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Belle Grove decorated for the holidays and open for touring December 6-30, 2019

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Belle Grove Plantation is decorated for the holidays and will be open for touring from Friday, December 6, through Monday, December 30, 2019. Each room was decorated by a local Garden Clubs with the theme of “All Creatures Great and Small.”

“Belle Grove is celebrating the animal kingdom this year because it has always been a place that has included animals, from its more than 200-year history as a farm, to encouraging pollinators in the garden, to hosting the U.S. Border Collie Handler Association’s National Finals again in 2020,” said Kristen Laise, Executive Director.

Guided house tours are offered Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. with tours beginning at quarter past each hour (first tour at 10:15 a.m. and last tour at 3:15 p.m.) and on Sunday 1-5 p.m. (first tour at 1:15 p.m. and last tour at 4:15 p.m.). On Friday and Saturday evenings 4-8 p.m. visitors are welcome to take self-guided tours, the Manor House will be lit by candlelight, and there will be live music in the Parlor from 6-8 p.m. All guests are invited to enjoy spiced tea and cookies as part of their house tour admission. Belle Grove will be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and will close for the winter on New Year’s Eve.

The schedule for live holiday music on Friday and Saturday evenings will be:


  • Friday, December 6, 6-8 p.m., Allen Dec, Happy Harper
  • Saturday, December 7, 6-8 p.m., Soprano Deborah Balcom
  • Friday, December 13 and Saturday, December 14, 6-8 p.m., Sweet Grass, Traditional Carols
  • Friday, December 20, 6-8 p.m., Winchester Celtic Circle
  • Saturday, December 21, 6-8 p.m., Flutist Elizabeth Dalton & Guitarist Jason Perry
  • Friday, December 27, 6-8 p.m., John Tole, Evergreen Shade, Period Music
  • Saturday, December 28, 6-8 p.m., Winchester Celtic Circle

The Little Garden Club of Winchester decorated the Manor House’s front porch and hall to welcome visitors as they arrive. The Massanutten Garden Club’s decorations in the Parlor compliment the 12-foot Norway Spruce Christmas tree donated by John and Judith Tole of Evergreen Christmas Tree Farm in Woodville, Virginia. Hawthorne Garden Club’s decorations are in the Library and Winchester/Clarke Garden Club adorned the Day Sitting Room. Glen Burnie Garden Club decorated in the Plantation Office and Warren County Garden Club decorated the Dining Room. Colonial Garden Club decked the Gold Bedroom and Middletown Garden Club decorated the Nursery. Shenandoah Garden Club of Woodstock festooned the Winter Kitchen and the Northern Shenandoah Valley Master Gardeners Association provided natural decorations in the other rooms of the lower level of the Manor House.

Admission for all tours is $12 for adults, $11 for members of the military, AAA, the National Parks, and individuals 60 and older. Students 6-16 and National Trust for Historic Preservation members are $6. Children 5 and younger are free. Belle Grove members are free of charge as benefit of their membership. Visitors may join Belle Grove and immediately use this benefit at Christmas along with 10% off non-consignment purchases in the Museum Shop.

Visitors will arrive through the Beverley B. Shoemaker Welcome Center in the 1918 Bank Barn, which opened to the public in April 2019. This is now where the Belle Grove Museum Shop is located and it will be open during all touring hours. The Museum Shop carries unique gifts and many products from area artists, artisans, farms, and businesses. The Welcome Center also contains exhibits about Belle Grove and the families who lived here. On the exterior of the Welcome Center guests can see lifelike portraits by local artist Michelle Luttrell of the animals that used to be stalled on the lower level of the barn.

Belle Grove Plantation is a non-profit historic house museum that is a National Trust for Historic Preservation site and a partner in Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park. It is located off Route 11 at 336 Belle Grove Road south of Middletown, Virginia. Information on Christmas tours may be found at www.bellegrove.org or at www.facebook.com/BelleGrove.

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Bargain-hunters flock to now legendary Route 11 yard crawl

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“Don’t give up, don’t get pale, straight ahead, for more yard sale.”

It is going to be a fantastic, festive day, attracting tons of people who are visiting the Lower Shenandoah Valley for the first time. The Valley’s stunning summer scenery, with lush greens and spectacular mountain views will provide each newcomer with an unforgettable experience to take back home and tell family and friends. Folks from all over the country are becoming interested in the event. Vendors within the mid-Atlantic area recognize the Yard Crawl as a major happening for selling product. The Yard Crawl has morphed into a cultural phenomenon and an economic boon to the small towns of the Valley community.

Newtown History Center yard crawl crowd on the museum green. Courtesy Stone House Foundation.

Each year more and more people are participating in the Route 11 (Old Valley Pike) Yard Crawl. A yearly event since 2005 (Stephens City and Middletown joined in 2008), held during the second Saturday in August; the Yard Crawl is a 43-mile-long yard sale that stretches from Stephens City’s Newtown Commons through seven historic small towns to New Market. As many as 1,000 vendors will be set up along the route and an average of 30,000 to 40,000 vehicles will rubberneck their way through each town. Over 3,000 individual sellers will clear their attics, basements, garages and carports and set up for the marathon event.


The Route 11 Yard Crawl is a partnership of the Valley Towns of Stephens City, Middletown, Strasburg, Woodstock, Edinburg, Mt. Jackson and New Market, the Shenandoah County Chamber of Commerce and the Shenandoah County Tourism Office. It is all about experiencing the heart and soul of small-town America.

The Yard Crawl is celebrating (Saturday, August 14) its 16th anniversary of flea market madness! It’s Virginia’s longest yard crawl, offering miles of yard sales, food trucks, fresh produce stands and indescribable family fun. The Crawl typically includes private residences, businesses and popup vendors who set out tables of sale items in empty parking lots, parks and sidewalks filled with tents and trailers, drawing crowds of yard crawlers and frugal shoppers along the route. Saleable items can include antiques, vintage collectibles, books, jewelry, furniture, tools, clothing, sporting goods, toys and the most unusual objects imaginable. Just start fantasizing about all the incredible treasures waiting to be discovered! It is almost Yard Sale Heaven.

Stephens City Lions Club advertises prime vendor space for rent on the Newtown Commons across from Clem’s Garage. Courtesy Mark Gunderman.

Local businesses can count on a 30% increase above normal summer revenue. The Crawl attracts thousands of visitors from around Virginia and other neighboring states and is a godsend for area restaurants, hotels and small businesses. The Crawl is a huge economic driver for the small-town communities to include our area nonprofits. The event has encouraged additional yard sales on adjoining days, soliciting tourism dollars from bargain-hunters and summer travelers alike.

Dudley Rinker, Chair of the Lions Club Yard Crawl Committee says, “business in Stephens City has increased with calls for more vendor spaces this year.” There are approximately 90 vendor spaces allotted at Newtown Commons on Main Street (where the yard crawl begins on the north end). The Commons are at 75% capacity, but rentals are filling quickly and there is a need to expand spaces at the Old School lot on the south of town,” Rinker said. Currently Lions Club has 17 spaces rented at the Old School and can expand to 50 spaces, if needed. The vendor spaces are 16′ X 20′ and cost $20 per spot. “Vendors can join spaces if they require additional room,” Rinker said. According to the Lions Club website, profits from the rentals provide financial and human resource support to sight/hearing conservation, youth activities and community improvement.

Former Lions Chair, Jack Treece, claims about one third of the residents living on Main Street also set up on front porches to sell their own wares. “Between vendors and locals as many as 400 people can be selling product within the Stephens City town limits,” Treece said.

Rick Kriebel, Manager of Collections and Programs, Newtown History Center, says he has 16 vendor spaces (front porch, south yard and parkway) for rent with excellent locations. Kriebel cites many prime spots are still available. Kim Begnaud, Trinity Lutheran Church Community Outreach Minister, has 10 designated spaces for rent in the church parking lot on Main Street. “However, all spots have been taken,” Begnaud reported.

Yard Crawl traffic looking south from Stephens City to Signal Knob, Strasburg, VA. Courtesy Pamela A. Miller.

Yard Crawlers can prepare for the event by bringing small bills and change to make shopping more convenient, but also may get you a discount by enabling a smoother transaction for the vendor. The Crawl officially opens at 7 a.m. on Saturday, but the stores and antiques sellers typically welcome early birds. Some Route 11-yard crawl vendors setup on the Friday before and traffic usually begins to pick up on Route 11 by early Friday afternoon. Saturday is the prime travel day and traffic will be stop and go for the entire stretch of Valley Pike. Adept shoppers begin on Friday or early Saturday before the event to locate any rare or collectible items for cherry-picking at daybreak.

By the end of this epic day folks are doing a lot of “lookie loo” shopping, driving slowly by the roadside stands and viewing from the car. Churches, businesses and civic organizations sell snacks, boxed lunches and beverages all along this historic thoroughfare. Bring bottled water to stay hydrated. Stow away nylon rope, lashing straps or bungee cords to tie down any oversized purchases.

The event will be held rain or shine. Expect traffic congestion along Route 11 most of the day. Watch for pedestrians crossing Route 11. Navigate streets carefully, as pedestrians get distracted by displays and may appear to meander across the street without watching for oncoming traffic. Park vehicles completely off the road and do not block driveways. No double parking is permitted along the route.

May God continue to bless our Shenandoah Valley communities.

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Virginia SAR receives National Sons of the American Revolution Awards for excellence

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On July 24, 2021, the Colonel James Wood II Chapter of the Virginia Society Sons of the American Revolution was presented with National Sons of the American Revolution Awards for excellence. They received the Number 1 rating in very large chapters in the Nation in four competitions.

Virginia Society Sons of the American Revolution won the Liberty Bell Americanism Award for the most complete programs and activities during the previous calendar year that created, supported or promoted a better understanding of the SAR and fundamental American traditions. They were presented with the President General’s Streamer for accumulating the most points awarded for various program activities. They won the President General’s Cup for conducting the best overall programs and activities during the previous calendar year. Finally, the CJWII Chapter was recognized as the top chapter in it’s category for support to Veterans Programs.

Receiving the awards from left to right: President Marc Robinson, Past President Brett Osborn and Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Dale Corey. Photo courtesy of Dale Corey.

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Eighth annual Wits for Wellness 5K Run/Walk scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 18

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Photo courtesy of LFCC

If you’re planning on joining this year’s Wits for Wellness 5K Run/Walk, now is a good time to start training and to register.

The 5K will start at 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 18 at LFCC’s Middletown Campus. Register by Sept. 1 and pay the early-registration fee of $20. After that, the registration fee is $25. Members of the Shenandoah Valley Runners receive a $1 discount.

Awards will be given to the top three male and top three female runners in each age group.


“We are excited to be partnering with Anthem and United Bank for the 8th annual Wits for Wellness 5k,” said Heath, Physical Education and Recreation Professor Stacey Ellis. “With their support, we will be able to further contribute to student scholarships. Race day will continue to be a family friendly walking or running event, and we are excited for the community to join us on the Middletown campus on Sept. 18.”

To learn more or register, visit lfcc.edu/5k.

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Sons of the American Revolution retire 34 worn United States Flags

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On July 24, 2021, the Colonel James Wood II Chapter of the Virginia Society Sons of the American Revolution presented a Flag Retirement Certificate to the Wayside Inn, Middletown, Virginia, for a ceremony conducted June 14, 2021, to retire 34 worn United States Flags. Flags that become unserviceable are burned in a formal ceremony to show respect for the service the flag rendered the country as the symbol of a free country. The ceremony was held at sundown as the normal time to retire the colors for the day.

Dale Corey emcee’d the event with the color guard commanded by Marc Robinson. A three round musket salute was fired to begin the official burning. All members participating in the ceremony took turns retiring a flag.

President Marc Robinson presenting the certificate to Tammy Keeler, representing the Wayside Inn. Photo courtesy of Dale Corey.

The Wayside Inn is a wonderful location for the SAR to perform it’s ceremonies, with it’s long, rich history as the longest continuously operating inn in America, being founded in 1797. The next scheduled flag retirement at the Inn will be November 13th, and all are encouraged to join.


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Phoenix Project announces the 6th Annual Wine Pull

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Last year we did not get to hold our annual Wine Pull due to COVID. We are so excited that we are able to have this fun fundraising event this year, so be sure to get your tickets!

  • Where: Front Royal Golf Club (902 Country Club Road | Front Royal, VA 22630)
  • Date: October 14, 2021
  • Time: 5:00-7:00 pm
  • Entertainment by: Mandatory Fun
  • Tickets: $45.00

Tickets are available at the Phoenix Project office, through Board Members, or online through Eventbrite. Every ticket purchased includes food, hand-painted wine glass, a glass of wine, and a bottle of wine or wine tasting certificate.

Raffle tickets can also be purchased at the event for: Basket raffles and other auction items, and the Kate Spade Purse Raffle @ $10.00 per ticket.

Come on out and have some fun while supporting our mission: Ensuring freedom from all forms of domestic violence through Empowerment, Education, and Community.


Phoenix Project
222 S Royal Ave
Front Royal, VA 22630

Office: 540-635-2302
24/7 Hotline: 540-635-2300

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Sons of the American Revolution reenact the 1758 election of George Washington to the House of Burgesses

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On July 24, 2021, the Colonel James Wood II Chapter (CJWII) of the Virginia Society Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) participated in a commemoration and reenactment of the 1758 election of George Washington to the House of Burgesses. The event was sponsored by Mercer’s Company reenactment group led by Tony Elar. Also participating was the French and Indian War Foundation (FIWF) and received support from the Virginia Beer Museum. The Museum crafted a beer using the formula George Washington used at Mount Vernon to celebrate the occasion.

CJWII Chapter members, from left to right: Brett Osborn, Dale Corey, Marc Robinson, potential member Phil Hunter, Allan Phillips, Erick Moore and Thomas “Chip” Daniel. Photo courtesy of Phil Hunter.

The House of Burgesses was created in 1642 as an instrument of government with the royal governor and the Council of State. After Virginia declared independence, the House became the House of Delegates as the lower house of the General Assembly. Elections at that time were conducted by voice vote of landowners. The county sheriff, a clerk and a representative of each candidate would sit at a table. The elector approached the table and openly voiced his vote. Each voter had two votes.

George Washington ran for election to the House of Burgesses from Frederick County in 1755 and lost to Hugh West and Thomas Swearingen. In 1758, Washington ran again. As he was involved in the French and Indian War, Colonel James Wood managed his campaign and represented him at the election. Wood obtained 160 gallons of alcoholic drinks, distributing them free to 391 voters in Frederick County. Running with Washington were Thomas Bryan Martin, Hugh West and Thomas Swearingen. West and Swearingen were the incumbents in the House of Burgesses. Washington and Martin were elected, with Washington successfully gaining reelection in 1761. In 1765, he ran and won a seat to represent Fairfax County, which he held until 1775 when the American Revolutionary War broke out.


Members of Mercer’s Company, French and Indian War Foundation and the Colonel James Wood II Chapter at the election desk. Photo courtesy of Tony Elar.

At the commemoration event, individuals portraying the four candidates were seated at a table with Jim Moyer of Mercer’s Company and the FIWF monitoring the election. Participating from the CJWII were Dale Corey, Thomas “Chip” Daniel, Erick Moore, Brett Osborn, Allan Phillips, Tom Reed and Marc Robinson.

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Upcoming Events

Jul
30
Fri
9:00 am Stop Motion Animation @ Code Ninjas
Stop Motion Animation @ Code Ninjas
Jul 30 @ 9:00 am – Aug 3 @ 12:00 pm
Stop Motion Animation @ Code Ninjas
Stop Motion Animation Experiment with video production through a variety of mediums including Claymation, LEGO® Minifigures, pipe cleaner creatures, and much more! Ninjas will capture images frame-by-frame and produce videos in a rapid prototyping style.[...]
Aug
2
Mon
9:00 am Potential UNLOCKED: Become a Rob... @ Code Ninjas
Potential UNLOCKED: Become a Rob... @ Code Ninjas
Aug 2 @ 9:00 am – Aug 6 @ 12:00 pm
Potential UNLOCKED: Become a Roblox Developer @ Code Ninjas
Potential UNLOCKED: Become a Roblox Developer In this hands-on, fully guided camp experience, ninjas learn the basics of game building and creative development in an exciting, user-generated online gaming platform called Roblox! This camp will[...]
Aug
3
Tue
9:00 am Potential UNLOCKED: Become a Rob... @ Code Ninjas
Potential UNLOCKED: Become a Rob... @ Code Ninjas
Aug 3 @ 9:00 am – Aug 7 @ 12:00 pm
Potential UNLOCKED: Become a Roblox Developer @ Code Ninjas
Potential UNLOCKED: Become a Roblox Developer In this hands-on, fully guided camp experience, ninjas learn the basics of game building and creative development in an exciting, user-generated online gaming platform called Roblox! This camp will[...]
Aug
4
Wed
9:00 am Potential UNLOCKED: Become a Rob... @ Code Ninjas
Potential UNLOCKED: Become a Rob... @ Code Ninjas
Aug 4 @ 9:00 am – Aug 8 @ 12:00 pm
Potential UNLOCKED: Become a Roblox Developer @ Code Ninjas
Potential UNLOCKED: Become a Roblox Developer In this hands-on, fully guided camp experience, ninjas learn the basics of game building and creative development in an exciting, user-generated online gaming platform called Roblox! This camp will[...]
Aug
5
Thu
9:00 am Potential UNLOCKED: Become a Rob... @ Code Ninjas
Potential UNLOCKED: Become a Rob... @ Code Ninjas
Aug 5 @ 9:00 am – Aug 9 @ 12:00 pm
Potential UNLOCKED: Become a Roblox Developer @ Code Ninjas
Potential UNLOCKED: Become a Roblox Developer In this hands-on, fully guided camp experience, ninjas learn the basics of game building and creative development in an exciting, user-generated online gaming platform called Roblox! This camp will[...]
Aug
6
Fri
9:00 am Potential UNLOCKED: Become a Rob... @ Code Ninjas
Potential UNLOCKED: Become a Rob... @ Code Ninjas
Aug 6 @ 9:00 am – Aug 10 @ 12:00 pm
Potential UNLOCKED: Become a Roblox Developer @ Code Ninjas
Potential UNLOCKED: Become a Roblox Developer In this hands-on, fully guided camp experience, ninjas learn the basics of game building and creative development in an exciting, user-generated online gaming platform called Roblox! This camp will[...]
Aug
7
Sat
9:00 am Waggin’ For Dragons @ Front Royal Golf Club
Waggin’ For Dragons @ Front Royal Golf Club
Aug 7 @ 9:00 am – 11:00 am
Waggin' For Dragons @ Front Royal Golf Club
Our Annual Dragon Boat race is back and better this ever, because we’ve got some special friends joining us! Our race teams, made of local community and business groups, will be racing and raising that[...]
11:00 am Friends of Sky Meadows Farm Market @ Sky Meadows State Park
Friends of Sky Meadows Farm Market @ Sky Meadows State Park
Aug 7 @ 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Friends of Sky Meadows Farm Market @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. Stop by the Friends of Sky Meadows Farmer’s Market for tasty preserved products, heirloom vegetables, eggs and more. Pick from seasonal vegetables grown in Sky Meadows’ authentic Kitchen Garden, July through September. Grab[...]
12:00 pm Settle’s Kettle @ Sky Meadows State Park
Settle’s Kettle @ Sky Meadows State Park
Aug 7 @ 12:00 pm – Aug 8 @ 3:00 pm
Settle's Kettle @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. Follow your nose to the Log House to see what tasty treats are cooking on the hearth. Watch as a Sky Meadows volunteer or ranger dons historic clothing and cooks delicious dishes using[...]
12:00 pm The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Aug 7 @ 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Blacksmith Shop in the Historic Area. The forge is fired up and the blacksmiths are hard at work in the Historic Area. Members of the Blacksmith Guild of the Potomac have set up shop and[...]