Prior to Christmas, the Colonel James Wood II Chapter of the Virginia Society Sons of the American Revolution conducted Colonial Christmas presentations at three senior living facilities. On December 14th, the SAR compatriots presented at Commonwealth Senior Living Facility, Front Royal. On December 22nd, the event was held at Greenfield Senior Living Facility, Woodstock. The presentations concluded on December 23rd, at Hidden Springs Senior Living Facility, Bentonville.
The presentation began with compatriots from the SAR telling the residents about what Christmas meant to them with a meaningful story from their past. This was followed with a history of Christmas and how it was celebrated through the years.
Christmas had roots in the pagan Roman winter festival of Saturnalia, as well as the Norse festival of Yule. Viewing birthday celebrations as heathen, the earliest Christians paid little attention to Jesus’ birth. It is not known for sure when the church began to celebrate Christmas. The first reference is dated 336 A.D. when the Roman Church began to celebrate a Feast of the Nativity on December 25th. The custom spread to England by the end of the 6th century, and later reached Scandinavia where it became fused with the pagan Norse Mid-winter feast season known as Yule. In the 9th century, the celebration was extended by 12 days, ending on January 6th.
Early in the 11th century, the term Christes Maesse, or festival of Christ, entered the English language, and early in the next century, Christmas had come into use. Christmas festivities and traditions in colonial Virginia were brought from England. Decorations were simple. There were no glitter or tinsel in wreaths, just plain evergreens – sprigs of holly and clumps of mistletoe. Mumming and wassailing were practiced by some revelers. Mumming was an English Christmas tide tradition of visiting homes and performing dances, music, jokes or even recitations. Wassailing was celebrated on the twelfth night. Drinkers would carry a wassail bowl from door to door, spreading merriment and drink around the village or town. Wassail is an ale based drink seasoned with spices and honey. The greeting “Wassail” mean “Be well”.
Common at that time was the “sticking of the Church” with green boughs on Christmas Eve. Garlands of holly, ivy, mountain laurel and mistletoe were hung from the church roof, the walls, and the church pillars and galleries. The pews, pulpit and sometimes altar were bedecked with garlands. The Christmas season in Virginia was filled with festive entertainment. Traditional carols and contemporary hymns were sung in the company of friends and family. There were feasts with good bread and drink, beef, mutton, pork, cheese, apples and nuts. These were washed down with good wine and beer.
Presentations were emceed by Dale Corey with all compatriots contributing to the history of Christmas and the singing of songs. Participating for the SAR were Dale Corey, Chip Daniel, Dennis Parmerter, Marc Robinson and Bill Schwetke (dual member from Culpeper Minutemen).
Kids’ Day Moves Indoors but Fun Remains Unshaken
Warren Coalition partners with local agencies to adapt and enhance the celebration.
As the first raindrops fall and the sky turns a shade darker, Warren County residents might be revisiting their weekend plans. But, those looking forward to the Celebrate Kids Day have nothing to fear, as the event will go on without a hitch. This event is from 1 pm to 4 pm on Sunday, September 24.
Thanks to quick thinking and a community that rallies behind its children, the Warren Coalition, in collaboration with Warren County Parks & Recreation, has made suitable adjustments. The event, initially planned outdoors, will now be majorly hosted inside the 15th Street Gym at the Health & Human Services Complex and the Diversified Minds Conference Room. This change, aimed at dodging mud and incoming light rain, comes after Diversified Minds graciously opened its space for the celebration.
Despite the change of venue, the day’s line-up remains as exciting as ever. From inflatable rides and pumpkin painting sessions, for the first 200 children to face painting and a plethora of games, children are in for a treat. Additionally, the music, performances, and cake walks promise a day full of energy and laughter. Local agencies have come on board, amplifying the joy and ensuring an array of fun-filled activities for children of all ages.
For those who don’t mind a sprinkle or two, the pitch burst, and pony rides are still on the roster, along with a petting zoo to add that extra touch of delight. As forecasts suggest, the rain should recede by the afternoon, giving ample time for these outdoor activities to shine.
Yet, this spirit of adaptability isn’t just seen in the Coalition’s event planning. The Celebrate Kids Day is more than just an event; it’s a testament to Warren County’s commitment to its children and the community at large. Rain or shine, the county proves once again that the spirit of celebration cannot be dampened.
A Step Back in Time: George Mercer and Winchester’s Historic Weekend
Reliving the 1750s: Mercer’s Legacy and Winchester’s Pivotal Role.
Winchester, Virginia – It’s not every day that one gets a chance to walk through history and meet some of its iconic figures. On Oct 7 and 8, 2023, at Abram’s Delight, history enthusiasts and curious locals alike will get just that chance as members of George Mercer’s Company of the Virginia Regiment prepare to recreate life from the mid-1700s.
Tony Elar Jr., a captain of the Mercer’s Company re-enactment group, points out that George Mercer wasn’t just any historical figure. “Mercer was Washington’s aide-de-camp at Fort Loudoun, effectively becoming his right-hand man,” said Elar. The fort, which stands as a testament to Winchester’s defense strategies during the French and Indian War, was also a hub for repairing weaponry and offering soldiers some much-needed rest.
One might imagine the fort as a quiet place, but Elar paints a different picture. “The Virginia Regiment sometimes had about 500 men in town, stationed at the fort. And these soldiers? Well, they had their share of fun, often sneaking off to local taverns,” he chuckles, recalling the many letters Washington had to pen to local innkeepers, asking them to keep his men away from alcohol.
Fast forward nearly 270 years, and George Mercer’s legacy is alive and kicking. Thanks to Elar’s group, which was formed in 2015, the history of the Virginia Regiment and their authentic 1756 uniforms (shipped from none other than England!) are showcased at regional events.
Beyond the reenactments, the weekend promises more than just a visual treat. As visitors explore the camp at 1340 S. Pleasant Valley Road, they’ll get a sense of the clothing, culinary arts, and weaponry of the period. “We camp out overnight, with tents set up exactly as they would have been back in the day,” added Elar, admitting that the busy South Pleasant Valley Road corridor makes for some noisy nights.
And for those wondering about the heavy woolen attire in potentially scorching weather? Elar laughingly remarked, “Once you start sweating in wool, it’s almost like having an air conditioner!”
But the weekend’s highlight? Engaging tales of Winchester during the French and Indian War. With no battles on record here, the spotlight is on Fort Loudoun and how French officers, upon surveying the fort, deemed it “too powerful, too strong” to attack.
Furthermore, visitors are in for a special treat. Middletown Mayor Charles Harbaugh IV will bring a young Col. George Washington to life, with whispers of a surprise visit from General Edward Braddock, the colonies’ commander-in-chief at the war’s beginning.
Winchester isn’t just a location. It’s a time machine to the 1750s, bringing forth the tales, sounds, and sights of a bygone era. An era of resilience, strategy, and iconic figures. All are invited to this journey, with no admission fee for the ceremony, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday at Abram’s Delight.
Abram’s Delight is open Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Admission: Adults $6.00; Seniors $5.00; Students K-12 $3.00
Experience fall in the mountains at the 2023 Hands & Harvest Festival
Highland County’s annual Hands & Harvest Festival returns with county-wide fall fun during the weekend of October 6 – 8, 2023, where everyone is invited to celebrate the traditions, harvest, and crafts found in this rural mountain community.
From farms to a fire tower, visitors can experience the sights and tastes of the season while viewing the beautiful countryside of fall foliage. On the self-guided Harvest Trail, the public is invited to take part in traditional fall staples like cider pressing, making apple butter, or picking pumpkins at local farms and maple sugar camps, or they can try something different like viewing the process of creating colorful barn quilts or taking a tour of a mini equine sanctuary. While traveling, guests can get their Virginia Maple Syrup Trail passports stamped at five sugar camps – get them while you can before the trail program ends on March 31, 2024 (www.virginiamaplesyrup.com.)
Community activities include an exciting 5K Fall Color Run, Valley AeroSpace Team Rocket Launches, the restored Sounding Knob Fire Tower, popular annual sweater and used book sales, historic Monterey walking tours starting from the Highland Inn, and more. New attractions like the Charles Pinckney Jones House Museum, the working cattle farm of Hazy Hollow Farm, and the grand opening of the local artist gallery The 3rd Space add to the opportunities to create lasting memories.
Free entertainment in Monterey is available for the entire family! Kick off your weekend on Friday afternoon with bluegrass music at the Highland County Courthouse Lawn from Eyes on Him while you shop. On Saturday starting at noon, children can take a ride on Andy’s Bug Train that is sure to bring smiles. On Sunday afternoon, join in the excitement of an old-fashioned Street Dance on Spruce Street with one of Virginia’s oldest clogging groups, the Little Switzerland Cloggers, as well as local square dance callers Ellen and Eugene Ratcliffe for a rollicking performance and interactive fun.
Get an early start on holiday shopping at the Arts & Crafts Vendor Market located on the courthouse lawn. Complete your shopping needs by visiting an old general store or unique venue nestled among the countryside like Sugar Tree Country Store, Blue Grass Mercantile, Jenny Wren Gatherings, Ginseng Mountain Farm & Store, The Church at the Old Oak, or the new Highland Roots Market.
Bring your appetite, because there will be abundant food options available around the county. The Friday Highland Farmers’ Market, Puff’s BBQ, and Martinez Kitchen will be open on the courthouse lawn. Fall-themed menus at local restaurants with expanded hours are sure to please. Whether you visit traditional staples like High’s Restaurant and Hull’s Hideaway Restaurant & Tavern or newer establishments like Claire’s Cakes & Café, The Curly Maple, or the Monterey Inn, your tastebuds will thank you! Plus, Big Fish Cider, Co. will be open with their award-winning craft ciders in Monterey.
Many adventures await with a visit to Highland County, Virginia. The full schedule, details, and addresses of all the festival happenings can be found at highlandcounty.org/hands-harvest-festival. Maps with daily schedules will be available at local stores and on the Highland County Courthouse Lawn in Monterey during the event.
The Hands & Harvest Festival is brought to you by the Highland County Chamber of Commerce. Top sponsors include Bath Community Hospital, Fair Lawn Farm, and the Highland County Arts Council.
The Highland County Chamber of Commerce is a 501(c)(6) membership nonprofit organization with a mission to lift up local businesses and entrepreneurs, promote Highland County, and champion economic prosperity and quality of life. For more information, please visit www.highlandcounty.org.
Lake Frederick Annual Veterans Association Picnic & Fundraiser 2023
Last week, the Lake Frederick community gathered to honor veterans from all over, including the guest of honor Captain Dale Davis, US Army Retired. Captain Davis has served on the Lake Frederick Veterans Association as President for the last seven years. He was celebrated at the picnic and thanked for his efforts through the years.
At the event, the Randolph-Macon Academy Drill Platoon commanded by Cadet 1st Sergeant Michael Hays ’25, and Color Guard commanded by Cadet 1st Lieutenant Kamila Yusupova ’24, opened the event with the long-standing military tradition of pass in review and presentation of colors. Winchester Pipes and Drums did an amazing job assisting the ceremony. The Association has 307 veteran members from Lake Frederick and the greater Lake Frederick area!
After the ceremony, R-MA cadets were invited to join Lake Frederick residents, guests, and families during the picnic. Music by Robbie Limon Band created a fun atmosphere for the rest of the day!
Walking with History: A Fundraiser Tour to Remember the Fallen
Battlefield Tour and Virtual Experience to Benefit Wreaths Across America.
This October, history enthusiasts have the unique opportunity to walk the grounds where the Battle of New Market transpired while simultaneously supporting the non-profit Wreaths Across America. At the heart of this initiative are historians Sarah Kay Bierle and Jon Tracey, who are combining their passion for history with a cause close to their hearts.
Scheduled for Sunday, October 1, 2023, from 2-4 p.m., the fundraiser battlefield tour at New Market Battlefield State Historical Park promises attendees an enriching experience. While tracing the paths of the Virginia Military Institute Corps of Cadets and the Union soldiers they clashed with, participants will cover approximately 1.5 miles of historic terrain. Tickets are required for the fundraiser tour and are $25 per person and may be acquired here.
However, it’s not just about the battle itself. The tour will delve deep into stories of the soldiers and cadets, detailing the lengthy process of laying these heroes to rest, with many finding their final resting place in Winchester National Cemetery.
For those unable to step onto the battlefield in person, there’s a virtual alternative. A donation of $17 grants access to a recorded history program available on October 7, discussing fresh research on the Battle of New Market and the significance of Winchester National Cemetery. Tickets for the virtual program may also be acquired here.
The goal is straightforward and noble: to raise $3,000 to help Wreaths Across America place more wreaths at Winchester National Cemetery during the holidays. Bierle and Tracey are leveraging their extensive research and guiding skills, even donating their time to this worthy cause. Their commitment is evident in their past works and affiliations, with both holding significant positions at Emerging Civil War, a platform dedicated to sharing original articles related to the American Civil War and fostering a community of budding researchers and historians.
Their motivation? For Bierle, the gratitude she feels for the sacrifices of soldiers resonates deeply. “This year, we will have the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of these fallen soldiers… they are not forgotten,” she expressed. For Tracey, who has extensively researched Winchester National Cemetery, the act of remembering is diverse. Whether it’s walking the battleground or placing a wreath, each gesture is a tribute to the soldiers’ memory.
With the combined allure of history and a heartwarming cause, this fundraiser offers a unique experience for attendees, both in-person and virtual. As Bierle encapsulated, “Come join us on October 1 or virtually on October 7. We hope many will join us… to create a meaningful, honoring experience.” The layers of Civil War history in the Shenandoah Valley beckon with a message of remembrance, learning, and tribute.
Democrat Hopefuls Engage with Virginia Voters Ahead of 2023 Elections
Meet and Greet at Sherando Park Aims to Connect, Inform, and Energize.
In an age where connection often comes at the click of a button, face-to-face interactions still hold unmatched value. As the early voting kickstarts for 2023, Frederick County in Virginia is set to witness such genuine connections this Sunday. The Sherando Park Large Pavilion will serve as the backdrop for local Democrat candidates as they meet their constituents, eager to share their goals and understand the aspirations and concerns of the residents.
The afternoon’s proceedings will begin with welcoming remarks from Stephens City’s Mayor, Mike Diaz. Following the warm welcome, the limelight will fall on the trio of aspirants: Mady Rodriguez, vying for House of Delegates in District 32; Steve Foreman, eyeing the House seat for District 31; and Emily Scott, competing for District 1’s State Senate slot. Given the relatively recent formation of these districts, citizens are prompted to confirm their polling locations on the Virginia Department of Elections website.
Steve Foreman, no stranger to media scrutiny due to a Warren County controversy, acknowledges the enthusiasm that envelopes this year’s voters. He said, “I think voters are motivated this year like none other,” attributing not just to the localized library concerns but to broader issues like reproductive freedom, voting rights, and pivotal public school funding.
Ridriguez and Scott echo Foreman’s sentiments but with distinct perspectives. Scott, with her roots in the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, began her campaign journey by focusing on tangible topics like road and bridge safety. Yet, her interactions shed light on an overwhelming concern about reproductive rights. She asserts, “This is a human rights issue,” emphasizing her resolve to champion both individual freedoms and day-to-day issues families grapple with.
For Rodriguez, her academic and community-centric roles at Shenandoah University and Laurel Ridge Community College have painted a consistent picture. The foundation of any thriving community, she believes, lies in “excellent public education, good jobs, and affordable housing.”
It promises to be an enlightening afternoon this Sunday at Sherando Park, with Frederick County residents getting an invaluable opportunity to align their visions for the future with those of the candidates.
In Politics, the Power Lies in Conversations and Connections.