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New ‘Dining’, ‘Shop’, ‘Walking Mall’ banners portend more public art on the horizon

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Melissa Ichiuji is a local artist and Front Royal resident who is a founding member of the Warren County Project for the Arts (WCPA), dating to its February 2020 inception. The placement of new downtown Arts Project banners advertising dining and other business opportunities in Front Royal’s downtown, including as part of the late spring implemented weekend walking mall phenomena, gave Royal Examiner the opportunity to meet her and others involved in a growing downtown arts movement.

“We are a group of local artists, residents and some town administrators who have gotten together as a committee; we are a branch of the Architectural Review group (Board of Architectural Review, BAR) – sort of an informal committee, this is all volunteer. Our mission is to curate and facilitate public art in Front Royal, Virginia.”

Will the banner artists present please step forward and take a bow – from left, walking mall entranceway banner artist Kate Fristoe hedges at the front and center offer, as Melissa Ichiuji, interested admirer of the arts Anita, and Chris Stephens urge her forward. Below, a closer look at the absent artist Dagmara Weinberg’s work. Royal Examiner Photos by Roger Bianchini

Ichiuji said the group has also been working with the Façade Grant Program that is part of the State-administered Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) downtown revitalization project the Town has received to make physical improvements geared toward downtown economic revitalization of localities in the Commonwealth. As part of their work in this regard, the Arts Project group has been involved, not only in the building wall-side mural project underway, but also development of some advertising banners to coincide with the Town’s weekend closing of portions of East Main Street to vehicular traffic to facilitate a walking mall aspect to Front Royal’s Historic Downtown Business District.


That impetus began in late May to help revitalize downtown businesses, initially particularly restaurants, hit hard by the Coronavirus pandemic State-mandated business closings and social distancing restrictions that while unpopular with some, have helped Virginia stay on the moderately impacted side of the national equation that has seen over 200,000 reported deaths over an eight-month period.

“So, we believe that art is a universal language that can elevate the spirit of the community and especially in this time it’s a little bit divided, it’s the one way we can elevate the town and have it come together,” Ichiuji continued, pointing to the banner we were standing under in front of Element, one of downtown Front Royal’s featured eateries. “And this is one of the ways we’re doing that as kind of a quick pick me up of Main Street since the walking mall is going to be open until November 30th just as kind of a quick, colorful addition to liven up the street.”

At left, Joe Petty biked up to join the Warren County Project for the Arts discussion. On the Manor Line Market wall behind, an early mural effort of butterfly wings that has become a popular photo op for downtown visitors.

She noted the financial assistance of one local citizen, the semi-anonymous “Frank” acknowledged at a recent Front Royal Town Council meeting for his financial assistance in facilitating the sign and banner project.

“This was kind of pulled off pretty quickly, and Frank was kind enough to support this effort. So, without his help it would not have been expedited and maybe wouldn’t have happened. So, we’re very thankful to Frank,” Ichiuji said with a nod to the nearby and camera-shy patron of the banner project.

“Our original mandate, self-proclaimed mandate, was to upgrade the quality of the public art offerings in town,” Arts Project artist Chris Stephens added as this reporter recruited an Art Project group photo op. “We weren’t in the mural business; we were just in the review of signs and murals. And now we are about to create some murals, have funding for them, and now the signs were added as we were asked to do something for the closing of Main Street every weekend.”

Above, WC Project for the Arts walking mall signage at the East Main St./Commerce Ave. intersection. Below, at the Chester St. intersection – ‘Dine, Shop, Discover’ sounds like a worthy weekend project in Historic Downtown Front Royal.

Kate Fristoe was acknowledged as one of the involved artists in the banner project present for our start of the September 25-27 weekend look at the new banners. We asked Fristoe about her involvement.

“I got involved because my dad is one of the founders of the group. And I’m also a local artist with a little bit of experience with murals, mostly indoor murals. And I mainly do logos and graphic design. So, it just kind of happened that I became the resident committee designer for this project. And we aimed to give something really fresh and colorful and indicate there was a walking mall because it seemed not everybody knew about that. So, we wanted to make some noise and get people excited,” Fristoe said as I gathered those present for a shot under one of the “Dine Front Royal” banners at Element.

An artist noted for her work on those walking mall pole banners, not present for our Friday look at them, was Dagmara Weinberg. So, here’s a shout out to Dagmara for her stellar street pole banner work. Fristoe was cited for her work on the large “Walking Mall” banners at either end of East Main Street, as well as the sandwich boards on side street intersections as at the Chester Street barrier. Also acknowledged though not present, was committee member Mary Ellen Lynn, also a town electric department employee.

Above, a closer look at one of the border walking mall signs; below, what’s not to LOVE about the Warren County Project for the Arts efforts downtown?!?

And as that photo gathering was proceeding, Joe Petty rode up on his bike and joined the group, which acknowledged the County Zoning Administrator as a part of the Arts Project team. So, we asked Joe about his involvement with the Warren County Project for the Arts.

“I am a citizen of Warren County and Front Royal, grew up here and am passionate about fine arts. And as Chris said, we came together to bring quality art to Warren County, whether that is through murals, exhibitions; it could be music, performing arts. We just really wanted to create this mechanism for artists to come together in our community that we thought was lacking.”

Petty asserted the presence of an artists’ community in the town and county that has perhaps been more to the forefront of local culture in the past, than it has been in recent years. That led this reporter to invoke the name of late indoor and outside wall mural and Village Commons sundial sculptor Patricia Windrow, who was a forerunner in the creation of public art in Front Royal in the years before her death.

“There are great artists here, there’s been examples of it in the past,” Petty acknowledged with a nod to Windrow, “And we wanted to bring that spirit back, especially down to Main Street. We think that art provides an experience, it creates place-making and it creates community. We wanted to bring that here … and when people leave Front Royal, we want them to leave with that positive experience,” Petty observed of the Warren County Project for the Arts impetus and direction.

“We kind of got together before the COVID hit, and yea, the walking mall created an opportunity to do some things; and so did the Community Development Block Grant. And we’re trying to take advantage of that opportunity. And hopefully that will spur more excitement and murals, public art, sculptures – there’s bands out here now,” Petty noted gesturing to walking mall sites where businesses have brought live music to their doorsteps.

“It’s exciting to see new things happening that we just haven’t seen before and hopefully art can be a part of that,” Petty concluded of the Warren County Project for the Arts involvement in helping present a best face forward for this community, beginning with Front Royal’s Historic Downtown Business District and the Town’s exploration of a weekend walking mall concept.

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SNAP Emergency Allotments Will End in February

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The Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) will release the final issuance of emergency allotment benefits to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households in February, in accordance with the requirements of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023. The new law recently passed by Congress ends VDSS’ authorization to continue issuing benefits through the temporary federal program, originally established in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. The last issuance of benefits will be automatically loaded onto SNAP customers’ Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards on Thursday, February 16.

SNAP households began receiving the temporary emergency allotment benefit in March 2020 through the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (2020). Per federal guidelines, states were required to request a monthly waiver to issue these benefits. VDSS submitted this request each month for the duration of the period emergency benefits were available to continue providing additional food benefits to SNAP households. Since March 2020, the Commonwealth has issued more than 2.1 billion dollars in emergency allotments and raised the monthly issuance to the maximum allowable amount for over 900,000 individuals in Virginia. According to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, emergency allotments have already ended in 17 states.

Households will permanently return to pre-pandemic allowances beginning March 1, 2023, and receive their regular SNAP benefit amounts on their usual day of issuance (on the 1st, 4th, or 7th day of the month). To further awareness of this change, VDSS has mailed letters directly to SNAP households.

Additionally, to support Virginians during this transition, VDSS has also created a dedicated webpage for more information and resources. Beginning January 28, households may contact the temporary information line at 1-855-635-4370, Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. TTY assistance is available by calling 800-552-7917 or 866-246-9300. SNAP participants can contact Warren County DSS or visit CommonHelp for questions or account information.

Front Royal Virginia

For assistance with applying for food benefits, visit the VDSS SNAP webpage. To access information regarding resources statewide and in your local community, don’t hesitate to get in touch with 2-1-1 Virginia or visit the VDSS food and other nutritional assistance pages.

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VDOT: Warren County Traffic alert for February 6 – 10, 2023

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The following is a list of highway work that may affect traffic in Warren County during the coming weeks. Scheduled work is subject to change due to inclement weather and material supplies. Motorists are advised to watch for slow-moving tractors during mowing operations. When traveling through a work zone, be alert to periodic changes in traffic patterns and lane closures.

*NEW* or *UPDATE* indicates a new or revised entry since last week’s report.

INTERSTATE 66
*NEW* Mile marker 5 to 9, eastbound and westbound – Right shoulder closures for sign work, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

INTERSTATE 81
*NEW* Mile marker 299 to 300, northbound and southbound – Overnight single lane closures for inspection of bridge over Cedar Creek, Tuesday night from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m.


Mile marker 299 to 300, northbound and southbound – Overnight single lane closures for equipment and materials unloading and bridge removal work, 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. through the night of March 16.

PRIMARY ROADS
*UPDATE* Route 55 (Strasburg Road) – Shoulder closures for overnight utility work between Route 664 (Whippoorwill Road) and Front Royal town limits, 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. through February 17.

SECONDARY ROADS
No lane closures were reported.

Vegetation management may take place district-wide on various routes. Motorists are reminded to use extreme caution when traveling through work zones.

Traffic alerts and traveler information can be obtained by dialing 511. Traffic alerts and traveler information also are available at www.511Virginia.org.

The VDOT Customer Service Center can assist with reporting road hazards, asking transportation questions, or getting information about Virginia’s roads. Call 800-FOR- ROAD (800-367-7623) or use its mobile-friendly website at my.vdot.virginia.gov. Agents are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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Warren Coalition’s “We See You, Warren County” February 2023 Theme: You Can Do Hard Things

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The February 2023 Theme for We See You, Warren County is “You Can Do Hard Things.”

That phrase means something different for each person. For some people, greeting others, as We See You, Warren County members are encouraged to do, is very difficult. Some people find it hard to ask others for help. Others might have trouble getting out of bed in the morning or standing up for themselves in a conflict. Some may want to end a substance use disorder or get out of toxic relationship, both of which can be very difficult to overcome.

“We want to encourage everyone to believe in themselves this month,” said Celeste Brooks, Community Outreach Coordinator. “After all, you’ve already survived 100% of your hardest days! But we also want everyone to remember that doing hard things doesn’t mean you have to do them alone. We are here to help each other. No matter what you are going through, it’s okay to ask for help.”

Among this month’s challenges is a seemingly simple task: “Allow someone to interrupt you.” This is a challenge for this month, Brooks said, because it is harder than it sounds. “For task-driven people especially, stopping what we’re doing to listen to someone can be very hard,” she acknowledged. “But it’s very important to allow that to happen if we’re going to build relationships with each other.”


Other challenges this month are to greet ten strangers, offer to help someone, invite one person to join We See You, Warren County, and reach out to repair a relationship. The tips for this month emphasize that it is okay to ask for help, we are stronger together, and childhood trauma doesn’t have to define you.

More about the We See You, Warren County Campaign

We See You, Warren County partners have agreed to help create a more connected community by greeting others and taking on at least one challenge each month. A connected community creates as sense of safety and belonging, which is a critical part of preventing drug and alcohol misuse. Members are encouraged to share their experiences on social media using the hashtag #WeCUWC. Organizations and individuals that register receive a window cling to show they are participating. The program now has more than 200 registered partners, and over 1000 Facebook members. Sign-ups are ongoing. Go to weseeyou.warrencoalition.org to learn more, or to officially sign up yourself, your family, or your business or organization. You can also join the Facebook group at facebook.com/groups/wecuwc.

In addition, the Warren Coalition features individuals of the Warren County community on the “We See You” website, and on the Warren Coalition social media accounts. People do not have to be registered members to be featured. Anyone who lives, works, or plays in Warren County can submit a profile on the We See You website.


About Warren Coalition

Warren Coalition is a nonprofit agency established in 1994 to help fill the gaps in health care and substance misuse awareness to the community. The Coalition began under the guidance of Warren Memorial Hospital as an outreach project, but it has since grown and was incorporated in 2001.  The office is currently located in the Warren County Community Center.  Their mission is to make Warren County a safe, healthy, and drug-free community through many programs and in collaboration with 15+ member agencies.

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The 2023 Front Royal Chocolate Crawl starts Monday, February 6th

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Calling all chocolate lovers. This is an event you don’t want to miss. The 2023 Front Royal Chocolate Crawl starts Monday, February 6th, and runs all week to Valentine’s Day on the 14th.

For every 2023 Chocolate Crawl Commemorative Ornament you buy, you will be automatically entered into our drawing for an amazing Valentine’s Day Gift Basket. Pickup the ornament (which smells like chocolate) at the following locations:

  • White Picket Fence
  • I Want Candy
  • C&C Frozen Treats

The Ornament is $5, and the profits go to charity.

So, what is a Chocolate Crawl? Watch the video and find out and join the Facebook Event Page too.


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Crime/Court

Deputies rescue suspected impaired driver from pond after crash

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At approximately 11am today, the Frederick County Emergency Communications Center received a 9-1-1 call stating that a SUV had driven off the roadway and into a pond in the area of Papermill Rd. and Harrsion Ln. The caller stated the driver was still in the vehicle and was not moving.

Deputies arriving first on the scene observed the vehicle, partially submerged in the water up to it’s hood, and could see the driver slumped over the wheel. Deputy Jason Hawse and Deputy Nick Dempsey removed their outer vests and gun belts and entered the frigid water to assist the unconscious subject. With outside temps of 27 degrees, and windchill making it feel more like 13 degrees, Hawse and Dempsey worked quickly, in the chest-high water, breaking the windows on the vehicle and pulling the subject out. Once getting the male driver to land, one dose of Narcan was administered and the subject regained consciousness a few moments later.

The driver, identified as Michael Surgent, 35, of Mechanicsville, Va. was immediately attended to by deputies awaiting EMTs to medically evaluate him for exposure. Based on witness statements, and evidence recovered later from the vehicle, it is believed that Surgent was “huffing” chemicals from aerosol cans resulting in his losing consciousness, and proper control of his vehicle. Surgent was taken to Winchester Medical Center and held for further medical evaluations. He has been charged with huffing chemicals, reckless driving and driving under the influence.

All deputies were checked on scene and cleared for duty, once out of their wet uniforms and warmed back up. Sheriff Lenny Millholland is both pleased with, and proud of, the swift and selfless actions taken by his personnel, saying “This could have been much worse and we are thankful that no one was seriously injured in this incident”.


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Show our community some love: Warren Coalition’s LOVE sign hits the road

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From February 6th through March 31st, Warren Coalition’s LOVE sign will travel about Warren County to raise awareness and create community connections.

Businesses and organizations are invited to host the LOVE sign, free of charge, and collect notes of appreciation, encouragement, and affirmation for a group of their choosing. For example, they could collect notes for teachers, sanitation workers, housekeepers, mechanics, or nurses. Or they could collect notes for a specific place, such as a hospital, a nonprofit organization, or a school. It must be a group within Warren County, and it should be a group that is not part of the business/organization—for example, a school should not collect notes for its own teachers/employees.

The LOVE sign, built by Warren Coalition employee Julia Laurent, is a smaller version of the Virginia LOVE signs you see around the Commonwealth. It is crisscrossed with ribbons designed to hold notes.

The sign can be reserved for a single event, or a period of time up to one week. Afterwards, the business/organization can deliver the notes to their selected group, or Warren Coalition will deliver them on their behalf.


This campaign is part of the larger “We See You You, Warren County” movement, a grassroots resilience movement designed to develop a more connected community where everyone feels like they belong.

Anyone interested in hosting the sign should contact Celeste Brooks, Community Outreach Coordinator, at celeste@warrencoalition.org or 540-660-3367.

More about the We See You, Warren County Campaign

We See You, Warren County is about seeing and acknowledging each individual within Warren County, whether they live, work, or play here. It is a grassroots campaign designed to foster community connection and improve community resilience, which are key foundational components in preventing drug and alcohol misuse. We See You, Warren County participants are encouraged to share their experiences on social media using the hashtag #WeCUWC. Organizations and individuals that register receive a window cling to show they are participating. The program now has more than 200 registered partners, and over 1,000 Facebook members. Sign-ups are ongoing. Go to weseeyou.warrencoalition.org to learn more, or to officially sign up yourself, your family, or your business or organization. You can also join the Facebook group at facebook.com/groups/wecuwc.

In addition, the Warren Coalition features individuals of the Warren County community on the “We See You” website, and on the Warren Coalition social media accounts. People do not have to be registered members to be featured. Anyone who lives, works, or plays in Warren County can submit a profile on the We See You website.


About Warren Coalition

Warren Coalition is a nonprofit agency established in 1994 to help fill the gaps in health care and substance misuse awareness to the community. The Coalition began under the guidance of Warren Memorial Hospital as an outreach project, but it has since grown and was incorporated in 2001.  The office is located in the Warren County Community Center.  Their mission is to make Warren County a safe, healthy, and drug-free community through many programs and in collaboration with 15+ member agencies.

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Thank You to our Local Business Participants:

@AHIER

Aders Insurance Agency, Inc (State Farm)

Aire Serv Heating and Air Conditioning

Apple Dumpling Learning Center

Apple House

Auto Care Clinic

Avery-Hess Realty, Marilyn King

Beaver Tree Services

Blake and Co. Hair Spa

Blue Ridge Arts Council

Blue Ridge Education

BNI Shenandoah Valley

C&C's Ice Cream Shop

Card My Yard

CBM Mortgage, Michelle Napier

Christine Binnix - McEnearney Associates

Code Ninjas Front Royal

Cool Techs Heating and Air

Down Home Comfort Bakery

Downtown Market

Dusty's Country Store

Edward Jones-Bret Hrbek

Explore Art & Clay

Family Preservation Services

First Baptist Church

Front Royal Independent Business Alliance

First Baptist Church

Front Royal Women's Resource Center

Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce

Fussell Florist

G&M Auto Sales Inc

Garcia & Gavino Family Bakery

Gourmet Delights Gifts & Framing

Green to Ground Electrical

Groups Recover Together

Habitat for Humanity

Groups Recover Together

House of Hope

I Want Candy

I'm Just Me Movement

Jen Avery, REALTOR & Jenspiration, LLC

Key Move Properties, LLC

KW Solutions

Legal Services Plans of Northern Shenendoah

Main Street Travel

Makeover Marketing Systems

Marlow Automotive Group

Mary Carnahan Graphic Design

Merchants on Main Street

Mountain Trails

Mountain View Music

National Media Services

Natural Results Chiropractic Clinic

No Doubt Accounting

Northwestern Community Services Board

Ole Timers Antiques

Penny Lane Hair Co.

Philip Vaught Real Estate Management

Phoenix Project

Reaching Out Now

Rotary Club of Warren County

Royal Blends Nutrition

Royal Cinemas

Royal Examiner

Royal Family Bowling Center

Royal Oak Bookshop

Royal Oak Computers

Royal Oak Bookshop

Royal Spice

Ruby Yoga

Salvation Army

Samuels Public Library

SaVida Health

Skyline Insurance

Shenandoah Shores Management Group

St. Luke Community Clinic

Strites Doughnuts

Studio Verde

The Institute for Association & Nonprofit Research

The Studio-A Place for Learning

The Valley Today - The River 95.3

The Vine and Leaf

Valley Chorale

Vetbuilder.com

Warren Charge (Bennett's Chapel, Limeton, Asbury)

Warren Coalition

Warren County Democratic Committee

Warren County Department of Social Services

Warren County DSS Job Development

Warrior Psychotherapy Services, PLLC

WCPS Work-Based Learning

What Matters & Beth Medved Waller, Inc Real Estate

White Picket Fence

Woodward House on Manor Grade

King Cartoons

Front Royal
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Upcoming Events

Feb
6
Mon
8:00 am Chocolate Crawl
Chocolate Crawl
Feb 6 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Chocolate Crawl
The Front Royal Chocolate Crawl is back for its 3rd year, and it is BIGGER than ever. With over 20 businesses on our list, you’re guaranteed to find something amazing (to purchase) and meet some[...]
Feb
7
Tue
8:00 am Chocolate Crawl
Chocolate Crawl
Feb 7 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Chocolate Crawl
The Front Royal Chocolate Crawl is back for its 3rd year, and it is BIGGER than ever. With over 20 businesses on our list, you’re guaranteed to find something amazing (to purchase) and meet some[...]
Feb
8
Wed
8:00 am Chocolate Crawl
Chocolate Crawl
Feb 8 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Chocolate Crawl
The Front Royal Chocolate Crawl is back for its 3rd year, and it is BIGGER than ever. With over 20 businesses on our list, you’re guaranteed to find something amazing (to purchase) and meet some[...]
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Feb 8 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
Feb
9
Thu
8:00 am Chocolate Crawl
Chocolate Crawl
Feb 9 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Chocolate Crawl
The Front Royal Chocolate Crawl is back for its 3rd year, and it is BIGGER than ever. With over 20 businesses on our list, you’re guaranteed to find something amazing (to purchase) and meet some[...]
Feb
10
Fri
8:00 am Chocolate Crawl
Chocolate Crawl
Feb 10 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Chocolate Crawl
The Front Royal Chocolate Crawl is back for its 3rd year, and it is BIGGER than ever. With over 20 businesses on our list, you’re guaranteed to find something amazing (to purchase) and meet some[...]
Feb
11
Sat
8:00 am Chocolate Crawl
Chocolate Crawl
Feb 11 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Chocolate Crawl
The Front Royal Chocolate Crawl is back for its 3rd year, and it is BIGGER than ever. With over 20 businesses on our list, you’re guaranteed to find something amazing (to purchase) and meet some[...]
Feb
12
Sun
8:00 am Chocolate Crawl
Chocolate Crawl
Feb 12 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Chocolate Crawl
The Front Royal Chocolate Crawl is back for its 3rd year, and it is BIGGER than ever. With over 20 businesses on our list, you’re guaranteed to find something amazing (to purchase) and meet some[...]
11:30 am Galentine’s Brunch & Market @ Vibrissa Beer
Galentine’s Brunch & Market @ Vibrissa Beer
Feb 12 @ 11:30 am – 5:00 pm
Galentine's Brunch & Market @ Vibrissa Beer
Come Celebrate Friendship & Treat Yourself! Only 30 tickets available and they will go quickly. Tickets include: A Beautiful Brunch at Vibrissa Beer! Two tickets to a Mimosa Bar at Vibrissa! A Silent Auction at[...]
Feb
13
Mon
8:00 am Chocolate Crawl
Chocolate Crawl
Feb 13 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Chocolate Crawl
The Front Royal Chocolate Crawl is back for its 3rd year, and it is BIGGER than ever. With over 20 businesses on our list, you’re guaranteed to find something amazing (to purchase) and meet some[...]