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The 62nd Highland County Maple Festival: The official maple festival of Virginia returns with new experiences



Photos courtesy of Highland County Chamber of Commerce.

Monterey, VA – The tradition of the annual Highland County Maple Festival returns March 14-15 and 21-22, 2020. Since 1958, visitors have been drawn to Highland County to tour real maple sugar camps for a cultural and culinary adventure. All-you-can-eat pancake and buckwheat cake meals, over 100 arts & crafts vendors, and live entertainment make this county-wide event a fun outing with lasting memories for the entire family.

This year, the Maple Festival features nine unique camps open for the public to tour at no charge. Visitors have the chance to view traditional and modern techniques for creating maple syrup from tree to bottle. In addition to pure maple syrup, some local camps offer a variety of flavored maple syrups infused with native plants or aged in spirit barrels, as well as hickory syrup. New for 2020, Tonoloway Farm is a walk-in, first-generation syrup operation on the wooded slopes of Bullpasture Mountain, just east of McDowell. In addition to wood-fired maple syrup, Tonoloway Farm plans to offer walnut syrup for yet another diverse taste of the Appalachian forests.

Local civic clubs and organizations feature delicious food, including those famous fresh maple doughnuts, pancake and buckwheat meals with sausage and gravy, trout sandwiches, pork rinds and just about anything maple-flavored! Additional food vendors on Water Street in Monterey offer treats like maple-bacon cupcakes, maple fudge, maple-bacon dates and brewery crafted nachos with maple.

Over 100 juried arts & crafts vendors will be available in Monterey and McDowell, providing one-of-a-kind treasures, tasty treats and special gifts. Browse and shop with new and returning vendors for a seemingly endless variety of handcrafted items, from exclusive artwork to exquisite jewelry. Admission to access vendors at the Highland High School and Elementary School gyms remains at $3, which comes with a collectible 2020 maple leaf keychain that also provides entry to both Saturdays’ 3:00 p.m. entertainment.

The Highland Center in Monterey will have an expanded presence at the festival this year, hosting the Highland County Visitor Center for festival information, children’s activities, vendors, and a “Maple Taproom,” featuring a place to sit down and enjoy an adult beverage, including the 2020 Daylight Cravings: Maple Bacon Breakfast Stout from Brothers Craft Brewing.

Regarding live entertainment, five performances will also be held at The Highland Center. The Little Switzerland Cloggers kick off the shows with a free performance at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 14th. Then, award-winning banjoist and dancer, Tyler Hughes, presents old time music at 3:00 p.m. To round out the night, Bill Jenkins and the Virginia Mountain Boys perform folk music of the Appalachian Mountains at 7:00 p.m.

On Saturday, March 21st, John Bullard plays classical banjo at 3:00 p.m., followed by the all-female trio, After Jack, with their popular “hot folk” performance at 7:00 p.m. Admission to the Saturday 3:00 p.m. shows is $3, or a maple leaf keychain, and the Saturday 7:00 p.m. shows is $10. These four performances are brought to the public by the Highland County Arts Council and are made possible in part by funding from the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge. In addition, Hull’s Hideaway Restaurant and Tavern in Monterey will host the acoustic blues trio, Delta Junction, in a 21+ show on Saturday, March 21st at 9:00 p.m. for $10.

Many additional activities can be found on stops while driving around the countryside that features expansive scenic views. These activities include feeding of live fish at the Virginia Trout Company north of Monterey, reliving history with a Highland Museum exhibit at The Mansion House in McDowell, viewing additional vendors at The Church at the Old Oak in Meadowdale, experiencing a local restaurant or store, or enjoying hard craft cider at Big Fish Cider Co. in downtown Monterey.

In 1999, the Library of Congress designated The Highland County Maple Festival a “Local Legacy,” and in 2014, the Governor of Virginia signed a bill into law designating the festival as the “official maple festival of Virginia.” Tens of thousands of visitors arrive in the rural mountain community annually to enjoy the event. The Highland County Maple Festival is coordinated by the Highland County Chamber of Commerce and made possible with the help of countless volunteers and organizations.

Traditional hours of the festival include Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sundays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., though visitors can get a jumpstart to the day with an all-you-can-eat pancake meal as early as 7:00 a.m. More details on all the festival happenings can be found at or

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

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Log onto Instagram or Facebook and share the “TOP COMMENT CHALLENGE” video and invitation to challenge your friends to join in!


I challenge YOU to join us in the “TOP COMMENT CHALLENGE”– for just $10, we can all help keep small businesses and restaurants in hometowns everywhere afloat during the COVID-19 crisis. Be the first to comment on each video/post share in the “TOP COMMENT CHALLENGE” and win a $10 gift card to the business featured in the post!

  1. Share this video/post (found at and tag/check in at your favorite restaurant/business.
  2. Check back to see who made the first comment “#TOPCOMMENTCHALLENGE” and send them a $10 gift card or cash to be used at the restaurant/business you tagged.
  3. Challenge the winner to join the fun and support the small business/restaurant of their choice with a similar post challenge and $10 giveaway.


You can take the challenge a step further and come up with creative ways to make your “TOP COMMENT CHALLENGE” fun and engaging to help promote the business/ restaurant even more–ask your winner to share photos/comments, engage with the restaurant itself via posts and encourage others to participate in this easy way to keep local restaurants/businesses afloat for just $10 and less in than 10 minutes of your time.


Co-creator, Mitchell Smith:

“Beth and I connected this year when filming a video for the HGTV Hometown Takeover application for our hometown.  We are now partnering in many ways to help shine a light in the darkness that our community of Warren County, VA is experiencing while facing the largest embezzlement scandal in Virginia history. Joining our efforts to shine a light in the darkness the world as a whole is experiencing during the COVID-19 crisis motivated us to create the “TOP COMMENT CHALLENGE” as the first of many ways we plan to inspire others to join together while apart to make a difference.”

Mitchell Smith began his career in social media marketing while a senior at Warren County High School in Virginia. Ever since, he’s helped multiple businesses ranging from local startups to nationally recognized brands increase their online presence and grow their client base via the power of social media. Mitchell is the owner of Expressed Legacy Marketing based in Front Royal, Virginia.

Co-creator, Beth Medved Waller:

“My nonprofit’s tagline is “What matters is your heart” and I believe that NOW is the time for each of us to join our hearts as one and make a change in this world. This is one of many ways I hope to inspire the world to remember that there’s only one team in this game of life, and we’re all on the same one, so let’s start playing together and beat COVID-19 and other challenges. I believe that this time we are spending physically apart can bring us all closer together through endeavors like “TOP COMMENT CHALLENGE.”

Hear the song Beth wrote lyrics to that shares the sentiment above: “What Matters is your Heart”

Beth Medved Waller is a self-proclaimed “Pretend Reporter (creating video interviews/articles to promote causes or events), Pretend Philanthropist (see to learn about her initiatives) & a Pretend Singer/Songwriter” (hear her song at  She’s also a real life mother of two teens, founder of a 501(c)(3) nonprofit named WHAT MATTERS and a top producing real estate broker who has been recognized locally, regionally and nationally for her various real and pretend titles.

Learn more by visiting Beth’s website, or reviewing her online column at, or read about her WHAT MATTERS story and how she transformed her life based on her favorite song of that name by singer/songwriter Edwin McCain.

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Congressman Cline announces 2020 Congressional Art Competition



Congressman Ben Cline (VA-06) announced the 2020 Congressional Art Competition today. The Congressional Art Competition is sponsored by the Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and is an opportunity to recognize and encourage the artistic talent in the Sixth Congressional District of Virginia.

The Congressional Art Competition is open to all high school students in the District. The winning artwork will be displayed for one year in the U.S. Capitol alongside other pieces from across the country and will also be featured on’s Congressional Art Competition page.

While schools remain closed due to the coronavirus, the Congressional Art Competition will continue as planned. This competition will allow students to remain engaged and hone their skills.

“All students from Virginia’s Sixth Congressional District are encouraged to participate in this year’s art competition,” Cline said. “This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase artistic ability and for the selected winner to have their art on display for thousands of Capitol visitors throughout the next year. I am pleased that the competition will continue on as planned, and that the event has moved to electronic submissions to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved.”

Artwork must be two-dimensional. Each framed artwork can be no larger than 26 inches high, 26 inches wide, and 4 inches deep. If your artwork is selected as the winning piece, it must arrive in Washington, DC, framed. Even when framed, it must still measure no larger than the above maximum dimensions. No framed piece should weigh more than 15 pounds.

Accepted mediums for the two-dimensional artwork are as follows:

  • Paintings: oil, acrylics, watercolor, etc.
  • Drawings: colored pencil, pencil, ink, marker, pastels, charcoal (It is recommended that charcoal and pastel drawings be fixed.)
  • Collages: must be two-dimensional
  • Prints: lithographs, silkscreen, block prints
  • Mixed Media: use of more than two mediums such as pencil, ink, watercolor, etc.
  • Computer-generated art
  • Photographs

Each entry must be original in concept, design, and execution and may not violate U.S. copyright laws. Any entry that has been copied from an existing photo or image (including a painting, graphic, or advertisement) that was created by someone other than the student is a violation of the competition rules and will not be accepted. For more information on copyright laws, we recommend you visit the Scholastic website.

Due to COVID-19, submissions will only be accepted electronically. Students should submit photographs of their entry and the Student Release Form to

The Student Release Form can be found here.

Entries are due by May 1, 2020. A winner will be announced May 7. For more information, contact District Director Debbie Garrett at (540) 885-3861 or Staff Assistant Tyler Hook at (202) 225-5431.

Congressman Ben Cline represents the Sixth Congressional District of Virginia. He previously was an attorney in private practice and served both as an assistant prosecutor and Member of the Virginia House of Delegates. Cline and his wife, Elizabeth, live in Botetourt County with their two children.

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LFCC Workforce Solutions work from home training



LFCC Workforce Solutions recognizes the challenges companies are facing as most workers are forced to temporarily work from home. That’s why it has developed this FREE live webinar “5 Ways to Support Employees During this Unprecedented Time” THURSDAY, APRIL 2, 12-12:30 p.m.

Speaker Jelise Ballon, Workforce Solutions’ corporate training product developer, will walk you through how to help your employees adapt – and thrive – during this national emergency. Ballon is an educator, writer, and speaker. She’s worked in a variety of industries, including healthcare, education, professional services, and technology. She has more than 15 years of experience leading and collaborating with virtual teams, and five years of experience designing learning for a blended workforce. She has both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in communications and is an ATD Master Trainer.

Register Here

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Nonprofit Alliance of the Northern Shenandoah Valley to hold an online forum



The Nonprofit Alliance of the Northern Shenandoah Valley will present a live, on-line Q and A forum for area non-profits impacted by the current COVID-19 crisis on Thursday, April 2, from 8:30-9:30 am. This dialogue will be hosted by Tom Morley of Snowflake, LLC., a noted consultant to nonprofit agencies both across our region and nationally. The forum will give area nonprofits a chance to ask questions and share how they’ve adapted in these unprecedented conditions.

The nonprofit community is understandably anxious as the current COVID-19 crisis is making life more difficult for area agencies. This free forum will allow nonprofit leaders to interact as they face critical decisions that will affect our non-profits’ futures.

All area nonprofits are welcome to participate in this forum, free of charge, zia Zoom video conference. Registration will be handled online at

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Troop 53 Annual Mulch Sale – Apr 4, 2020



Spring is approaching, and Troop 53 is preparing for their annual mulch fundraiser. The funds raised will help support troop activities and send our Boy Scouts to summer camp, where they learn valuable skills in leadership, outdoors, and many more through the scouting program.

They will be accepting pre-orders through April 2, 2020, so please place your order to reserve the quantities needed before we sell out. All pick up orders will be available for pick up on Saturday, April 4, 2020, at the Front Royal Volunteer Fire and Rescue, and deliveries will be made the same day.

The mulch bags are the same 3 cubic feet (larger than standard 2CF bags at the retail stores) shredded hardwood in a dark brown color.

Pricing for this year:

  • $4.05 per bag for pick up
  • $4.55 per bag for delivery

Orders may be placed via:

  • Email the completed order form to
  • Text 540-692-9110 with name, address, number, email, and quantity.
  • Mail the completed order form to Troop 53 Mulch c/o Britton Bowman, 162 Ascalon Dr, Middletown, VA 22645
  • Call 540-692-9110; If we are unable to answer right away, please leave a detailed message with name, number, address, and quantity and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

The Troop can accept payments via credit/debit cards with a 4% fee to cover the processing fees. Please let us know if you wish to pay via credit/debit card and a payable invoice will be emailed to you.

Please forward this message to family, friends, and neighbors to help us spread the word. Thank you for your continued support of Troop 53.

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“Dare to Dream” awards made at a “breakfast/non-breakfast” by Front Royal women’s group



An annual breakfast recognizing nine “Dare to Dream” candidates sharing more than $8,000 to help make their dreams a reality became, due to the coronavirus, a “no breakfast/breakfast” on-line where this year’s presentations were made by the Front Royal Women’s Resource Center (FRWRC).

Despite the international tragedy of the virus playing out this year, FRWRC was determined to publicly honor its 2020 list of women, selected from many who dared to dream, breakfast or no breakfast, and did so March 26. The FRWRC, established in 1996, launched “Dare to Dream” in 1999, meanwhile raising more than $100,000 for the program.

In a statement issued on-line, the Front Royal women’s organization said, in part: “One of the things our breakfast does that is subtle but extremely powerful, is to tell each of the grantees that we believe in them. Each of them has a story that touches us deeply and in turn, connects us to them and to each other. So now, in this extremely challenging time…we need to find other ways to reach out to touch, and to inspire, each other.”

Reach out they did, naming Megan Vardiman this year’s winner of the top award, the Elaine Bromfield Memorial Scholarship, including a check for $1,500. Megan, mother of four young children and enrolled at Lord Fairfax Community College (LFCC), dreams of becoming a psychologist, specifically helping women heal from trauma. Currently, she volunteers at Blue Ridge Hospice, and with Young Lives, a program offering support to teen mothers.

Other “dreamers” include:

  • Diana Cercy of Linden ($900) who brought her Healing HeARTS Toolboxes and workshops from Prince William and Fauquier Counties. She is expanding her non-profit to cover her new community and Warren County schools.
  • Mary Cook of Browntown Road, an artist, whose dream is to offer free arts experiences to children and adults in need. She received a check for $900 to purchase materials for mobile art workshops.
  • Taylor Fletcher was awarded $1,000 for her nursing studies at LFCC. Taylor’s dream is to become a Nurse Practitioner,
    encouraged by her experience with caring for her ailing grandmother.
  • Mia Coffman, a Front Royal native now in her junior year at the University of Lynchburg where she is working toward a degree in special education. Her dream is to teach children with special needs. She received $600 to cover tuition costs for a class next semester.
  • Amanda Horn, a fine art major at the Art Institute of Chicago and George Mason University, mother of two, with a current focus on painting plants and wildlife. She has shown and sold her work at wineries, art shows, and festivals, also murals in and on buildings locally. Her dream is to further share her paintings in the area. She received $1,000 to purchase a portable art display system.
  • Eka Kapiotis, who established Valley Health’s Reiki Training Program, is a Cranio-Sacral Therapist (CST) dreaming of becoming a certified CST therapist at the highest level – that of “Diplomate.” She was award $600 toward the cost of gaining this certification.
  • Meghan LeCompte is a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and a medical technician at the Senior Living Center in Front Royal. She also volunteers at Warren County Fire and Rescue while studying for her Registered Nurse (RN) degree next year. She was awarded $1,000 for school expenses.
  • Laura Ruby received $600 toward her dream of better addressing the needs of underserved populations, a trend. she discovered after opening Ruby Yoga in Front Royal three years ago. Specifically, she seeks training in kids’ yoga and in traumatic-informed yoga.

At its first on-line breakfast, FRWC noted that the year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of congressional ratification of the 19th Amendment in which “women’s right to vote was enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.”

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