The Piedmont Virginian's Blog

Serving and Celebrating America's Historic Heart

Author: PamKamphuis (page 1 of 8)

The Piedmont Weekend Roundup: February 26 – 28

Pouring red wine from bottle into glass with wooden wine casks on background

Fauquier County Wine Tasting & Competition at Airlie (Saturday, Warrenton). Come out and sample the wines of sixteen local vineyards and vote for your favorites in the People’s Choice Wine Competition. Delicious food pairings, prepared by the Airlie Chef, and live music. Please note that, to accommodate more visitors, this year’s wine tastings will be offered during two time periods. All tickets must be pre-purchased.

Riverside Group Show postcard-3 copy-1Art in Its Natural Habitat: An Exhibit of Paintings in a Model Home (Friday, 5-7 p.m., Charlottesville). Interior designer Robin Ellis invites you to celebrate Stony Point Design/Build as well as Charlottesville artists Helen Hillard, Chris Tucker, and Nancy Wallace.

Lighting the Creative Spark lightingthecreativespark(Thursday, Live An Artful Life Gallery, The Plains). This workshop, led by Dr. Celia Im, utilizes the power of music to ignite attendees’ creative potential. By engaging this part of ourselves, we are driven to finish that creative project, sculpt the next stage of our lives, and live in the moment.

Winemaker for a Day: Blending Seminar at Narmada Winery (Saturday, Amissville). Have you always dreamed of being a winemaker? Challenge yourself and your friends at our interactive winemaking seminar. Join our winemaker Sudha Patil and guest speaker Duane Harris for this workshop and experience the excitement of combining both the art and the science that goes into making a distinctive wine! You’ll be sampling and blending cabernet franc, malbec, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, and petit verdot. Once your perfect blend is bottled, teams compete, imbibe, and select the most spectacular wine of the day!

FB_Motown-768x284Motown & More: A Tribute to Motown and Soul Legends (Friday, State Theatre, Culpeper).  An ensemble of today’s most talented artists brings it all back! Vocalists Bryan Fox, Gene McBride, Jeffrey Walker and Shang (each phenomenal in their own right) come together with exquisite harmonies to recreate classics and develop new musical arrangements. Less than a year old, Motown & More has become a popular production in the Baltimore/Washington/Virginia region.

An Evening with Groucho (Sunday, Louisa Arts Center, Louisa). Award-winning actor Frank Ferrante reprises his New York and London hit in this fast-paced hilarious tour-de-force. You will swear legendary comedian Groucho Marx is alive and well and making you laugh. Accompanied by his pianist, the comedy, one-liners, and songs of Groucho Marx make for an all-ages treat!

Six Pack Songwriter Series: An Evening of Central Virginia Songwriting (Friday, The Paramount, Charlottesville). With the goal of allowing audiences to experience a mixture of our best local artists at once, each “Six Pack Songwriter Series” event features 6 artists for one evening of live and local music. This year’s  production welcomes an all-new lineup to The Paramount stage. This year’s roster includes Michael Clem, Ben Eppard, Paulo Franco, Julia Kwolyk, Anne O’Brien, and David Tewksbury, all backed by a live band.

National Theatre Live in HD Presents: “As You Like It” at the Paramount (Sunday, The Paramount, Charlottesville). Shakespeare’s glorious comedy of love and change comes to the National Theatre for the first time in over 30 years, with Rosalie Craig (London Road, Macbeth at MIF) as Rosalind.  With her father, the Duke, banished and in exile, Rosalind and her cousin Celia leave their lives in the court behind them and journey into the Forest of Arden. There, released from convention, Rosalind experiences the liberating rush of transformation. Disguising herself as a boy, she embraces a different way of living and falls spectacularly in love.

Smithsonian at Little Washington Concert Series: Haydn Piano Trios (Sunday, Theatre at Washington, Washington). Pianist Kenneth Slowik is an artistic director of the Smithsonian Chamber Music Society. Violinist Heather Green joined the National Symphony Orchestra in 2005, and became a member of the first violin section in 2007. Cellist James Lee made his debut with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra at the age of 15. These three come together for a marvelous performance.

2015 90th Gold Cup 1

photo by Doug Lees

“Virginia Steeplechasing: The History and Future of the Sport in the Piedmont” (Sunday, National Sporting Library, Middleburg). This steeplechasing panel discussion is mediated by Robert Banner, President of Great Meadow Foundation. Panelists are Dr. William Allison (Ex-MFH and President and Race Chairman of the Virginia Gold Cup Races), Dr. Alfred Griffin (Ex-MFH and Director of Racing of the Virginia Gold Cup), Will O’Keefe (Race Director of the Virginia Fall Races), and Don Yovanovich (President of the Virginia Point-to-Point). Panelists discuss the history and future of this region’s beloved steeplechasing and equine sports. The audience will have an opportunity to ask questions of the panelists. Also at NSLM currently are the exhibits “Side by Side with Gun and Dog” and “Line Dance: the Art of Fly Fishing.”

“Sunrise, Sunset” (Byrne Gallery, Middleburg). This weekend is the last chance to see this juried show featuring artworks inspired by sunrises and sunsets, bringing joy and warmth to the cold month of February.

“Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” at Riverside Dinner Theater (Through Mar. 13, Fredericksburg). Starring Todd Meredith as Holly, with the Buddy Holly tribute band, The Rave-Ons, this musical is the true story of the last few years of Buddy Holly’s life, spotlighting his meteoric rise to fame from the moment in 1957 when “That’ll be the Day” hit the airwaves until his tragic death on “The Day the Music Died.” Featuring many of his timeless hits, “Buddy” is a celebration of the life and times of “the young man with the glasses” that captures the unique mixture of innocence, determination, humor, and charm that was Buddy Holly and wraps it all up into a package that has become “The World’s Most Successful Rock-n-Roll Musical.”

Art, Music, and Books This Weekend

Furnace-Mountain2Dark Hollow Bluegrass Band: A Benefit for the State Theatre Foundation. (Saturday, State Theatre, Culpeper) Help us inaugurate the State Theatre as Virginia’s winter home for bluegrass with a local favorite, Dark Hollow Bluegrass Band. If you’re looking for hard driving traditional bluegrass, look no further. These five guys not only look good, they sound good!

Julie Miles Exhibit Opening & Furnace Mountain Concert. (Saturday, Barns of Rose Hill, Berryville) Join us for a very special evening of music by Furnace Mountain and the opening night of our latest exhibit, “Nature Study: Pods, Seeds, Flowers, Fruits and Orbs–paintings by Julie Miles.” Furnace Mountain, named for a mountain near where all the members grew up, consists of some of the most innovative and gifted young musicians in Virginia. Their music pulls from the American Appalachian traditions, as well as original compositions and songs penned by other songwriters.


5th Annual Art of the Piedmont Art Auction & Reception. (Friday, Middleburg Community Center) Distinguished works of art will grace the Middleburg Community Center in an auction of original artwork from select local artists. Proceeds will benefit Middleburg Montessori School.

Virginia Wine Expo. (Feb. 17-21, Greater Richmond Convention Center) This year’s Virginia Wine Expo features more opportunities than ever before for foodies and wine lovers, including a “burger blast,” a culinary walking tour, a Southern cuisine lunch, and seminars on wine, chocolate, and whiskey. The highlight will be the walk-around Grand Tasting with 600+ wines on February 20 and 21.

Plant Label Calligraphy at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.  (Saturday, Charlottesville) Learn the techniques for pen and ink script from Monticello’s talented vegetable gardener Pat Brodowski, who creates the beautiful plant labels for the Monticello gardens. Have fun decorating your own set of labels.

JP Jofre and the Hard Tango Chamber Band  at the Castleton Festival Theatre House. (Sunday, Castleton) Jofre is joined by the Hard Tango Chamber Band: violinist Eric Silberger, cellist Amy Kang, double bassist Chris Johnson, pianist Siyi Fang, and Argentinian guest pianist Pablo Cafici. The centerpiece of the program is Jofre’s “Tango Movements,” described by the San Jose Mercury Sun as “sweepingly romantic, elegantly crafted and rhythmically charged.” The Hard Tango Chamber Band will also play several pieces by Astor Piazzolla, the originator of nuevo tango and “the world’s foremost composer of tango music” according to American music critic Stephen Holden.

Masterworks 3: Gleb Ivanov Returns! . (Saturday, Charlottesville) The Charlottesville Symphony is joined by pianist Gleb Ivanov, who dazzled Charlottesville Symphony audiences last year, as the soloist at both concerts. Following a performance at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Washington Post wrote, “Eerily like the ghost of Horowitz, Mr. Ivanov engulfed the keyboard, rattling the rafters and thrilling the audience. His talent is larger than life.”

Book Talk: “Letters From Edgar’s Trunk: Tell Them All To Write”. by Marilyn Elizabeth Thornton. (Sunday, Thomas Balch Library, Leesburg) As the world commemorates the 100th Anniversary of World War I, Edgar Thornton’s granddaughter, Marilyn Thornton, will share a trove of family history. James Edgar Thornton was a member of the legendary 369th American Expeditionary Forces Colored Infantry Regiment that fought on the front lines in the Argonne Forest under French command. The letters, recollections of an African American World War I soldier from Loudoun County, are invaluable to local history. Also serving as an account of civilian life in Loudoun County, this collection of over one hundred letters, dated between 1916 and 1919, capture vibrations of everyday life during wartime. Thornton will discuss the book and talk about what she learned through research.

Stop Making Sense. (Friday, Paramount Theater, Charlottesville) A 1984 concert movie featuring a live performance by Talking Heads. Directed by Jonathan Demme, the film was shot over the course of three nights at Hollywood’s Pantages Theater in December 1983, as the group was touring to promote their new album “Speaking in Tongues.” The movie is notable for being the first made entirely using digital audio techniques.

webeventdavidcross45Live Nation presents: David Cross – Making America Great Again!  (Saturday, Paramount Theater, Charlottesville) Emmy Award winner and Grammy Award nominee David Cross is an inventive performer, writer, and producer on stage and screens both big and small. Named one of the Top 100 Stand-Up Comedians of All Time by Comedy Central, Cross launched his “Making America Great Again!” tour in January 2016.

Gainesville Ballet presents “Carmen.” (Saturday, Hylton Center, Manassas) See the world premiere of Rafik Hegab’s “Carmen,” based on the opera by Bizet. With fantastic music, thrilling choreography, and a powerful company of international professional dancers.

3456HISTcvr.inddBook Talk: Historic Cemeteries of Northern Virginia. (Sunday, Manassas Museum, Manassas) Join author Charles A. Mills for a discussion on the book “Historic Cemeteries of Northern Virginia” This book presents the history of the region through the medium of cemeteries. Every gravestone has a story to tell. Confederate raiders, freedmen, eccentrics, and nation builders lived and died in Northern Virginia. Sometimes, tombstones are all that remain of their stories. Often, finding their tombstones is the first step in rediscovering the stories of these figures.

“Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” at Riverside Dinner Theater. (Through Mar. 13, Fredericksburg) Starring Todd Meredith as Holly, with the Buddy Holly tribute band, The Rave-Ons, this musical is the true story of the last few years of Buddy Holly’s life, spotlighting his meteoric rise to fame from the moment in 1957 when “That’ll be the Day” hit the airwaves until his tragic death on “The Day the Music Died.” Featuring many of his timeless hits, “Buddy” is a celebration of the life and times of “the young man with the glasses” that captures the unique mixture of innocence, determination, humor, and charm that was Buddy Holly and wraps it all up into a package that has become “The World’s Most Successful Rock-n-Roll Musical.”

What’s Happening with the Old Waterloo Bridge?

Photo courtesy of Preservation Virginia

Photo courtesy of Preservation Virginia

Two years have passed since the Old Waterloo “Ghost” Bridge was closed. Day by day the bridge, a historic monument and beautiful landmark, falls into disrepair. Recent correspondence between the Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) and Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) have reignited the discussion around the bridge’s rehabilitation.

A community meeting is scheduled for February 1st, 6:30 p.m., at the Orlean Fire Hall. For more information about the event, visit the PEC’s calendar listing.

Now that talks have begun again, now is the most important time to contact our local politicians, urging them to preserve this emblem of our past. Here is a quick, pre-written letter (courtesy of the PEC) you can send to your representatives.

This historical bridge is too good to be demolished and be replaced by a costly concrete eyesore. Please take a few minutes to read our founder Walter Nicklin’s piece about Piedmont rivers and his childhood memories on the Old Waterloo Bridge.

Rivers Define Us
Letter from Amissville, By Walter Nicklin, Piedmont Virginian, Summer 2014

Library of Congress

Library of Congress

The name “Piedmont” invokes images of the land, specifically the rolling hills forming the beautifully undulating landscape that literally means at the foot (“pied”) of the mountain (“mont”). But the Piedmont is actually defined by water.

Geologically and geographically, the southeastern boundary of Virginia’s northern Piedmont lies precisely at the fall lines of the Potomac, Rappahannock, and James Rivers. Below the falls lies Tidewater Virginia. The Piedmont’s northwestern boundary runs along the Blue Ridge Mountains, from which the headwaters of the Rappahannock and its tributaries spring. (The Potomac and James actually cut through the mountains, so their headwaters are further west.)

Indeed, the Piedmont’s rich history was determined by its rivers. At the fall lines, where ocean-going ships could travel upstream no further, grew Virginia’s major commercial hubs — Alexandria, Fredericksburg, and Richmond. During the Civil War, the so-called “Rappahannock Line” separated Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia and the Union’s Army of the Potomac.  The Battle of the Wilderness, for instance — whose 150th anniversary occurred just this May — took place on the terrain of the Rapidan-Rappahannock confluence.

Further upstream, Kelly’s Ford and other river crossings were the pivotal points for flanking maneuvers and resultant skirmishes, sometimes full-scale battles. One such site — Waterloo Landing — is witnessing a skirmish of sorts today. Its old truss bridge has been closed for safety reasons; should it be torn down or rehabilitated? The battle lines are drawn.

Waterloo Landing was the upstream terminus of a 19th Century canal paralleling the Rappahannock and linking Fredericksburg with the upstream Piedmonters. Beginning in 1853, a series of wooden bridges were constructed here. In 1878, the new, durable metal-truss bridge was installed that is still standing today. Considered a significant engineered work, the bridge is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and is part of the Hedgeman-Rappahannock Rural Historic District nomination that has been submitted to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.

Although not as historic as the bridge, I’m still ancient enough to confess that some of my fondest boyhood memories, from a time long gone, are entwined with it. It was our favored, seemingly foreign, destination for my friends and I bicycling from Warrenton, less than 10 miles away.  From the bridge span, we would fish and (probably illegally?) use BB guns to target-practice at the rock outcroppings below. Beneath the span, we would swim and launch canoes, as we heard the scary, rumbling sound of an occasional vehicle crossing overhead.

Recently I had an opportunity to relive those memories as I floated beneath the bridge on a canoe trip made possible by heavy spring rains. Normally, the upper Rappahannock is much too shallow to run without constantly getting hung up on the river’s ubiquitous rocks. In its shallow, unmuddied waters, you’re reminded that the Rappahannock is one of the very few East Coast rivers unpolluted (except for agricultural runoff) and running free (with the dam in Fredericksburg now gone).

The Old Waterloo Bridge is much more than an occasion for reverie and nostalgia, however. It contributes to the unique character of the northern Virginia Piedmont. It’s not always the case that human engineering enhances the landscape so. When it does, we should preserve it.


The Old Waterloo Bridge has been designated one of Preservation Virginia’s “Most Endangered Landmarks” in 2014

A local high school teacher has created a Facebook page

The Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) has started a “Save the Bridge” campaign

Forrest Pritchard, author of “Growing Tomorrow” to speak in Charlottesville

By Shuan Butcher, Journey Through Hallowed Ground

Growing-Tomorrow.3DWhen Forrest Pritchard, a seventh-generation farmer in Virginia, published “Gaining Ground: A Story of Farmers’ Markets, Local Food and Saving the Family Farm” in 2013, a book about his adventures building his family’s failing farm back into a successful business, his story struck a chord with readers all over the country. The book became a New York Times bestseller, NPR’s The Splendid Table named it #1 on their list, and it was picked as a top read by The Washington Post.  In addition, Publishers Weekly called Pritchard “an important new spokesperson of the future of agriculture and poet of the earth” and the Los Angeles Times wrote, “Pritchard is a keen observer and tells his story with frank good humor.”

Upon such feedback Pritchard asked himself, “If one small farm could inspire such a response, what might happen if we multiplied that number?” He envisioned a “farmer’s market dream team,” whose different faces and stories, united, would capture the trajectory of sustainable agriculture in America. He set off with photographer and fellow farmer Molly M. Peterson, traveling across the country for one year to speak with farmers who, inspired by the promise of sustainable farming, are making viable livelihoods against the odds.

Forrest Pritchard_Author Photo by Craig McCord_HandPicked Nation

By Craig McCord

Now, in his new book, Pritchard chronicles the stories of eighteen visionaries—from suburban vegetable farmers and free-range livestock ranchers to urban beekeepers gathering honey on top of Dallas skyscrapers. Some have rejuvenated generations-old farms and some have put down new roots, but all candidly share their setbacks and failures, the daily risks and the unpredictable challenges—and why it’s all worth it.

Each farmer contributed his or her favorite recipes (fifty in the book), offering up the best ways to cook the produce that they work so hard to grow. Over two hundred of Peterson’s breathtaking and engaging photos complete the portraits of these American heroes. Renowned chef and cookbook author Deborah Madison wrote the book’s foreword.

“Growing Tomorrow” is both a farm-inspired cookbook and an enlightening homage to the people who provide America with delicious, fresh food—from a citrus grove in California to a sustainable fishery on Cape Cod. It’s also a call to action: Pritchard and Peterson hope to bolster the movement towards eating locally and sustainably grown foods, visiting farmer’s markets, subscribing to CSA programs, and even growing one’s own vegetables.

Pritchard is a full-time organic farmer who holds degrees from the College of William & Mary. His farm, Smith Meadows located in Berryville (Va), was one of the first “grass-finished,” free-range endeavors in the country, and has sold at leading farmers’ markets in Washington, D.C. for more than fifteen years. The primary blogger for the Facebook page “I Support Farmers’ Markets,” the largest online farmers’ market fan page, he is also a popular public speaker, having given addresses at RAND, Texas Organic Farmers Association, and Weston A. Price International, among others.

Pritchard will speak about his book “Growing Tomorrow: A Farm to Table Journey in Photos and Recipes- Behind the Scenes with 18 Extraordinary Sustainable Farmers Who Are Changing the Way We Eat” at a program sponsored by the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership and Piedmont Environmental Council on Monday, December 14th.  The event, which starts at 7:00 p.m., will take place at The Haven, located at 12 Market Street in Charlottesville.  The event is free and open to the public.  Books will be available for purchase and signing.  For more information, or to rsvp for the event, visit or call 540-882-4929.

“Art at the Races” at Montpelier Hunt Races


Nancy Lowey,
bundled up
against the cold!

The Piedmont Virginian staff had a wonderful time at the “Art at the Races” tent at Montpelier Hunt Races on Nov. 7; we handed out some magazines and chatted with the artists and visitors, and just in general had a great time, although it was a bit cold and damp. Many thanks to Nancy Lowey for her hospitality!


“Mansion in the morning”
8″ x 10″, gouache on paper
by Nancy Wallace

The “Art at the Races” gathering at the races is the cumulation of a week’s plein-air workshop for 8 local and regional artists, who spend the week capturing the heritage and scenery at Montpelier. Those paintings-and other works by the artists-were on sale at the Races, with 30% of the proceeds to be donated to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation at Montpelier, which is the largest equine sanctuary in the world dedicated to the retirement, rehabilitation and retraining of Thoroughbred horses no longer able to compete on the racetrack. This year’s “Art at the Races” resulted in $1000 donated to the TRF.



The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation at Montpelier opened its doors at James Madison’s Montpelier Estate in November of 2003. As soon as the fencing and barn renovations had been completed, the first shipment of rescued-off-the-track Thoroughbreds arrived. The initial group numbered only 14 but more soon followed. Today our herd numbers up to seventy-three. Although part of our job is to rehabilitate as many of the Thoroughbreds as we can into second careers off the track, most are unable to do this because of the severity of their racetrack injuries. Our facility has become a safe haven for these horses where they can live out their lives in this sanctuary, and we continue to raise funds for their daily care and feeding. Some of the original 14 still dwell in the lush, green, and historic pastures here.

Below is a list of participating artists and their websites-please visit them and enjoy their beautiful work!

Carol Iglesias
D. Haskell Chhuy
Helen Hilliard
Irmeli Ylinen
James Erickson 
Kelly Coffin
Nancy Wallace
Deborah Kozura Photography

“Art at the Races” was sponsored by Rappahannock Media, Tad Coffin Performance Saddles, and Grelen Nursery, Inc.


1796573_10202889919310186_4960203201090092007_nPam Kamphuis is a transplant from New England who has come to appreciate and love the Piedmont area of Virginia in the 25 years she’s been living here, largely through working for the Piedmont Virginian. She is the Editor and a graphic designer for the magazine. She lives in Warrenton with her husband Jan, daughter Sarah, two dogs and a cat while also keeping an eye out for sons Pete and Jani (Sergeant Jan W. Kamphuis, USMC, deployed on a MEU on the USS Kearsarge), and daughter-in-law Clarissa on Topsail Island, NC.

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