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Northern Shenandoah Valley Master Gardeners Association to host annual GardenFest at Belle Grove Plantation

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The Northern Shenandoah Valley Master Gardeners Association will hold its 16th annual GardenFest on Saturday, June 1, 2019, at Belle Grove Plantation in Middletown, Virginia. The event will be from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. and admission and parking are free. Tours of Belle Grove’s historic Manor House will be $5 for visitors 12 and older and offered from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Master Gardeners will also give free guided tours of Belle Grove’s Teaching Garden.

The key feature of Garden Fest is the Master Gardeners’ Plant Sale. This annual fundraiser supports all the educational programs offered by the Master Gardeners throughout the year. There will be more than 3,000 plants for sale, all at great prices, most $5 or less. Cash and credit cards are accepted. They will include Shenandoah Valley & Virginia native plants, plants for beneficial pollinators, unique trees and shrubs, some vegetables and herbs. Garden wagons will be available to transport purchased plants to vehicles and Master Gardeners will answer plant and gardening questions.

Throughout the day, a garden tool sharpening booth will be offered, and visitors may visit educational displays by Beekeepers of the Northern Shenandoah BONS, Front Royal Warren County Tree Stewards, North Mountain Wildlife Rescue, Valley Wildlife Care, Inc. of Virginia, and Virginia Master Naturalists-Shenandoah Chapter.

There will be garden and plant vendors Hill House Farm and Nursery, Native Perennials (KPhillips Enterprises), Seven Bends Nursery, Spring Thyme Nursery, and Poverty Ridge Greenhouse & Farm. Specialty vendors include Birdhouse Engineering, Carolyn G. Findler Art Studio, Claylick Brooms, Living in Abundance, My Glass Garden NoVa, and Olive Oil Soap Company. The Belle Grove Museum Shop located in the newly opened Beverley B. Shoemaker Welcome Center also has locally made items for sale. In addition, gently used gardening and household items will be for sale, at bargain prices at the “Second Hand Rose” area. The festival will also include great raffles that will be at the Master Gardener Information Booth.


Food and beverage vendors include 0-60 Energy Cafe, C & C Frozen Treats, and Frederick County 4-H Eggs n’ Ears.

This is a great family-friendly event, with a petting zoo, including therapy ponies, an alpaca, and farm animals like a donkey, goats, and chickens. Special kids activities will focus on worm appreciation and will feature how to make an earthworm observation jar—or wormery, (humane) worm races, worm stories, lessons about vermicomposting and making a worm bin, plus an opportunity to interview a worm! Kids can also sit for free face painting in the Gartenhaus Area.

For adults, there will be Gartenhaus workshops starting at 10 a.m. These are hands-on workshops where guests can make garden art, create pressed flower art, and make a Kokadama or a Tussie Mussie. There will be flower pounding on muslin and a table on Habitat Gardens where you can learn about native bees, pollinators and how to a make you garden eco-friendly.

New this year, attendees at the festival can meet and observe some very special law enforcement officers in action. At 10:00 a.m. Fire Marshall Lt. Billy Pifer of the Frederick County Fire & Rescue Department will execute a bomb explosives search demo with his K-9 partner Heide. At 12:30 p.m., Deputy Jason Walther of the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office will conduct a narcotics “find” demo with his K-9 partner Heppy.

Also new this year, is a Bird House Decorating Contest. Prizes will be awarded in the categories of: Gourd birdhouses, Other Materials–Realistic House, and Other Materials–Fantastical Design for age groups of Adults (ages 16 and older), Children Aged 12 to 15, Children Ages Age 8 to 11, and Children Ages 4 to 7. There will also be special recognition for Community Choice (voted on by attendees), Best Use of Recycled Materials, Best Shenandoah Valley Theme, Best Gardening Theme, and Most Artistic. Entries may be constructed from scratch, or be store bought undecorated birdhouses that have been decorated at home and submitted. The “Other Materials” category can be any birdhouse-suitable material and may be new or reused/recycled. Entrants must decorate their own entries, though guardians may help children use tools. Entrants may enter as many birdhouses as they’d like, and each entry is $2, due at drop off. Entrants may elect to pre-register online at bit.ly/birdhouse-contest or they may bring registration form(s) at time of drop off which is 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. during GardenFest.

ABOUT NORTHERN SHENANDOAH VALLEY MASTER GARDENER ASSOCIATION (NSVMGA)

The Northern Shenandoah Valley Master Gardener Association supports its members—Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Volunteers serving the counties of Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah, and Warren. VCE Master Gardener Volunteers are educators who work within their communities to encourage and promote environmentally sound horticulture practices through sustainable landscape management, education, and training. They continue their education each year to stay up to date on current issues and recommendations for home gardeners. Since 1993, they have coordinated educational events, projects, help desks and info booths, and gardening speakers throughout NSVMGA’s five-county area. They also teach horticulture to children, offering a Junior Master Gardener Program and offering a memorial scholarship each year to area high-school students. GardenFest is the major fundraiser for NSVMGA. More information is available at nsvmga.org or facebook.com/NSVMGA/.

ABOUT BELLE GROVE

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. Its grounds and gardens were designed and donated by The Garden Club of Virginia and are tended by dedicated volunteers with guidance from the Northern Shenandoah Valley Master Gardeners. Belle Grove’s Teaching Garden contains useful and beautiful plants typical of those used by the Hite family in the early 19th century and it will be available for touring during GardenFest. Belle Grove is located off Route 11 at 336 Belle Grove Road south of Middletown, Virginia (exit 302 on I-81, one exit north of the I-66 interchange). More information is available at bellegrove.org or 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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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.[...]
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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[...]
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