the past three years, the winery has become one of the area's premier destinations for special occasions such as weddings, anniversaries, and community events. We are thrilled to be a part of Virginia's growing wine industry. Thank you, Virginia Living magazine readers for voting us the "Best of Virginia" Eastern Wineries! 1025 Goodluck Rd, Kilmarnock, VA 22482 • 804-435-1416 •

EDGAR CAYCE'S A.R.E. HEALTH CENTER & SPA Fall in love with the beautifully renovated historic Cayce Hospital building, where visitors from around the neighborhood and the world enjoy spa packages, the signature Cayce/Reilly® massage, facials, chiropractic services, colon hydrotherapy, acupressure, hypnotherapy, breathwork, cedar cabinet streams and more, with rooms that overlook the ocean and stone labyrinth. Now Leaping Lizard Café here serves healthful, delicious lunches and snacks! Services information and online booking are at or call the spa at 757-457-7202. 215 67th St., Virginia Beach, VA 23451 • 757-457-7202 •

BAY SCHOOL COMMUNITY ARTS CENTER Located in rural Mathews, on the Middle Penninsula of the Chesapeake Bay, the Bay School is hosting its third annual statewide Art Speaks on the Bay Juried Art Show through May 30. The exhibition, held in the school's Art Speaks Gallery, features 83 works of art by 74 Virginia artists in nearly 20 different artistic media. The exposition of artistry and the entire class catalog are also available online. 279 Main Street, Mathews, VA 23109 • 804-725-1278 •

OLDE VIRGINIA MOULDING & MILLWORK This family owned mill shop has been in operation since 1997. We specialize in working directly with our customers to bring their vision to reality. We cut our own knives on site, which enables us to reproduce molding, millwork and siding exactly. We also process reclaimed heart pine into flooring, countertops, mantels and furniture. Located in historic Franklin, Virginia, a Virginia Main Street community, your patronage supports both US/Virginia grown and manufactured products. 100 West Jackson Street, Franklin, VA 23851 • 757-516-9055 • S P EC I A L A DV E RT I S I N G S ECT I O N

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Virginia’s new poet laureate, Ron Smith, on saving poetry. — B Y E L L E N F. B R O W N —

photo by kc johnson


n 1967, ron smith received offers

for two college football scholarships—one from the Citadel, not far from his home in Garden City, Georgia, and the other from the University of Richmond. Eager to explore the cultural opportunities in the upper South, he chose Richmond, home of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and what was then known as the Edgar Allan Poe Shrine, a museum honoring Smith’s favorite poet. Almost five decades later, Smith, 66, and his wife Delores, a fellow Georgian, consider Richmond home. It’s where they raised their son and where Smith has made a name for himself as a major player on the Virginia literary scene. Last June, Gov. McAuliffe named Smith Virginia’s 17th poet laureate—an honorary position that makes him the Commonwealth’s ambassador to the world for literary arts. Smith succeeds acclaimed poets, including Pulitzer Prize winners Claudia Emerson and Rita Dove, and assumes a mission that some think is

nothing short of radical: He wants Virginians to experience poetry as an essential and joyful part of their everyday lives. If anybody is qualified to take on such a challenge, it’s Smith. After double-majoring in philosophy and English while playing offensive guard for the Spiders—who won the Tangerine Bowl his sophomore year—he accepted a job teaching English at St. Christopher’s School in Richmond. He then earned master’s degrees in humanities and creative writing from UR and Virginia Commonwealth University, respectively, and published three volumes of poetry, including Its Ghostly Workshop, widely praised for its refreshing accessibility and deft ruminations on subjects ranging from football to travel. In the collection’s title poem, the speaker offers wisdom to his grandson: “Don’t wield too long nor grip too hard / what you take for truth. Be always prepared / to let it go. Let it go.” In 2005, Smith won the Carole Weinstein Prize JUNE 2015

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in Poetry, presented each year at the Library of Virginia’s Literary Awards Celebration. A fourth book, The Humility of Brutes, is forthcoming. Not that Smith, whose distinguished gray hair adds gravitas to the athlete’s sturdy frame, is resting on his laurels. He remains on the faculty at St. Christopher’s and has also taught at the University of Mary Washington, VCU and UR. He knows firsthand what a transformative experience interacting with literature can be. “I loved ‘reading’ before I could read,” he recalls. As a little boy, he would get upset with his mother for not always giving in to his demands for “one more” bedtime story. On one fraught occasion, he says he advised her, “I can’t wait till I learn to read, then I won’t need you.” Encountering Poe’s work in middle school elevated that affinity to a spiritual level. “Reading Virginia poet laureate Ron Smith at home in Richmond.


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P ROFILE Smith representing the Commonwealth in Rome, Italy.

that there are better things to do with their time. In other countries, poetry comes first and is the most highly respected literary form. In Russia, if the subject of poetry comes up, people sit up straight; you can feel the respect in the room. In Italy, the streets are named after poets. We are the anomaly and that bothers me. Most Americans don’t have a clue how much more joyful and satisfying life would be if they read and even wrote poetry. THE SOLUTION TO saving poetry is teaching it well. Let kids experiment with language. Show them how to get the most out of it. Small children have no trouble appreciating poetry. There is something deeply satisfying about playing with words, and kids get that. But that talent becomes dormant as we grow up and are forced to focus on other things. TOO MANY PEOPLE approach poetry like it’s a math

problem to be solved. They say, ‘I don’t get it’ and get mad and give up. They don’t realize that appreciating poetry requires patience and an open mind. My favorite poem is “The Emperor of Ice Cream” by Wallace Stevens. The first time I read it, it blew me away. I knew something important was going on, but didn’t know what it was. It took me years to figure out that he was talking about death as the mother of all parties.

APPROACH POETRY THE way you do music. The first time through, does anything—any part of it— intrigue you? If so, go back and read it again. See what strikes you this time. Keep going back, just as you would with a song that catches your ear. We have no problem liking songs that we don’t understand right away. Take that same attitude with poetry. Even if you don’t have a clue what’s going on, you can still love the sound, or maybe a character, or just a line. Sometimes a poem is pure fun, and that’s great too. POETRY HAS LONG BEEN an important part of Vir-

photo by dolores smith

“It’s not about showing off to baffle the reader. If you come across a poem that’s too hard or doesn’t do anything for you, skip it and find another one you like better.” ‘The Raven’ for the first time made me dizzy,” Smith says. “I remember thinking, What is this doing to me?” He loved how Poe’s words affected him, and wants all Virginians to feel that same thrill. As poet laureate, he’s getting the word out by speaking at events across the state. He realizes that he faces a challenge since many people are nervous about poetry. “Are some poems impossibly dense? Sure,” says Smith, “but not the best ones. Great literature is human. It’s not about showing off to baffle the reader. If you come across a poem that’s too hard or doesn’t do anything for you, skip it and find another one you like better.”

Smith’s role as poet laureate includes celebrating the Commonwealth’s poets. “Virginia is rich in poets, poets who deserve much more recognition and more readers than they currently have.” He has been singing their praises locally and at events around the country and internationally, including in Ireland and Italy. He sat down with us recently to share his thoughts about preserving poetry for the next generation. THE STATE OF POETRY in America is not good. Too

many of our kids no longer memorize poetry or write poetry on their own. Our culture suggests VIRGINIA LIVING

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ginia culture. The Founding Fathers all wrote poetry as boys. Thomas Jefferson wasn’t especially poetic, but just look at the Declaration of Independence. If the beginning and end of that document aren’t American poetry, we don’t have any American poetry. And then there’s Poe. He’s very much a Virginian, despite what other states like to claim.

VIRGINIA IS FERTILE GROUND for poetic inspiration.

Herman Melville and Walt Whitman wrote fine poems set in Virginia during the Civil War and there are some wonderful contemporary poems by Dave Smith and Claudia Emerson set in Virginia.

I’M WORKING ON A NUMBER of poems dealing with Virginia geography, geology and history. One entitled “Mr. Jefferson Speaks of Rapture” was inspired by Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia, an extremely unpoetic book, but which contains an astounding passage about Natural Bridge. This new, sort of hyperventilated Romantic Jefferson intrigued me. MY FAVORITE EXPERIENCE as poet laureate was when I was in Ireland, they loved introducing me as ‘the poet laureate of Virginia.’ They did so every chance they got. The Irish love of poetry is, of course, legendary. ❉

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has always been at the heart of Willow Valley Communities’ success.

With the opening of The Clubhouse, Willow Valley breaks through convention to create something that once again helps redefine senior living. Every amenity in this 30,000-square-foot building illustrates the spirit of “agelessness” that guides the philosophy of development at Willow Valley. The building is also a reflection of our organization’s commitment to intergenerational engagement. The Clubhouse opens a new world of possibilities for those who live at Willow Valley and creates a spirit of vibrancy compelling to people of all ages.

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Life Lived Forward

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Otherworldly. Spiritual. Divine. While this could describe our city’s prolific psychic, it positively foretells your culinary experience in Virginia Beach. Visit our coastal city where you’ll discover a dynamic dining scene boasting visionary restaurants and inspired chefs. Enjoy dishes created with ingredients harvested fresh from our waters, farms and fields — that are anything but predictable. Come for a visit. Explore our food culture. We see great meals in your future.

Dine in Virginia Beach


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Left: The entrance to Airlie welcomes guests; above: lampposts throughout the grounds maintain the center’s historic feel.

Behind Closed Doors Airlie, once a private sanctuary for politicos and policymakers near Warrenton, opens to the public. —BY WHITNEY PIPKIN—

photography by whitney pipkin


hen an unexpected

snowstorm caused a couple to pull off the highway just north of Warrenton one Saturday night in February, they followed the signs to Airlie. A couple of years ago, they wouldn’t have made it up the driveway of the sprawling retreat center, past the signs warning “private property” and “registered guests only.” Says Kevin Carter, Airlie’s general manager, “Now, we have a sign that says, ‘Welcome.’” The couple ended up having dinner, staying the night—and then staying another night. And snowstorms are just one of the ways visitors are rediscovering Airlie since the 55-year-old conference center began welcoming the general public just over a year ago. After functioning for decades as a meeting space and private refuge for Washington’s prominent

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funds transfer service SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications). For longtime Airlie regular Elise Yanker, the opportunity to share with friends and family the place she considered a second home for years couldn’t come soon enough. An Arlington-based leadership consultant, Yanker, 52, spent her weekdays at Airlie for four years starting in 2009 while conducting an executive training program at the center. “I’ve stayed in all but one building,” Yanker says with a chuckle. “I have my favorites.” She has driven the 45-minute route from home hundreds of times and says she still feels like “everything slows down” when she nears Airlie. “It has the feel of being two or three hours away in the country, but it’s not,” she says. Since Yanker’s first meeting there six years ago, she has seen Airlie

policymakers (several presidents have visited), Airlie is recasting itself as a getaway for anyone and any occasion. That means residents of nearby Warrenton—for whom Airlie was a mysterious neighbor, if they knew it existed at all—can now stop by for weeknight snacks in the pub or a seven-course wine dinner on the weekend. “I have countless interactions with people who had no idea we were here. They live within a mile,” says Carter, who also lives nearby. He’d also been hearing for years from business customers of Airlie who, after spending their non-conference hours wandering through gardens or fishing the pond on the property’s 1,200 undulating acres, wished they could bring their families out for the weekend. Over the years, those clients have included government contractors like Lockheed Martin and the international


expand its reach beyond the business clientele that sustained it for decades to welcome new audiences. She has since come to appreciate the other side of Airlie, too, bringing her husband out for dinners and attending a flower-arranging workshop. Yanker is even considering Airlie’s outdoor pavilion for her daughter’s upcoming wedding. “It’s not some cookie-cutter hotel chain. They’ve got history,” she explains, adding that the same factors made doing work at Airlie feel a little less like work: “It has a very immediate impact on peoples’ stress levels.” And that’s by design. The property in Fauquier County was a working farm when Dr. Murdock Head purchased it in 1956. Head was “very much a renaissance man,” says Carter, educated as a lawyer, dentist, professor and medical doctor; he also taught medicine for 26 years at George Washington University. Head spent his share of time in Washington and saw in Airlie a place to escape the political landscape for a more natural one. He thought the people solving the world’s most vexing problems— whether heads of state or cancer researchers—might benefit from a little fresh air. Head spent four years transforming the farm into a place where people could have dialogue and think without the noise of the beltway interfering or the mind-


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Above: A meeting of the U.S. Postal Service in the 1960s; right: the Groom’s Cottage, now a guest room; below: menu from a wine dinner.

tic Treaty Organization (NATO) in the late ’60s. In 1962, the NAACP held its first annual Civil Rights Conference at Airlie, the only space south of the MasonDixon line that would host an integrated gathering at the time. Later in the 1960s, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. met with other civil rights leaders at the center before planning protests in the nation’s capital. In the early ’90s, Airlie served as home base for Dr. Bill Sladen’s research into the migration patterns of trumpeter swans and Canadian geese, as featured in the popular late-’90s movie Fly Away Home. Head also ran a documentary film company, Airlie

of congressmen to obtain lucrative contracts for the conference center, according to his obituary in The New York Times. After being released from prison, he returned to work at the Airlie Foundation (his licenses to practice medicine and law were reinstated). Head died of brain cancer in 1994 at his home in Warrenton. Behind the nonprofits that have hosted many of the conferences at Airlie, the federal government has remained a close second as the center’s biggest customer. So, in recent

Instead of taking an elevator from the main conference room, Head envisioned guests taking a stroll along winding pathways back to their rooms, passing ponds, gardens and wildlife. lenge for the Minds of Men,” which focused on America’s religious heritage, took place a year later. A couple of years after opening, LIFE magazine deemed the Airlie Conference Center “an island of thought,” and Head one of the 100 most important men and women in the U.S. “Over the years, it really was a place for Washington to get away and get things done,” Carter says. Despite—or perhaps because of—its peaceful setting, plenty has been accomplished at Airlie. Airlie hosted the first group of White House fellows, a prestigious program for leadership and public service, in the mid-’60s, and meetings of the American College of Surgeons and the North Atlan-



years when government shutdowns and budget cuts left agencies with smaller, if any, budgets for resortbased meetings and retreats, Airlie’s business took an overnight hit. Opening the doors to a larger audience was something Carter, who has a background in the luxury hospitality industry, had a growing desire to do since becoming the center’s director nearly 15 years ago. Then the change became a financial necessity. Airlie started the transition in early 2014, booking individual guests on weekends and then opening up its 150 guest rooms on weeknights as well. If anything has prepared Airlie to compete with other northern Virginia luxury weekend

Productions, out of the center and received more than 20 Emmy Awards over two decades of work in the industry. Airlie’s pastoral setting provided an idyllic backdrop to environmental discussions as well, a particular focus for Head and many of the groups that met there. The initial concept for Earth Day, in fact, was born during a meeting on the grounds in 1969. In 1963, Head established the Airlie Foundation and sold the property to the new entity, remaining at its helm. His success was overshadowed, however, when Head was convicted and spent about a year in prison in 1983 and 1984 for conspiring to bribe a pair


destinations, it’s the food. Airlie’s culinary director Jeff Witte and executive chef Jeremy Anderson are passionate advocates for local farmers and have taken advantage of the center’s farmbelt location, near top wineries and orchards, to source more than 90 percent of Airlie’s food locally. Airlie launched its own food garden on the grounds 17 years ago that is now the four-acre backdrop to local gardening classes and a bucolic setting for outdoor wine dinners. Trey Austin, a realtor and lifelong resident of Warrenton, eats regularly at Airlie’s Whistling Swan Pub and upscale Garden Bistro. Austin also has attended several of Airlie’s wine dinners, and he joined a group of 10 couples for a “staycation” at Airlie last Valentine’s Day. “We have dinner, stay the night in one of the rooms, have breakfast the next morning and then are home in 15 minutes to our kids,” he says. “For locals, it’s a real treat.” ❉

top left photo courtesy of airlie foundation archives

numbing monotony of a typical hotel conference room. During extensive renovations, the stately farmhouse became a conference center that now comprises more than a dozen meeting rooms, many overlooking the grounds, with a main space that can hold up to 200. Barns and a towering silo were transformed into rustic guestrooms. Instead of taking an elevator from the main conference room, Head envisioned guests taking a stroll along winding pathways back to their rooms, passing ponds, gardens and wildlife. And the vision seemed to work. Airlie’s doors opened in 1960 and its first conference, “The Chal-

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A grouping of early spring flowers, including pink and white tree peonies from 60-yearold plants at Pharsalia.

Peony Party The showy flower flourishes at Pharsalia, a 200-year-old Nelson County estate. — B Y K AT H L E E N T O L E R —

photography by jody morgan


f the profusion of may blooms,

peonies reign supreme, with what garden writer Henry Mitchell once called “a rare fusion of fluff and majesty.” For Foxie Morgan, her passion for peonies—she grows more than 1,000—is beyond a mere affinity for the fragrant blossoms of delicate petals that flutter with the drama and romance of a ball gown. These surprisingly hardy, long-lived perennials play a significant role in sustaining Pharsalia, her fifth-generation family estate in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Nelson County. For more than 20 years, Morgan and her peonies have been a fixture at farmers’ markets from Charlottesville to Lynchburg, and she is known as much for selling a wide variety of fresh-cut blossoms from her flower farm at Pharsalia—daffodils, lilacs, hydrangeas, dahlias and sunflowers among them—as she is for her warm and vibrant personality. “How can you give flowers to someone and not make them happy?” asks the amiable 63-year-old grandmother of four. “It’s a happy business.” This May, Morgan will host peony-arranging workshops at Pharsalia in which participants

will gather peonies from the grounds, ranging from the common white, pink and magenta hues to the more unusual coral, red and yellow varieties, some with multiple colors within one bloom. Peonies vary widely from the ruffled pom-poms of bomb doubles to singles with a splashy, central crown of golden stamens, with many hybrid variations in between. Most peonies are herbaceous, with bushy, deep green foliage that dies down to the root in winter; the woody stems of tree peonies remain visible year-round. Among Morgan’s favorites are dramatic Itoh peonies, a Japanese hybrid of herbaceous and tree peonies. Despite their glamour, Morgan says, “Peonies are very forgiving. They just do their thing and come back every year.” She advises choosing their location in the garden wisely since peonies can take several years to become established or recover from transplanting. Peonies thrive in full sun and well-drained soil with organic matter. “The biggest mistake most people make is that they plant them too deep,” she explains. “The top buds or ‘eyes’ on the root should be no more than an inch below the ground.” JUNE 2015

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Although fertilizing isn’t mandatory, Morgan applies an organic fertilizer around the drip line of the peony plant in January or February and again in July. Planting and transplanting should be done in early fall with care to avoid damaging the thick roots. After the dark green foliage turns brown in late fall, Morgan cuts the bushy perennials to the ground, burning the patch to eradicate weed seeds and disease. While burning may not be practical for most home growers, diseased foliage must be removed from the garden. Fungus, particularly botrytis, can develop due to excessive moisture and lack of airflow among leaves. If necessary, treat with a fungicide in early spring. Morgan relies upon birds instead of pesticides to keep insects at bay. Ants can often be found crawling on peonies, but they are only ingesting nectar in exchange for guarding the plant from harmful insects. To avoid bringing ants inside, cut the blooms before they fully open when it’s easy to brush them away. When cutting, Morgan recommends that everything—clippers, buckets and vases— be cleaned with soap and water to eliminate


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A raspberry ice peony. Right: Foxie Morgan; below: yellow Itoh hybrid garden treasure peonies.

bacteria. After removing the lower leaves, cut stems under cold water, refrigerating for at least four or five hours to remove any heat. Recut stems, place into water mixed with flower food, keep the vase out of direct sunlight and change the water regularly. Because they are in popular demand for weddings, Morgan employs a special method of holding double peonies, which maintain their shape best, for up to two months. When the round buds begin to show color and feel soft “like a marshmallow” when squeezed, she cuts them and strips all but the topmost leaves. Instead of storing them in water, she stacks them—dry—on shelves in her walk-in cooler. (The same technique can be accomplished in a refrigerator.) When you’re ready to use the peonies, she says, “You recut them, put them in warm water and they come back to life.” In addition to flower farming, Morgan runs another happy business: Pharsalia has been a wedding venue since 2007. Most of the brides who wed at Pharsalia choose to use Morgan’s flowers. She often arranges the flowers herself or helps the bridal party make their own bouquets and boutonnières. The peonies she grows in abundance are among the most popular of all

wedding flowers, particularly the double palepink and creamy varieties. Pharsalia is, indeed, a storybook setting for weddings. Couples usually choose to marry on the lawn in front of the white, Federalstyle house with DePriest Mountain, the highest peak in Nelson County, presiding in the background. Perched in the foothills and surrounded by family-run vineyards and orchards, Pharsalia commands a view of the Tye River valley below. Built in 1814, Pharsalia was a wedding gift for Morgan’s great-great-grandfather, William Massie, from his father, Major Thomas Massie, a distinguished Revolutionary War veteran. (The estate was named for “Pharsalia,” an epic poem by the Roman poet Lucan about the Battle of Pharsalus in northern Greece between Julius Caesar and Pompey the Great.) An enterprising, experimental farmer, William Massie grew Pharsalia into a successful, 10,000-acre plantation yielding wheat, hops,

The peonies that Morgan has planted will bloom for her children and grandchildren to enjoy. tobacco, apples and smoked hams. Remarkably, many of the original outbuildings, including barns, an ice house, a smokehouse, a kitchen, laundry and slave quarters are still in use today, albeit for different purposes, and give the estate a character worthy of its place on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register. Although William Massie’s first three wives died from illness, his fourth wife, Maria, survived him. She struggled to keep Pharsalia running despite the loss of her husband, money and slaves during the Civil War. Pharsalia was sold after her death in 1889. Morgan’s parents—with the help of her grandparents (her maternal grandmother was a descendant of William Massie)—fulfilled a dream to bring Pharsalia back into the family shortly after she was born in 1951. One of five children, Morgan lived in Lynchburg where her VIRGINIA LIVING

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father was an optician, but spent weekends and summers working on the farm, gardening alongside her mother. “It took everything they had to keep it going,” says Morgan, who married her husband, Richard, at Pharsalia in 1974 and raised their three children there, now grown. “I’m just the caretaker for this period of time.” The Morgans, with some family and hired help, work to maintain Pharsalia and make it a self-sustaining operation. In addition to weddings and the flower farm, Morgan manages an exhaustive list of events: farm-to-table dinners, private parties, cooking classes and gardenrelated workshops. An active member of the


Lynchburg Garden Club, Morgan often supplies flowers for the Garden Club of Virginia’s Historic Garden Week tours and hosted the organization’s annual Horticulture Field Day last May. Peonies that Morgan’s mother planted 50 years ago are among the oldest perennials at Pharsalia (some peonies have been known to live as long as 100 years). The peonies that Morgan has planted will bloom for her children and grandchildren to enjoy and perhaps will continue to fill the bouquets of brides at Pharsalia for decades to come. “We feel like Pharsalia is a real secret treasure,” says Morgan. “The flower business helps us tell the world that you need to come here to see the history and enjoy it.” ❉ For information about Morgan’s upcoming peony workshops at Pharsalia, go to

JUNE 2015

4/20/15 2:44 PM

HOME & G A R DEN Cast Iron Fire Pits & Fountains

Architectural, Commercial & Industrial Salvage

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on the


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Millionaire shortbread, chocolate truffles, cardamom shortbread, candied grapefruit peel. Facing page: citrus curd tart, white peony tea.





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The venerable tradition is sporting a new, modern edge with inventive fare and the broader inclusion of spirits. Redefining the classic afternoon ritual.

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Let’s get this out of the way: Do not use the term “high tea.” You might as well be waving stars and bars and whistling “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” “High” doesn’t refer to those things regal or upper crust, or even the formality of the occasion. Historically, it was a meal served on high tables. So stow the lace hanky. Like most Americans, I have long regarded afternoon tea as a ladylike, pinkiesup affair, with dainty finger sandwiches and scones with jams and clotted cream. My typically American perception of the thoroughly British tradition (fed by Evelyn Waugh novels and Downton Abbey) was that it is as much ritual as respite; a moment to catch a breath, review the day and fortify for a formal evening and late dinner. Indeed, the British wrote the book on afternoon tea. But the stiff upper lip isn’t quite as stiff when it comes to afternoon tea. And the shift to a more relaxed version has been noted in Britain, where institutions both tony and venerable, like Dean Street Townhouse and The May Fair in London, have dubbed this new demi-repast “modern afternoon tea.” Whereas what one wore and what one brought to a conversation were once the primary variables (and values), the contemporary afternoon respite is now focused more on fare than fancy. No longer hemmed in by tradition (even the 4 o’clock VIRGINIA LIVING

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start time is more a suggestion than a guideline; teatime is anytime you need to refresh and replenish), tea options range from the expected Earl Grey and English Breakfast to heady brews with additives like lemon rind and jasmine petals. And when it comes to food, modern afternoon tea punctures that British reserve with edgy, inventive fare. Like British aristocracy, teatime anchors like shortbread and lemon curd typically don’t call attention to themselves. But infused with herbs or spices, shortbread becomes a zingy alternative to the standard. And where once cucumberand-cream cheese petit sandwiches were a mainstay of teatime savories, they’ve been replaced by daring bites, like candied grapefruit peel, Millionaire shortbread, and smoked salmon with yuzu mayonnaise. Best of all (and I’m sure Americans will be blamed), teatime etiquette is less starched—the effect, we suspect, of the inclusion of alcohol. (Why sip sherry when you can have Champagne or a cocktail?) While the boundaries of traditional teatime have relaxed, certain conventions are still to be observed (do not squeeze your teabag; yes, I said it: teabag). But a little loosening of the rules makes modern afternoon tea more interesting, more casual. And, frankly, more fun. JUNE 2015

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OOLONG TEA: Also known as Wu Long, it is full bodied with a slightly sweet aroma, and created by withering the leaves with strong sun and oxidation. Recommendation: PEACH OOLONG EARTH & TEA CAFÉ, HARRISONBURG EARTHANDTEACAFE.COM


black te


BLACK TEA: A stronger, more complex, fuller flavor, with more caffeine. The most common tea, it is made by withering the leaves in the sun, then fermenting them. Recommendation: SPECIAL BLEND BLACK OATLANDS HISTORIC HOUSE AND GARDENS, LEESBURG OATLANDS.ORG

a & ja green te


GREEN TEA: Carries healing properties for a broad range of ailments from cardiovascular disease to obesity, and is often scented with flowers and flavored with fruits. Recommendation: MOROCCAN MINT TWISTED BRANCH TEA BAZAAR, CHARLOTTESVILLE TEABAZAAR.COM

white peo


WHITE TEA: The least processed tea, it is made by steaming the buds and the youngest leaves of the plant. Naturally sweet, light in color and flavor, with little caffeine. Recommendation:

Tenderloin on pumpernickel, smoked salmon on cucumber, caramelized onion and tomato croutons. Drinks: basil-cucumber gimlet and kir royale.


TISANES: Taste and enjoy, but don’t be fooled. Sometimes referred to as herbal tea, a tisane is infused with dried flowers, herbs, roots or spices. But it is technically not tea because it does not come from the Camellia sinensis plant, which is common to all teas. Recommendation: BLOOMING MINT ATHENA’S INFUSIONS, PHILOMONT ATHENASINFUSIONS.COM

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Blueberry lemon ginger scones, green tea with jasmine flowers.

SMOKED SALMON ON CUCUMBER ROUNDS WITH YUZU MAYONNAISE 1 cucumber 1 package smoked salmon Yuzu mayonnaise (available at Asian markets) Slice the cucumber to desired thickness. Cover each piece with a layer of mayonnaise. Top with small piece of salmon and garnish with any herb of your choice. Serves 4

TENDERLOIN ON PUMPERNICKEL WITH HORSERADISH SAUCE For the horseradish sauce: ½ cup sour cream 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish ½ teaspoon white vinegar ¼ teaspoon salt fresh ground black pepper Mix all ingredients and refrigerate for several hours. For the tenderloin on pumpernickel: 1 6- to 8-ounce beef tenderloin salt and pepper 1 package cocktail-sized pumpernickel slices Sear filet in a hot pan for 2-3 minutes on each side. Cool. Spread bread with horseradish sauce. Top each with a slice of tenderloin. Serves 8

CARAMELIZED ONION & TOMATO CROUTONS 1 large onion 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes 4 tablespoons olive oil 1 sprig thyme 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar salt, pepper and sugar to taste white bread Slice onion thinly. Sauté with thyme over mediumhigh heat in 2 tablespoons olive oil, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to very low and cook the onion until deeply caramelized, 45 minutes to an hour. Season with vinegar, salt and pepper. Cut tomatoes in half and remove seeds. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a small pot and cook tomatoes over low heat until very dry. Season with salt, pepper and sugar to taste. Using a round cutter, cut croutons from your favorite white bread and fry in 1 tablespoon olive oil until golden. To assemble, layer croutons first with onion and top with tomatoes. Serves 8

COCONUT MACAROONS 2/3 cup all purpose flour 5 ½ cups flaked coconut ¼ teaspoon salt 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk 2 teaspoons vanilla extract Line baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, stir flour, coconut and salt. Stir in condensed milk and vanilla extract. Using an ice cream scoop, drop golf ball-sized mounds onto parchment. Cook 15 minutes at 350 degrees until toasted. Makes 50


Macarons and coconut macaroons.

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2 cup confectioners sugar ¾ cup almond flour 2 large egg whites pinch of cream of tartar ¼ cup superfine sugar food coloring of choice

For the shortbread: 2 sticks butter, cut into small pieces 2 cups all-purpose flour 2/3 cup sugar ½ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pulse sugar and flour in food processor until combined. Sift twice. Whisk egg whites in mixer at medium speed until foamy. Add tartar and whisk until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to low and add sugar. Increase speed to high and whisk until stiff peaks form. Add food coloring. Once meringues are the desired color, add slightly more food coloring (they lighten when cooked). Sift flour over whites and fold in until smooth. Fill a pastry bag (with a 1/2-inch plain tip) with mixture and pipe 3/4–inch rounds spaced an inch apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. Tap sheet on counter several times to release air. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake, rotating halfway through, until firm, about 10 minutes. Let cool on pan 2-3 minutes. Transfer rounds to wire racks. Use filling of choice (buttercream, Nutella, jam) between equal size macarons.

Grease two 8-inch pans and dust with flour, tapping out excess. Place flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse once. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles peas. Press into pans and bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees until golden around the edges. Cool completely. For the caramel layer: 2 14-ounce cans sweetened condensed milk 2 tablespoons butter In a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, slowly combine milk and butter. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Continue stirring over heat until mixture becomes amber in color, about 15 minutes. Pour over the shortbread and smooth with a spatula. Cool to room temperature.

Makes 15-18 cookies


Makes 2 dozen

With a hand mixer or in a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar for 5 minutes. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each. In another bowl, whisk together flour, cardamom and salt. Reduce speed of mixer and add flour a little at a time to butter and sugar until well blended. Scrape dough from bowl and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly flour work surface to knead the dough until pliable. With a floured rolling pin, roll dough to 1/8-inch thick and 12 inches long. Cut into desired shapes. Lay on ungreased baking sheet and prick several times with a fork. Bake about 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Makes 2 dozen biscuits

CITRUS CURD TART For the curd: 5 egg yolks ½ cup sugar juice of 1 each lime and lemon lime zest ¼ cup sweet butter In a double boiler, cream yolks and sugar. Add juice and zest. Cook until thickened, stirring constantly, about 15 minutes. Slowly whisk in butter 1 tablespoon at a time. For the tart shells: 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour ½ cup cold unsalted butter 1/3 cup sugar ¼ teaspoon salt

BLUEBERRY LEMON GINGER SCONES 1 ¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour 3 tablespoons brown sugar 2 teaspoons baking powder ¼ teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons lemon zest 6 tablespoons cold butter ½ cup crystallized ginger, diced ½ cup fresh blueberries ½ teaspoon lemon extract 1 tablespoon lemon juice 3-4 tablespoons milk sugar to top

Cut peel from grapefruits and slice into ½-inch strips, leaving white pith attached. Place in small saucepan, and add enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, then drain. Repeat the process two more times. Add sugar and ½ cup water to saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes until peel is translucent. Drain. Transfer peels to a wire rack and dry 2-4 hours. Sprinkle liberally on all sides with sugar.

CUCUMBER, BASIL & LIME GIMLET 1 basil leaf 2 slices cucumber 2 ounces vodka 1 ounce lemonade 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice Muddle the basil with 1 slice cucumber in a highball glass. Add remaining ingredients. Fill with ice. Stir, strain and garnish with cucumber or lime. Makes 1

KIR ROYALE 3 ounces sparkling wine or dry white wine 1 ounce crème de cassis Pour cassis into a flute. Slowly add wine. No need to stir. Makes 1

In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and zest. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter until coarse crumbs form. Stir in ginger and blueberries. Add extract and lemon juice. Add milk 1 tablespoon at a time until dough comes together. Roll or pat into a circle ¾-inch thick and cut into 8 triangles. Place on parchment paper. Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 12-15 minutes, until brown. Makes 6-8 scones

CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES ¼ cup granulated sugar 1 cup heavy cream ¼ cup salted butter 1 ¼ pound semisweet chocolate, chopped Bring sugar and cream to a boil in a saucepan. Stir in butter. Stir in one pound chocolate. Refrigerate until firm. Roll into balls of desired size. Melt remaining ¼ pound chocolate and roll truffles in it to finish. If desired, roll in ground almonds or coconut. Makes approximately 2 cups

TEA ROOMS TO TRY Mix modern sensibilities with traditional afternoon tea. THE BLUE WILLOW TEA ROOM Petersburg



Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Pulse flour, butter, sugar and salt until moist crumbs form. Roll out dough to ¼ -inch thickness and separate into 1 ½-inch balls. Form into 4-inch shells and place on parchment.


Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Using a fork, prick each 2 or 3 times, depending on size. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Cool completely. Fill each with citrus curd.


Makes 3-4 tarts



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2 grapefruits 1 cup sugar, plus enough for tossing

Makes 2 cups

For the chocolate layer: ¾ pound good quality milk chocolate In a double boiler, melt the chocolate, then pour it over caramel layer. Cool for 10 minutes, then refrigerate. Remove before chocolate hardens completely. Cut to desired size.

1 1/3 cups butter, room temperature 1/3 cup sugar 3 egg yolks 1 teaspoon vanilla 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted 2 teaspoons ground cardamom ½ teaspoon salt





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Van Gogh, Manet, and Matisse: The Art of the Flower is co-organized by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Dallas Museum of Art. This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. Its presentation at VMFA is generously supported by The Francena T. Harrison Foundation Trust. The Banner Exhibition program at VMFA is supported by the Julia Louise Reynolds Fund. Media Sponsors: CBS6 & Style Weekly

IMAGE: Vase with Cornflowers and Poppies (detail), 1887, Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853–1890; active in France), oil on canvas, 311/2 × 26 3/8 in. (80 × 67 cm). Triton Collection Foundation

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JUNE 2015

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Salt Life Scandinavia An adventure in Southern Norway teaches a native Virginian a thing or two about sailing with Vikings. — BY T E R RY WA R D —

A population of around 500 calls the Kvitsøy archipelago home.

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no bad weather, just bad clothing,” Norwegians will quip with a somewhat sadistic smile. “Layer on your wool and Gore-Tex and let’s go,” seems to be the national mantra, as off into their dramatic backyard fjords and mountains Norwegians venture, no matter the weather. For a Virginia girl whose prior sailing experience consisted of a few sultry summers on the Rappahannock River spent trying not to capsize my parents’ second-hand Sunfish in water approximately 85 degrees and barely up to my waist, there’s always a lot to learn when I go sailing with my Norwegian friend, Andreas B. Heide. We had made one epic crossing together on his 37-foot Jeanneau sailboat, Barba, with an all-Norwegian (plus one token American) crew two summers prior, when we sailed from the south of Norway to the Faroe Islands. But I had spent much of my time on that voyage “calling the moose,” as Norwegians cheekily refer

to seasickness (the Norwegian word for moose is the melodious “elg”). So, ready for some inshore training, I headed back to Stavanger last fall to explore the fabulous southern fjord scenery in Andreas’ and Barba’s backyard alongside a multi-national crew that included German photographer Daniel Hug and Welsh sailor Nicholas Fraser. The weather reports were forecasting rain in the fjords when we left from Stavanger late that September night (“Why not wait for morning?” was not an option), so we decided to head to some offshore islands instead. “There’s always less rain out at sea compared to the fjords,” Andreas explained, clad in his classic Norwegian fisherman’s sweater—ever the weather optimist as we made the three-hour sail west toward the Kvitsøy archipelago. The exceptionally scenic string of 365 rocky islands and islets, only four of which are inhabited, has a total population of around 500 people and can also be reached by regular public ferries from Stavanger. Smooth sailing conditions made for a pleasant crossing, and as the city lights dimmed in our wake, I felt that familiar cradle of ocean-going camaraderie replace any of the land-based woes that had been on my mind.

photos previous page, here and facing page by daniel hug


he first thing to know when setting sail with the descendants of Vikings is that they are not fair-weather sailors. For Norwegians, boat drinks and bikinis are mostly the stuff of vacations in the Canary Islands or Thailand. While Norway has more than 15,000 miles of coastline, the homegrown version of the salt life is far more hardcore. Has darkness already descended? No worries, Vikings will happily sail out from port at midnight in mid-winter. A bit chilly outside? “There’s

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photo top left by terry ward


For making fast friends, there’s no bonding vehicle quite like a sailboat and that one of a kind feeling that comes from being an island unto yourselves out at sea. So we cracked a few beers and enjoyed the ride. “We should probably turn that bucket over,” Nicholas, the Welshman, told us, explaining that overturned buckets are a symbol of bad luck on sailboats, as they resemble a capsized craft. I quickly flipped over the culprit. “And never bring a black rabbit on board,” he continued, while I wondered why anyone would. “They used to be stored live for provisions and would nibble holes in the boat’s hull,” he explained. Matches, too, should be avoided on boats, he told Andreas who, never one for superstitions, lit up a celebratory cigar to fête our sail out. The stars twinkled planetarium-style from the

sky as we sliced through the small waves, and soon enough, the Kvitsøy Lighthouse came into view. A beacon for approaching sailors since 1700, the lighthouse is the oldest in continuous use in all of Norway—the original green-hued lens glass inside dates to 1859. Andreas took Barba’s helm to guide us through the channel, a narrow eastern approach with currents made trickier to navigate by the inky darkness, as we sailed to Kvitsøy’s main settlement, Ystabøhamn, where white houses with red roofs (and the occasional green rebel) stand neatly along a quiet harbor. In the morning, a bright sun was blazing as we climbed to the top of the lighthouse—guided by the keeper—to take in the 360-degree views of surrounding sheep-dotted islands and series of boat-lined canals. “I heard another sailor call this place Norway’s JUNE 2015

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Previous page, above: Barba, a Jeanneau Sun Fast 37, dwarfed by granite cliffs in Southern Norway's 26-mile-long Lysefjord; below: Andreas dives into the water near KvitsØy. Clockwise, from above left: Daniel Hug captaining Barba; seafood, including oysters and scallops, is plentiful in Norwegian waters; the author steps out onto the “Kjerag bolt,” a glacier-deposited boulder wedged into a mountain face a full kilometer above Lysefjord; Andreas opens shellfish for a seafood feast.


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Paragliding seen from the cliffs near the Kjerag bolt in Lysefjord. Below: The Barba crew takes a break on dry land on one of the many uninhabited islands in the Kvitsøy archipelago.

Venice for all the canals and how easy it is to get here and there by small boats,” Andreas told us. But Kvitsøy is a far cry from the Italian tourism mecca. The waters are crystal clear, and the island’s trade is limited to a small grocery store, an art gallery, a museum dedicated to lobster, a simple hotel and a well-equipped harbor that welcomes sailors. The fine weather and flat seas called for some scuba diving—the sandy channels around Kvitsøy are washed with currents and nutrients, and a prime place for finding scallops—and we had all our gear onboard. I donned my thickest wet suit and followed Andreas into the 65-degree water, spotting a lobster and a crab inside rocky crevices as we descended 90 feet to the seabed. Soon enough, the telltale half-moon shapes of

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buried scallops appeared in the sand. We had hit shellfish gold! There were so many that we didn’t bother snatching up any scallops smaller than our palms, and when we surfaced a half-hour later, our mesh bag was loaded with lunch. Andreas showed me how to loosen the animal’s muscle from its shell with a flat knife and then clean out the roe and guts with the swipe of a finger, leaving just the savory nugget of white flesh behind. We seared half of the scallops with butter and garlic and ate the remainders sashimistyle, sliced thin with a side of soy and wasabi. The taste was pure North Sea goodness, as fresh as it gets. The flat-shelled North Sea oysters we’d pried off nearby rocks completed the impromptu foraged feast. The next morning we set sail back east toward the mainland and Lysefjord, Norway’s southernmost fjord of note—a 25-mile-long glacier-carved cut to the east of Stavanger where granite cliffs tower more than half a mile high over water as smooth and green-black as obsidian. Sightseeing boats, ferries and cruise ships visit the fjord from Stavanger, and you can visit here on private sailboat charters, too. But sailing with Barba let us set our own schedule and linger along the way. We sailed past Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock), a platform of an outcropping that hangs nearly 2,000 feet above the fjord and can be accessed by road (if not by sailboat)

for a hair-raising hike to its very edge. As we were looking up at the rock, the fjord’s glassy surface suddenly rippled around us with mackerel feeding at the surface, so we tossed in hand lines with small lures (fishing with live bait is illegal in Norway) and pulled up six fish at a time, over and over. Andreas used a small metal smoker loaded with birch chips and a bundle of juniper berries and branches to smoke the oily fish for a classic Norwegian lunch complemented with potatoes boiled in fjord water, chopped red onions and lashings of sour cream. Fed and content, we then motored on to the tiny hamlet of Flørli, best known as the starting point for ascending the longest wooden staircase on the planet, to moor for the night. The next morning we climbed the 4,444 steps that were once used as maintenance stairs along a water pipeline all the way to the top of the cliffs—a good hour-plus straight up—trying not to get vertigo while admiring the dizzying fjord views below us. At the top, a trail over a rocky plateau led back down to the village while detouring in and out of moss-carpeted woods and past curious shaggy sheep. There, we foraged for chanterelles and porcini mushrooms in what felt like our very own fairy forest. Later, we sailed on to the end of the fjord and the small village of Lysebotn, where we joined an international crew of base jumpers, including an American girl from California, at the local pub. They were sipping beers and steeling what didn’t look to be overly jittery nerves for the next day’s activities at Kjerag. Basejumpers come from all over the world to sheer cliffs more than 1,000 feet high at Kjerag to tempt gravity (and their parachutes) in the fjord’s exceptional setting. One young Norwegian told me he’d been in Florida until recently, cramming in as many

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Clockwise, from above left: Views of the Kvitsøy archipelago from the top of the lighthouse; sheep near the lighthouse; colorful boat houses line the canals of Kvitsøy, which locals liken to Venice.

IF YOU GO … AIR TRAVEL: Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) has six nonstop flights per week from Houston to Stavanger Airport Sola, and there are many other flights to Stavanger via Oslo from other North American hubs. TRAVEL PLANNING RESOURCES: BARBA BLOG:

photos facing page and above by terry ward

sky dives as possible so that he could finally be certified to fling himself over the edge back home. He had jumped twice that day and would be going again tomorrow, he said, and his adrenalin was so electric I felt drunk with it myself. We awoke the next day and gathered our gear for the four-hour hike to Kjerag from a drop-off point about 4.5 miles from town. Andreas and Daniel were lugging their paragliders with them on the off chance the wind would be blowing strongly enough into the fjord that they could fly back to Barba instead of schlepping it back downhill with me and Nicholas. When we reached the clifftop at Kjerag, it was all I could do to pull myself on my belly over to

the edge of the cliff to stare down at the water, far, far below. But the real daredevil (some would say stupid) act at Kjerag comes in pulling oneself out onto the “Kjerag bolt”—an oval-shaped boulder that was wedged into a crevice in the mountain during the Ice Age. “It’s a rock like any other rock and actually quite a big rock,” said Andreas, sounding all Viking before leaping out onto it gazelle-style, where he grinned for the obligatory photo op. For my part, I pulled myself, trembling, out onto the bolt (there’s a hook in the side of the mountain nearby that you can use to steady your step) then sat immediately down, trying not to JUNE 2015

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think about what my mother would say if she could see me. Daniel got the photo of me there, but my stomach still lurches just to look at it. I can’t even remember seeing the views, I was so petrified. As if that wasn’t enough adventure for our crew, the winds were blowing just right into Lysefjord, so Andreas and Daniel took a short cut back to Barba, rigging up their paragliders and hurling themselves off the cliff edge, flying all the way back to the harbor. By the time Nicholas and I arrived a few hours later, cold beers were waiting for us to toast the end of an excellent inshore adventure in one of Norway’s prettiest fjords. ❉


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Trav Vgia

Welcome to

From the waves gently crashing on the Eastern Shore, to the mountains waiting to be hiked, to the historic landmarks that saw the creation of our nation, memories are made everywhere in the Commonwealth. Whether you’re exploring by car or train, surfboard or bicycle, traveling in Virginia guarantees an unforgettable summer.


Discover 144 miles of shoreline offering waterfront cruises, delicious cuisine and world-class attractions in Norfolk. Eclectic neighborhoods throughout this vibrant, heritage port city feature local craft breweries and Virginia’s first urban winery. Check out our fun festivals this May and June: Virginia Beer Festival, Stockley Gardens Arts Festival, Greek Festival, the Virginia Arts Festival, Norfolk HarborfestŽ & the Bayou Boogaloo & Cajun Festival. Check out our festival weekend packages at



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Urbanna Virginia Historic Colonial Port Town Annual Urbanna Cup Regatta ~ May 16 ~

Arts in the Middle ~ May 30-31 ~

Original 1755 John Mitchell Map

~ Located in the Historic Factory Museum ~

Calendar of Events Online

Open for Business Year Round!


U.O.U. For outdoor enthusiasts “You Owe You” is the antidote to everyday routine. And Chesapeake is a great place to get a big dose of nature. Located in the heart of Coastal Virginia, there are miles of waterways for kayaking, canoeing, boating and fishing. Acres of woodlands to explore. Parks for camping. Trails for hiking and biking. And options galore for eating and sleeping when you need to recharge. Fill your U.O.U.—in Chesapeake. Toll free (888) 889-5551


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Trav Vgia


DISC VERY Through May 31st


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Discover celebrated historic places, diverse local cuisine, and unique shops as Lynchburg is the perfect place to stay while exploring Central Virginia!


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Trav Vgia The curtain rises on another day


How will you spend iT? Catch a performance at

BARTER THEATRE. Browse the galleries and shops

ALONG MAIN STREET. enjoy a massage at


888.489.4144 ¡

Come get lost

and find yourself

Come explore Patrick County, Virginia. Picnics at a covered bridge or along the Blue Ridge Parkway, canoe rides, traditional mountain music, artisan studios, local wineries, bed and breakfasts, camping, hiking, mountain biking, and fishing are just a few of the attractions awaiting you. There is so much to discover in Patrick County. Visit us and experience the simple life.


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Ingalls Overlook

Jumping Rocks Photography

Find Something Remarkable

The County of Bath is an enticing place filled with scenic vistas, local flair and exciting adventures just waiting to be discovered.


A city with an old soul and youthful enthusiasm, Hampton has been home to unique characters and an adventurous spirit for over 400 years. Discover the attractions, the history and the avorful culture that makes Hampton a city unlike any other. 800.800.2202


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Trav Vgia

WARNING Cell phone may drop in water. (On purpose.)

It’s a place where the morning coffee comes with a view of eagles and osprey and where tonight’s seafood special is whatever takes your bait. It’s a place where rush hour is a hay baler crossing the highway, where passing motorists smile and wave, a place where you’re always welcome. It’s Richmond County. For the weekend or forever.


July 18, 2015 3 - 8 p.m. Fireman’s Field, Purcellville, VA

Wine • Food • Music • Fun! Showcasing purveyors of amazing local wines, beer, foods, & fineries Wine, Beer & Food Sales • Early Bird Tickets Reserved Seating Available • Hotel / B & B Discounts

History and romance meet between the rivers of the Chesapeake Bay ‌ come stay in one of our historic inns and enjoy days filled with secluded beaches, wine and heritage trails, quaint towns, and pristine nature.

Discover Our Treasures! Nestled in the heart of DC’s wine country, Purcellville is surrounded by award-winning wineries, craft breweries, Loudoun’s first distillery since Prohibition, a great selection of eclectic boutiques, great restaurants, regular weekend entertainment & annual events.

Online tickets sales begin soon: SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION

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May 9


May 2 May 30

Photo: Glenn Martin

May 16

“America’s Greatest Main Streets”


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The family room’s barrel vault ceiling. Facing page: South Bay Quartzite veneer stone, and limestone columns and porches on the home’s exterior.


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above photo by philip beaurline


by Joan Tupponce | photography by Andrea Hubbell

The expansive valley view from the front windows of Bramblewood Farm is one of serenity and peace. It’s the bucolic panorama that Jim and Becky Craig envisioned for their Albemarle County home, though it was not immediately evident when they first laid eyes on the overgrown, stump-filled farm site more than 10 years ago. “It was a jungle,” says Becky, the property having been timbered by previous owners and then let go. Undeterred, the couple tried to find a site high enough for the location of a home as they maneuvered through the brush. “We shimmied up this tree and guessed, and hoped it was a good site line,” explains Becky. The hunch paid off. Today the couple’s grand French country-style home majestically crowns their almost 550 acres of woods and valley. The couple moved into their home in 2008, four years after relocating from Denver to the Charlottesville area at the beginning of the building process. They had looked for a home site along the Eastern seaboard and were drawn to the Charlottesville area because of Becky’s family. “My father was a UVA grad and had a farm in Nelson County,” she says. “We would come to the farm and go to UVA football games. We knew this area well.” Most of Becky’s family, including her mother, lived in the Deep South, but the summer heat

and smothering humidity in that area were “not the heat we wanted,” she says. “Virginia was a happy medium.” Over the years the family lived in urban settings, everywhere from Denver to Philadelphia, as Jim built a career in mutual funds. Becky always hoped they would one day be able to move to a rural area, one that was peaceful but not too isolated. “I am a country girl,” she says, proudly noting her Alabama heritage. “I wanted some land with wildlife. I wanted quiet and privacy. We found this place and it’s under 20 minutes from Charlottesville. We had a small city and we also had the country.” They happened upon Charlottesville-based architect Bob Paxton of Dalgliesh Gilpin Paxton Architects after seeing one of his designs in Southern Accents magazine. “We liked his work,” Becky says. “We were pretty sure he was the one who could take our vision along with his vision and come up with something we really liked.” One of the main goals was building a home that naturally blended into its surroundings. The landscape didn’t lend itself to a brick or timber home, so the couple chose stone. “This farm is really rocky,” Becky says. “Our house looks like it could be plopped into place.” Before the building process could begin, Paxton partnered with a structural engineer to fill in JUNE 2015

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a ravine so they could create a pad for the house. “The structural engineer wanted the fill to sit for six to nine months,” says Paxton. “That was one thing that affected the construction schedule.” In order to take advantage of the views the property had to offer, Paxton recommended that the existing farm entrance road be moved: “We tried to slide the road as far as we could to one side to respond to how the house was organized and laid out.” Today, the entrance “meanders through the property, the end game being the house,” he explains. The couple wanted the house to face the valley to soak up the Southern exposure it offered. “We oriented the rooms so we could make the best of the view,” Becky says, noting that all of the main rooms face that direction. So that it didn’t detract from the flow, the main entrance was positioned on the side of the house instead of the front. “We also elongated the eastwest access to maximize the number of rooms that are open to the view,” says Paxton, adding that all sides of the house are “equally important” to the overall concept. The home’s exterior as well as retaining walls and adjacent buildings are sheathed in South Bay Quartzite veneer stone sourced from upstate New York. The roof is made of slate from nearby Buckingham County. The couple did not consider


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Above, left: Jim and Becky Craig with their daughter, Caroline, in the entryway; right: Jim’s study features antique Chinese elm paneling. Facing page: Custom designed limestone mantel and nickel-plated andirons by Dalgliesh Gilpin Paxton Architects reinforce the contemporary feel of the kitchen and adjacent sitting area.

using the rock on the farm even though it was plentiful. “It is too green for my taste. We chose something brown,” says Becky, noting the random tones and variations of color in the stone. “Figuring out the stone was a long process.” Paxton used Lueders Limestone from Texas in a variety of exterior features, including the cornice, columns and porches. To evoke the feeling of a small farm complex, Paxton broke down the home’s overall composition into a series of smaller buildings that includes two charming cottage-style garages. The couple was very hands-on during both the design and building phases of construction. “This is the fourth house Jim and I have built so we had some experience with the process,” Becky says. “We had some ideas of our own.” One of the driving factors of the design was the long, elegant hallway with a groin vault ceiling that traverses the first floor. Jim and Becky had seen that same symmetrical Gothic

arch-based barrel ceiling during their travels in Europe and wanted to replicate the style. Paxton added his own touch by designing the archway lights that line the hallway. Another must on the couple’s list: heated stone floors throughout. “We love in-floor heat. It’s the best. Our cats adore it too,” says Becky, a catlover who is a regular volunteer at the Charlottesville Albemarle SPCA. (A small, oblong red velvet pillow in a hallway proclaims, “A house is not a home without a cat.”) The home’s stately but comfortable interior is loaded with finely crafted details. Venetian plaster walls are infused with marble dust to give them a warm glow. They are the perfect backdrop for the iridescent vanity in the entryway powder room made of Mother of Pearl tiles, bronze and Italian Murgiano marble, which was designed by Paxton and his team: “Becky had some materials such as the Mother of Pearl tiles that she had seen and liked a lot,” he explains. VIRGINIA LIVING

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Paxton’s designs can also be seen in the intricate mantles throughout the house, including the dining room mantle, which features marble inserts and Ionic order columns, and the elegant French limestone fireplaces that grace both ends of the family room, creating intimate spaces. “We always design the mantles in all of our houses,” he says, because the fireplaces are proportioned as true heating fireplaces, and thus are tall enough to make it difficult to find stock mantles that fit. Paxton also designed several of the andirons in the fireplaces, the stair railings and the built-in china cabinets in the dining room. The firm’s director of interior design, R. David Craig, worked with Becky to select many of the home’s furnishings; the two traveled together frequently to shop in New York and Atlanta. One of their finds was a pair of delicate crystal 18thcentury Italian chandeliers that now hang in the dining room. The home’s interior marries traditional style with contemporary flair, as evidenced

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Clockwise, from top left: The traditional coffered ceiling in the kitchen is simply detailed in Venetian plaster; a pair of 18th-century Venetian chandeliers in the dining room; the architect-designed dining room mantel was hand-carved in Italy; the octagonal master bedroom in aqua Venetian plaster provides a cozy retreat with expansive southern views.

by the sleek, elongated kitchen with fireplace and sitting area. The modern andirons, stainless steel backsplash, limestone-based island and detailed coffered ceiling add texture to the room. The light-filled adjacent breakfast room holds a collection of Becky’s antique Chinese Rose Medallion porcelain. Limed oak walls and arches in the barrel vault ceiling of the couple’s generous family room complement the room’s grey, blue and camel tones. If you look closely, you can see that lime still fills some of the cracks and grains in the carved details of the wood. Tables and bookshelves are filled with family photos and Becky’s collection of Asian dolls. “I am a terrible

collector,” she says with a laugh. “I have to control my urges. My house is full of collections.” Her collections of Asian and glass art spill over into her comfortable office sanctuary, which is bathed in colors of chartreuse and aqua. The walls are walnut, but unstained, and so reflect Becky’s penchant for a lighter palette: “We got walnut and then bleached it and waxed it for a natural mellow look,” she says. The walls in Jim’s study across the hallway are antique Chinese elm reclaimed from Ming Dynasty structures. “We found someone here in Ruckersville that goes to China and buys old, old wood,” says Jim. “It’s an interesting cottage industry.” Mountain Lumber Company sourced VIRGINIA LIVING

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the more-than-600-year-old elm from structures from the Ming and Ch’ing Dynasties that are being dismantled. The study opens to a spacious screened porch (with motorized screens) that faces the north. “In the summer they can get the cool air that drops down from the mountain for natural ventilation,” says Paxton. Other unique features in the house include the couple’s octagonal master bedroom and master bath with gold onyx tile, and their 24-year-old daughter Caroline’s second-floor bathroom with glass tile, a glass vessel sink and organic polished nickel lights that resemble sea coral. “The glass tile reminded me of the Caribbean. We go there a lot,” says Becky.

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bottom right photo by philip beaurline

Clockwise, from top left: Custom designed bronze and Mother of Pearl vanity in the powder room; onyx tiles in the master bathroom complement mahogany windows and doors used throughout the house; the screened porch includes a fireplace, a signature feature of the architect’s designs; glass tiles in Caroline’s bathroom evoke the feel of the Caribbean.

In addition to Caroline’s bedroom, bath and office, the second floor also includes an upstairs study for guests as well as two bedrooms—one a high dormer room designed with old Hollywood art deco flair. The lower floor of the house contains an attractive home theater with cushy leather seating and contemporary detailing. “Becky also has a Christmas room downstairs to store her Christmas trees,” says Jim. During the Christmas season, Becky strategically places approximately 20 Christmas trees of varying heights throughout the house. She creates a small forest of trees in the foyer under the grand spiral staircase. “I hope it looks

like a winter wonderland,” she says. “Christmas is always on my mind.” Her passion for the holidays stems from her childhood in Alabama. Her family always made a “big deal” of Christmas, she explains. “They would send me and my siblings out to get the tree. That was my job,” explains Becky. “My mother had beautiful decorations that included hand-carved German decorations. My whole family goes overboard even to this day.” At Christmas time, each room of Bramblewood is decorated with multiple types of greenery and pinecones. “We have all kinds of things,” Becky says of the decorations. “We have handcarved Russian Santas and German nutcrackers. JUNE 2015

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Our daughter has a collection of figurines from Colorado Springs. When she was born one of my sisters gave her an ornament every year and I did the same. I passed on my love of Christmas to her too.” Christmas isn’t Becky’s only passion. She loves all wildlife, and she’s pleased that Bramblewood is home to all sorts of creatures. “We are lucky enough to live in an area that has a history of albino deer,” she says. “Every couple of years we have an albino ‥. We have deer that will eat the corn out of my hand and a turkey that will come up to me. Even my bears are well behaved. I just never know what is going to turn up in my backyard.” ❉


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Black Oak Farm Where Everyday Feels Like a Holiday


A stunning 6 BR home of exceptional quality w/ grand indoor & outdoor living spaces. Paved entry through 91 acres of hardwood forest & gently rolling pasture, in a completely private setting. Prime Keswick location, convenient to Charlottesville and I-64. $2,950,000 MLS#529307


Historic Federalist style brick home has been meticulously renovated to museum quality. Scottsville offers a simpler village lifestyle, where you can enjoy parks, tennis courts, restaurants & the library, all within easy walking distance. $445,000 MLS#523101


Embracing a classic Albemarle chestnut log cabin c. 1821, this artfully crafted 5BR home features natural materials, excellent craftsmanship, top-of-the-line appliances, library, & luxurious heated soaking tub in first floor master. 63 acres, guest cottage, stable, & pond. $1,350,000 MLS#530112


Pristine Colonial Revival nestled in the Historic Carters Bridge area on 3.94 manicured acres. Exceptional details throughout, complementary detached barn w/ fenced pasture, additional acreage available. $799,000 MLS#527140

Magnificent stone residence on 217 acres sits atop Black Oak Ridge with stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This classical home, circa 1932, was completely restored using the finest materials and modern systems with time period preservation as the primary goal. This unique country estate is only an hour from Washington, DC and is located in the heart of northern Virginia’s wine and horse country.

Offered at $3,999,000 The estate features 6 bedrooms, 6 ½ Baths, 9 fireplaces, 7 bay carriage house, pool, and stocked pond.

To experience Black Oak Farm see our Videos and Photos at

Ednam Hall • 1100 Dryden Lane • Charlottesville, VA 22903 Roy Wheeler Realty Co.

Special Advertising Section SPAS, BEAUTY & HEALTH UPCOMING IN AUGUST • Deadline June 5

Special Advertising Section Spas, Beauty & Health

By purchasing an advertisement in this expertly designed section, you are open to a resource that our more than 500,000 readers will consult to learn about the best of these services and products. Anchoring this group of ads is an introductory story on trends in the health and beauty industry, followed by a directory of complimentary 75-word listings further detailing these businesses.

Bound-In Supplement 2015 Dental Health

Don’t miss the opportunity to promote your organization or service in one of our 2015 special issues or advertising sections! Join others who have enjoyed excellent success in advertising: Call (804) 343-7539 or visit to discover how your business can be a part of Virginia Living today!

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Bound-In Supplement 2015 DENTAL HEALTH

This special bound-in supplement will feature editorial coverage about dentistry and dental health professionals around the state. Wondering who to go to during a dental emergency? Virginia Living Dental Health has the answer, as profiles of dental health professionals make a difference in and beyond the dentist’s office.

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Enter the Grand Foyer of this Elegant and Refined Redwood Constructed

Five Acres of Beautiful Waterfront on the Piankatank River with Big Water

Home on The Northern Neck’s Prestigious Carter’s Creek. Protected

Views. This Home Combines Colonial, Georgian and Contemporary Styles

Yopps Cove Offers Deep Water, Scenic Views to the Village of Weems

with a Relaxed River Ambience. The Entrance of the Home Features a

and Quick Access to The Rappahannock River and Bay. All One Level,

Marble Foyer with a Grand Staircase & Gallery. The Gourmet Kitchen

This Home Has Vaulted Ceilings, Large Master Suite with Water Views,

Boasts Double Oven, Sub Zero Refrigerator, Gas and Electric Ranges and

2 Guest En Suites, 3 Fireplaces and 2 Wet Bars. The Property Features

More. The Living Room has water views, a Spanish mahogany mantle over

Over 10 Private Acres, Waterside Deck with Granite Outdoor Grill,

gas fireplace & wet bar. Enjoy the River From the Deck w/ Hot Tub, Second

Gunite Pool & Pier with Boat Lift.

Floor Balcony, Pier with Boat Lift and 6’+ MLW with Quick Access to Bay. Offered at $1,400,000

Offered at $1,290,000


804.434.4000 434 Rappahannock Drive • P.O. Box 1090 • White Stone, VA 22578

Enjoy gorgeous sunsets over top of Wintergreen Mountain!

This and other country properties are available in Central and Southwest Virginia. Perfect for a getaway, retirement, or entrepreneurs who can live anywhere. Why not be at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains?

Missy Bateman, REALTOR


Martinsville, VA •

Dima Holmes, REALTOR


Wintergreen, VA •

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©JF Brown

PREVIEWS NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY Heathville, VA $2,350,000 Chris Hannan 757-719-6916 Presenting this 11,300 square foot one-of-a-kind residence in a unique Virginia waterfront location. Custom designed on three floors all with elevator access, six bedrooms, six full baths, and on 2.7 acres. An open floor plan with formal dining, a gourmet kitchen, and so many more unique features. Unimpeded water views throughout the home together with deep-water access.

Dedicated to Luxury Real Estate®

Serving the Shenandoah Valley, Surrounding Mountains, and Beyond Specializing in homes, historic properties, farms, estates, and individualized consultation. Whether you are buying or selling, let us be of service to you.

Coldwell Banker Professional, REALTORS® |

AFRICA NORTH AMERICA CENTRAL AMERICA SOUTH AMERICA ASIA AUSTRALIA CARIBBEAN EUROPE MIDDLE EAST SOUTH PACIFIC ©2015 Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. A Realogy Company. All Rights Reserved. Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC fully supports the principles of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Opportunity Act. Each office Is Independently Owned and Operated. Coldwell Banker®, the Coldwell Banker Logo, Coldwell Banker Previews International®, the Previews International Logo, and “Dedicated to Luxury Real EstateSM” are registered and unregistered service marks to Coldwell Banker LLC.

Visit our website for fine properties • (540) 464-1776 6 E Washington Street • Lexington, VA 24450

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V Old Manse


Old Manse (left) built in 1868, to serve the Presbyterian Church resides amidst 10’ boxwoods on 46 acres in the historic Town of Orange. Of frame construction capped with a standing seam roof, this is truly an engaging center hall colonial with Federal stylistic elements complemented with a prescient sense of soonto-be-dominant Revival features. There are 10 rooms including large formal dining, library, parlor, large kitchen with butler’s pantry, four bedrooms and two and one-half baths. The land is predominantly fertile pasture with large spring-fed pond. With beautiful mountain views in the Keswick Hunt, $985,000.

In Fox Run (right and below) here is the quintessential Keswick Hunt manor on 20 acres just outside historic Gordonsville. With careful attention to detail this home has been thoroughly renovated over the last decade to include a spectacular kitchen and first floor master suite of impeccable scale. Lovely perennial gardens, pool, guest cottage, stables – all within 20 minutes of Charlottesville and UVA. $1,850,000.

Fox Run

The Old Rectory In the Rapidan National Historic District of Orange County, and in the Keswick Hunt, The Old Rectory (above and right) dates to 1885 capturing Victorian and Gothic architectural elements. Restoration is complete and embraces warm, mellowed woods and exquisite scale. There are three acres of lawn and garden privately situated on “Gospel Hill” of the Historic District overlooking the farming estates of Orange to a broad view of the Blue Ridge mountains. $649,000.

Please visit our website for information on these and others.


Over 100 Years Of Virginia Real Estate Service

Charlottesville, VA u u (434) 981-3322

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LIFE Well Planned



inancial and community living experts are invaluable resources for Virginians looking towards retirement. Thinking carefully about future residences, finances and health care is wise when turning over a new page, and reaching out to Virginia’s skilled financial professionals and welcoming senior living communities will ensure a comfortable transition into retirement. These experts can help you navigate this unfamiliar territory by planning for your future wants and needs, allowing you to make the most of your golden years.

SUNNYSIDE COMMUNITIES Sunnyside Communities, a not-for-profit continuing care retirement community with three locations in Virginia, offers a variety of living choices to meet your lifestyle. Add to this an array of services and amenities that support living life to the fullest, free from the chores of home ownership or concerns about future health needs. Go to our web site to learn more and see why we were “Best of Virginia” in 2012, 2013 and 2014. (800) 237-2257 or

VINSON HALL Our not-for-profit, continuing care retirement community enhances the lives of our residents through person-centered care and services while fostering dignity, security and friendship. Vinson Hall provides independent living to commissioned military officers and their immediate family. Everyone is welcome at Arleigh Burke Pavilion, where we provide assisted living, skilled nursing and private pay nursing care services, and to The Sylvestery, where we offer assisted living care for those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.

ERICKSON LIVING Greenspring in Springfield and Ashby Ponds in Ashburn offer maintenance-free retirement living in a beautiful, gated community. Without the worries of a house and yard, you can spend more time pursuing your passions. Travel, volunteer, take a college class, and explore the many clubs and interest groups that meet on campus. On-site amenities include restaurants, stores, a medical center, all-season pool, and a fitness center, plus on-campus continuing care should your health needs ever change.

LAKE PRINCE WOODS Lake Prince Woods- a United Church and Services not for profit continuing care retirement community that helps you focus on enjoying the present while looking forward to the future. Adults age 62 and better enjoy the richness of life in a lively community on a beautiful 172 acre lakeside wooded setting in Virginia’s southeast corner. Residents are offered residential living, assisted living, memory support, skilled nursing and rehabilitative services.

(800) 701-8641 or

FALCONS LANDING Nestled near the Potomac River in scenic Northern Virginia, Falcons Landing Military Retirement Community is a vibrant hub for residents who have retired from work, but not from life! Falcons Landing is a community of retired military officers of all branches of service and those honorably discharged with any length of service, senior-level federal employees, their spouses and surviving spouses. At Falcons Landing, the adventure continues!

SHENANDOAH VALLEY WESTMINSTER-CANTERBURY Located in historic Winchester, VA, chosen as a top ten retirement city by AARP, Shenandoah Valley Westminster-Canterbury offers a vibrant retirement lifestyle with the predictable financial security of Lifecare. Five-star rated and accredited by CARF-CCAC; Westminster-Canterbury welcomes residents at the Independent level and provides a continuum of highquality, professional, long-term care services on-site, for future health care challenges. There is no better time than the present to enjoy the retirement of your dreams. Contact us today!

12TH ANNUAL VMRC ART EXHIBITION A multimedia show of 99 works on display in Park Gables Gallery, May 31 through June 30, 2015. A panel of three professional jurors, specialists in different media, considered 462 works created by 172 artists from across the United States. They selected a diverse show of 2D and 3D artworks: oils, watercolors, photography, fiber, glass, mixed media, and pottery. Free admission. Wheelchair accessible. VMRC, 1491 Virginia Avenue, Harrisonburg, VA, 22802.

(855) 328-4689 or

(800) 492-9463 or

(540) 564-3400 or

(757) 923-5504 or

(703) 536-4344 or


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wealth Management & R e t i r e m e n t


More than a century of caring.

t r A

Juried Exhibition

Join the more than 750 residents who have made Sunnyside Communities their home. Choose the lifestyle and the place that’s right for you. Whether you desire to live in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, or the warmth of small town living, it’s all here for you. Call today to arrange your complimentary, overnight Staycation* at Sunnyside, King’s Grant or Summit Square. *Certain restrictions may apply.

Retirement Living Since 1912




Harrisonburg, VA

Martinsville, VA

Waynesboro, VA




WELL•SPRING Well-Spring has established itself as the premier retirement community in the central Piedmont of North Carolina. From independent living or assisted living to skilled care, Well-Spring offers the standard by which others are measured. More than gracious accommodations and fabulous service and amenities, Well-Spring offers a home, a neighborhood, a true community—where life is shaped by choices, not circumstances.

WESTMINSTER-CANTERBURY CHESAPEAKE Westminster-Canterbury is simply retirement living at its best, combining lifestyle, financial security and the natural beauty of the Chesapeake Bay. Here, life becomes simpler — a full-service continuing care retirement community (CCRC) where you leave most of the cooking and cleaning to us, and spend more time doing the things you enjoy most. (757) 918-7589 or

(800) 547-5387 or

WESTMINSTER-CANTERBURY OF THE BLUE RIDGE Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge is Charlottesville’s only accredited not-for-profit, Life Care senior living community. We offer a variety of accommodations for independent, active seniors on our 56-acre campus, and our Life Care program also assures all of our residents freedom from health care worries by providing assisted living, memory support and nursing care, in private rooms and suites, if and when one needs it—at no additional cost.

WILBANKS, SMITH & THOMPSON At Wilbanks Smith & Thomas, we believe in the power of smart wealth management. We believe in championing objectivity, rewarding innovation, and helping you achieve your long-term goals. As an independent registered investment advisory firm for more than 25 years and now managing more than $2.5 billion in assets, we provide sophisticated, well-researched investments with world class personal service. (800) 229-3677 or

(877) 682-9227 or

May 31–June 30, 2015

Park Gables Gallery Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community 1491 Virginia Avenue, Harrisonburg, Virginia 540-564-3400 awards sponsored by

L D & B Insurance and Financial Services Park View Federal Credit Union Valley Family & Elder Care VMRC Resident Association Park Gables Gallery Associates


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wealth Management & R e t i r e m e n t

VINSON HALL RETIREMENT COMMUNITY Independent Living, Assisted Living, Healthcare, and Memory Support

I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drum.

Vinson Hall Retirement Community is located in McLean, Virginia. As a resident-focused Continuing Care Retirement Community, we value independence and individuality. We honor and encourage freedom of expression, personal choices, and the opportunity to revitalize and begin new friendships.

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That’s why I chose Well•Spring. In those days I kept time with a baton. Now I choose the paintbrush, inspired by the beauty that surrounds me in nature, friends and family. I’m painting my masterpiece and living retirement in my own style at Well•Spring. 6251 Old Dominion Drive

McLean, Virginia 22101 4100 Well Spring Dr., Greensboro, NC 27410 (800) 547-5387 • (336) 545-5400 A member of Well•Spring Services, Inc. Jo Smith

Resident since 2011


Why are these people smiling? They’re enjoying a worry-free retirement at an Erickson Living® community. Freedom from repairs—Retire from the hassle and expense of house upkeep thanks to our full-time maintenance team. Exciting amenities—Enjoy multiple restaurants, a fitness center, a swimming pool, and dozens of great clubs and activities. On-site health care—Feel safe and secure with a medical center just steps from your door.

Call 1-800-701-8641 for your FREE brochure or to schedule a campus tour.


Continuing care health services—If your health needs change, rehabilitation, nursing care, assisted living, and memory care are available right on campus.


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It’s time to relax and truly enjoy life. Westminster-Canterbury is simply retirement living at its best, combining lifestyle and financial security all on the beautiful waters of the Chesapeake Bay. Embrace a life of spiritual, intellectual and physical wellness. You can also enjoy the security of LifeCare—health care for life, no matter what your needs may be. Peace of mind in a perfect setting. Now just add yourself. To schedule a tour, call 1-757-918-7589 or visit us online at

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IntoThe Summer is time for camp, and in Virginia, that tradition is as strong today as it was 100 years ago. A look at the enduring appeal of sunlit days and lake swims, archery and riding, cabin pranks and rousing choruses of “Little Bunny Foo Foo.� By Caroline Kettlewell

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Ann Warner, director of Camp Mont Shenandoah, with Rollins and Otis. Facing page: Camp Mont Shenandoah through the years.

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In 2015, there are a lot of ways to go to camp. There is sports camp, math camp, drama camp, chess camp, cooking camp, farm camp, photography camp, space camp, yoga camp, engineering camp, hip−hop camp, circus camp, cartooning camp and SAT prep camp. In short, if it interests your kid, there’s probably a camp for it.

But long before before all that, there was: camp. You know this camp, even if you’ve never attended one. It is Norman Rockwell iconic. It is archery and arts and crafts. Campfire circles and sing-alongs. Canoeing and cold-water swimming. Sleeping eight, 10, 15 to a one-room cabin with screens for windows and a single lantern or bare bulb casting crazy shadows overhead. Letters home dutifully scribed on rainy afternoons, flopped belly-down on a wooden bunk. And in the 21st century, this camp is still surprisingly alive and well. Despite the seductive attractions and comforts of the Xbox and air conditioning, Snapchat and Chipotle, nevertheless a cohort of the instant-everything Internet generation still willingly—indeed enthusiastically—trades all that for two, three, six weeks in the woods: modern-day Thoreaus with orthodontia and ponytails, embracing rustic living, archaic entertainments and a litany of traditions so longestablished and revered that the most modern, selfie-snapping teenager can recite them with shining eyes, a catch in the voice and not so much as a whisper of irony. At Camp Mont Shenandoah on a brightly lit early spring day, it’s decidedly the off-season. A

thick, crusted-over layer of snow crunches underfoot as Ann Warner, the camp’s director and coowner, strides the Bath County camp’s property. Her dogs, Rollins and Otis, gambol happily around her, the sun shines through trees still bare of leaves and the Cowpasture River murmurs past, swollen with snowmelt. Since 1927, Camp Mont Shenandoah has occupied this property on a gentle bend of the river; generations of girls have plunged shrieking into the swimming hole (“No one’s allowed to say it’s cold: it’s ‘brisk,’” says Warner), performed musicals on the rough stage of West Lodge, chattered over family-style meals in the Feed Bag, gathered around the fire circle, and hunkered down in cabin bunk beds to giggle with friends before drifting to sleep to the night sounds just beyond their screen windows. The privately owned camp has been in Warner’s family for some 65 years, since her grandmother became a co-owner with several other partners around 1950. Her grandmother helped run the camp in a variety of roles until 1966, when she passed her ownership share to her daughter, Warner’s mother. Ann and her sister were both Camp Mont Shenandoah campers in the 1970s, and Ann also worked as a counselor there. After attending Hollins College, however, VIRGINIA LIVING

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Ann moved to Northern Virginia. She saw herself, she says, as a “bright lights, big city girl,” someone who wanted to be in the busy heart of things. But when the other owners wanted to sell in 1994, the city girl surprised herself. This year will mark Warner’s 19th summer as co-owner (with her

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Facing page: Cabin life at Camp Mont Shenandoah in the 1970s; girls enjoying the camp’s swimming hole today and in its early years. Above: Campers at CMS are assigned cabins by age and are expected to keep their bunk area neat, tidy and ready for daily inspection.

mother) and director, and the 29th she has spent at Camp Mont Shenandoah. “If you had told me, back when I was at Hollins, that this is what I would be doing now, I would have said ‘No way!’” says Warner. “But I can’t imagine doing anything else.” Many CMS campers, like Warner, have mothers, sisters, grandmothers and cousins who have also attended; Warner is now starting to welcome girls whose mothers were campers when Warner first assumed the role of director. And if you don’t count the modern infirmary building being constructed to open for the 2015 season, almost nothing about the camp today would have appeared out of place when those mothers and grandmothers were donning “whites and ties” (still the uniform for special occasions), practicing their archery skills and competing as a “Green” or a “Buff” (one of the camp’s oldest continuing traditions) years and decades and more in the past. (In December, Camp Mont Shenandoah was listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register, and in April it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.) The traditional sleep-away summer camp is a peculiarly American institution with a history reaching back to the second half of the 19th century. Made possible by the long summer vacations

of American schools, it was born, according to historians of the camping movement, out of a blend of romanticism and anxiety that strikingly mirrors the concerns and longings of many of today’s parents. It was a time of “technological upheaval,” writes Leslie Paris in Children’s Nature, her history of the rise of the camping movement, with “new technologies and commercial markets that were transforming the American economy,” while immigration and rapid urbanization seemed to be doing the same to its national character. The “rate of change—indeed a culture of change—appeared to be intensifying rapidly,” writes Paris, and “many adults feared that something vital had been lost in the transition: a familiarity with the natural world, a slower pace, rootedness in the land.” At the same time, parents and public figures fretted that the ease of modern life and the long summer vacations free of the improving influence of organized education would render the nation’s young people “bored, listless, and susceptible to unsavory influences”—idling wastrels incapable of sentence composition or survival. Camp was the antidote. Camp founders criticized “the ‘artificiality’ and ‘speeded-up’ pace of contemporary life,” writes Paris, and promised to reinvigorate their young charges JUNE 2015

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with fresh air, good food, bucolic scenery and a program of deliberately anti-modern amenities and diversions that even then traded on nostalgia for a mythologized past. Paris quotes a brochure from a boys’ camp offering assurance that “camping is not a vacation of idleness and trivial pleasures but an institution to teach the child to employ the leisure of its entire life in a healthful, cultural, and constructive manner.” Though camp was devised as an “Arcadian fantasy,” in Paris’ words, under the regulation and supervision of adults, somehow—for many children then and now—camp has nevertheless been experienced as a joyful interlude of freedom and independence, of fierce and enduring friendships, of inside jokes and outside adventures, and of inner confidence born of facing challenges and choices all on your own. You can talk to adults whose own children are long grown who will tell you that some of their closest friends, dearest memories and most foundational experiences all date back to summers at camp. Camp, says Ann Warner, is a safe space where kids can take risks and learn to be themselves. “It’s a place,” she says, “where you can let your own light shine.” Betsy Peyton attended coed St. George’s camp in Orkney Springs (a 19th-century resort destina-


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tion) during the 1970s and ’80s. Today she lives in Manhattan with her husband, Will—whom she met at camp when they were 11 and 12 years old. Will actually served as director of the 53-year-old camp (which is operated by the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia) for several years, and all three of the couple’s children attended St. George’s as well. Their shared memories are of capture the flag and tripping over tree roots at night, of campfires and sing-alongs, of comforting a homesick cabin-mate, of rope swings and silly pranks (bras up the flagpole; 100 campers cramming, clown-car style, into a single cabin to confound counselors searching for them; staff hiding counselors’ cars “in places you wouldn’t have thought it possible to drive to”) and, says Betsy, of “cute counselors with guitars and long hair” (that would be Will). Ashley Tremper, who teaches Latin at Trinity Episcopal School in Richmond, was a camper for

Below: Campers at Westview on the James in Goochland enjoy water sports in the river, including a zip line.

a few years during elementary and middle school at Westview on the James in Goochland, which was established in 1966 and is affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Their cabins, she recalls, were essentially screen porches with bunk beds and roofs. They ate family-style in the mess hall and spent a night sleeping out in the wilderness. “We dug our own latrines. For a sixth grader, it was a little daunting,” says Tremper. But when she looks back, what she remembers most are the friends she made and “being away from home, and the freedom to make my own decisions.” They were hardly monumental: She distinctly remembers the thrill of selecting a bag of Skittles at the camp store. But those choices were hers alone. That sense of responsibility, says Ann Warner, is a big part of what makes camp valuable for kids. For the youngest, accomplishment and pride are born of simply navigating successfully through the day with no parents nearby: conquering homesickness, finding their way from the mess hall to the riding stables, keeping track of t-shirts and swim goggles and hair scrunchies. As children grow older and begin to navigate the rocky shoals of the hormonal years, camp can be a steadying place that helps them form a strong core of self. Camp is also a place for encountering nature; even in the 19th century, camp was pitched as a bracing counterbalance to sissified, citified living, and today, in an era when many children rarely have the chance to venture past manicured suburban lawnscapes, camp offers generous helpings of fresh air and rustling leaves, crickets in the night and outdoor play. And sometimes a little more. Betsy Peyton worked as camp nurse at St. George’s for a few summers and remembers the year that a pack of boys on a post-dinner scavenger hunt stumbled into a nest of infamously shorttempered yellow jackets. Howling and screaming, VIRGINIA LIVING

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says Peyton, the boys tumbled en-masse into her infirmary, still chased by the angry hive. Fortunately, there were no allergies among the victims, says Peyton, but it was a scene of mayhem, with “hysterical children lying on the floor, sobbing and swelling with angry red welts.” And one summer at Camp Mont Shenandoah, recalls CMS alumna and former counselor Catharine Robertson, a first-year counselor calmly responded to a crisis in the Feed Bag (the camp mess hall) climbing onto one of the long tables, snatching down a snake dangling from the rafters, and marching out the door to fling it into the woods. “It was legend!” says Robertson. Testing boundaries is also a time-honored tradition for older campers. Warner recalls a summer several years ago when “a group of 14 older girls had a thing for sneaking out of their cabin at night and ‘streaking’ around camp.” Finally caught in the act as they tried to make a run through another cabin of sleeping girls, “they, of course, had a stern talking-to about how they weren’t setting a good example, etc., etc.,” says Warner. (A few nights later, the other cabin retaliated by doing some streaking of their own.) “Sneaking out of your cabin in the middle of the night feels like you’re doing something really scandalous, even though you are really not doing anything at all,” says Sarah Mellen, a junior studying history at James Madison University and a “lifer” at Camp Mont Shenandoah. Mellen started at the camp as a 7-year-old, then graduated to counselor-in-training and eventually to counselor, the role she’ll return to this summer. Although Mellen’s home is in Millboro, only a few minutes from Camp Mont Shenandoah, she says that once she arrived at camp each summer, she was in a different world: “It might have been states or whole countries away from home, and I wouldn’t have


Clockwise, from top left: Archery has always been a favorite activity at Camp Mont Shenandoah; from “the rock” on North Mountain, kids at St. George’s camp can see into the Shenandoah Valley; horseback riding at Camp Mont Shenandoah.

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Clockwise, from left: Matthew Richardson, interim director of Camp River’s Bend; Camp Mont Shenandoah is a place where lifelong friendships have been forged between campers for nearly 100 years.

known the difference.” Camp, says Mellen, “has been a driving factor in how I have made the decisions in my life. It has shaped me as a person and is such a huge part of who I am.” The reliable traditions—along with the valuable lesson of “learning to live away from home and learning to live with other people and making friendships away from my family”—are what Maria Holt Elder of Richmond says she loved about 86-year-old all-girls Camp Strawderman in Edinburg, which she attended between the ages of 13 and 15. Her daughter Sherwood was a camper there around the same age. “Sherwood did exactly the same things I did,” she says. “Same schedule, same activities, same songs, same dinner hikes.” On Sundays, she says, girls would wear a uniform including white canvas sneakers; when Maria was a camper, the girls had to whiten their shoes with polish. When Maria picked Sherwood up at the end of her first two-week summer session, “she was so excited to tell me that she had found my name written in white shoe polish in the rafters of the cabin she lived in.” Matthew Richardson, a seventh grade history teacher and a running coach at Collegiate School in Richmond, comes from a camp family, too. His grandfather, father, uncles and older brother attended the all-boys Camp Virginia in Goshen, which was founded in 1928. “So when I was eight years old and had the opportunity to go, I was so excited,” he says. “A lot of the people I am closest with to this day are my camp friends. Through my life, the people I can always count on to be there are the people I went to camp with.” Richardson, who is now in his mid-20s, calls his camping days “transformative.” A kid who struggled with attention problems in school, he found himself a leader at camp. “If it was ‘who could ride a horse?’ or build a fire or climb, these were things

I knew I was good at and were things I could help others find success with, and through those things I knew I could be a leader,” he says. Wortie Ferrell, who was a counselor at Camp Virginia for 14 years during high school, college, and his early years as a middle-school teacher, loved the pace of life at camp, the camaraderie among the counselors, and the laughter, which “weaved through everything.” Sure, it was sometimes a challenge to get pre-adolescent boys to remember such niceties as actually changing into a fresh shirt at some point during their camp weeks, but his memories are of competing cheers in the mess hall on the annual July Fourth orange vs. black competition, the ample unstructured time “when boys could get together and generate their own fun,” and every night at the end of the evening, Perry Como singing the “Lord’s Prayer,” broadcast over the loudspeakers. Those are the kinds of traditions Matthew Richardson hopes to see grow organically at the newly created Camp River’s Bend, an all-boys camp situated on the Cowpasture River, not far from Camp Mont Shenandoah. Richardson will serve this summer as interim director of the camp, which is backed by a founding community, including an advisory board and the owners of the property where the camp will be located, all of whom are passionately committed to the traditional camp experience. Camp River’s Bend’s inaugural summer was fully subscribed, with a waiting list, almost as soon as applications were made available in February—before even a single cabin was built. “I think this is something that a lot of kids are hungry for,” says Richardson. Camp River’s Bend will prove an interesting experiment: Can tradition be built from scratch? JUNE 2015

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The first summer will offer a single, three-week session for experienced campers ages nine to 15. Days and evenings will be filled with the usual camp experiences—swimming and canoeing, hiking, campfires, sports, games. However, part of each morning will also be devoted to a unique endeavor: letting the campers themselves help to create the founding traditions of the community. “The values of loyalty and respect and responsibility, of being trustworthy and true to your word, of accountability and leadership and having each other’s back—all those things that resonate as what I learned at camp, those are the values I want to see transferred to Camp River’s Bend,” says Richardson. “People who think a place like Camp River’s Bend is about camping or archery or canoeing don’t get it,” he adds. “What a place like this is about is the relationships, the people, the values and, most importantly, the camp family that grows out of that joint experience.” Ann Warner agrees that these nearly ineffable qualities, so hard to describe to an outsider, are what make camps like Camp Mont Shenandoah, which also maintains a waiting list, endure. Warner has watched shy and snaggle-toothed sevenyear-olds transformed, summer after summer. “The greatest reward,” she says, “is watching these girls grow into strong, capable young women, with the confidence to do anything they want.” ❉ For more information, photos and video, go to

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Bourbon and Beer (left) and Kilogrammatic (right) galloping during morning training at Eagle Point Farm in Ashland.

photography by Adam Ewing VIRGINIA LIVING


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t’s the end of March, and at Eagle Point Farm in Ashland, the rolling pastures are finally greening up, signaling the arrival of spring. A gravel drive leads up a hill to a gray cinder block barn with red doors and blue trim, towered over by a cedar tree that has witnessed thousands of horses step through its shadow, their hooves beating out a clipped rhythm. Open and airy, the barn is full of thoroughbred horses hanging their heads over the Dutch doors into the center aisle. These are not just any horses. This is a barn full of racehorses—and a barn full of dreams. For Karen Dennehy Dodsey, 32, the third generation of her family to run Eagle Point Farm—now primarily a breaking and training center for racehorses—this is the busiest time of year. The young thoroughbreds are being “finished,” meaning they are almost ready to begin careers at the track, and the older horses are in the process of being legged up—conditioned—for the racing season. Toccoa, a 10-year-old mare born at Eagle Point and known affectionately as the Queen of the Farm, is grazing in the field. Now a broodmare and part of Dodsey’s breeding operation, she was no stranger to the winner’s circle at Colonial Downs in New Kent County, Virginia’s only racetrack, where she recorded seven wins, seven 2nd place finishes, and seven 3rd place finishes. Toccoa raced for eight years and, like other reliable Eagle Point runners, always brought home a paycheck. But since the final closure of Colonial Downs last October (and the end of racing there following the summer 2013 season), business for Dodsey and other local trainers and breeders has been severely off. The closure is the result of a dispute between Virginia horsemen and the owners of Colonial Downs over the length of the racing season, and there is no resolution in sight; the future is uncertain. The action has thrown Virginia racing into turmoil, and repercussions—like the ripple that soon becomes a riptide—are being felt throughout the Virginia thoroughbred industry and other related agribusinesses. The Virginia thoroughbred industry is built on a delicate partnership. Every year since Colonial Downs opened in 1997, the Warrenton-based Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (VHBPA), which represents the interests of thoroughbred owners and trainers, has negotiated a contract with the racetrack over the specifics of the upcoming race year, most notably the number of race days (the meet) and the purse amounts.



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Facing page, above: Horses in the field at Eagle Point Farm in Ashland; below: Donna Dennehy and Karen Dennehy Dodsey with Kilogrammatic, and their dog Toby. This page, left: Toccoa nurses her new foal Braxton; right: riding up to the barn at Eagle Point Farm.

In 2014, a breakdown in these negotiations led to the suspension of racing; 2014, in fact, saw no flat racing at all at Colonial Downs. The last thoroughbred crossed the finish line there July 13, 2013. Money is at the heart of the conflict. The track wants a short race meet (six days) with high end purses, and the horsemen want a longer race meet (eight weeks) with more modest purses. Thus the strife. After a year of failed negotiations between the horsemen and Colonial Downs over the duration of the race meet, the track, owned by Jeffrey Jacobs, chairman and CEO of Colorado-based Jacobs Entertainment, Inc., surrendered its license, thereby shutting down all racing activities immediately and indefinitely. It was a dramatic move that drew attention nationwide. Now, the track that had seen attendance of more than 13,000 spectators on opening day stands empty of both horses and fans. The failure of the negotiations directly affects not just trainers and owners. About 300 employees were laid off when the track surrendered its license, leaving just a handle of staffers to operate the facility. It also impacted collateral businesses around the state, which include farriers, vets, equipment sales, hay, feed, seed and fertilizer suppliers, insurance providers and more. The most recent study of the horse industry in Virginia, conducted in 2011 by the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, measured the state’s thoroughbred horse population at 30,900, and the total economic impact of the entire industry—including non-racing horse businesses like agriculture and horse shows—at more than $1.2 billion annually. The impact of racing specifically, excluding the substantial farm and training costs of owners, accounted for more than $103 million annually. Clearly, the stakes for all involved are high. Colonial Downs, built in New Kent County at a cost of $80 million (its location a result of political compromise and a plan to draw

attendees from both the Richmond and Hampton Roads areas while relying heavily on off track betting sites–OTBs—for revenue), is known for its world-class turf course and its signature event, the Virginia Derby. Run in early July, the Virginia Derby has awarded as much as a $1 million purse and drawn top 3-year-old colts from around the country. “For 17 years, the best 3-year-old grass colts have come to run in the Virginia Derby,” says Ferris Allen, 63, the winningest trainer in Colonial’s history. “It’s one of the first high-end grass races of the season, and we get some that are chasing the Derby trail.” Until negotiations for the 2014 season stalled, a typical thoroughbred meet at Colonial comprised eight weeks, with 45 days of racing from midMay through July, and up to nine races a day. During a meet, the track operates the “frontside,” or public spaces, and the “backside,” which includes the stables, dorms and other day-to-day facilities for the horses, trainers, jockeys, exercise riders, grooms and hotwalkers. With roughly 15 barns at Colonial and 1,000 stalls, as many as 900 racehorses can live onsite 24/7 as well as about 400 workers during those two months of live racing. As early as 2009, Colonial Downs requested a shorter meet, pushing for 25 race days instead of 45. That year, the horsemen and the track agreed upon 40 days of racing, a number that has been steadily declining (at the behest of the track) in the years since. In 2013, the last year the track was open, the race meet was 25 days long, with an average of about 2,000 attendees per day. Colonial has been losing money, says Stan Guidroz, vice president of Southern operations for Jacobs Entertainment and the recently appointed interim president of Colonial Downs, from his office in Lafayette, Louisiana. In 2011, the last year the company’s financial information was made public, it reported a loss of about $2 million on its Virginia operations (the company reported earnings of $875,000 before interest, taxes, amortization and depreciation of assets) on revenues of just over $31 million. The majority of the company’s proceeds come from its



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casinos and video poker truck stops around the country. In 2011, Colonial Downs and its Virginia OTBs represented approximately 8 percent of its total revenues. Jacobs, who is seen by many Virginia horsemen as an aloof outsider, operating from afar through company executives, wants to implement a new model of racing: a shorter meet consisting of six days of high end racing without opening the backside. In such a model, Colonial hopes to make the actual days of live racing more profitable, drawing top horses from places like New York, Kentucky and Florida, their owners willing to ship them in for a shot at winning a $1 million purse. Shipping in, however, is not only hard on the horses; it’s expensive. It is more cost effective for the horsemen, both those from Virginia and out of state, to ship to longer meets in which their horses have the chance to run multiple times—a horse can only run once at a six-day meet. “It’s clear that our system is broken in Virginia,” says Guidroz. And, in his view, it’s not just about the length of the meet. He says the states that compete with Virginia for horse racing have casinos attached to the racetracks that drive revenues and increase purses. “Our best alternative,” he says, “is to follow the model that has proven successful in other states.” The model he refers to—wherein a casino or slot machines are added to bring in more money—has been adopted at tracks in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Florida. But an expansion of legalized gambling like this in Virginia would need to be approved by the General Assembly as well as by a local vote, and is unlikely to happen in the near future. (It’s important to note that gambling, not ticket sales, is the main revenue source driving the sport and the reason why the state legislature is involved in granting a racing license.) Terance Rephann, an economist at the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Policy and the author of its 2011 report, confirms that the casinos at tracks in neighboring states have been successful in drawing visitors and increasing purse sizes: “A state with just a racetrack can’t compete with the products of the other states that have created ‘racinos,’” he explains. Rephann stresses, however, that he sees these racinos as a short term fix for racing. “The casino begins to cannibalize the business of the track, and it ends up becoming just a casino, with a racetrack attached on the periphery.” Other forms of gambling, are, of course, illegal in Virginia, but the Commonwealth makes an exception for horse racing, which in 2013 generated $86 million from live racing and Colonial’s eight OTBs around the state, and $73 million from online wagering. Total annual wagering has landed between $150 million and $200 million since 2005, peaking in 2007. For every dollar bet on Virginia races, or on races in other states that are made from Virginia OTBs (the “handle”), 80 percent goes back to the bettor in the form of winnings, and the remaining 20 percent (the “takeout”) is collected as revenue. This 20 percent is split among different elements of the industry: 5 percent goes to the Virginia horsemen in the form of purses, 1 percent goes to the Virginia Breeder’s Fund (which encourages in-state breeding operations), 2 percent covers taxes and 12 percent goes to Colonial Downs. Annually, this has resulted in a purse VIRGINIA LIVING


account for the horsemen of $5-6 million. According to longtime racing executive D.G. Van Clief Jr., vice-chairman of the Virginia Racing Commission (VRC) and former president of the Breeder’s Cup (1996-2004) and commissioner of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), the tension between tracks and horsemen’s organizations is normal in many states, although Virginia’s inability to reach some compromise and subsequent track closure is not. (The job of the VRC is to promote, sustain, grow, and control a native horse racing industry with wagering in Virginia—in this case, mediating between Virginia horsemen and Colonial Downs, and approving any agreement between the two.) Tracks with high end racing attract higher quality horses, creating a product that is more attractive to fans, which translates to more money from bettors. As a racing commissioner charged with fostering racing and growing the native industry in Virginia, Van Clief knows that though everyone would like to own, train and breed the fastest horses, the reality is that the majority of horses will be average. These are the horses that sustain the economics for the industry in Virginia—and the horses that will not have many opportunities to run in a shorter high-end meet. “We need money for ‘everyday’ racing, too,” says Debbie Easter, a bloodstock agent and the executive director of the Virginia Thoroughbred Association (VTA). The VTA works to promote the thoroughbred industry in Virginia and to advocate for its contributions to the state’s agribusiness economy, as well as to the racing and breeding industry. While six days of exclusively high end, big money racing is exciting for fans and lowers operating costs for Colonial Downs, it is not enough to support the Virginia horse industry, say many trainers and owners. Running so few races essentially cuts Virginia horses out of the running; if Colonial offers only high end racing over a few days, top horses will come from all over the country, and take any winnings out of state, offering no benefit to the Commonwealth horsemen (although they would still receive their allotted 5 percent of gambling revenues). With only a few higher level

photos top left and below by coady photography/ colonial downs; photo top right by kc johnson

Clockwise, from above: Al Qasr crosses the finish line to win the Kitten’s Joy Stakes at Colonial Downs in 2013; Stan Guidroz speaks with the press outside the April 8 meeting of the VRC in Richmond; War Dancer wins the 2013 Virgina Derby neck and neck with horses on either side.

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Inside the stables at Morgan's Ford Farm in Front Royal.

races awarding up to $1 million in purses, there is significantly less to go around to support “everyday” racing and fewer opportunities for local trainers and owners to win. Jacobs is blunt about his position: “The 800-pound gorilla in the room is the fact that Virginia’s thoroughbred horses cannot compete against most horses from other states,” he said in an April 7 press release published on Colonial Downs’ website. “To me this explains why the VHBPA was so strongly opposed to our efforts to hold high end races with nationally competitive horses at Colonial Downs. They can’t compete at that level.” He went on to say that proposals for longer Virginia race meets would be akin to “subsidizing” lower level horses, calling it “poor public policy” that “does nothing to grow the native industry.” Karen Dodsey built her career on racing at Colonial Downs, and without the racing provided by the track, things are complicated. But, she says, “We’re hanging on.” When business was booming, Eagle Point averaged 60-100 horses in the barn. (When she was a child, before Colonial Downs was built, Dodsey remembers the barn being only half full and constantly questioning whether or not the farm would make it.) Once Colonial was built, all of a sudden, their business expanded. A full-service facility, they stood three stallions and offered everything from breeding and foaling to breaking, layups and training. “I love racing,” says Dodsey, “and I loved it at Colonial Downs. When I started, I was a young woman, and I made a lot of connections. People noticed how my horses looked. I earned respect and a name for myself.” Last May, Eagle Point shipped out 20 horses. Dodsey lost a third of her personal income. This year, with no racing on the books at Colonial (at press time), Dodsey will have to continue to travel to meets in West Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland or send horses out to other trainers. In short, her costs are up and her revenues are going down. JUNE 2015


Like Dodsey, trainer Ferris Allen has also felt the impact of the conflict on his business. Although Allen keeps the hub of his operation in Laurel, Maryland, he has deep Virginia racing roots: He is a Richmond native, and his father Bert Allen ran the Varina races—part of Virginia’s storied “Triple Crown of Country Racing” in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. (Along with the Goochland Races and the Camptown Races in Ashland, some locals called this the “Hambone” triple crown.) “As a trainer,” says Allen, “I have won more races than anyone at Colonial, over 200. In my career, I’ve won over 2,000. For 17 years, it’s been my pleasure to recruit the best horses I could find from Florida, New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania to come live with us for those eight weeks.” Since the track’s closure in October, Allen’s business is off by 30 percent. “The model at Colonial wasn’t broken,” he says. From his perspective, Colonial already had a program skewed to high end racing. With 25- to 30-day meets, 25 percent of the purse monies went to stakes races. In most states, he says, that percentage hovers between 17 and 18 percent, and in Maryland, it’s 17 percent by statute. For him, the old race schedule was successful. “Up until now, it’s worked at Colonial with the blessing of the horsemen, and it’s been attractive to fans, too.” Under current Virginia law, there must be a VRC-approved contract in place between a representative Virginia horsemen’s group (in the past, the VHBPA) and the racing licensee (Colonial Downs) in order for racing and wagering to take place. When Colonial turned in its license to operate the track, live racing and wagering (including betting on televised races at tracks all around the country) at its four remaining OTBs across the state (four were closed in 2014) ceased—wiping out almost all of Colonial’s revenues. (The track was, however, allowed to continue operating its online wagering system, EZ Horseplay.) Late last October, in the wake of the shutdown, industry groups formed the non-profit Virginia Equine Alliance (VEA), which includes the

109 V I R G I N I A L I V I N G

4/21/15 3:19 PM

Clockwise, from top left: Wayne and Susie Chatfield-Taylor have been breeding thoroughbreds at Morgan’s Ford Farm in Front Royal since 1979; a horse gets a wash after some exercise; Susie with two fillies born in early 2015; Wayne guides a new foal in front of the stalls.

VHBPA, VTA, the Virginia Harness Horse Association (which represents the owners and trainers of Standardbred horses) and the Gold Cup Association. The VEA is now the main representative for trainers and breeders in negotiations with the VRC and Colonial Downs. Wayne and Susie Chatfield-Taylor, who have been breeding and selling horses at Morgan’s Ford Farm in Front Royal since 1979, are optimistic that reducing the influence of Jacobs Entertainment in Virginia may prove beneficial for the industry. “The monopoly is over, the future of Virginia racing is finally in the horseman’s hands. That in and of itself lends to a positive future,” says Wayne Chatfield-Taylor. At an April 8 meeting of the VRC in Richmond, he went even further: “We’ve got to get out of this ‘it’s my pyramid and I’m not going to let anyone else in’ [mode]—that doesn’t work anymore.” “Our job is to not take sides,” says J. Sargeant Reynolds Jr., who lives in Richmond and is chairman of the VRC. “I feel for the horsemen and the people who lost their jobs. This conflict has impacted a lot of people who didn’t have anything to do with it.” In January 2015, the issue went to the General Assembly, and in February, compromise legislation was approved by both the House and Senate. The legislation reallocated online wagering monies bet on Virginia races through the three national companies that offer online wagering (XpressBet, TVG and TwinSpires) to a non-profit industry stakeholders’ organization, likely the newly formed VEA, to promote and sustain thoroughbred (and harness) racing in Virginia. Colonial would keep the money from its online wagering company, EZ Horseplay, as well as money generated at its OTBs. The horsemen would continue to receive 5 percent of the money for their purse accounts from the three national online VIRGINIA LIVING



wagering companies and from the reopened OTBs owned by Colonial. This legislation was designed to grant Colonial Downs and the Virginia horsemen a “divorce.” The VEA would be allowed to run its own 14-day race meet—although it must make its own arrangements for the location and administration of the races, bankrolled by the reallocated online wagering monies. (Possible locations include Great Meadow in The Plains, Oak Ridge Farm in Nelson County and Montpelier.) Complications arose, however, after Gov. Terry McAuliffe, at the behest of the VEA, amended the legislation to allow for a nonprofit industry stakeholder group (the VEA) to operate its own OTB facilities—and keep the sizable revenues derived from them—if Colonial Downs does not reapply for its racing license before Aug. 1, 2015 (and, presumably, come back to the negotiating table). In its annual reconvened session held April 15, the General Assembly approved the governor’s amendment to the bill. Guidroz says that the new amendment to the bill undermines Colonial’s business operations in Virginia, as it encourages the VEA to pursue its own wagering operations in competition with Colonial, as opposed to cooperating with the track. On April 8, Colonial Downs shut down EZ Horseplay, ending all its online wagering business, and laid off the last few remaining employees at the New Kent track. The movement was seen as a response to Gov. McAuliffe’s amendment. “We need a new horseman’s group that will share our vision,” says Guidroz, describing Colonial as in “an indefinite holding pattern.” In late 2014, as the VEA was being formed, Colonial attempted to organize a horsemen’s group on its own (one that, presumably, would agree with Colonial on a six-day race meet), named the Old Dominion Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. This group was heavily criticized by established JUNE 2015

4/21/15 10:44 AM

Clockwise, from left: Fluxx grazing at Morgan’s Ford Farm in Front Royal with her newborn foal; Debbie Easter outside the stall (now part of Meadow Event Park in Doswell) where 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat lived as a colt; Charlie Davis, an exercise rider for Secretariat during the champion’s racing days; walking two young fillies at Morgan’s Ford Farm.

(steeplechase meets like those at Montpelier, Foxfield and the Gold Cup), and a strong culture and tradition associated with the horse. “We may have country meets combined with traditional track racing.” The VEA is trying to adapt and already has a temporary agreement for racing at the Gold Cup in The Plains. For the first time, on May 2, 2015, it will host three flat races and a simulcast of the Kentucky Derby. The 25-35 horses that will run in these three competitions almost certainly would have raced at Colonial in the past, but represent only a fraction of the roughly 1,200 horses that ran there in 2013 (which itself was down from a peak of about 1,900 in the early 2000s). The VEA also says it has a tentative agreement to run harness racing at Oak Ridge Farm in Nelson County, a private farm with a track that was once used for racing more than a decade ago, and has already begun work to restore it to a suitable condition for thoroughbred racing. “Horsemen are a resilient breed,” says Van Clief. “The challenges should not be underestimated, but I believe the re-emergence of racing in Virginia will be an interesting evolution, and I’m guardedly optimistic.”

Virginia horsemen’s organizations—they claimed it was put together by Colonial to further the track’s ends, and was not a true representation of Virginia breeders and trainers. Frank Petramalo Jr., executive director of the VHBPA, told USA Today it was a “sham” group. Colonial eventually abandoned the effort when it appeared clear that the VRC would not vote to authorize the new group as a representative nonprofit industry stakeholder. Additionally, Virginia horsemen say that Colonial Downs owes the VHBPA nearly $420,000 from money derived from its online wagering system, EZ Horseplay, during the period between November 2014 and March 2015. (The online wagering companies paid the money they owed VHBPA.) Colonial contends that with no racing agreement in place during that period, the VHBPA should not be considered the “nonprofit industry stakeholder” of the type that the law requires to pay out 5 percent of online gaming proceeds. The matter of this $420,000 may eventually be settled in court. Following the April 8 VRC meeting, when asked about potential racing at Colonial Downs in 2015, Guidroz said, “I don’t see that in the cards right now.” Jacobs Entertainment has ceased operations in Virginia; the OTBs are shuttered, and the track is silent and empty. It is unclear what further negotiations between Colonial and the horsemen might bring. Before the new amendment to the compromise legislation, Colonial hinted that it would like to see the horsemen lease the track as the site of future races, as well as pay for the use of its OTBs and online wagering platform. Whether this is still a viable option or not remains to be seen. “Maybe the face of Virginia racing will look a lot different from other states,” says Van Clief, owing to its successful tradition of country racing JUNE 2015


Back at Eagle Point Farm, Toccoa has just given birth. Though it may be uncertain where, or if, her foal will ever race in Virginia, a birth like this from a favorite horse inspires dreams and the thrill of possibilities. While Dodsey admits that breaking and training is fun, it doesn’t compare to being at Colonial Downs with her name on the card as the trainer. As a local, when her horses won, it was like a homecoming. “Our winner’s circle pictures were full of family and friends,” she says. As for the future of racing in Virginia? “I’m hopeful.”,,, ❉



4/21/15 10:45 AM

D EPARTURE BIG BYRD The glory days of Richmond’s original movie palace.



ometimes we neglect to appreciate the treasures

right around us, and sometimes even until it is too late to save them. For me, this hit home when I recently was asked to narrate a documentary about the Byrd Theatre for a six-part European television series called Mythical Cinemas. A great old theater, I thought, a cultural gem, but internationally significant? Hmm. That surprised me. Of course, like anyone who grew up in Richmond or visited frequently, I had spent my fair share of time at the Byrd, the classic (now somewhat tattered) movie house in Carytown. I had attended birthday parties there and sung “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” to the Mighty Wurlitzer organ, a rousing, quintessentially American experience. Others, I learned while shooting the documentary, had had a first date there that led to marriage,

and a few had even gotten hitched right there in the theater. My favorite was the groom who arrived for his nuptials beside the Wurlitzer, which slowly rises (with organist Bob Gulledge on the bench) from beneath the stage for each performance. But more often the prized memories were of simple pleasures. One evening in 2000, my wife, Jessica, and I went to see a movie there. It was perhaps Almost Famous or O Brother, Where Art Thou, both hits that year. I don’t remember now, because we didn’t get to see it that night. It had left the day before. Now showing was martial arts master Jackie Chan’s Shanghai Noon. Jessica was not enthused. We went across the street for dinner before the show, as originally planned, and I coaxed her into giving it a try. At $1.99 a seat, I promised, we could leave whenever she wanted. She reluctantly agreed. Soon, the absurdity of Chan’s lightning fast moves and Owen Wilson’s thicker-than-oil Texas drawl had us guffawing to tears in our seats. These collective memories, along with the VIRGINIA LIVING

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dedication of current manager Todd Schall-Vess and past volunteer custodian Miles Rudicill to keeping the elegant but aging theater in working order, greatly impressed the French director of the documentary, Jean Achache, who named his beautifully shot film The Byrd: A Love Affair. The Mythical Cinemas series of six 52-minute documentaries places the Byrd in impressive company: with the Lucerna in Prague, from whose balcony (built by his grandfather) Vaclav Havel celebrated the Velvet Revolution; Amsterdam’s opulent Tuschinski Theater, whose builder came to the city from a poor shtetl, built the movie palace of his dreams, and then perished in the Holocaust; Mumbai’s Eros, a Bollywood stalwart; Havana’s Campo Amor, where erotic films flourished; and Tierra del Fuego’s Cinema at the End of the World, home of the earliest anthropological films, on the nomadic Kawésqar, who lived nearly naked on the ice. So just how does the Byrd fit into this illustrious company? Well, for starters, it hosts the French Film Festival, which just completed its 23rd annual season, including dozens of features and shorts and the world debut of Achache’s documentary. With more than 20,000 attendees and dozens of French actors, directors and industry pros, the four-day event is the largest French film festival outside of France. Achache, who presented a film there three years ago, fell in love with the theater and chose it to represent America in the series. Built in the Renaissance Revival style in 1929, with a balcony, two-and-a-half ton crystal chandelier, imported marble, red velvet drapes, and murals of Greek mythology, the 1,400-seat theater does a good job of that. It opened just in time to experience the end of the silent film era and to span the talkie era. And the prize inside, the Mighty Wurlitzer, built to accompany silent films, is much more than meets the eye. What you see being played down front is a control panel with keys and electrical and pneumatic switches through which the organist operates pipes, bells, horns, drums, whistles and other effects, including a car horn, sounds that are mostly created in a hidden labyrinth four stories above the stage and released into the auditorium through slats in the proscenium arch. A marimba plays from the organ console in the And the prize right box (though the harp doesn’t), and in the inside, the Mighty left, a grand piano and a xylophone. The Byrd’s magnificent factory-installed one-man-orchestra Wurlitzer, built to is now a great rarity. In 2004, the inventor of the Digital sound system, Ray Dolby, was so accompany silent Dolby wowed by it that he donated a Dolby sound system to the Byrd. films, is much But many more systems need attention to more than meets keep it from going the way of a few of the other theaters featured in Mythical Cinemas, which are the eye.” now in ruins. If everyone who had a belly laugh or a powerful film moment will pitch in just a little, this cultural icon should inspire generations to come. ❉


JUNE 2015

4/20/15 3:17 PM


left to right: Christopher D. Knotts, MD; Robert K. Sigal, MD; Byron D. Poindexter, MD; George W. Weston, MD. All certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

We’re humbled and honored to be voted best cosmetic surgeons in Northern Virginia again. We have the best patients, and it’s great to know they feel the same about us!


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Virginia Living – JUNE 2015  
Virginia Living – JUNE 2015