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H O L LY WO O D ’ S PAT TO N O SWA LT • CO R N M A Z E S • M E E T WAY D E BYA R D

SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2019

IN THE CLOUD Exclusive: Go inside one of Ashburn’s massive data centers


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Ashburn

VOLUME I, ISSUE 4 PUBLISHER

Bruce Potter publisher@ashburnmagazine.com 571-333-1538

FROM THE PUBLISHER

EDITOR

Chris Wadsworth editor@ashburnmagazine.com ADVERTISING

Sales Leader: Connie Fields cfields@insidenova.com Account Executive: Judy Harbin jharbin@ashburnmagazine.com 703-727-1321 ART DIRECTOR

Kara Thorpe kara@piedmontpub.com CONTRIBUTORS

Alex Erkiletian Jill Devine Erica Garman Suzy Nathan Christin Perry Sara Smith PUBLISHED BY

Rappahannock Media LLC InsideNoVa 1372 Old Bridge Road, Suite 101 Woodbridge VA 22192 (703) 318-1386 PRESIDENT

Dennis Brack dbrack@rappnews.com BUSINESS OFFICE

Carina Richard-Wheat accounting@piedmontpub.com ON THE WEB

www.ashburnmagazine.com Facebook and Twitter: @ashburnmagazine Ashburn Magazine is published every other month and distributed to over 13,000 selected addresses. While reasonable care is taken with all material submitted to Ashburn Magazine, the publisher cannot accept responsibility for loss or damage to any such material. Opinions expressed in articles are strictly those of the authors. While ensuring that all published information is accurate, the publisher cannot be held responsible for any mistakes or omissions. Reproduction in whole or part of any of the text, illustrations or photographs is strictly forbidden. ©2019 Rappahannock Media LLC.

DATA, DATA EVERYWHERE

W

hen I tell people from other parts of the state that I live in Ashburn and get that blank stare while they try to recall why Ashburn sounds familiar, I usually prompt them with two reminders. It’s the home of my favorite NFL team. And it’s the home of 70 percent of the world’s internet traffic. The team that practices inside the giant pillow off Loudoun County Parkway is a topic for another day. But just as the Redskins’ training facility has been an Ashburn landmark for many years, so, too, now are the many data centers that have popped up to host all our Facebook photos, Twitter memes and Snapchat stories. According to Buddy Rizer, director of Loudoun County’s Department of Economic Development, there has not been a day without data center construction somewhere in Ashburn since 2008. That’s easy to believe. Because the data centers have become such a part of our community – for better or for worse – we thought it important to take a deeper dive. In our cover story, editor Chris Wadsworth and photographer Alex Erkiletian lead you on an insider’s tour of one of RagingWire’s local data centers – from the hightech security to the creative break rooms. It’s a fascinating look at what’s really happening inside those behemoths being built along many of our roads. At the same time, we know the data centers bring lots of consternation – we like the tax revenue but miss all those trees along Waxpool Road. So Rizer agreed to answer our questions about why they are built where they are and what can be done to make them more attractive. The Q&A is a must-read. And speaking of Waxpool … why does it take so many turns? And what is a Waxpool, anyway? In our “Time Travel” feature this issue, writer Christin Perry explores the history of the winding road. Elsewhere in this edition, you’ll meet Broad Run High School graduate Patton Oswalt, a comedian who’s become a familiar face on television (“The King of Queens”) and a familiar voice in the movies (“Ratatouille” and “The Secret Life of Pets 2”). But he has fond memories of his hometown and his favorite teacher. Speaking of famous voices, nothing says “snow day” quite like the deep tones of Wayde Byard. He’s not an Ashburn resident, but he works in Broadlands – and has quite an eclectic background. Read our profile on Page 12. Finally, because it’s fall (which can’t come soon enough after that scorching summer!), we thought it appropriate to learn a little more about those mazes that crop up in cornfields on many local farms. Apparently they’re made with the help of GPS now (which brings us back to data centers...). Also in the “Local Adventures” section, writer Jill Devine compiled a detailed list of various festivals and mazes across Northern Virginia. So when you’ve given up on your favorite football team this fall and grown tired of all the concrete and construction, pack up the kids and head for a day on the farm. And we’ll see you again in November.

BRUCE POTTER, PUBLISHER PUBLISHER@ASHBURNMAGAZINE.COM

4 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019


VIRGINIA’S JOHN TH 13 SENATE BELL DISTRICT FOR

of the United most 26 years 2007. During his as a Finance Officer ours in support of istan. His ability erse participants TH “As a Delegate, I built a record of fighting for our shared values. ductions throughout I took on the NRA and fought to keep our communities safe llion saved annually

VIRGINIA’S 13 SENATE DISTRICT from gun violence. I worked across party lines to pass Medicaid

expansion, and I stood with Virginia women to ensure equal pay, protect reproductive rights and eliminate discrimination. ia HouseAs of your State Senator, I’ll continue to make sure our values 15. He ishave on thea champion in Richmond.” litia, Police, and – DELEGATE JOHN BELL

I’m running for Virginia Senate District 13 because I want to make for VirginiaMy Senate an impact onI’mmyrunning community. District 13 because I want to make P FOR OUR track record of getting things doneMy an impact on my community. COMMON-SENSE running for Virginia Senate District in“I’m the Virginia General Assembly record of getting things done MAN’S RIGHT 13 becausetrack I want to make an impact on in the Virginia General Assembly my community. My track record of getting AFFORDABLE shows my vision and guts to lead things doneshows in the General myVirginia vision and guts toAssemlead GISLATIVE HE COURAGE TO DO Virginia forward. Join me. bly shows my vision and guts to lead THE COURAGE TO DO Virginia forward. Join me. VirLIONS OF DOLLARS WHAT’S RIGHT. WHAT’S RIGHT. ginia forward. Join me. “ ING FOR MEDICAID

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entertaining Nothing brings the family together like Village at Leesburg. Pet lovers? Join us for our Paws in the Village: A Pet Festival on September 28. Boys and Ghouls? Our Monster Mash is on October 19. And our magical Tree Lighting Festival on November 23 will bring out the kid in everyone. Come visit. GET READY TO “OOOh” AND “Ahh.”

contents 08

34

amazing kids

wine & dine

HAVING A BLAST

SWEET CELEBRATION

Ashburn’s all-girl robotic team

Diwali’s traditional candies and desserts

BY ERICA GARMAN

BY SUZY NATHAN

12

38

our neighbors

local adventures

FROM QUEEN TO MEMES

IT’S A-MAZE-ING

Wayde Byard on fame and Facebook BY CHRIS WADSWORTH

16

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Local family launches fitness app BY SARAH SMITH

20 cover story IN THE CLOUD

Secrets of a Northern Virginia corn maze BY JILL DEVINE

44 great escapes HOP ON OVER TO KANGAROO ISLAND

A father-son trip from Ashburn to Australia BY CHRIS WADSWORTH

50 on the town An album of Ashburn area events

Venture inside a massive data center

52

BY CHRIS WADSWORTH

time travel

28

A drive through history

feature story FAMOUS SON

A conversation with Broad Run graduate Patton Oswalt BY CHRIS WADSWORTH

WEIRD, WONDERFUL WAXPOOL ROAD BY CHRISTIN PERRY

54 the burn The latest restaurant, retail and other cool news

ON THE COVER: A look deep inside a server rack at a RagingWire data center in Ashburn. Photo by Alex Erkiletian/Alex Erkiletian Photography 6 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019


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amazing kids

Having a Blast All-girl robotics team rockets to international competition BY E R ICA GAR M AN

L

ots of children play with Legos and build houses, towns, castles and even spaceships. But it’s not every youngster who builds a working robot out of Legos and goes on to win award after award for the creations — and the brains behind them. “It’s all about trial and error, and how to try again when something doesn’t work out,” said Mahsa Riar, 12, a 7th-grader at Belmont Ridge Middle School.

Mahsa is a member of Violet Blast — an all-girl Lego robotics team from Ashburn that competes in local, regional and national competitions. Why the “Violet Blast” moniker? “We all like the color violet,” said Shriya Avala, 12, a team member alongside Mahsa and also a 7th-grader at Belmont Ridge, “And we’re very hyper, so ‘blast’ seemed to fit into our team name.” Violet Blast competes

8 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019

VIOLET BLAST (from left to right) Shriya Avala, age 12, 7th grade, Belmont Ridge Middle School Callia Sun, age 12, 7th grade, Belmont Ridge Middle School Maia Brown, age 11, 6th grade, Belmont Ridge Middle School Mahsa Riar, age 12, 7th grade, Belmont Ridge Middle School Amanda Chin, age 12, 7th grade, Trailside Middle School

in what’s called the FIRST Lego League, an international competition for teams of students ages 9 through 14. The league focuses on robotics, teamwork and real-world problem-solving and teaches children a variety of STEM skills — science, technology, engineering and math. The competition was founded in 1998 by FIRST, a non-profit organization that promotes STEM for young people, through a partnership with Lego. FIRST reports an estimated 40,000 students around the world participated in its program in the last school year. The program is especially important for girls and

women, who haven’t always been well represented in STEM classes and careers. “We’ve seen female participation in the United States rise steadily, and studies have shown girls who participate in FIRST indicate even greater gains in STEM than boys,” said Don Bossi, the organization’s president. “Armed with what they’ve learned, these girls and young women are poised to solve our most pressing challenges and make the world a better place.” In competitions, teams are awarded points in three different categories: building a robot and competing in a robot game, presenting a research-based innovation,  and demonstrating


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FIRST core values such as teamwork and “gracious professionalism.” “[Gracious professionalism] means helping others when you don’t exactly need to help them,” said Violet Blast team member Amanda Chin, 12, a 7th-grader at Trailside Middle School. “For example, if another team is missing a piece for their robot and you have one, you should lend them a piece to help them out.” Last November, the team’s total score in a local competition propelled them to the regional tournament in Manassas. There, they won second place and a spot in the state tournament at James Madison University in Harrisonburg. They won third place there and an invitation to represent the Virginia/DC area at the Legoland California International Open in Carlsbad this past May. “We were shocked,” said Maia Brown, 11, a member of the team and a 6th-grader at Belmont Ridge. “We were kind of sad because we thought it was the end of everything, and then they called our name.” Violet Blast was now in the “big league,” competing against 68 other teams. The annual competition’s theme was “Into Orbit.” Violet Blast researched, designed, and prototyped a wearable helmet that hypothetically simulates artificial gravity, thus keeping fluids from rising to an astronaut’s cranium, or the part of the skull around the brain. As the team puts it, the helmet prevents “squished eyeballs” in space. For the robot aspect


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of the competition, the team designed and built a working robot using Lego bricks and other special attachments that enabled the robot to pick up, drop, and push objects across the competition board. They coded the robot to perform a variety of tasks using a simple Lego-provided programming language. Violet Blast placed 42nd at the international competition. But the girls all say they were just thrilled they had a chance to participate. They’ve been together since elementary school and don’t plan to stop anytime soon. Next year’s competition is already in their sights. The theme is “City Shaper,” where teams will identify problems facing their communities and together strive to find creative solutions. It’s a topic tailor-made for Violet Blast. “[These girls] work very well together,” said Amanda’s dad and team coach, Kevin Chin. “They just love hanging out with each other. That’s why they’ve lasted five years. They aren’t so focused on winning. They’re focused on being together.” A Erica Garman is an Ashburn-based freelance writer who has written for Northern Virginia Magazine and The Washington Post.

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ASHBURN MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019 • 11


our neighbors

From Queen to Memes Loudoun County school spokesman Wayde Byard on fame and Facebook

W

BY C HRIS WADSWORTH

ayde Byard isn’t technically a neighbor here in Ashburn. He lives in Winchester. But many families feel like they know him personally. He certainly calls more often than lots of neighbors. Heck, he calls more often than some family members. Byard, 61, is the public information officer for Loudoun County Public Schools. When bad weather sets in, or there are other school district issues, he is the one who makes the recorded phone call to tens of thousands of households alerting them to closures, schedule changes and other school events. A few years back, something odd happened. Social media got hold of Byard and his pleasant voice and frequent calls and soon, the PIO had fans all over Loudoun. The original “Friends of Wayde Byard” Facebook page now has 13,000 followers. “That’s when things got a little funky,” Byard recalled with a laugh. “I wish I had copyrighted myself at that point.” Ashburn Magazine sat down with Byard at his office. Here is some of our interview. 12 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019

ASHBURN MAGAZINE: LOTS OF SCHOOL DISTRICTS CLOSE FOR WEATHER EVENTS, BUT VERY FEW — IF ANY — HAVE SEEN THE PERSON MAKING THE CALLS BECOME SO ICONIC IN THEIR OWN RIGHT. WHY DO YOU THINK THIS HAS HAPPENED?

WAYDE BYARD: Bored people with too much time on their hands playing with social media. That really started out with a housewife who shall remain nameless from the Potomac Falls cluster who decided she would have some fun one day and start a Facebook page, and it just took off from there. I don’t own the Friends of Wayde Byard Facebook page. 


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ASHBURN MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019 • 13


HAVE YOU SEEN ALL THE MEMES ABOUT YOU? THERE ARE AT LEAST A DOZEN OR MORE. WHEN YOU GO TO THE PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER MEETINGS AND CONFERENCES, ARE YOU KIND OF A ROCK STAR?

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Well, it means I have to get up at 4 in the morning. So, if we can do it the night before, I’m excited. But if I have to get up at 4 in the morning, I’m less excited because that means I’m not going to sleep that night. You don’t want to miss the phone call. That would be terrible. That would be like the fireman not sliding down the pole or forgetting the dalmatian at the firehouse. You’ve got to be awake and ready to go. DO YOU PURPOSELY DO THAT “THIS IS WAYDE BYARD” THING WITH YOUR VOICE, WHERE YOUR INTONATION SORT OF DIPS DOWN? IT’S KIND OF BECOME YOUR CATCHPHRASE.

The honest truth is that we record those mainly in August and

September, and I do like 40 takes and my voice gets tired after a while. SO, YOU DON’T RECORD IT THE MORNING THE DECISION IS MADE?

We do sometimes if there are unique circumstances, but we try to have messages ready in advance because they have to be in English and Spanish and it can be hard to get translation at 4 in the morning or 9:30 at night if you have a special circumstance. So, we record a lot in the summer. CONSIDERING THAT THOUSANDS OF KIDS — AND A LOT OF PARENTS — HANG ON YOUR EVERY WORD, DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF A HERO?

I consider myself a “faux hero” — only for people who are easily impressed or otherwise amused. Just today in the lobby, I got stopped by some kids who wanted selfies and that amazes me that anyone would want to ruin their young life by having a picture with me. WHAT DOES YOUR JOB ENTAIL WHEN YOU’RE NOT MAKING PHONE CALLS ABOUT SCHOOL CLOSURES?

We have to do Freedom of Information Act requests. I’ve done 50 of those since May 1. This office does 700 press releases a year. We oversee 85 videos. We do web content. We answer a lot of questions from


OUR NEIGHBORS the public. Our busiest time of year is from about July 25 to the start of school. YOU WERE A NEWSPAPER REPORTER FOR NEARLY 20 YEARS IN WINCHESTER. WHAT ELSE HAVE YOU DONE IN YOUR CAREER?

In my younger days, I was a roadie working out of Vienna, Austria, for rock bands like Queen and David Bowie. Somebody just told me they paid $600 to see the Adam Lambert version of Queen, and my head about exploded because I saw them for free because I was working. And it’s not Queen unless Freddy Mercury is up there. WHAT WAS FREDDY MERCURY REALLY LIKE?

What he was really like was — his secret wasn’t that he was gay. I think everybody figured that out. His secret was that he was not English. He was Indian and he really didn’t want people to know that. He wanted to be known as Freddy Mercury the Englishman. WHAT’S A SECRET ABOUT WAYDE BYARD THAT NO ONE KNOWS?

I’m the world’s most frustrated screenwriter. I’ve been close. Unfortunately, I was working with a very good producer who died of pancreatic cancer just when we were at the “go” line. It’s a historical movie — I’ve won all kinds of prizes. I’ve got an

ugly collection of Lucite trophies from various film festivals, but never had the big break. But I’m still working on it. YOU ARE THE FIRST BYARD I’VE EVER ENCOUNTERED. WHAT IS THE HERITAGE OF YOUR UNIQUE NAME?

It’s a Dutch name. We came to New Amsterdam probably in the mid-1600s. Looking back through the family tree, there are really some people you don’t want to know. Not a distinguished group.

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LIGHTNING ROUND

Favorite Book: “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller Favorite Movie: “Pulp Fiction” Favorite TV Show: “Breaking Bad” Favorite Band: The Beatles Favorite Song: “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”

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Favorite Color: Blue

Some of his top priorities include:

Favorite Animal: Dog (Byard has a dog named Rembrandt. “He’s part husky, part Lab and part shar-pei. He’s a very odd looking animal.”)

Favorite Food: Oatmeal Raisin Cookies Favorite Local Restaurant: Clyde’s Favorite Vacation Spot: New York City Favorite Wayde Byard Meme: the Dos Equis one. A

Increasing funding for classroom and school resources Improving communication and transparency regarding incidents and issues in our schools

Ensuring the educational needs of ALL students are met

Expanding mental health resources for our struggling youth

Strengthening the relationship with SEAC, MSAAC, and other community groups

Andrew has seen both the good and the bad in our schools. His knowledge and first hand experiences are desperately needed on a board that currently has zero representation from LCPS’ biggest stakeholder: its STUDENTS. Paid for and authorized by Andrew Hoyler for School Board

ASHBURN MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019 • 15


business boom

Brambleton resident Stephen Bilko encourages a client for an Exercise Simple video.

Changing the World — Simply Local family launches fitness app

P

BY SAR AH SMITH

ersonal trainer Stephen Bilko has a simple goal in life — to change the world. And he has a simple way he wants to do it — through exercise. The Brambleton father of three is a former high school English teacher and basketball coach. But as lifelong fitness lovers, he and his wife, Mary, had an itch they had to scratch. So, in 2016, they bought the gym at Raytheon’s Dulles campus and began offering corporate wellness classes. “Having been in the health club environment, there is some crazy stat that 75 percent of people who have a gym membership don’t use it,” Stephen Bilko said. “For me [with my background] as a teacher, I was sitting there thinking, ‘What if 75 percent of your class didn’t show up?’ How would 16 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019

you ever affect change in the world if these people never show up?” Wanting to connect with the busy corporate workers at Raytheon, the couple brainstormed easy-to-do workouts that would appeal to a typical family. One idea stood out — videotaping sample workouts for the company’s employees to follow online with an emphasis on the message that exercise can happen anytime, anywhere. A small catalog of workouts was created and quickly proved popular. This was the start of Exercise Simple, a fitness app the Bilkos launched in 2018 that features hundreds of videos of simple exercises and workouts that can be done in the comfort of your home. The Bilkos believe too many fitness programs take too much money, too much time and too 


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This event is made possible by these generous community partners

18 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019

much commitment to getting to the gym or buying fancy equipment — when all you really need to do is exercise “simply.” “Exercise simple, to me, is a lifestyle,” Mary Bilko said. “It’s on my to-do list every day. Whether it be using the app for a workout, going for a run, or taking our kids to run around the park. Exercise Simple helps me be a better mom, wife, friend and, overall, a better me.” Funding for the Exercise Simple app came from co-founder Austin Tuell, a financial services professional who also happens to be one of Stephen Bilko’s former students. With the help of a tech team located in North Carolina and a combined investment of roughly $150,000, they designed the app, focusing on real workouts that could be done at home. For nine months, the Bilko family opened up their living room, videotaping workouts featuring friends and clients of all ages and body types. Kate Davies of Ashburn’s Martin’s Chase neighborhood, her husband, Glenn, and daughters, Lexie, 10, and Audrey, 7, are among the Bilkos’ friends featured in the videos. “We are by no means the family you might look at and say ‘Wow, they must all work out all day long,’” Kate Davies said. “We want exercise to be a part of their lifestyle now and in the future. We walk, run, work out with Stephen’s app and hope those images of us working hard and relieving stress in a positive way transfers to our kids.” The basic app is currently free for users, and the Bilkos say this will always be the case. They plan to monetize the Exercise Simple app with some premium paid options for individual users, such as nutrition counseling. However, they believe the real potential is in the corporate wellness market, getting large companies to partner with them and integrate their content as part of employee health benefits. Additionally, Tuell is also


BUSINESS BOOM The Exercise Simple app is available in app stores for both the iPhone and Android phones; Scenes from videos featured on the Exercise Simple app.

expanding the app’s philanthropic reach. Exercise Simple has sponsored workout programs at 10 schools in Hyderabad, India, through The Lead India Foundation. Although the Bilko family and the Exercise Simple team spend no money on advertising, the app has spread beyond Ashburn. It’s been downloaded by users in 50 countries so far. People try it, like it and share it on social media — spreading the simple message. Megan Kovach, who lives in Pittsburgh, learned about the app from her cousin, who lives in One Loudoun. Although initially skeptical, she downloaded it in March. Now, she is a frequent and consistent user. “There are so many things about Exercise Simple that I like,” Kovach said. “The exercise routine is different every single time. The people on the app are not fitness specialists. They are everyday people who want to get in shape. I have two herniated discs, and the routines don’t bother my back. Stephen always offers modifications of the exercises to either make it easier or more challenging.” Kovach also said that she appreciates not having to buy expensive equipment or have a gym membership because of the app. That endorsement is music to Stephen Bilko’s ears. “We’re literally changing the world, and for me that is the most awesome thing I could ever imagine,” he said. “Not a lot of people get to say that.” A Sarah Smith is a freelance writer in Ashburn who recently graduated from the College of William & Mary.

November 2-3, 10am to 5pm More Than 40 Studios and Galleries ASHBURN MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019 • 19


IN THE CLOUD An exclusive look inside one of Ashburn’s massive data centers STORY BY C H R I S WADSWO RT H P H OTOS BY AL E X ERKI L ET I AN

D

ata centers. They are ubiquitous across Ashburn and surrounding communities. These giant, warehousetype structures that line major highways and backroads, too. Some people hate them — for taking down too many trees and for being unattractive. Some people love them — for creating thousands of jobs in Loudoun County and keeping our property taxes lower than they otherwise might be. People who work in the technology world probably know all about them. But for many Ashburn residents, data centers 20 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019

can still be kind of mysterious. What actually happens inside them? Who actually works there? What do they look like inside? Are they part of the “cloud” we keep hearing about? Ashburn Magazine went deep inside a data center with one of our community’s largest data companies — RagingWire. The company has three data centers open in Ashburn and more underway. We were given access to its original “VA1” facility off Beaumeade Circle in Ashburn and taken to areas never publicly photographed before to help better explain this industry that affects all of our lives.


Security is tight at nearly all data center locations, RagingWire included. Common features outside include water basins, berms, depressions and walls around facilities; spike-topped fences; security gates with anti-ram barriers; obstacles such as cement bollards and metal posts; even winding roads leading to the centers prevent a vehicle from rapidly speeding up. Plus there are lots of cameras. Inside, many of the security measures are secret, but as we entered one facility, we passed through a room called a “man trap.” “It’s a space with one door in and one door out,” said James Leach, vice president of marketing for RagingWire. “Each door requires a different security key. The second door can’t open until the first one opens and closes.” Everyone entering is observed by a security guard in a control room. If more people enter the secure area than have swiped their badges, sensors in the room recognize the extra person and the doors will not unlock until the guard has verified who is entering. This is the Network Operations Center. Internally, they call it the NOC (rhymes with “knock”). “It’s like mission control, or an air traffic control center,” said Evan Bass, RagingWire’s marketing communications manager. “We are monitoring the power, the cooling, the diagnostics of the facility. We are monitoring everything to keep your lights blinking so you can keep watching Netflix at home.” They even monitor the weather from here. If snow storms or other adverse conditions are predicted, they stockpile extra fuel for generators and buy food and supplies for employees who will stay onsite to keep the facility running perfectly. Charles Wade, RagingWire’s supervisor of critical facilities operations, is standing in front of part of the UPS, or uninterruptible power supply. Picture it sort of like the battery back-up in your alarm clock that keeps the time correct, even if the power goes out in your home. “The main purpose of the UPS is to stabilize and normalize the power that comes from utilities,” Wade said. “Power goes up and down. Spikes. Brownouts. The battery makes sure there is always power to the servers. If power goes out even for a second, the UPS batteries provide continuous power until the generators kick in.” The UPS system is all about smoothing out the flow of power so it stays steady and dependable no matter what happens.

ASHBURN MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019 • 21


The cooling system is basically like a massive air conditioning unit. All those thousands of servers (computers) generate a lot of heat. So a huge system of chillers with coils and fans (just like in your AC only much, much bigger) sends air flowing through the facility, while the heat in the vaults is absorbed and whisked away. That’s the point of the big cooling towers outside. It’s all smart technology — the system cranks up on hot summer days and slows down on cool nights. In colder months, outside air can be used instead, coming in via large filters that purify the air.

Should the power from local utilities ever go out, the batteries keep power in the data center flowing smoothly while the generators kick on in a matter of seconds. There are dozens of generators on each site — redundancy is the key — with spare generators to cover testing and maintenance. “It’s like we have lots of spare tires in our trunk,” Bass said. 22 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019


Here are the real guts of a data center. Massive room after massive room (RagingWire calls them “vaults”) filled with hundreds of racks 8 to 10 feet tall. Each rack is filled with servers that are running millions of websites. Another way to say it — there are lots of shelves with lots of computers. “In a single server rack, you could have up to 20-plus computers running at the same time,” said Viggy Hegde, RagingWire’s senior director of marketing. “It’s where the data comes in and goes back out.” So, for example, when you take a selfie and post it on Facebook, that photo comes to a data center like this and sits on a server. When your friend clicks on the photo to see it, their request comes in over the internet and the image goes out to their computer or phone. Now, multiply that by billions — social media, online stores, internet search engines, company websites, nearly everything goes through servers at data centers around the world, centers like RagingWire. When you hear people talking about “the cloud,” this is what they mean. The computers in data centers are the cloud.

RagingWire has made a name for itself with its innovative design — and won many awards. From colorful welcome areas to break rooms filled with amenities, there’s a bit of a magical feel inside. Data centers have a lot more people working in them than you might imagine. Besides the data center’s own employees, many of the clients who store their servers there will have their own employees and technicians onsite. For example, Company X might send a team to work on their servers who will stay for a few days, a few weeks or longer. Besides decked-out break rooms, RagingWire and other data centers have conference rooms, exercise rooms, lounges, patios and even video game spaces for clients to enjoy.

ASHBURN MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019 • 23


70% OF THE WORLD’S INTERNET TRAFFIC FLOWS THROUGH ASHBURN This common statistic we hear sounds hard to believe. But according to multiple sources in the data center industry, the figure is true. Ashburn is the main hub for data along the densely populated East Coast of the United States. On top of that, most of the data traffic from the western half of the country headed to Europe passes through Ashburn.

Q&A

with Buddy Rizer Because the topic of data centers and their impact on Ashburn is so vast, Ashburn Magazine turned to Buddy Rizer for some of our key questions. Rizer is the Executive Director of Loudoun County’s Department of Economic Development and a leader in creating what has become known as “Data Center Alley” in the county.

Ashburn Magazine: Is Ashburn the largest data center hub in the United States? What about in the world? Rizer: With more than 13.5 million square feet of data center storage, more than 1.1 gigawatts of inventory, and the most dark fiber density available, “Data Center Alley” is the largest data center hub in the world by a large margin. It also remains the fastest-growing hub, with a net absorption of 175.5 megawatts just last year alone, with the vast majority happening within two miles of the Ashburn core. Can you quantify the value of data centers in terms of the taxes they pay to the county? Data centers are responsible for approximately $300 million per year in local tax revenue, a number that

24 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019

will continue to rise as more centers come online. That’s nearly 10 percent of the county’s total budget this year, or almost $2,000 for an average household in the county. Data centers have allowed Loudoun to continue to grow faster than any jurisdiction in the region, build new schools every year and invest billions of dollars in new roads, while simultaneously decreasing the tax rate by 24.5 cents in the past six years. Data centers helped overcome anticipated budget shortfalls in recent years, and helped deliver universal, full-day kindergarten ahead of schedule. Better yet, data centers don’t require the government services that housing, retail or even a typical business might need. Data centers are a major reason why we have had great budget years recently, and we think that will continue.


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How can data centers be made more attractive? I get this question a lot … and think that by and large, the industry has done a great job in improving their design. For example, I’d put the new Vantage data center on 28 and Waxpool or the CyrusOne data centers in the same category as the recent office designs we’ve seen around the county. The RagingWire data centers have won design awards, but buildings of this scale are hard to design and hard to hide. The industry and our board have heard the concerns and have reacted to them. With a new comprehensive plan in place, the county will be looking at how zoning ordinances align with Loudoun’s long-term vision. We want data centers to fit into the larger community, and there has been an open mind from the data center industry on how to approach that. Part of that is developing better year-round screening from major roadways, which could include larger evergreen vegetation screens and changes to the restrictions on walls and fences. These subtle changes will go a long way towards ensuring the physical security of the centers and a greener view for Ashburn residents. Why can’t more data centers be built in industrial parks rather than fronting right on our major roads? I will say that by and large, the data centers have been built in the areas that the county has long envisioned for commercial development, and if you look at it on a map, much of that commercial development has happened in the areas that have been restricted for housing because of the noise contours of the airport. It has never been a question of something or nothing… the land is too valuable to not be developed. There is a huge benefit to being adjacent to an internet exchange point, and there have been big premiums paid for commercial land in Loudoun. Data center development has been one of the few growth industries in the world, and we were at the front end of that curve when no one else was really talking about it. That’s something I’m proud of and I think Loudoun residents can be proud of.

Realistically, how many more data centers can be built in the Ashburn area? We’re fairly built out. Land will probably be our biggest limiting factor going forward; much of our prime data center real estate has already been land-banked by the industry’s biggest players. We do have a handful of strategic properties that we are excited about that will enable further growth of our economy, so we’re working hard to get the right users in place on those parcels. We expect that we’ll have organic growth through the early 2020s, but at some point, we’ll probably be out of undeveloped data center land.

GLOSSARY MEGAWATT a unit of power equal to one million watts GIGAWATT a unit of electric power equal to one billion watts DARK FIBER fiber optic cable that has been installed in the ground, but is not yet being used

Data centers require huge airconditioners in order to maintain the necessary cool temperatures inside. What is the county doing to reduce the impact on the environment? While it’s undeniable that data centers use a lot of energy, it’s equally as true that the industry works very hard to ensure that no energy is being wasted. Data centers have been at the forefront of green energy development. Facebook, Google, Amazon, Digital Realty and many others have been pushing for significant solar and wind energy to Virginia’s energy mix. Dominion Energy is bringing about 700 megawatts of solar to the grid in the next 18 months. No one is denying that there is a long way to go on an energy front, but almost every data center company has set aggressive energy goals and is moving forward on the development of alternative cooling techniques such as eco-friendly immersion cooling, increased usage of air cooling, battery technologies and many more. I also want to acknowledge the importance that Loudoun Water has

26 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019

played in this area. Loudoun Water’s Broad Run Reclamation facility is capable of serving up to 6 million gallons of reclaimed water to Ashburn’s data centers every day. This process reduces the need for industrial air conditioning and provides an efficient way for cooling the servers. It also helps save an equal amount of precious potable drinking water, while reducing nutrients discharged into the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay. Data storage technology seems to be advancing at a rapid rate. What happens when all the data in one of those big centers can fit on something as small as our phones? That’s another question that I get all of the time, and I get it. Every industry is prone to disruption, and data is no exception. One mitigating factor is the sheer amount of data being created that requires storage and redundancy. Even as the storage of data becomes more efficient, data center providers are still unable to keep up with global demand. Many of our data centers are fully leased before opening, and there hasn’t been a day without data center construction in Loudoun since 2008. I have not seen anything in our research or any research that would lead me to believe that data centers would become obsolete in the next 30 years. Perhaps the day will come, decades from now, when there is no need for data centers in Ashburn. When that day arrives, I’m sure whoever is sitting in my chair then will be ready for what the next generation of opportunity looks like on those properties. A


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FAMOUS SO A CONVERSATION WITH BROAD RUN GRADUATE

PAT TON OSWALT BY CH R I S WADSWO RT H

any Ashburn residents — like folks everywhere — are fans of Emmy and Grammy-winning comedian Patton Oswalt. From his role as Spence on the hit TV show “The King of Queens,” to voicing the main character Remy in the blockbuster Pixar movie “Ratatouille,” from appearing in a multitude of stand-up comedy specials to his role as the narrator on the ABC network show, “The Goldbergs,” it seems Oswalt is everywhere. And you know where else he’s been? Ashburn. Oswalt, 50, grew up in the Sugarland Run area of Sterling, moving there in the early 1970s. He attended Broad Run High School, graduating in 1987. He went to college at William & Mary in Williamsburg before becoming a stand-up comic and heading to Hollywood. His parents still live in the area, and he returns here several times a year. Ashburn Magazine spoke to Oswalt about his life in Loudoun County from his home base in Los Angeles, where he lives today with his wife and daughter.

28 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019

IN YOUR WRITING, YOU PAINT A FUNNY, BUT DREARY PICTURE OF LIFE GROWING UP IN SUBURBIA. WAS IT REALLY THAT DREARY IN LOUDOUN IN THE 1970S AND 1980S?

It was drearier when I got a little older… there just wasn’t the transportation infrastructure that there is now to get you into the city. When we were little kids, it was great. There were bike paths and Legos and D&D and all that stuff. It was a really really great place to be a little kid, but not a great place to be a teenager. WERE YOU EVER ABLE TO GET INTO DC OR WERE YOU TRAPPED?

Literally not until senior year of high school. Up until then, I didn’t have a car. I didn’t have a way to get into the city. I didn’t

have a way to get into Georgetown … and see shows like Minor Threat, Fugazi and Bad Brains (Editor’s note: all D.C.-based punk rock bands of the era) and stuff like that. There was just no access to it. I had to depend on hoping someone had a car and could get me into the city and … go see a cool film at the Janus or the Odeon or go see a show at The Birchmere. 

Broad Run High School yearbook photo


ON

ASHBURN MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019 • 29


It was the Towncenter 3. They weren’t exactly getting the best firstrun movies. And it also wasn’t really the Towncenter 3’s fault either. It was a period in the ’80s when all the movies were God-awful. Stuff like ‘Who’s That Girl’ and ‘Jaws: The Revenge’ and the Timothy Dalton Bond films. It was kind of a bummer … but you have the Alamo [Drafthouse] now. That’s amazing. (Editor’s Note: Best as we can tell, the former Towncenter 3 movie theater is today’s Planet Fitness location in the Town Center at Sterling shopping center.) YOU ATTENDED BROAD RUN HIGH SCHOOL IN ASHBURN ALL FOUR YEARS. WHAT WAS BROAD RUN LIKE BACK THEN?

It was pretty small high school. I hear it has expanded a lot since then and gotten way bigger. For the time that I was there, it was really, really fun. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE MEMORY FROM THAT TIME?

High school is not like it’s depicted in these high school movies,

where there are these big epiphanal events. It was just a lot of blurry impressions of things and people. I don’t really have a specific crazy anecdote. IN 2018, YOU CAME BACK TO ASHBURN AND TOOK YOUR AP GOVERNMENT TEACHER, RON RICHARDS, TO LUNCH OVER AT ONE LOUDOUN (BELOW). HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT?

I have stayed in contact with him after high school. We stayed really good friends. He was a big influence on me. I was coming back to visit my parents, and I knew that he lived in the area and I’m like, ‘Hey, let me take you to dinner.’ If there was a teacher that meant something to you, buy them dinner. They deserve it. DID YOU HAVE A GOOD VISIT?

It was great. We caught up on everything and talked about current events and life, and the debate team. He does stuff with them still. It was good to catch up with a mentor. (Editor’s note: Ron Richards retired from teaching at the end of the 2018-2019 school year, after 34

30 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019

years at Broad Run. Congratulations to him on his wonderful career!) IMAGES IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN

YOU WERE AN USHER AT A MOVIE THEATER IN STERLING. IT SOUNDS LIKE A DREAM JOB FOR A MOVIE BUFF SUCH AS YOURSELF, BUT YOU’VE WRITTEN OF THE EXPERIENCE: “NOW THAT I COULD WATCH ANYTHING I WANTED, THEY SHOWED NOTHING I WANTED TO SEE.”

AT ONE TIME, YOU THOUGHT YOU WOULD STAY IN LOUDOUN COUNTY AND BE A WRITER LIKE STEPHEN KING. YOU’VE DONE SOME WRITING, SOME MEMOIRS, BUT DO YOU THINK YOU MIGHT EVER WRITE A FICTION BOOK?

Maybe down the road. You have goals and dreams that you have in middle school and early high school and then stuff just keeps shifting. Who knows? Right now, I’m busy with all this other stuff, but maybe someday if a really good idea for a book hits me, yeah, I’ll sit down and write something. That would be great. DO YOU MISS ANYTHING ABOUT LOUDOUN COUNTY AND NORTHERN VIRGINIA?“

I love the summertime — when it’s crazy hot during the day and then these massive, apocalyptic thunderstorms come in. I really, really miss those. I love that. A

PATTON OSWALT’S GREATEST HITS HERE ARE JUST A FEW OF THE HUNDREDS OF CREDITS OSWALT HAS TO HIS NAME. TELEVISION “SEINFELD” — VIDEO STORE CLERK (1994) “HBO HALF HOUR COMEDY HOUR — HIMSELF (1997) “THE KING OF QUEENS” — SPENCE (1998-2007) “KIM POSSIBLE” — PROF. DEMENTOR (VOICE) (2003-2007) “THE GOLDBERGS” — ADULT ADAM (VOICE) (2013-PRESENT) “VEEP” — TEDDY SYKES (2015-2019) “MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000” — MAX (2017-PRESENT)

FILMS “DOWN PERISCOPE” — STINGRAY RADIOMAN (1996) “ZOOLANDER” — MONKEY PHOTOGRAPHER (2001) “STARSKY & HUTCH” — DISCO DJ (2004) “RATATOUILLE” — REMY (VOICE) (2007) “A VERY HAROLD & KUMAR 3D CHRISTMAS” — LARRY JUSTON (2011) “YOUNG ADULT” — MATT FREEHAUF (2011) “THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2” — MAX (VOICE) (2019) NETFLIX STAND-UP COMEDY SPECIALS “PATTON OSWALT: TALKING FOR CLAPPING” (2016) “PATTON OSWALT: ANNIHILATION” (2017)


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Wine&Dine

Sweet Celebration Mithai are part of local Diwali traditions BY SUZ Y NATHAN

D

iwali, perhaps the most widely celebrated and brightest of all Hindu festivals, is an eagerly anticipated holiday that falls every October or November, depending on the lunar calendar. Known as the “Festival of Lights,” Diwali is celebrated by decorating homes with lights and lanterns and setting off fireworks to symbolize good over evil. But the most central part is sharing a meal with family and friends -- and these meals always include mithai, which are traditional holiday sweets. “Diwali is celebrated with some customs similar to Christmas,” said Bela Patel, who lives in the Broadlands with her husband and three sons. “There are decorations and lights. Gifts are exchanged. Family and friends visit, and food is shared. At Christmas, cookies are enjoyed. At Diwali, we have mithai.” Mithai can vary greatly depending upon family traditions or geographic region, but they usually include nuts, dried fruits, 

34 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019


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Kopra Pak ( CO CO N U T M I T H A I ) Recipe courtesy of Bela Patel INGREDIENTS

3 cups grated coconut 1 cup milk powder (Nestle Carnation) Pinch of cardamom powder 2 cups sugar 1/4 cup water Optional (rose essence, vanilla extract) MAKING SYRUP:

Mix sugar and water in a pot. Turn on the stove, keep stirring until it starts to caramelize. You can check if the syrup is ready by pouring some from a teaspoon on a plate — it shouldn’t run down, but slowly solidify. You may need to do this a few times. You can add optional essences above now. METHOD

Mix dry ingredients together in one bowl. Pour the syrup into the dry ingredients slowly. Mix thoroughly. Spread into a pre-greased pan. Cool and refrigerate. Cut it in squares or shape of choice.

36 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019


Jaidan Patel, age 10 (top) and his brother Shaan, age 14 (lower) enjoy spending time making mithai in the kitchen of their Broadlands home.

spices, rice, coconut and milk products such as khoya or mawa. Here in Ashburn, mithai can be homemade or storebought, but they are enjoyed by everyone who celebrates Diwali and other Hindu holidays. “Living in Virginia without family nearby, our friends have become our family to visit during Diwali,� said Vandana Sharma, who grew up in northern India and now lives in Lansdowne with her husband and two children. “Since houses are more spread out, rather than visit several homes, one family will host dinner and all who come will contribute — kind of like a potluck. No matter the main course, there will be plenty of mithai to enjoy.� Making and serving mithai evokes warm memories of family and tradition. Sharma and Patel agree — their mothers and grandmothers have delicious recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation. “I moved to the U.S. when I was 10 years old,� Patel said. “My roots are from the state of Gujarat, though I grew up in Mumbai. In our homes,

we enjoy ghughras. Other regional variations of mithai include karanji from Maharashtra and gujiya from Punjab. In Southern states, it could be a mix of sweets and savories.� This year Diwali begins Oct. 25 and ends Oct. 29, with the main celebration on Sunday, Oct. 27. The holiday honors Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, and represents the triumph of light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance. And what better way to honor this sweet victory then with family, friends, food and mithai. “Celebrating here in the States can be different,� Sharma said. “In India, everything stops in the evenings to celebrate Diwali. Here — it’s what you make of it. We are fortunate to have friends to gather with to celebrate this special holiday and teach our children [our traditions].� A

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Suzy Nathan is an Ashburnbased freelance writer. ASHBURN MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019 • 37


local adventures

It’s A-maze-ing! Who knew getting lost could be so much fun? BY JI L L DE V IN E

Each year, the Corn Maze in The Plains features a different theme. This photo shows their Wolf maze from 2014.

38 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019

T

here’s something about an autumn corn maze that can make even the busiest families put on the brakes. Every fall, Lansdowne mom Malinda Mahaffey’s calendar fills up with back-to-school and sports obligations. “So much to do, but I make sure we block out time for our family to be together,” Mahaffey said. Per their family tradition, some of that together time is spent at a corn maze — those harbingers of autumn that pop up every year in fields around Northern Virginia and across the country. Mahaffey, her husband Lathan, and daughters Lilly, 16, Ella, 14, and Layla, 8, love putting their busy lives on hold for a few hours to happily wander through rustling, sun-kissed stalks. Mahaffey grew up in the Loudoun community of Mount Gilead. “We had 10 acres looking over the beautiful Blue Ridge,” she said. “I want my own kids to experience what I had, but it’s hard in suburbia.” However, the Mahaffeys found what they were looking for at a Fauquier County farm in The Plains, a small town just 45 minutes from bustling Ashburn. That’s where each year — for two decades now — the iconic Corn Maze in The Plains has appeared as if by magic each fall. Kate and Hubb Knott are the owners of the maze and love helping area families discover the natural splendor of a Virginia autumn. Newlyweds right out of college, the Knotts opened an organic seed farm in 2000 and thought a corn maze and fall festival would be a fun addition. “Corn mazes were a new concept then – not many people had ever been to one,” Kate Knott said. “We had to advertise a lot.” Soon the maze was the star attraction, and the Knotts became devoted to designing mazes that help families connect with nature and each other. 


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AMAZING MAZES NEAR YOU HERE’S A ROUND-UP OF SOME OF THE CORN MAZES IN THE NORTHERN VIRGINIA AREA. TEMPLE HALL FARM CORN MAIZE AND FALL FESTIVAL

Knott describes building their first maze as a backbreaking five-day process. They drew the maze on paper, and when the corn was short, they ran a tractor under the grueling sun, following 20-foot grid sections marked with flags. “Not fun,” she recalled. So, the Knotts found an Idaho-based company willing to help — one that specializes in cutting corn mazes and travels around the 40 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019

waysidefarmfun.com 5273 Harry Byrd Highway, Berryville 540-539-3276 Sept. 21 - Nov. 3: Weekends and Columbus Day, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. THE CORN MAZE IN THE PLAINS

novaparks.com/events/templehall-fall-festival 15855 Limestone School Rd., Leesburg 703-779-9372 Weekends, Sept. 28 - Nov. 5: Saturdays 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

cornmazeintheplains.com 4501 Old Tavern Rd., The Plains 540-456-7339 Sept. 28-29: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. October: Fridays and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Columbus Day, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sundays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 1-2: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Nov. 3: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

AMAZING FARM FUN AT TICONDEROGA (BAMBOO MAZE & WILLOW MAZE)

SUMMERS FARM

amazingfarmfun.com 26469 Ticonderoga Rd., Chantilly 703-327-4424 Sept. 21 to Nov. 3. Weekdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., weekends and Columbus Day 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

A group of adventurous kids walk through the Corn Maze in the Plains; children enjoy an autumn day — and an old tractor tire.

WAYSIDE FARM FUN

COX FARMS FALL FESTIVAL

coxfarms.com 15621 Braddock Rd., Centreville 703-830-4121 Sept. 14 - 15 and Sept. 21 - Nov. 5: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in November). WHITEHALL FARM FALL FUN DAYS

whitehall.farm 12523 Popes Head Road, Clifton 703-968-3900. Saturdays and Sundays in October: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. GREAT COUNTRY FARMS

greatcountryfarms.com 18780 Foggy Bottom Road, Bluemont 540-554-2073 Sept. 30 - Oct. 31: Daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

summersfarm.com 5620 Butterfly Lane, Frederick, Md. 301-620-9316 Sept. 21 - Oct. 31: Mondays through Thursdays, 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Fridays, 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m; Sundays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. HARTLAND FARM

hartlandfarmandorchard.com 3205 Hartland Lane, Markham 540-532-0436 Sept. 14 - Oct. 27: Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sundays, noon to 6 p.m. BELVEDERE PLANTATION FALL HARVEST FESTIVAL

belvedereplantation.com 1410 Belvedere Drive, Fredericksburg 540-373-4478 Weekends Sept. 21 - Oct. 27: Fridays, 5 to 10 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sundays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Columbus Day, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.. Weekdays Sept.24 - Oct 31: Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. (Closed Tuesday, Oct. 9.)


LOCAL ADVENTURES

country each fall carving up fields. Today, the Corn Maze in The Plains is created with the aid of a GPS-equipped tractor, producing highly accurate results. This year’s theme: “Twenty Ears,” with a corn motif, to celebrate the maze’s 20th anniversary. Plowed maze paths require considerable grooming to stave off regrowth and weeds. The Knotts say some farms use chemicals to keep new growth at bay, but they do it manually. “We don’t want our kids, or our visitors, exposed to chemicals,” said Kate Knott, whose two daughters are growing up on the farm. The earliest recorded maze was the Egyptian Labyrinth, dating to roughly 1800 B.C. Through history, mazes have been used as artwork in churches and cut into hedges in the gardens of palaces such as Versailles in France. The complicated path of a maze has been used repeatedly in literature as a metaphor for the twists and turns each human life takes. “We see life as a maze of choices that each of us must navigate,” said Knott, echoing Shakespeare, Balzac and others. Mazes like Corn Maze on The Plains offer a safe way to experience the thrill and adventure of being lost while overcoming fears and building confidence. And don’t worry about truly getting trapped in the corn. Standing ready are “corn cops,” who vigilantly watch for raised flags that signal a request for a little help. Malinda Mahaffey’s daughter Ella calls corn mazes “fun and exciting” and especially likes to go through them at night. The best part— “scaring each other with the flashlights and making up scary stories,” she said. Knott said lots of families return every year, and she has witnessed at least a dozen engagements within the maze. The Mahaffeys have gone many times over the years, often several times a season. Now that their kids are older, they go with their travel sports teams or they bring neighbors and friends. “We stay the whole day, doing everything from choosing pumpkins and enjoying the maze to seeing farm animals and getting cozy by the bonfire with s’mores,” Mahaffey said. “Maze days are the best days ever.” A Jill Devine is a freelance writer living in Loudoun County. She served six years as an editor for Contract Management magazine.

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WCDS Board Board Designates Designates WCDS $100k forBoard Scholarships WCDS Designates $100k for Scholarships

Wakefield Country Country Day DaySchool Schoolprides pridesitself itselfon on Wakefield educational excellence. For 46-years all WCDS educational excellence. For 46-years all WCDS Wakefield Country School itself on educational graduates have been Day accepted toaprides a4-year 4-year college graduates have been accepted to college excellence. For 46-years all WCDS graduates program — — aa truly truly remarkable remarkablerecord recordof ofacademic academichave been program accepted to a 4-year college program a truly achievement. There  There have havebeen beenchallenges challenges— along theremarkable achievement. along the record have been way, yet of theacademic school has hasachievement. meteach eachone oneThere withdetermination determination way, yet the school met with challenges along the way, yet the school has met each one and prevailed.. and prevailed.. with recently determination and prevailed. the Most Paul Larner, Larner, thenew newChairman Chairmanof ofthe Most recently Paul the Most recently Paul Larner, the new Chairman of the WCDS WCDS Board, secured more than a million dollars WCDS Board, secured more than a million dollars inin Board, secured more than a million dollars in operating operating capital. capital.  And  And with withthat thatlargesse, largesse,Mr. Mr.Larner Larnerand and operating capital. And with that largesse, Mr. Larner and the Wakefield the Wakefield Board have earmarked $100,000 for merit the Wakefield Board have earmarked $100,000 for merit Board have earmarked $100,000 for and needand need-based scholarships thisfall. fall.  Inmerit recent and need-based scholarships this  In aarecent based scholarships this fall. In a recent interview, Mr. interview, Mr. Mr. Larner Larner explained, explained,“Wakefield’s “Wakefield’sscholarship scholarship interview, Larner explained, “Wakefield’s scholarship program has program has has traditionally traditionallyaddressed addressedonly onlythe theneeds needsofof program traditionally addressed only the needs of financial aid. financial aid.  WCDS is seeking to increase enrollment financial aid.  WCDS is seeking to increase enrollment WCDS is seeking to increase enrollment and is instituting new merit-based merit-basedscholarship scholarship program; instituting aa new and is instituting a new merit-based scholarship program; allprogram; applicants will applicants will will be be considered. considered.We’re We’relooking lookingfor for all applicants be considered. We’re looking for students who demonstrate students who demonstrate notonly onlyacademic academic students demonstrate not not onlywho academic achievement, but also seek to become achievement, but also also seekto tobecome become theirbest best selves, achievement, but seek their selves, their best selves, contributing positively to their families, contributing positively totheir theirWith families, schoolsand and of fall contributing positively to families, schools schools and communities. a full-schedule communities.  With full-schedule offall fallsports, sports, robust communities.  With aa full-schedule of sports, robust class offerings, new field trips robust and travel offerings, new field trips and travel abroad slated class offerings, new field trips and travel abroad slated abroad slated for more grade levels, and a new pool of for more grade and pool of poolimpressive ofhighly highly resumes who moreexperienced grade levels, levels,teachers andaanew newwith highly teachers with impressive resumes who experienced experienced withWakefield impressiveCountry resumesDay whoSchool is have joinedteachers the faculty, have joined the Wakefield Country joined the faculty, faculty, Wakefield CountryDay DaySchool Schoolisis moving forward, stronger than ever.” moving forward, than moving forward, stronger stronger thanever.” ever.”    See WCDSVA.ORG for more information. See  WCDSVA.ORG  WCDSVA.ORG  for  formore moreinformation. information.

$100k for Scholarships

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great escapes

Hop on Over to Kangaroo Island

Ashburn father and son head down under BY C H R I S WADSWO RT H

1

I

f your kid is into baseball, you go to a stadium. Art — you head to a museum. And if your son loves marsupials — well, if you’re Rob Perry, you take him to Australia. “He’s really into koalas,” said Perry, who lives in Belmont Ridge with his family, including his 10-year-old son, Noah. “He’s interested in how Australia has marsupials and wildlife that you can’t see anywhere else in the world.” So, for Noah’s birthday earlier this year, the father and son duo hopped a plane and flew to Melbourne, Australia. Their ultimate goal was to get to a place called Kangaroo Island, famous for its local fauna. Rob shared with Ashburn Magazine some of the magical photos he took on their journey.

44 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019

“We took two tours — Great Ocean Road and Kangaroo Island. The whole allure of the island is that it’s an oasis — the second largest island off the coast of Australia. It’s a rustic island, very natural with a lot of wildlife. Noah was super excited.”

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He’s interested in how Australia has marsupials and wildlife that you can’t see anywhere else in the world.”

“The guide was telling us there is a local legend about this road. It was supposed to be a straight shot, but they say maybe the [road surveyor] had too much to drink and it ended up a little windy. As we approached the coast, the trees got shorter and shorter.” 

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“On Kangaroo Island, there’s a wildlife preserve and the guy who owns it is from the United States and they have a huge concentration of koalas. My son and I got a hundred different shots. He was like a kid in a candy store. I’ve never seen him so happy. There’s one in every tree and he’s darting back and forth taking pictures. It was hilarious.”

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“Great Ocean Road is a road that was built by the veterans who came back from World War II and it gave them a purpose. It stretches all along the southern coast and it’s super nice. It’s right along the ocean and very similar to Route 1 out in California.”

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46 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019

“It’s called Loch Ard Gorge. There was a shipwreck there… and the story says that just two people were the lone survivors. One guy washed ashore on this spot and then he heard a woman out in the water screaming. He went back out and rescued her. This spot is notorious for shipwrecks — or at least it was.” (Editor’s note: It’s a true story. The clipper ship Loch Ard ran aground and sank there in 1878 and only two people survived — a man and a woman.)

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“One of the most popular places we stopped was the Twelve Apostles, which are these sandstone cliffs out in the water. With the waves crashing, you could feel the sea mist in your face. I haven’t seen many places like it on earth.” (Editor’s Note: Despite the name, there are only seven of the sandstone spires.)

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“This was called Admiral’s Arch. There is a boardwalk that goes all the way down to it. From the Arch, you are looking out over the rocks, past the stalactites. There were a bunch of New Zealand sea lions. You could see them struggling to get up on the rocks because the surf is pretty hectic around that area.”

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“These magnificent rocks — they have an orange color to them. It’s alive — something living on them that gives them that color. (Editor’s note: They are orange lichens, a type of plant.) That spot on the island gets very windy and there are signs out there telling you the zones to stay away from.”

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“Kangaroos are a lot like deer. They come out to graze in the morning and evening, but during the day they will sleep in the tall grass. It was our last day in Australia and we hadn’t seen one close up. So, on a whim, we went out to this field right by the airport and there were tons of them. I crossed over the fence and took some pictures.” A

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If you’ve taken an amazing trip somewhere recently and have beautiful photographs, drop us a line at editor@ ashburnmagazine.com. We may just share your adventure in a future issue of Ashburn Magazine.


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OntheTown

AN ALBUM OF ASHBURN AREA EVENTS AUGUST 3, 2019

AUGUST 10, 2019

Twilight Tastings at Salamander Resort & Spa

One Loudoun Summer Concert Series Music lovers turned out to hear the popular regional band Bye Felicia as they played on the plaza at One Loudoun. 1 Laken Summerville of Ashburn was joined at the concert by her friend, Danny Offei of Leesburg, and his daughter, Mya.

1

1 Loudoun’s bright and beautiful turned out for this annual beer and wine tasting event at the popular Salamander Resort in Middleburg.

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(from left to right) Bridgette and Jerome Roberson of Ashburn; Troy and Claudia Rodney of Boynton Beach, Fla.; Rupert Rodney of Ashburn; Cindy and Wendell Smith of Ashburn

AUGUST 3, 2019

Ribbon-Cutting at Segra Field Local dignitaries joined the new Loudoun United soccer team and local soccer fans at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the team’s new stadium in Leesburg. 1

1 Team officials and local leaders cut the ceremonial ribbon on Segra Field. 2 Collin Verfurth is a defender for Loudoun United and an Ashburn native. He graduated from Briar Woods High School and went on to play at Virginia Tech before turning pro. 3 The Troxell family from Ashburn’s Broadlands neighborhood came out for the festivities, including dad Larry, mom Jennifer and their kids Colin, 13, Addison, 12, and Trevor, 6.

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50 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019

If you have taken fun photos at a recent Ashburn organization or community event, send them to us at editor@ashburnmagazine.com. Make sure you include the name of the event, date, location and names of people pictured (l to r). We may just share your “On the Town” photo in a future issue of Ashburn Magazine.


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time travel A historic photo shows the old, unpaved Waxpool Road with a sign on a post next to the roadway.

FARMWELL ROAD

FAULKNER PKWY.

WAXPOOL ROAD

RT. 28

DULLES GREENWAY

52 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019


TIME TRAVEL

Weird, Wonderful Waxpool Road All the twists and turns are just part of our history BY C H R I ST I N P E R RY

D

etour. It’s a word that’s become synonymous with Waxpool Road in Ashburn. Over the past few decades, drivers on Waxpool Road have dealt with lots of detours as Ashburn boomed and work crews made subtle but significant changes to the road’s path. But a closer look at Waxpool’s historic route uncovers the Ashburn of old and life during the community’s rural beginnings. “The [road] is a living thing. It changes as land uses change and communities develop,” said Jim Zeller, deputy director for the Loudoun County Department of Transportation and a resident of Ashburn Farm. “But there are remnants of life as it used to be, as long as you know where to look.” THE ROAD Historically, Waxpool Road was part of a continuum of old farm roads that stretched across much of Loudoun — Church Road to Waxpool Road to Mount Hope Road and beyond. A little stretch of Ruritan Circle in Sterling Park may be the last vestige of Waxpool’s easternmost point, where it blended into Church Road near the old W&OD railroad line and continued east. Roughly six miles to the west at Belmont Ridge Road, Waxpool Road ends as the route cuts south

soil was also sometimes called “blackjack.”) Water drained slowly on this thick soil and often pooled up after a rain. And that was the birth of the unusual name Waxpool. a few hundred feet on Belmont Ridge and became Mount Hope Road, crossing Goose Creek over a small steel truss bridge, and connecting with Evergreen Mills Road. Of course, this stretch is gone. Today, most of Mount Hope Road and any remnants of the bridge are hidden under the dark waters of the Beaver Dam Reservoir. THE NAME The old community of Waxpool used to be located in this area — near where Tillett’s Auction Barn is now. In the mid-20th century, Waxpool had its own general store and a post office (which is preserved and on display at the Heritage Farm Museum in Sterling). There were several farms in the area as well and oldtimers referred to the claylike soil as “wax land.” (The

THE ROUTE Today, transportation officials say Waxpool Road has eight different segments. The road is anything but straight, veering off in a series of bends and sharp turns that prove confusing to new drivers and residents alike. Take the intersections of Waxpool and Truro Parish Drive, Waxpool and Faulkner Parkway, and Waxpool and Farmwell Road. At each point, the road takes something akin to a 90-degree turn. In most communities, that would mean you were turning onto a new road. But not in Ashburn. Why these bizarre configurations? Simple — the developers of today’s meganeighborhoods, such as Ashburn Farm and the Broadlands, wanted large roads that would make

accessing their communities easy. This was key to attracting home buyers. So old farm roads were widened, expanded and sometimes “bent” to intersect properly with new roads. Believe it or not, Waxpool Road still follows its historic path pretty closely. In most cases, those 90-degree turns were just added where Waxpool met with a new road. In some cases, the odd bend was even part of the original path. Zeller says roads often followed property lines back in the day, something still common in the more rural western half of Loudoun. And through all those changes and additions, the name Waxpool was preserved for the entire stretch. “Waxpool Road had been around since at least the mid-1800s, if not earlier,” Zeller said. “It’s part of the county’s heritage. It would be kind of a shame to replace these names with the more generic names you see in modern subdivisions.” In 2018, the last gravel segment of Waxpool Road — just east of Belmont Ridge Road — was paved and then closed as part of the construction on the new Waxpool Elementary School, which welcomed students in August. Traffic was redirected through nearby neighborhoods for nearly a year — just the latest detour in Waxpool Road’s long and winding history. A Christin Perry is a freelance writer in Ashburn who has written for The Bump, The Knot, Scary Mommy and other publications.

ASHBURN MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019 • 53


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.

BRUSTER’S REAL ICE CREAM COMING TO THE BROADLANDS

The first Bruster’s Real Ice Cream location in Loudoun County is under construction in the Broadlands Village Center. The popular chain of ice cream shops is taking over the former Starbucks space in the center after Starbucks moved to a stand-alone building nearby. The folks at Bruster’s hope to have the store open by December.

MARTY THE ROBOT ROAMING AISLES AT GIANT STORE Shoppers at the Giant store in the Shops at Ryan Park plaza encountered an unusual employee this summer. Marty the Robot has been

roaming the aisles scanning inventory and checking prices. The tall, gray automaton is made more approachable by the addition of some googly eyes and an employee nametag. Marty is part of a pilot program being tested by Giant’s parent company.

GLUTENFREE BAKERY PLANNED FOR OLD ASHBURN

The Difference Baker — a new bakery coming to Old Ashburn — will have a certified glutenfree kitchen and feature a menu filled with gluten-free and

54 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019

allergen-free items. Planned menu items include breakfast wraps, lunch wraps, sweet and savory hot pockets as well as doughnuts, cookies, muffins, breads and even pretzels. At press time, The Difference Baker hoped to open sometime this fall.

RUSSIAN SCHOOL OF MATH ON TAP FOR GOOSE CREEK VILLAGE

A new math tutoring center with an eyecatching name is in the works for the Goose Creek Village center. The Russian School of Mathematics is a national chain of math enrichment centers, and a temporary banner is up for the brand’s new location on Sycolin Road, on the ground level of the new apartment complex called The Heights.

MAHANA POKE CLOSES

After about a year in business, Ashburn’s Mahana Poke restaurant closed permanently. The eatery in the Loudoun Station development served poke and rice bowls in a fast-casual setting. The space had previously been the location of Firenza Pizza; both restaurants were owned by the same company. No word yet on what might go into the space next.

WORK UNDERWAY ON NEW HARRIS TEETER GAS STATION Ashburn’s first Harris Teeter Fuel station is closer to reality now that construction has started. The new gas station is coming to the Broadlands Marketplace shopping center (better known

as Southern Walk Plaza). It will be built in the parking lot in front of the store near Demott Drive.

NEW IHOP OPENS SOUTH OF ASHBURN

Diners in Brambleton and southern Ashburn hungry for pancakes and other treats have a new option. A new IHOP restaurant has opened just off Loudoun County Parkway near Evergreen Mills Road. The restaurant is the fourth IHOP in Loudoun, joining stores in Ashburn, Leesburg and Sterling. A


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