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VOLUME 2, ISSUE 5 PUBLISHER Bruce Potter
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4 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020
FROM THE PUBLISHER A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE
will always remember my first trip to Ashburn after moving to Leesburg in 2012. I was driving to an appointment near Ashburn Village Boulevard and Farmwell Road, and my GPS decided the fastest route was to take what seemed like an endless number of right turns, followed by left turns, followed by right turns. Even as someone who has lived in suburbia my entire life, I was astounded at the number of wide four-lane roads with grassy medians, large houses that all clearly were relatively new, and brick shopping centers. Now I’m an Ashburn resident, and every Saturday and Sunday morning my wife and I walk to Starbucks -- in the same complex I visited that day eight years ago. It’s hard to believe that not so long ago the paths we follow were cornfields and dairy farms. And the four-lane roads we cross were little more than dusty gravel lanes. In our cover story this issue, editor Chris Wadsworth takes us back to 1985, when Ashburn had maybe 200 residents and Ashburn Village was but a gleam in a developer’s eye. Now, roads, houses, shopping centers and – yes – still lots of green spaces stretch as far as the eye can see. Ashburn may have been at a crossroads in 1985, but change was coming one way or the other. We like to gripe about the traffic and the development, but it’s tough to argue with being chosen once again as one of the “Best Places to Live” in the country (number 11 this year). If you want to reminisce about “old” Ashburn, head down Ashburn Road to A
New View, where owner Kimberly Harris turns what some might consider junk into treasures that capture a spirit of the past. You can meet Harris and learn about her store in Jill Devine’s article starting on Page 30. And those green spaces? Well, not only do we have lots of them, but did you know Ashburn is home to the National Parks and Recreation Association? The organization, headquartered off Belmont Ridge Road near Brambleton, actually moved here in the 1990s because it was appropriate to be located somewhere with more green space than downtown Washington. Writer Emily Cook takes an inside look at the association and its efforts to preserve green space starting on Page 12. Elsewhere this issue, you’ll meet a talented local family who is quickly rising in the music scene and learn from local experts how to make some holiday cocktails – because a stiff drink seems an appropriate way to end this year. And as we head into the holiday season, those of us at Ashburn Magazine wish you and yours health and happiness – and a better 2021!
BRUCE POTTER, PUBLISHER PUBLISHER@ASHBURNMAGAZINE.COM
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26 more amazing kids
Highlighting local kids doing great things
wine & dine
our neighbors HE LOVES ROCK & ROLL Ashburn man starts his own radio station BY CHRIS WADSWORTH
16 time travel cover story CROSSROADS 1985 decision charted a new course for Ashburn BY CHRIS WADSWORTH
home sweet home feature story A ROOM WITH A VIEW Home decor shop finds magic in well-loved pieces BY JILL DEVINE
amazing kids feature story
A WALK IN THE PARK Local organization drives change nationwide
QUEENS OVER KINGS Ashburn family goes all in on music
BY EMILY COOK
BY KENNEDY COOPWOOD
34 real estate round-up The latest facts and figures about home sales in Ashburn
HOLIDAY CHEER Seasonal libations to lift the spirits and warm the belly BY CHRIS WADSWORTH
46 the burn The latest restaurant, retail and other cool news
40 local adventures WINTER WONDERLAND West Virginia’s Blackwater Falls State Park offers a vacation to remember BY JILL DEVINE
ON THE COVER Ashburn Village as seen from the air in October 2020. Cover photo by Vantage Point Drone, Ashburn.
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He Loves Rock & Roll Ashburn man starts his own radio station BY C H R I S WADSWO RT H
att Greenwood is the type of guy who turns heads in Ashburn. Well, maybe not Matt himself, but certainly his car. He regularly cruises down local streets in his vintage 1986 Corvette that is “wrapped” in eye-catching purple and magenta images to promote his radio station, 101 The 80s. Yes, his radio station. Greenwood is a lover of ’80s music, and after his kids left the nest, he decided to start an internet radio station. It’s just a side gig, but for a guy who has loved music since dancing to “Born in the U.S.A.” with his family as a teenager in Ohio, it’s a dream come true. Ashburn Magazine hopped on the phone with Greenwood to learn more about 101 The 80s and, of course, the Corvette. 8 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020
ASHBURN MAGAZINE: WHO STARTS THEIR OWN RADIO STATION? WHERE DOES AN IDEA LIKE THAT EVEN COME FROM? Matt Greenwood: I’ve always liked ’80s music and I’ve always liked radio. When I was raising a family, I didn’t really have any time for that with the kids and working full time. Then one day, I was reading an article online about internet radio and I’m like, “Hey that’s something I could do.” I could do it from home. WHEN DID YOU LAUNCH AND HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT IT? Back around 2016, I started with this company called Shoutcast, this free internet streaming service, but that wasn’t doing it for me. The station has to run on high-speed internet. I wasn’t using high speed at the time; I was using Wi-Fi and it was dropping out. I switched to a new streaming service and new
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WHERE DO YOU GET THE PERMISSIONS FROM THE MUSIC OWNERS? I have to have a license to play it. I have three license companies – ASCAP, BMI and SESAC — to play the music. I have to do quarterly reports and turn those into the licensing companies. I have to do financial statements on the music I play and how many times I play it. It’s the same as when a restaurant plays music
DO YOU MAKE MUCH INCOME OR IS IT A PASSION PROJECT? Some of our income is coming from our (101 The 80s) roller skating events that we do here in the DMV. And I do finance some of it myself. I use the income from the roller skating events and a little from my other job to keep things going. The cost overall isn’t very much to run the station, so that helps.
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OUR NEIGHBORS WHAT IS THE SIZE OF YOUR AUDIENCE? Our motto is “Coast to Coast, Around the Globe.” It’s free to tune in. You can download our app. You can enable us on Amazon Alexa. We average about 300 to 500 listeners a month. That’s not bad considering the competition that is out there for internet radio, plus you have Sirius with millions of listeners. We focus in the Mid-Atlantic region because that’s where our skating events are. We like to advertise in areas where we do our skating events. WHAT ARE THESE SKATING EVENTS — 80S-THEMED ROLLER SKATING PARTIES WITH MUSIC? Yes. We were doing them once a month before COVID and we would get really good turnout. We started in Purcellville two years ago. Then we branched out. We were in Winchester and then we were over in Manassas late last year. We did a Halloween event in Manassas. And then we had just started over in Hagerstown (Maryland) at the Skate Palace. It was really great; the turnout had been great. We were looking at places in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. So COVID sort of put the brakes on everything. I’VE LISTENED TO THE MUSIC YOU PLAY ON 101 THE 80S AND IT ISN’T JUST TOP 40. IT SEEMS YOU HAVE SOME DEEP CUTS. HOW DO YOU SELECT THE MUSIC? That’s how we differentiate ourselves. We obviously play the Top 40, but we are always looking at deeper cuts from Top 40 artists like Cindy Lauper, like Duran Duran. The Bangles have a lot of deeper cuts. Sure, you can hear “Walk Like an Egyptian,” but they
have four or five other songs that — in my opinion — are just as good. I also look for songs that maybe didn’t crack the Top 40, but still made the charts — kind of lost hits. FINALLY, TELL ME ABOUT THE WRAPPED CAR THAT SO MANY PEOPLE HAVE SEEN ZIPPING AROUND ASHBURN. It’s a 1986 Corvette. I bought it locally from a guy here in Ashburn who was moving. I went to the folks at Speed Pro Imaging in Sterling. Boy, I tell you I’ve been pleased as punch with the car. Everyone stares. The kids go crazy. People take pictures of the car. It’s been great around Ashburn and I have taken it to Purcellville for our skating events. I haven’t taken it too much farther yet. LIGHTNING ROUND
Favorite ’80s movie? “Top Gun”
Favorite ’80s TV show? “Magnum, P.I.”
Favorite ’80s performer or group?
Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
Favorite ’80s song?
“I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
Favorite ’80s sports team?
I’m a big Cleveland Browns fan.
Favorite food? Pizza
Favorite drink? Diet Coke
Favorite Ashburn restaurant? Blue Ridge Grill
Favorite place to hang out in Ashburn?
Clyde’s Willow Creek Farm
One fashion from the ’80s ready for a comeback? Leg warmers A To check out 101 The 80s, visit www.101The80s.com.
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A Walk in the Park Local organization drives change nationwide BY EMILY COOK
The National Recreation and Park Association helps communities around the country from its eye-catching headquarters on Belmont Ridge Road in Ashburn.
12 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020
BUSINESS BOOM Staff members from the NRPA celebrated Park & Recreation Month in July, including meeting virtually and wearing special “We are Parks and Recreation” t-shirts.
ike nearly everyone else, Brambleton residents David and Nadya Boal have had their lives turned upside down by the coronavirus pandemic. Changes at work. Social distancing. The whole shebang. But one constant for them is the ability to “escape” to area parks almost every day and enjoy hiking with their dog, Waffles. “Having a park or green space as an outlet to safely get fresh air, exercise, or even socialize from a distance really helped alleviate some of the pressure or anxiety that the pandemic brought on,” said Nadya Boal. What the Boals may not know is that just up the road — a proverbial stone’s throw from Brambleton — sits the headquarters
past several months. People are enjoying outdoor spaces more than ever before – they’re biking, hiking, picnicking, and walking the trails in record numbers. With a staff of 60 and a budget of $19 million, the NRPA helps guide more than 60,000 member parks and recreation professionals across the nation. Think of the association as the “wizard behind the curtain” driving policy change, equitable programming, and community wellness programs that benefit people of all ages. of the National Recreation “Many people are surprised and Park Association, one when they learn that parks of the largest parks and rec KRISTINE and recreation is more than organizations in the United STRATTON just sports leagues and States. The association is off summer camp,” said Kristine Stratton, Belmont Ridge Road near Northstar president and CEO of NRPA. “Parks and Boulevard, appropriately enough next to a recreation is confronting many of society’s bunch of baseball fields. And the NRPA is determined to promote biggest challenges like hunger, obesity, homelessness, mental health, climate and protect parks and recreation for change, substance use disorder, equitable everyone at this critical time. access to green space and so much more.” The organization reports that a Collaborating with industry experts, the huge majority — 89% of adults — have NRPA brings programming to communities indicated that having access to parks and with initiatives such as Healthy Eating open spaces has been critical to their Physical Activity, Parks for Inclusion, overall health and well-being during the
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Parks Build Community andand Parks for for Parks Build Community Parks Members from Members from Pollinators. TheThe association alsoalso offers Pollinators. association offers across thethe across educational andand mentorship programs focused educational mentorship programs focused United States United States on on substance abuse among America’s youth. substance abuse among America’s youth. gather at the gather at the One of the bigbig goals of the NRPA is is One of the goals of the NRPA 2019 NRPA 2019 NRPA making sure kids everywhere cancan enjoy a a convention making sure kids everywhere enjoy in in convention park or or community recreation program. park community recreation program. Baltimore. Baltimore. While many of us in Ashburn — with While many of us in Ashburn — with parks andand green spaces all all around us us parks green spaces around — may take these types of things forfor — may take these types of things granted, in many poorer andand urban granted, in many poorer urban communities, there may notnot be be wellcommunities, there may welltended parks to play in. in. And there may tended parks to play And there may notnot be be sports, artsarts andand crafts andand other sports, crafts other recreational programs. recreational programs. TheThe NRPA tries to combat thisthis NRPA tries to combat by by providing grants to under-funded providing grants to under-funded communities across thethe nation. These communities across nation. These grants cancan help revitalize green spaces grants help revitalize green spaces andand ensure communities have access to to ensure communities have access WW e place e place health education, wellness programs andand health education, wellness programs atat the equity the athletics. Even thethe Walt Disney Co.Co. gotgot in in equity athletics. Even Walt Disney center of all center of all on on thethe action, with a $1 million donation action, with a $1 million donation thatthat allowed thethe NRPA to award grants to to that allowed NRPA to award grants wewe dodo —— that 12 12 communities to increase access to youth communities to increase access to youth from how wewe from how sports programs andand facilities. sports programs facilities. strengthen our strengthen our “We place equity at the center of all “We place equity at the center of all organizational organizational thatthat wewe do do — from how wewe strengthen ourour — from how strengthen toto how culture, how organizational culture, to how wewe prepare organizational culture, to how prepare culture, thethe park andand recreation field forfor thethe future,” park recreation field future,” we prepare we prepare Stratton said. Stratton said. the park and the park and TheThe NRPA moved to Ashburn from NRPA moved to Ashburn from recreation recreation Washington in 1997 after thethe Northern Washington in 1997 after Northern field forfor the field the Virginia Regional Park Authority offered Virginia Regional Park Authority offered future.” thethe organization a spot in ainmore park-like organization a spot a more park-like future.” setting than thethe busy streets of D.C. setting than busy streets of D.C. Serving as stewards forfor parks andand open Serving as stewards parks open spaces means putting conservation at the spaces means putting conservation at the forefront. Take thethe NRPA’s “Parks forfor forefront. Take NRPA’s “Parks Pollinators” program — a—partnership with Pollinators” program a partnership with thethe Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation. Wildlife Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation. Wildlife thatthat helps pollinate flowers andand plants hashas helps pollinate flowers plants seen a dramatic drop in recent years. TheThe seen a dramatic drop in recent years. program encourages parks to increase thethe program encourages parks to increase planting of pollinator gardens as well as to planting of pollinator gardens as well as to educate visitors. educate visitors.
14 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020
BUSINESS BOOM “The Parks for Pollinators Park behind them and the program is a great way to engage Brambleton Regional Park and community members in local Golf Course just to the south science and the importance of (yes, the golf course is actually a KELLIE MAY pollinator protection,” said Kellie park). Their goal is to make sure May, NRPA’s vice president of partnerships, everyone — no matter where they live or how programs and development. “The program much money they have — has similar access … provides … an opportunity to educate to life-enriching programs and the chance to participants about the importance of spend time in the great outdoors. pollinators — like bees, bats and butterflies.” Meanwhile, the Boals — a young couple From their Ashburn headquarters, the just embarking on their life together — NRPA team can see parks all around them — probably don’t think about all the important from the county baseball fields next door to work that happens “behind the curtain” to the under-development Beaverdam Reservoir make parks what they are. They just know
that parks offer them hope, relaxation and an escape into nature. “I enjoy Ball’s Bluff [Regional Park] for the historical significance because I’m a Civil War nerd – and also for the beautiful sights,” David Boal said about the Leesburg historic battlefield they regularly visit. “We like to walk around there with [Waffles] and take it all in.” A Emily Cook is a freelance writer with a background in communications and public relations. She lives in Loudoun County with her husband and three children.
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1985 decision charted a new course for Ashburn BY CH RI S WADSWO RT H
BY VANTAGE POINT DRONE
16 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020
Neighbors Uneasy About
By John F. Harris Washingto Impact Of Ashburn Project in Loudoun: <spa n Post Staff Writer n ... The Washington Post (1974-Curr ProQuest Historical Newspaper ent file); Dec 7, 1985; s: The Wash ingto n Post pg. E1
Reproduced with permissio
n of the copyright owner.
Reproduced with permission
ited without permission.
r reproduction prohib of the copyright owner. Furthe
(left) An aerial image of the heart of Old Ashburn, including the former Partlow Brothers store, the Old Mill and the Ashburn fire station; (above) a clipping of The Washington Post article from 1985 where Ashburn residents addressed their hopes and fears about development coming to the community.
Further reproduction prohibited
Ashburn Village dominated conversations at dinner tables, church suppers and at the local store. Change was coming. In October of this year, three historic buildings along Ashburn Road were torn down to make way for a new residential development. One of those buildings was Randy Poland’s childhood home — showing that the change that started 35 years ago with that fateful vote is still occurring today.
remember everything being quiet FEARS — everything except the birds and the insects.” That’s how lifelong Ashburn “We’re not the least bit ambivalent about resident Randy Poland describes growing it. We’re dead set against it.” That’s what up here in the 1950s and 1960s. It was the Ashburn resident Robert Gullo told the quintessential rural life — dairy Post in the December 1985 newspaper farms, gravel roads, a general story about Ashburn Village. store, a single brick school. Gullo had moved his family from But in 1985, when Annandale because he liked the Poland turned 30, Ashburn open spaces and country living. also reached a crossroads. “Hell, I commute an hour and a That’s when county leaders half each day just to live here.” approved a new development Gullo and those on his side RANDY POLAND that would fundamentally of the debate loved the rural change this tiny dot on the map lifestyle. They could work in Washington forever. The development was called or the nearby suburbs dense with office Ashburn Village — a neighborhood filled buildings, then head up Route 7 and travel with 5,000 homes, dozens of new roads, back in time — past the quickly growing a supermarket and shopping center and communities in Fairfax and the new much more. neighborhoods crossing the county line into A headline that year in the Washington Sterling — into the country that still looked Post read, “Neighbors Uneasy About much as it had a century before. Impact of Ashburn Project in Loudoun.” Another one of the locals quoted in the Post article was Sterling activist Stanwyn Uneasy to say the least. The green light for ASHBURN MAGAZINE • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020 • 17
JOE FRANCIS COLLECTION AT THE THOMAS BALCH LIBRARY
Cathy Cox grew up in Ashburn as well, right along Ashburn Road. She says Partlow’s was more than just a store CATHY COX — it was a hub of the community. “Calvin and Ernestine Partlow … helped people out the best they could in any way possible,” Cox said. “The store had a variety of everything. Calvin butchered meat for his deli section along with having shelves stocked from foods to hardware supplies. Gas, air and kerosene were also available. The Partlows were well respected in our little town.” Community traditions stretched back generations — the annual Ham & Oyster
18 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020
COU RTESY RAN DY POL AND
Shetler. Shetler lived in Loudoun County until his death in 2017. His daughter, Lara Shetler, says her father was a life-long environmentalist who STANWYN SHETLER was frustrated with how Ashburn’s green spaces were disappearing — something local residents still complain about. “I think dad has always known that growth was inevitable, especially in this area, but he strove for … growth and nature to [go hand in hand],” Lara Shetler said. “The developers come in and completely bulldoze an area down. They don’t save any of the trees, or any of the little habitats that might have been unique to the area. And then they put some trees back in, and they might not even be trees appropriate to the area.” Back then, Partlow’s Store was pretty much the only shopping in Ashburn. That’s the building next to the W&OD Trail where Carolina Brothers BBQ is today. Locals called it the “Ashburn Mall” because you could buy more than just your staple groceries. You could also shop for shoes, boots and other essentials.
(above) A circa 1970s aerial of Old Ashburn looking south along Ashburn Road. That’s the old railroad tracks (today’s W&OD Trail) crossing it running left to right with Partlow Brothers store and the Old Mill next to it. The Ashburn train station, which was torn down in 1969, is no longer present; (right) a class at the Old Ashburn Elementary School during the 1967-68 school year. Dinner at the Ashburn fire house, the Turkey Shoot contest, the Fireman’s Parade & Carnival. Area churches had events called “homecomings” — potluck dinners where every family tried to outdo the next to see how much food they could bring. And there was a sense of community spirit. That everyone was in it together. “If there was a death in the family, there would be more food at your home in a day than you could eat all year,” Poland said. He recalls a blizzard that once swept in, leaving Ashburn Road in deep drifts. Local men dug out Ashburn Road all the way north to Route 7 so the milk trucks could get out. “It was such a small community, we had to count on each other for help.” This is what Ashburn Village threatened. How could a tiny, tight-knit community
FROM THE 1976 BROAD RUN HIGH SCHOOL YEARBOOK
COURTESY OF RANDY POLAND
(left to right) Partlow Brothers store in the mid 1970s; Randy Polandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s childhood home on Ashburn Road. The home was razed in October 2020. of 200 people absorb 5,000 new homes and 5,000 new families, along with new stores and roads and businesses without something â&#x20AC;&#x201D; everything â&#x20AC;&#x201D; changing? They answer is they couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and they knew it.
HOPES But the rolling hills and the corner store were only half of the picture of Ashburn in the mid-1980s. There was another side as well â&#x20AC;&#x201D;
one that led some people to hope Ashburn Village would bring new life to a community that many felt had been dying for years. The red clay soil in Ashburn had never been great for farming crops. Locals say it didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t grow much, but it produced enough for dairy cattle to munch on. Indeed, dairy had been the mainstay of the local economy since the 1800s. But by 1985, many of the local farms had shut down and were vacant. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Farmlands were being bought out for
development. Dulles Airport took out hundreds of acres, and that was the start of it all. That is why so many of us left Loudoun County and moved â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;over the mountain,â&#x20AC;&#x2122; as we say,â&#x20AC;? said Cox, who moved for a time to Clarke County with her family. Indeed, older residents were dying and others were moving away, and there just werenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t younger families coming in. During this time, Tillettâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Auction Barn â&#x20AC;&#x201D; which still stands off Belmont Ridge Road â&#x20AC;&#x201D; ď&#x192;˘
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ASHBURN MAGAZINE â&#x20AC;˘ NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020 â&#x20AC;˘ 19
was busier than ever. “One of the big things at that time was farm auctions — families getting rid of their stuff. Most of the farms had sold out or were getting ready to sell out,” Poland said. And for the residents who did live here, things weren’t always easy. Roads were often gravel and filled with potholes. Homes were on septic tanks. Ashburn Village came with a promise from the developers to bring sewers to area homes and new, wider paved roads to the community — something Ashburn may not have merited otherwise. The Shetler family lived in the Sugarland Run neighborhood in Sterling, and Lara Shetler attended Broad Run High School. “Driving to the high school or taking the bus — it was a potholed back road,” she recalled. “It was paved, but it was more gravel than pavement.” For real shopping — supermarkets, clothing shops, record stores — locals had to go to Herndon or Leesburg. Same if they wanted to cool off in a swimming pool or see a movie. “There was nothing between Sugarland Run and Leesburg. It was just wide open. They had a light at Route 28, and it was a flashing light,” Lara Shetler said. “If you wanted to go to a mall you went to Tysons or Fair Oaks. There was nothing close by.” Sure, Ashburn Village brought the promise of change — but at least some of that change was something many in Ashburn desired. “I guess I may be getting convinced it will be for the better,” Ashburn resident Francis Costello said in the 1985 newspaper article. “Things certainly are at a standstill now.”
The old Weller Tile building on Ashburn Road being torn down in October 2020.
And to this end, Poland says there wasn’t any serious movement to try to stop Ashburn Village. “I think a lot of people just felt it was inevitable. They saw Sterling Park coming in and Sugarland Run and Cascades. It was just moving in this direction,” he said. “There wasn’t anybody that lived in Ashburn that held enough power politically to do anything about it.”
REALITY Once the Ashburn Village deal went through, change started quickly. Calvin Partlow sold his store. New owners kept it operating, but one of Ashburn’s most prominent citizens had given up the ghost. It was a sign. “When it all started, the traffic really picked up on Ashburn Road. My father couldn’t back his car out without having to wait,” Poland recalled. “He came in and
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said, ‘We’re moving.’ And we moved.” The Polands’ home with its bricks and columns and white porch — the one his parents had paid $6,000 for in the 1950s — sold for half a million dollars. Today, it’s a vacant lot waiting to be built upon. Nearly all the area farms were eventually sold. Eventually, a new kind of farm appeared in the area — data farms. Where the greater Ashburn area was once known for dairy farms, today we are famous around the world as “Data Center Alley,” one of the critical hubs on the internet. “Ashburn is a real success story,” said Buddy Rizer, executive director for Loudoun’s Department of Economic Development. “The county has taken a proactive stance on building communities like Ashburn out in a planned fashion, even as the population has grown as fast as anywhere in the U.S. That includes reserving tracts of land for schools, libraries and community centers while recognizing the opportunity that data centers
present in lifting the tax burden off “When you take the post office of residents.” and the elementary school out of Meanwhile, back in the town, you don’t have much left,” late 1980s and early 1990s, local resident Steuart Weller the staples of the community said in another Washington Post began to buckle under the article in 1991. Weller was the pressure of thousands of owner of Weller Tile & Mosaics, STEUART WELLER new families. In 1991, the tiny once based in Ashburn. A local Ashburn post office closed after elementary school is named after him. serving the community for decades. It stood The building that once housed his business near the W&OD Trail by the fire station, but was among those torn down in October. the building is no longer there. Ashburn Village was followed by In 1992, the new Ashburn Elementary Ashburn Farm — then Broadlands, School opened, replacing the old 200-student Belmont Greene, Belmont Country Club, school that had served Ashburn since 1945. Brambleton and many more. The original school still stands on tiny Partlow The change that started with Ashburn Road and is used as a staff training site for Village turned out to be exactly what Loudoun County Public Schools. those long ago residents had feared — and
hoped for. The beloved annual events did disappear — no more oyster dinners or turkey shoots. The sense of a small-town community did change, because Ashburn isn’t a small town anymore. But there are roads and sewers, not to mention restaurants and movie theaters and swimming pools and shopping centers — things an Ashburn resident of 1985 could have scarcely imagined. Whether all the change is good, bad or otherwise is up to each individual. “I would love to see the old train come through again and the engineer wave at us [and] see those old-timers back on the Partlow store’s porch having their conversations,” said Cathy Cox. “Those were some of the best days of my life.” A
ASHBURN MAGAZINE • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020 • 21
amazing kids feature
Jerald, 29 Jerald directed the music video for “Unknown Soldier,” then turned these skills into a business — Visage LLC, where he plans to produce videos for other artists and as well as businesses.
Hallie, 17 Just like her siblings, Hallie is attending Broad Run High School, where she will graduate next year. She is also trying to get her YouTube channel off the ground.
22 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020
Studying art therapy at Northern Virginia Community College, Ingrid says she is just trying to get through school in the crazy year that is 2020.
Kristyn, 31 In addition to teaching special education at Eagle Ridge Middle School in Ashburn, Kristyn helps her mother, Maria, at Blank Tape Studios — teaching artists the ins and outs of the business and how to successfully build their bands.
OVER KINGS Family goes ‘all in’ on music BY KENNEDY CO O PWO O D
ost families have things that connect them, like sports, food, holiday traditions or even inside jokes. But for the Roberts family, music has really been the thing that has kept them together and closer than ever. “There never really was another thing for us,” said LoRen Roberts, bass player and a member of the Ashburn-based family band Queens over Kings, also known as QOK. Their music has opened so many doors for them — they’ve performed in venues around Loudoun County and from Baltimore to Hawaii. They’ve played at restaurants like the Hard Rock Cafe and on cruise ships in Cozumel and then come back home to play at their alma mater, Broad Run High School. And all the members of QOK agree — the best decision they made was not quitting along the way when the going got tough.
THE EARLY DAYS
LoRen, 21 LoRen is currently working on a music production and recording degree from Middlesex University.
Queens Over Kings was founded in 2010. The band is composed of five members of the Roberts family — brothers and sisters with a passion for jamming together and making good music. The band is made up of Kristyn Marrott, 31 (oldest sibling and lead singer), Jerald Roberts, 29 (guitarist), LoRen Roberts, 21 (bass), Ingrid Roberts, 19 (keyboard), and Hallie Roberts, 17 (drums). Their mom — Maria Roberts — is
an unofficial member and the “momager” of the group. As mom and manager, she helps make the magic happen. The family has created quite a name for itself in the local music community — having performed at local charity events, as well as Jammin’ Java in Vienna and other area venues for more than a decade. The formation of the band happened unintentionally. Jerald took up guitar in the sixth grade and brother LoRen followed suit shortly after. Hallie — persistent with her interest in drums — began taking lessons at age 5. Meanwhile, Ingrid took up the piano. Kristyn was always a singer. It took Maria to put it all together. She’s the one who suggested to the kids that — among the five of them — they had the makings of a band. The kids’ former music teacher, Kevin Butler, is still a big part of their lives. He’s the one who came up with the name — because there were three Roberts girls and two Roberts boys. QOK started out doing covers. The first song they performed was Journey’s classic “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Since then, they have transitioned to writing and producing their own music and, more recently, music videos. Their first album dropped in 2017 and consisted of some of their most popular tunes, with titles like “Always,” “Lock and Key” and the power rock song “Unknown Soldier,” written by Ingrid when she was
ASHBURN MAGAZINE • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020 • 23
refiner’s fire, now it’s like, ‘We have a show on Saturday; what songs do you want to play?’ We’ll get together for 30 minutes and I know we’re going to kill it.” Maria handles all promotional and booking aspects of the group — although sometimes she admits she can get caught up in the fandom herself. “One thing that always gets me is that fact that they can be in the middle of the song, stop and say, ‘We’re going back to this part, this section,’ and drop in together and start playing on measure without hesitation. That will always amaze me.”
Clockwise from top: Queens over Kings performs at an event in Herndon; discussing a song during a recording session in McLean; Kristyn as guest recording artist at The Art Institute of Washington.
14. These three songs are currently available on United Airlines and Virgin Airlines in-flight radio. They are also a part of the Netflix music catalog, so you may hear those tunes on some of the streaming service’s original series in the upcoming year. “About a Boy” — considered the band’s staple and a sure-fire crowd-pleaser — was written by Kristyn, who has won awards for her poetry, including a 2018 Rhyme On award from the Loudoun County Public Library. Recently, she won the WMATA (Washington Metro Area Transit Authority) Poetry on Glass competition, and her poems will be etched on glass and installed at the soon-to-open Silver Line’s Ashburn Station. “I draw inspiration from my life experiences, the poetry I write and books I read. I keep a bank of phases I like,” Kristyn said.
THE CREATIVE PROCESS
Although born in Ashburn, the band is inspired by musicians and genres everywhere — pop and blues to southern Motown and the California punk rock scene and even Latin jazz. Because of this
diversity, the band hesitates to place its sound in a definite genre. “I would say our sound is classic,” Jerald said. “I say alternative pop rock just to be nice about it, but that doesn’t even tell the whole story.” As for the songwriting — when the QOK members first started to write their music, a lot of the musical direction came from the older siblings. Jerald would write the music and Kristyn the lyrics. As the group grew older, the others stepped up to help with those roles, putting their own musical and lyrical ideas on the table. One person usually maps out the framework, and the rest come together to build it out. “It all starts with an idea or feeling and we wonder how we can express it,” Jerald said. “Then we bring the team together and work on it and then we have a song.” That may sound easy, but it wasn’t always the case. “When we first started, you know, it was going through all the breakdowns and the tears and the yelling and the ‘I don’t want to do this anymore’ and the ‘Why are we doing it?’’ Jerald said. “But after going through the
24 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020
This summer, the band’s Unknown Soldier music video was consistently in the top 10 of 500 videos in weekly competition on “The One-Indie Music Battle,” which airs on the Reelz TV cable channel. Due to the pandemic, the band shifted from live performances and toward recorded music and licensing. The latest development for the family is launching its own recording studio, Blank Tape Studios in Sterling. It’s a recording location not just for QOK, but also for other local artists and musicians. Seen as a “cathedral” dedicated to the music industry in Loudoun, the studio can package all things music for its artists — including song writing, production, branding, booking, record label distribution, sync licensing and more. “Our goal with this is to create a music house where artists can call home,” LoRen said. Heritage High School’s production of “The Little Shop of Horrors” recorded at Blank Tape Studios. So have local acts such as J2 Music, Charli, ABVE, All I See and Nothing Defined. “We love writing music, we love performing, and we’ve reached a point where now we’re trying to put ourselves in a position to help others do the same,” Jerald said. Through it all, Maria stresses taking opportunities to create music and encourages her kids to keep going. “When the world opens back up, QOK will be ready — because the momentum has not stopped. You can’t take music away.” A
To check out QOK’s music and learn more about the band, go to their website at: www.queensoverkingsband.com. Midwest native Kennedy Coopwood is a freelance writer in Sterling who stands by the notion that it is called “pop,” not “soda.” A huge music lover, Coopwood spends her time reviewing new artists… usually while hitting the gym or cooking up a new recipe.
CABINETRY • WINDOWS • DOORS • SIDING
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OK, we know all kids are amazing, but if you know of a kid who’s so amazing that he or she should be featured on this page, please email information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
LOCAL GIRLS WIN VIDEO SKATING COMPETITION
SISTERS WIN ‘POINTS OF LIGHT’ AWARD, INTERVIEWED ON ‘TODAY’ Two local sisters were honored in September with a George H.W. Bush Points of Light Award. “Shreyaa and Esha Venkat are best known for inspiring and mobilizing members of their community to give back, like providing food and shelter services and community building,” the announcement read. “At a time when the world is grappling with the combined effects of a global pandemic, economic recession and a renewed call for social justice, the Venkat sisters are an example of how everyday heroes serve their communities.” Shreyaa Venkat, 18, is the founder of NEST4US, a nonprofit with a mission “to provide volunteer and leadership opportunities to the community to make the world better through kindness.” She graduated from Broad Run High School and is studying at Georgetown University. Esha, 15, is a sophomore at Broad Run. The teens were interviewed on the “Today” show by Jenna Hager Bush, the granddaughter of President George H.W. Bush.
Alydia Livingston (left) and Everly Livingston (right) pose in their skating outfits. Everly and Alydia Livingston are equally comfortable on the ice and on the pavement. The competitive skaters who live in Ashburn Village recently jointly won the junior division of the 2020 PicSkate Urban Video Competition. Their video showed Everly, 9, and Alydia, 6, skating on the ice and then they “jumped” to the National Mall, where they showed off their skating skills on inline wheeled “PicSkates.” The duo, who attend Dominion Trail Elementary, train 25 hours a week during the school year and more than 50 hours a week during the summer.
Esha Venkat (left) and Shreyaa Venkat (right) were interviewed on the “Today” show after winning a George H.W. Bush Points of Light Award.
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Left to right: Sean Yao, Taran Kamireddy, Pranav Kulkarni, Harsha Nelluri, Amulya Gottipati, Sujay Mohan Goli and Niesha Karthik
STONE HILL MIDDLE TEAMS ARE STATE ROBOTIC CHAMPIONS Earlier this year, the VEX Robotics Virginia State Competition was held in Doswell, and Ashburn’s Stone Hill Middle School sent seven teams, five of which qualified to advance. Over two days, the students competed against dozens of other teams as their robots completed a variety of challenges. The Virginia championship for middle schools was shared by two teams from Stone Hill. One consisted of Sean Yao, Pranav Kulkarni, Harsha Nelluri, and Taran Kamireddy (eighth-graders at the time). The other team included Niesha Karthik, Sujay Mohan Goli and Amulya Gottipati (then seventh-graders). The teams were supposed to go on to the VEX World Competition in Louisville, Ky., but that was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, a big congratulations to these bright kids.
TEEN MUSICIANS START FIRST FRIDAYS FOR MUSICAL PERFORMANCES
Aidan Preshong (left) and Zaina Salman (right)
28 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020
Aidan Preshong, a senior at Broad Run High School, and his friend, Zaina Salman, a senior at Loudoun County High School in Leesburg, have launched an online musical meet-up for young performers around the area. It’s called First Virtual Friday. The two teens both regularly performed at the First Friday events in Leesburg, but when the COVID-19 pandemic canceled those, they created their own event on Instagram. “Our initial impression of First Virtual Friday was that it would serve as a replacement for the real First Fridays until the world was back on track and in-person gigs were safe,” Zaina Salman told us. “Now that we see the growing followers, interest, and support, we plan to keep this going as long as people are interested in it.” More than 75 performers have participated in the events. They do one show on the first Friday of every month, and then a charity show on the third Friday of each month. So far, they have raised nearly $600 and the performers get to help decide which causes to support. You can get in on the fun by following VFV on Instagram at @firstvirtualfriday. A
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Kimberly Harris, owner of A New View, at her shop in Ashburn.
home sweet home
A Room WithA View
“It's not about what it is, it's about what it can become.” — D R . S E U S S , T H E LO R A X
ike every item displayed in Ashburn’s A New View Home Decor, the large eucalyptus wreath hanging in the foyer holds a bit of history. The fragrant green leaves and long burlap bow are supported by a circular frame of dark wood and metal spokes. “It’s a veteran’s wheelchair from World War II,” said shop owner Kimberly Harris. It’s also one of the few items in her store not for sale. “I don’t know why I can’t part with it,” said Harris, rubbing her hand along the burnished rim. “I guess I’m just in love with its character.”
Local home decor shop finds magic in well-loved pieces
TURNING TRASH INTO TREASURE Upcycling is the popular term for what Harris does — combining elbow grease with a dose of love to transform discarded, broken or worn out things into valued, stylish items for the home. Harris repurposes donated items or garage sale finds and creatively evaluates each piece in terms of function and material before painting and distressing the surfaces, often adding stencils, new upholstery or rustic hardware. Sometimes Harris disassembles the object to create something entirely new. Her classy remakes are affordably priced and attractively displayed in her store, along with customized new merchandise, soaps, candles, cozy blanket throws, and homemade textiles, including pillows sewn by employee Lanie Sano. Accent pieces are often decorated to reflect local heritage, such as the oversized pillow ink-stamped
BY J ILL DEV INE PHOTOS BY NATALIE WHITEHEAD PHOTOG R APHY
with the Old Ashburn 20147 Zip code. At A New View, a table leaf becomes a stenciled farmhouse sign to hang on the wall, the top of an old utility spool becomes a large clock face, an old postal cart becomes a rolling cocktail bar, scraps of fabric become little stuffed pumpkins with wine-cork stems, and a stack of antique books wrapped in stamped craft paper and burlap becomes a base for a potted tree. “Nothing I sell is cookie-cutter,” Harris said. “You can’t find these things anywhere else, because I dreamt them — I built them.” Breathing life into old things has been Harris’ lifelong passion and, after working in corporate America and then
30 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020
raising a family, she decided to turn her hobby into a business. In 2016, she started upcycling from her garage in South Riding before setting up shop in the old Ashburn Mill in 2018. The mill space is slated for renovations, so Harris is planning to move her shop to a new retail space in a historic building across the street. “It has the same historic, rustic vibe,” Harris said.
A BIT OF OLD ASHBURN FROZEN IN TIME
The Old Ashburn location is key to the mood Harris wants to convey, and it attracts the kind of customers she aims to please. One of those customers is Dale Polen Myers, who was born at Loudoun Hospital in 1956 and
has lived in Ashburn her entire life. Myers’ family owned the old Polen Brothers dairy farm, and she raised her family in the house where she grew up on Hay Road. “The first time I saw A New View, I felt like I was walking back in time,” said Myers, describing the old wood furniture, punched-tin lanterns, pillow ticking fabrics and cast-iron lamps. “It reminded me so much of what homes in Ashburn used to look like when I was growing up,” she added. “Every year a little bit of Old Ashburn is lost, so I like to go there for the memories.” Myers stops by the store often, because Harris is always adding new merchandise. “I never walk out without buying something.” ASHBURN MAGAZINE • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020 • 31
IF YOU GO What: A New View Home Decor Where: At the intersection of Ashburn Road and Hay Road Contact: 703-477-6714, www.newviewtoday.com Hours: Open Thursdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Fridays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturdays, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., and Sundays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
DO IT YOURSELF Love the warm, cozy farmhouse vibe and want to create that feel at home? Kimberly Harris has some tips. “Every setting I create, whether a dresser, a table or a corner always has three components — glass, wood and tin — and then I add layers to appeal to all the senses.” Here are five of her secrets: Lighting. I always include sources of soft accent lighting, whether candles, lamps or lanterns, and pick warm light bulbs rather than cool. Shades can be traditional, or homemade from glass jars or baskets. Color. I start with a neutral base — right now creams, tans, grays, and blacks are very hot. Then I always bring in some sort of natural greenery, like a candle ring of boxwood or eucalyptus, or a few twigs of evergreens tucked into a bow around a vase. After that, I can add small pops of color with fabrics, flowers or painted objects. As far as paint, everything I do is distressed, to give it that well-loved, cherished appeal. Antiques always tell a story, so surround yourself with stories you love.
Leslie Barron, who owns the local canine care company Woofies, discovered A New View when she was looking for a coffee table for her Ashburn Village home. “I wanted to give my décor a facelift,” Barron said. “I checked out all the stores that sell new furniture, but nothing seemed right.” A Facebook post about A New View first caught Barron’s eye. “It was exactly the old farmhouse look I wanted, so I went to check it out right away,” she said. “Kim’s incredibly talented at finding things she knows I will like – she’s practically furnished my whole house.” Barron said she soon hopes to have
Harris help her give the same look to Woofie’s front office.
JOY WITH A PURPOSE
Harris said that making customers’ hearts leap with joy is why she’s in business. “I never throw anything away, because every object has the hidden potential to become something that someone will treasure,” she said. “It’s finding that antique shipping crate and turning it into a gorgeous coffee table for someone’s home… and it’s making people happy because they know Grandma’s beloved mahogany buffet did not end up in the dump.” A
Loudoun-based writer Jill Devine has worn many different hats over the years — newspaper reporter, magazine editor, teaching assistant, freelance writer and mom of four great kids. When not writing, you might find her and her husband, Paul, exploring Virginia’s historic sites or pedaling on one of the area’s many fun bike trails. 32 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020
Arrangement. I try to always arrange clustered items in a pyramid shape, with the tallest piece in the center, and everything else falling away from that on either side. You might not realize it, but that’s the way the eye travels when looking at a space. Textiles. My biggest magic trick involves tea towels, and I’m fond of nostalgic stripes and florals. Before putting that wooden lantern on top of the dresser, slip a little tea towel or cloth napkin under it. Doing so separates it from the colors and textures of the competing woods and gives the lantern its own little home, making it really stand out. Upholstery and decorative bows are other ways I incorporate fabric into a room. Last, add some soft pillows and drape a warm, fuzzy blanket across a chair. Scent. Familiar scents are critical to creating a mood, and I always rotate according to season. As soon as it’s fall, I incorporate pumpkin, cinnamon or apple. In winter, I choose pines. Warm cotton appeals to everyone — a warm, cozy smell. And hot brewing coffee, always coffee, makes any room smell like home.
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real estate roundup
Following a slow spring due to the coronavirus pandemic, the local real estate market has heated up this summer and fall. Pictured below are the five highest-priced homes that sold in each of the 20147 and 20148 Zip codes between Sept. 1 and Oct. 20, along with the sales price and other key information. Data from Realtor.com.
19854 ANNENBERG DRIVE
23029 BRYNDON HALL PLACE
$1,394,000 Sold: Oct. 1 5 bedrooms 4½ bathrooms 6,815 square feet
$1,850,000 Sold: Oct. 15 5 bedrooms 4½ bathrooms 8,175 square feet
44665 BRUSHTON TERRACE
41190 ABBEY KNOLL COURT
$1,064,500 Sold: Sept. 3 3 bedrooms 4½ bathrooms 4,981 square feet
$1,700,000 Sold: Oct. 15 4 bedrooms 4½ bathrooms 7,920 square feet
43636 MEADOW OVERLOOK PLACE $985,000
21514 WILD TIMBER COURT
Sold: Sept. 29 4 bedrooms 4½ bathrooms 6,074 square feet
$1,535,000 Sold: Sept. 16 7 bedrooms 5½ bathrooms 7,800 square feet
21332 CAMERON HUNT PLACE
41661 REVIVAL DRIVE
$925,000 Sold: Sept. 28 5 bedrooms 4½ bathrooms 4,990 square feet
$1,490,000 Sold: Oct. 19 6 bedrooms 6½ bathrooms $6,608 square feet
43249 AUGUSTINE PLACE
42655 GULICKS LANDING COURT $1,435,000
$910,000 Sold: Oct. 2 4 bedrooms 4½ bathrooms 5,240 square feet 34 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020
Sold: Oct. 15 5 bedrooms 5½ bathrooms 8,118 square feet
Curious about your home value?
Low inventory is pushing housing prices to record levels.
Please reach out for a no-obligation review of your home’s value.
FOR SALE 20590 Hope Spring Ter #207
SOLD IN 3 DAYS 42298 Ashmead Terrace
KELLY (ELSON) ETTRICH REALTOR® | Licensed in Virginia
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ASHBURN MAGAZINE • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020 • 35
Holiday Cheer Ashburn bars offer up some seasonal libations BY CH R I S WADSWO RT H
et’s face it — it’s been one gut punch of a year in many regards, from the pandemic to quarantines, from civil strife to a hotly contested election. With the arrival of the holidays, many folks are likely looking to lay low, stay healthy and try to unwind a little. At least that’s what the folks here at Ashburn Magazine are planning on doing. With that in mind, we reached out to some of Ashburn’s favorite restaurants and bars and asked them to suggest a potent potable that would help us all have a merry season. “2020 has been a wicked ride,” said Tony Stafford, founder of Ford’s Fish Shack. “We are looking forward to enjoying time relaxing with our families, and we hope you are too. Cheers to 2021.”
36 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020
FORD’S FISH SHACK Ford’s Fish Shack — with three Loudoun County locations — really gets into the spirit of the season, starting with the concept of the Moscow Mule, but taking it in a decidedly different direction. Old Rudolph the Reindeer better wait until after his Christmas Eve rounds before enjoying one of his namesake cocktails.
‘Ford’s Rudolph Mule’ • • • •
1/2 oz. simple syrup 3/4 oz. white cranberry juice 1 1/2 oz. cranberry vodka 4 oz. ginger brew (we use Maine Root)
Combine and garnish with a rosemary sprig, orange slice and sugared cranberries
AHSO RESTAURANT Ahso in the Brambleton Town Center has made a name for itself with its elegant dishes and its creative cocktails. And what could be more Ashburn than a drink named after everyone’s favorite urban legend. (If you don’t know about it, ask a neighbor.) “About Those White Rocks” — with its grated nutmeg — will warm anyone’s belly this winter.
‘About Those White Rocks’ • • • • • • •
2 oz. Woodford Reserve Bourbon Whiskey 1/2 oz. Lime 1/2 oz. Allspice Dram a bar spoon of Turbinado simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar in the raw, boiled and cooled) 3 dashes Angostura bitters Grated nutmeg Coconut milk ice cubes
Combine and enjoy.
SENSE OF THAI ST. Jeremy Ross, the general manager and bartender extraordinaire at Sense of Thai St. in One Loudoun, sent over the recipe for a hot drink that sounds perfect for relaxing by a frosted window when the real cold sets in. It’s called “Honeymoon Phase” (because Ross just got married — congrats to him) and it’s one of the restaurant’s featured drinks this fall.
‘Honeymoon Phase’ • • • • •
Organic Ginger-Turmeric Tea Catoctin Creek Rye Peach bitters Wildflower honey Lemon
Brew the tea. Add a small spoonful of honey, a shot of rye, a dash of bitters and a squeeze of lemon.
ASHBURN MAGAZINE • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020 • 37
Did you know that one of the ingredients in the trendy aperitif Aperol is rhubarb? If a drink can have rhubarb in it, then it can surely have a drop of maple syrup, too. That’s how City Tap at One Loudoun is taking a favorite warm-weather drink and giving it an autumn twist — with its “Aperol But Make it Fall” cocktail.
Copperwood Tavern at One Loudoun has a large wraparound outdoor patio with heaters as the days and nights get chillier. One great way to warm up is with their Campfire Coffee — which can be made with coffee or hot chocolate and any number of sweet liqueurs. Here is one of their favorite combinations.
‘Aperol but Make it Fall’
• 1.5 oz. Woodford Reserve Bourbon Whiskey • 1 oz. Aperol • 1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice • 1/4 oz. maple syrup
Combine ingredients over ice in a shaker tin. Shake well and strain over fresh ice. Garnish with a lemon wheel.
6 oz. hot chocolate 3/4 oz. Kopper Kettle Whiskey 3/4 oz. Bols Amaretto
Prepare hot chocolate, stir in whiskey and amaretto, and top with a toasted marshmallow.
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ASHBURN MAGAZINE • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020 • 39
Winter Wonderland West Virginia’s Blackwater Falls State Park offers a vacation to remember BY J ILL DEV I N E
isiting West Virginia’s Blackwater Falls State Park in the winter is a bit like stepping into a Currier and Ives holiday card — or maybe one of those ornamental snow globes. Perhaps it’s the evergreen trees, the laughter from the sledding hill, the warm glow from cabin windows, the crosscountry skiers gliding through the forest or the scent of wood smoke drifting from stone fireplaces, but this Tucker County gem seems to shout Christmas all season long. This is all in addition to the park’s main attraction — the thunderous Blackwater Falls. That’s where the Blackwater River crashes spectacularly 62 feet into the rugged eight-mile gorge known as Blackwater Canyon, and it all runs directly behind the park’s main lodge. WINTER WONDERLAND Superintendent Matthew Baker has worked at Blackwater
Falls for six years, and he and his wife live onsite in a park cabin year-round. He oversees everything from guest services and administrative matters to law enforcement. Baker said autumn and summer bring the most visitors to the park, but winter is when Blackwater Falls really shows off. “Amounts vary,” Baker said, “but Tucker County gets a lot of snow — on average, 150 inches MATTHEW BAKER of snow per year.”
40 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020
Most winter visitors head directly to the park’s famous quarter-mile sledding hill — the longest and fastest sled run on the East Coast. “We added snow-making equipment in 2015, giving us a guaranteed sledding season, even in years with less snow,” Baker said. A motorized carpet lift combined with outdoor lighting makes sledding fun both day and night. “I’ve seen three generations — kids, parents, grandparents — sledding, laughing and throwing snowballs at each other. There aren’t many places to get experiences like that,” Baker said. A tip — reserve your sledding tickets online in advance, because they do sell out. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are also popular, with equipment rentals and extensive trails available within the park. Downhill skiing, tubing and ice skating are minutes away at the Canaan Valley and Timberline Mountain resorts. CLOSER THAN YOU THINK Blackwater Falls State Park is about
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LOCAL ADVENTURES 150 miles from Ashburn, or less than a three-hour drive, and it offers visitors plenty to do — not just in winter, but all year long. Todd Grivetti, who teaches music at Horizon Elementary School in Sterling and until recently lived near Bles Park in Ashburn, visited the park in August. Grivetti said he learned about Blackwater Falls from a friend’s social media post, so he decided to beat the heat and check it out. It was his first road trip since the coronavirus pandemic began in March. “Blackwater Falls is a hidden treasure and a great day trip from Loudoun County,” Grivetti said. “The beautiful scenery along Route 48 made the drive seem really short, and once we got there, I couldn’t believe how calm and peaceful it was.” The park is so remote that visitors can gaze across vast swaths of trees and boulders from any canyon overlook without spotting a single building. On some trails, depending on the season, you may not pass another hiker the entire day. “People come here for the sheer natural beauty,” said Superintendent Baker. “Blackwater Falls is for those who like the rustic
lodge feel, where they can just turn off the busy part of their brain and enjoy the slower pace.” A large portion of Tucker County is public land, noted Baker, citing the neighboring 1 million acre Monongahela National Forest, the Dolly Sods Wilderness Preserve, and the Canaan Valley State Park and National Wildlife Refuge. Baker’s favorite time of day at Blackwater Falls? “Sunset – and the best place to see it is behind the lodge.”
Park cabins are located in two areas. The classic rustic cabins are tucked far apart in the trees closer to the lodge, and each is equipped with a stone wood-burning fireplace. Newer vacation cabins are closer to the lake and are popular with families with small children. Evenings are always cool in Tucker County, so gathering around the lodge or cabin fireplace to read books or play board games is a great way to end the day, even in summer.
LODGE, CABINS & CAMPSITES The 2,358-acre state park has plenty of elbow room, and the only accommodations are the 54-room Bavarian-style lodge and 39 cabins. Camping is an option from April through October, with 65 tent and trailer campsites, and primitive camping is permitted on approved campsites in winter. The lodge has an indoor pool, a lounge with a large fireplace, and a popular stick-to-yourribs restaurant with floor-toceiling windows that offer a PAULITA COUSIN breathtaking view of the canyon.
TIPS FROM THE NATURALIST No one knows the area better than Paulita Cousin, park activities coordinator and naturalist for the West
CONFIDENCE stems from EXPERIENCE AND PREPAREDNESS At Harmony we take safety very seriously and have made tremendous efforts and investments to keep our community safe, while also providing our residents the best experience possible.
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Yo! Ho! Ho! and a Bottle of Death – Murder Mystery Nov 14 & 21 at 7:00pm – virtual performances via Zoom Audience Participation!
• Covid-19 Sanitization • Repair Moisture Source Basement/ Crawlspace Sealing / Encapsulation Up on the Rooftop, Click, Click, BANG – Annual Christmas Murder Mystery Dec 5, 6, 12, 13, 19 at 6:30pm at Oatlands in Leesburg Dinner Theatre Returns with Social Distancing! Audience Participation!
• Treat to Kill All Mold / HAPA Vacuum • Remove Damaged Debris Off-Site • Reinstall Drywall / Baseboard
A Christmas Story – Classic Christmas Family Favorite Dec 12, 13, 19, 20 at 1:00pm Dec 21, 22, 23 at 7:00pm
Call Today to Schedule a FREE NO OBLIGATION In-Home Evaluation and Estimate
New Location Now Open! Register for classes today! 21641 Beaumeade Circle #305, Ashburn, VA
Kids ages Three to Teen Gymnastics Classes G-Force Gymnastics has it all! G-Force Gymnastics Training Center offers girls and boys gymnastics classes from 3 years to 18 years.
G-Force has a program and series of classes with clear progressions and assessments that allow the gymnast and the parents to follow along and track progress. With classes offered 6 days per week you will find G-Force has a class to fit your child’s ability and your busy schedule.
Small Class Sizes! Our 8:1 ratio allows for social distancing and no waiting in line. We offer a clean, sanitized and safe environment for kids ages 3&up! Our Energetic instructors and Brand New, bright, and clean space will have your child leave feeling like a winner!!!
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Register Early for Summer Camps 2021 Weekly Camp schedule includes: Gymnastics, trampolines, water games, ball games, talent shows, dance contests, carnivals, olympic games, ninja obstacle course and more! Your child will leave happy and tired … Every Parent’s Dream! Previous gymnastics experience not necessary.
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www.gforce-gymnastics.com | 571-933-8300 44 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020
Virginia Division of Natural Resources. Cousin was born and raised in Tucker County and has worked at the park for 26 years. In addition to leading nature center presentations on everything from viewing night stars to local geology, Cousin can answer any question about native vegetation or wildlife. “You can get a lot of education outside of textbooks and computers. We’re basically a boreal forest — a little bit of Canada gone astray,” said Cousin, noting that because of the high elevation, Blackwater Falls enjoys an ecosystem typically found much farther north. The forests are thick with spruce, hemlock, beech and birch, with enormous glades of mountain laurel and rhododendron (visit in June and July to see them bloom). You might encounter deer or the occasional snowshoe hare, long-tailed weasel, mink, fisher or even a black bear. Cousin suggests deciding which activities to try before arriving. “Some want to do it all, so they rush from one activity to another, not fully enjoying one site because they are preoccupied thinking about the next thing on the list,” she said. “Anything you can’t do this trip will give you another reason to come back to see us.” Cousin and Baker both stressed the importance of tourism to West Virginia. That’s why the park offers West Virginia products — soaps, bottled spring water, roasted coffee — to guests whenever it can, Baker said. “We want our guests to feel at home,” he added. “They become like family — many know the staff members by name and even send Christmas cards and cookies.” A Loudoun-based writer Jill Devine has worn many different hats over the years — newspaper reporter, magazine editor, teaching assistant, freelance writer and mom of four great kids. When not writing, you might find her and husband, Paul, exploring Virginia’s historic sites or pedaling on one of the area’s many fun bike trails.
IF YOU GO
What: Blackwater Falls State Park Where: Tucker County, West Virginia More information: wvstateparks.com/park/blackwater-falls-state-park/
Franklin Park Arts Center
36441 Blueridge View Lane, Purcellville, VA 20132 www.franklinparkartscenter.org 540-338-7973
Mark Forrest Classic Christmas Concert Saturday, December 12 7:30 pm Tickets: $20 in-person; $5 Virtual*
International Irish Tenor, Mark Forrest, presents a Christmas concert with all of your favorite songs of the season. Featuring soloist Maureen Codelka and special guests Jennifer Timberlake and Cecilia Bracey.
Limited social distanced seating in the theater; face coverings required. Virtual ticket purchase will enable you to watch a live stream of the concert via private link. Both tickets also have an option to purchase a Mark Forrest CD.
*once purchased, the virtual online ticket allows you to watch the performance LIVE via private link.
FACE COVERINGS REQUIRED DURING ALL PERFORMANCES. SOCIALLY DISTANCED SEATING
Sheila Arnold and Adam Booth: “Afro-lachian Christmas”
Madcap Puppets: The Nutcracker
Storytellers Sheila Arnold and Adam Booth share Christmas and winter season songs, ballads and stories from the Appalachian and AfricanǦAmerican cultures. This high energy program will stir memories, show shared connections between people, and warm the heart. Come ready to join in song, laugh at humorous stories and be inspired to share the joy of the season with others. This performance is partially supported by funding from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.
(Ages 2+) Little did Maria know when she received a mysterious Nutcracker as a gift, how quickly her life was going to become an adventure. Madcap turns this classic Holiday story into a fantastically funny tale. After the puppet show, participate in Franklin Park’s flashlight Candy Cane Hunt.
Saturday, Dec 19 @ 6:30pm Tickets: $10/person www.franklinparkartscenter.org
Outdoor Winter Lights Walk
December 14-Jan 2 @ 5:30pm-9:00pm (Closed Dec 24, 25) Tickets: $3/person www.franklinparkartscenter.org Step into Franklin Park Arts Center’s gallery exhibit of Stars, Night and Winter Sky, while sipping a warm beverage. Then, continue outside to the back lawn of the Arts Center and wander among beautifully displayed lighted sculptures created by local artists. Winter Lights Walk is closed on December 24 and 25. Ticket block times: 5:30 – 7:00 pm and 7:00 – 8:30 pm to ensure social distancing. Face coverings required inside the Arts Center.
Adapted by Dylan Shelton
Tuesday, Dec 29 @ 3:00pm Tickets: $5 www.franklinparkartscenter.org
Cabin Fever Film Fest
Friday, Jan 22 @ 7:00pm, Saturday, Jan 23 @ 10:00am Tickets: $5 www.franklinparkartscenter.org
(All ages) The fourth annual Purcellville Cabin Fever Film Festival kicks off with a slate of short films and features that highlight local talent.
CoǦsponsored by the Purcellville Arts Council.
Loudoun County Artisan Gift Boxes
Bring the Arts to your doorstep! Three months of handǦmade, created items from Loudoun artists, artisans and performers. At a curated value of $250, these exclusive boxes include functional art, music, and tickets to a Franklin Park Arts Center event for a purchase price of $180 for the 3Ǧmonth subscription. Themes: DecemberǦ RELAXATION AND SELF-CARE, JanuaryǦ NEW BEGINNINGS and FebruaryǦ LOVE AND JOY.
To subscribe, call 540-338-7973.
the burn A ROUND-UP OF THE LATEST RESTAURANT, RETAIL AND OTHER COOL NEWS FROM ASHBURN AND BEYOND. CHECK OUT THE BURN AT THEBURN.COM AND FOLLOW IT ON FACEBOOK, TWITTER AND INSTAGRAM.
R O A L E VA R D
Local football star Trace McSorley went viral, becoming what the NFL said was the most popular football player on the TikTok social media platform. McSorley, who led Briar Woods High to three state championships and went on to set records at Penn State, is currently the thirdstring quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens. But when a song written about him from 2018 was attached to a new video, McSorley suddenly spread like wildfire, with thousands of videos and posts appearing about him.
ASHBURN MAKES MONEY’S LIST OF ‘BEST PLACES TO LIVE’ Once again, Ashburn was named one of the top places to live in the United States. Each year, Money.com releases its list of the “Best Places to Live.” This year, Ashburn was No. 11., as the site
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BRIAR WOODS GRAD TRACE MCSORLEY GOES VIRAL ON TIKTOK
latest season of Food Network’s “Halloween Wars” reality show. Weiss’ team was called the Mummies Rejects. Each week, they were
noted in particular the community’s low unemployment rate, even with the impact of COVID-19. The accolade isn’t Ashburn’s best showing. That came in 2018, when we ranked second.
ASHBURN CHEF WINS TOP PRIZE ON ‘HALLOWEEN WARS’ Ashburn chef Steve Weiss, a whiz with creations made out of sugar, was part of the winning team on the
challenged to create creepy, crawly dessert displays that were entirely edible. On the finale, the Mummies Rejects defeated the Crave Diggers to win $50,000. A
46 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020
Ashburn’s latest Dunkin’ Donuts shop opened recently in the Ashbrook Marketplace shopping center at Ashburn Village Boulevard and Russell
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DONUTS SHOP OPENS
2 NEW DUNKIN’
The Regal movie theater at the Brambleton Town Center got a major makeover during the COVID-19 closures earlier this year. The updates include a new smoothie bar, a new coffee bar and an actual cocktail bar, not to mention new décor and new seating in theaters. Unfortunately, the work was no sooner wrapping up than Regal Cinemas announced it was temporarily closing all its U.S. locations due to the coronavirus and major studios postponing most movie releases.
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HoneyBee Creamery, a new ice cream and sweet shop in Old Ashburn across from the fire station, held its formal ribbon cutting in September. Then, just a few weeks later, the shop announced it would open a second location in Leesburg. The owners of HoneyBee have taken over the Hershey’s Shake Shop just off Route 15 and will transition it into HoneyBee’s second shop.
REGAL FOX MOVIE THEATER SUSPENDS OPERATIONS
Branch Parkway. The new store features a drive-through lane. The location also has a Baskin-Robbin’s ice cream shop as well.
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EXPANDS, OPENS SECOND LOCATION
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1 HONEYBEE CREAMERY
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