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Category: Music

2022 Must See Summer Music Events in Staunton

Picture dancing in the street to some of the best local and regional music and falling in love all over again with Staunton’s wonderful community. Imagine kicking back on a blanket under the stars and enjoying a picnic and incredible jazz. Or imagine relishing the sounds of antique classical instruments while the light shines through the stained glass at Trinity Church. Or how about celebrating the 4th of July with live music and fireworks for the first time in years? Here’s a guide to your Staunton summer soundtrack!

Staunton Jams

After a 4-year hiatus, Staunton Jams is back, bigger and better than ever, hosted by The Judy Chops and supported by a number of Staunton businesses. This free, all-day music and art event will take over downtown Staunton on May 28. Look for 20 acts representing a variety of musical styles to appear at the Sunspots Pavilion, the Staunton Patio, along Beverley Street, in the Wharf, and more.  You’ll see Mojo Parker, Sun-Dried Opossum, The Queen City Porch Swingers, Matt Palmieri, the Beverley Street String Band, The Judy Chops, and more. There’s even an afterparty scheduled at Tempest Bar & Lounge. The event will also showcase artists, vendors, food, street performers, and more. Check Staunton Jams Facebook page for a schedule.

Redbeard’s Summer Concert Series

Want to enjoy delicious craft beer while you listen to music? From now thru September, relax at Redbeard Brewing Company on select Saturday nights for their Live Summer Concert Series. Favorite groups like The Judy Chops, Six Shot Rebellion, The Findells, and Drägön Wägön will headline. Check out the full schedule.

SummerStage at the Blackburn

Spread out your blanket for a night of music under the stars at the Blackburn Inn’s Friday night SummerStage concert series. The concerts will extend through Labor Day and they will showcase talents like David Wax Museum, Danielle Nicole, Chatham Rabbits, Scott Miller, The Judy Chops, and more playing in a wide range of genres. Along with the music, you can enjoy beverages from local vineyards, breweries, and cideries as well as food from the 2nd Draft Bistro. The grounds and bar open at 6 p.m. and the music starts at 7 p.m. See the full schedule and buy tickets.

Red Wing Roots Music Festival

Everyone in the family will get up and dance as the biggest names in folk music appear at Red Wing Roots Music Festival in Natural Chimney’s Park the weekend of June 24 – 26. Get ready to experience to The Steel Wheels, The Jayhawks, Langhorne Slim, Aoife O’Donovan, and many more on stage against the background of stunning limestone towers. Besides the music, festival attendees can expect a beer garden, food and craft vendors, bike rides, yoga, and lawn games for adults and kids alike. Here’s the full 2022 lineup.

Heifetz Institute’s Festival of Concerts

You’re in for a treat with this year’s annual Heifetz Institute’s Festival of Concerts! Choose from over 50 different concerts extending from June 28 to August 6 that range from chamber music, Fourth of July music, and multi-genre selections. See world-renowned celebrity guests in the Celebrity Series and Chamber Music Sunday Matinees. Heifetz students perform in the Stars of Tomorrow Series as well as the intimate Market St. Musicale series that pairs performances and conversations with the musicians. Anything goes in the Heifetz Hootenanny Series, which will occur on Page Terrace. Admission is free for all events for kids 12 and under.

Happy Birthday America

Bring the family to Gypsy Hill Park this Independence Day for the free, family-friendly Happy Birthday America celebration. Have a blast with a 5K race, a lively parade, a parent/child baseball game, vesper’s service, a beauty pageant, and concessions. Rock out to live music from local acts, Rhonda Vincent and The Rage, and headliner Wilson Fairchild. Fireworks will follow the concert. This event is free.

Staunton Music Festival

Musicians will love The Staunton Music Festival’s classical concerts spanning over 600 years. Dozens of musicians will perform in both large and small ensembles in a variety of Staunton venues like Trinity Episcopal Church and Blackfriars Playhouse from August 12-21. Festival highlights include “Handel Extravaganza: from the Rhine to Rio,” which features Handel’s orchestral and vocal music, “Love Stories,” and “Early Keyboard Extravaganza.” While some events are ticketed, many are free.

Music in the Park at Gypsy Hill Bandstand

Monday Nights: Stonewall Brigade Band 

Staunton’s historic 70-member Stonewall Brigade Band is bringing big sounds to your Monday nights all summer. The oldest-continuous community band in the U.S. was originally a marching band, but with the addition of woodwinds after the Civil War, it became a concert band. It first played in what is now Gypsy Hill Park in 1889. Concerts featuring marches and big band classics begin at 8 p.m. Watch for the full schedule here.

Tuesday Nights: Praise in the Park

Head to Gypsy Hill Park on Tuesday nights in July and August to hear Linden Heights Baptist Church’s annual Praise in the Park concert series. You’ll hear contemporary and southern gospel as well as gospel bluegrass. Better yet, there will be activities to keep the kiddos busy while you listen to favorites like Faithful Men, Ed Pettersen & Streets of Gold Quartet, Brian Buchanan & New Life Gospel Band, and Heaven’s Mountain Band & Blue Mountain Sunrise. Concerts begin at 7 p.m. See the full schedule here.

Wednesday Nights: Bluegrass 

Local and regional bluegrass entertainers will visit Staunton on Wednesday nights between July 6 and August 24. Most concerts include sets by two different groups. Get ready for some energetic tunes and banjo picking! Concerts begin at 7 p.m. Watch for the full schedule here.

Thursday Nights: Jazz in the Park

Celebrate hot summer nights with the Jazz in the Park summer concert series. You’ll hear classic jazz standards performed by S.P.L.A.A.A.T. Quintet, Afro Cuban jazz with rumba, salsa, and cha cha music by Jstop Latin Soul, and zydeco, cajun, street parade, and Louisiana funk by The Dixie Power Trio. See the full lineup here.

Nearby Music

You might also check out Waynesboro Parks and Rec’s Thursday night Groovin’ at the Greenway series. This lineup of showcases a variety of styles and lets Waynesboro visitors get comfy outdoors while listening to live music.

Other Festivals and Fun

May 21-22: Staunton’s newest outdoor art festival Art On The Town comes to life at the Sunspots Pavilion in the Wharf. Another great event by the Staunton Augusta Art Center happens September 3-4, where you can join the fun at the 55th annual Art in the Park festival in Gypsy Hill Park. You’ll find amazing art, community spirit, live music, food, and creative activities for the kids. The park boasts lots of parking, shade, and playgrounds to keep everyone happy. (Free)

September 24-25: Join thousands of seriously excited fans in downtown Staunton for themed shopping, dining, performances, and hands-on activities for all ages at the Queen City Mischief and Magic Festival. This home-grown fan festival celebrates J.K. Rowlings’ Harry Potter series as well as all things magical and mystical. (Many activities are free, some are ticketed)

Staunton is a Southern Living Best Mountain Town

Did you know that Southern Living Magazine recently showcased Staunton as a top mountain town in its The South’s Best 2022? The list of the best southern destinations celebrates “the people, places, and communities that make [the South] more vibrant than ever.” Mountain towns were chosen for their local shops and restaurants, cozy lodging, and welcoming downtowns as well as their beauty and access to the mountains. Southern Living praises Staunton’s charming downtown, varied dining scene, notable lodging selection, and proximity to Shenandoah National Park. Read on for more reasons why Staunton is such a hot travel destination.

Ogle Staunton’s Beauty

Find a high spot in Staunton and kick back to admire the views. Try Cannon Hill at Mary Baldwin University or cross the historic footbridge to Woodrow Park on Sears Hill. You’ll even find something postcard-worthy when you pause on the Wal-Mart parking lot! From walks through historic downtown, country bike rides, or drives along the Blue Ridge Parkway, you’ll never be far from a million-dollar view.

Eat Like a King

For a small city, Staunton has a wealth of independent restaurants. You’ll find everything from sophisticated Southern gourmet meals at Zynodoa and Table 44 to French pastry at Réunion. Get your fill of steak and seafood at Mill Street Grill and Blu Point Seafood, or opt for global fare at Gloria’s Pupuseria and Gonzo’s Pollo.

Find a Festival

Staunton is a wonderful home base for festivals throughout the year. 

  • Join us for the initial BaroqueFest, a three-day immersion in the very best music from the 17th and early 18th centuries. This festival takes place April 8-10.
  • Friday nights from Memorial Day to Labor Day come enjoy an outdoor concert series on the grounds of the Blackburn Inn and Conference Center. SummerStage kicks off May 27 with Hootenanny.
  • Jam out to The Steel Wheels, The Jayhawks, Langhorne Slim, and other notable names in roots music at the Red Wing Roots Festival at nearby Natural Chimneys State Park. June 24-26.
  • Enjoy selections from hundreds of years of classical music at the 10-day Staunton Music Festival. This festival welcomes over 70 acclaimed professionals from around the world to perform in 30 events and opens on August 12.
  • Browse the juried work of local and regional artists at the Staunton Augusta Art Center’s annual Art in the Park. The 54th annual event will occur in Gypsy Hill Park on September 4-5. 
  • The Queen City Mischief and Magic Festival will return in person this year on the weekend of September 24-25. Head downtown for lots of magical fun as businesses and citizens 

Learn Something New

Learn the history of the presidency and early 20th-century life at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum. Get a hands-on education at the Frontier Culture Museum, where costumed interpreters work historically accurate farms. Make time to view the exhibits at the Beverley Street Studio School Gallery and the Staunton Augusta Art Center.

Access the Outdoors

We dare you to visit the Shenandoah Valley and not take one of the best hikes of your life. Staunton is close to the Appalachian Trail and dozens of beautiful hikes in Shenandoah National Park and along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Venture west into George Washington and Jefferson National Forest for more exciting hiking opportunities. Hikers can also stretch their legs on miles of trails in Montgomery Hall Park and Betsy Bell & Mary Gray Wilderness.

Visit Southern Living to see more parks, businesses, and towns that made this years list. Look forward to casting your vote for the South’s Best 2023.

Experience Mardi Gras (Staunton-Style)

You might not find yourself in the Big Easy this Mardi Gras, but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate right here in Staunton. Decorate your covid mask, grab your beads and a cocktail, and have fun. Here’s our guide to feasting, frolicking, and Fat Tuesday fun.

The Clocktower Eats and Sweets

The Clocktower is celebrating Mardi Gras with a Fat Tuesday live music performance by Boxcar Speakeasy, a 5-piece New Orleans-style jazz group. The band will play from 7 – 10 p.m. on March 1. You’re also going to want to take advantage of the drink specials, a lineup of Bourbon Street-inspired goodness like the king cake martini (vanilla vodka, Bailey’s, fireball whiskey, and creme) and the Bourbon Street smash (bourbon, banana liqueur, bitters, vanilla syrup, and lemon). Order dinner, too. They’re serving cajun shrimp and grits, jambalaya, red beans and rice, and more.

Mill Street Grill

Celebrate Mardi Gras at Mill Street Grill from now through March 1 with lots of delicious Cajun and Creole specials. Nosh on oysters Rockefeller, steak and crawfish creole, paella, blackened catfish, crawfish etouffee, pan-fried frog legs, and more. On March 1, the music of Staunton’s own Rhythm Road will start at 6:30. No reservations are necessary and the music is free. Come early and start your evening with a cocktail or a selection from the extensive beer and wine list.  You’ll also be able to order from the rest of Mill Street’s menu, which offers steaks, seafood, chicken, salads, sandwiches, and pasta, including a vegetarian Cajun vegetable pasta.

Barren Ridge Vineyard

Don’t miss the Mardi Gras celebration at Barren Ridge Vineyard on Saturday, February 26. You’ll have the best time ever eating traditional Mardi Gras food, drinking Barren Ridge wine, and two-stepping to live music from The Virginia Central Blues Society and Boxcar Speakeasy. There’s also a silent auction, and attendees should wear their masks, beads, and best Carnival-season costumes! Proceeds from the event will support Blues in the School, a nonprofit dedicated to inspiring students to learn the blues. Bringing the blues into the classroom helps students learn “while breaking down racial barriers and opening dialogue about cultural diversity.”

Byers Street Bistro 

You might have missed National Margarita Day, but there’s still time to head down to the Byers Street Bistro for a round of cocktails featuring one of their specialty drinks. Pucker up with the Pretty in Peach margarita, a mix of tequila, peach schnapps, pomegranate liqueur, lime juice, sour mix, and a salt or sugar rim. Another tasty bet is the Buttah-Scotchaha-Rita, a tangy concoction of tequila, Buttershots, orange juice, sour mix, and ginger ale with a salty rim. Compliment your cocktails with a menu full of shareable appetizers, salads, gourmet pizzas, handheld burgers, sandwiches, and treats like shrimp tacos.

Vic’s Eats

Head over to Vic’s Eats and grab your favorite Mardi Gras dishes from gumbo to jambalaya to even little tiny king cakes.

The Well Balanced Paw

Your pups can even celebrate this year at The Well Balanced Paw. Stop in with your four-legged friend to grab tiny king cakes all weekend long. While shopping listen to the sounds of Mardi Gras and if you allow your doggie to be adventurous; try dog jambalaya!

Want to watch Mardi Gras live in New Orleans? Here’s how.

Want to host a party and bake a prize into your own purple, green, and gold cake? This king cake recipe has 4.5 stars.

For more events, check out Staunton on Tap!

Black-History Month in Staunton

The Black experience is essential to understanding Staunton and the surrounding areas. Read on to learn about how to celebrate Black History Month and other events in Staunton. We’ve also noted important places and citizens and gathered resources for gaining a broader understanding of our city’s Black history, culture, and contributions. We’ve also included a list of area Black-owned businesses.

Festivals and Events 

Black History Month at Mary Baldwin

Join the Mary Baldwin University community this February to celebrate Black History Month. The school will host a full lineup of events including lectures, research presentations, concerts and other performances, readings, open houses, trivia, and much more. Here’s the full schedule.

For more Black History Month events around the state, check out the schedule on the Virginia Tourism Corporation website.

Juneteenth Celebration at the Frontier Culture Museum

In recent years, Montgomery Hall Park has hosted an annual Juneteenth celebration as a way to celebrate the end of slavery. Last year the celebration moved to the Frontier Culture Museum. The celebration has included food, live entertainment, children’s activities, information booths, voter registration, health screenings, and more.

African American Heritage Festival

In recent years, Staunton’s African American Heritage Festival has been canceled due to Covid. Hopefully, it will return in the near future! Expect plenty of music and entertainment to keep you busy. Visitors will also find presentations by historians, art by regional artists, vendors, and community outreach and resources. Area churches gather for an “under the tent” worship service on Sunday morning, and everyone can enjoy an afternoon of gospel music. This free, annual two-day festival in September is the largest and oldest in the Shenandoah Valley. The event is open to the public and everyone, regardless of heritage, is welcome.

Area History

Before the Civil War, many farms throughout the Shenandoah Valley relied upon the labor of enslaved African Americans. In 1830, only about one-sixth of Staunton’s African American population was free to work as blacksmiths, shoemakers, laborers, domestics, and barbers. After the Emancipation Proclamation, opportunities grew. By the end of the century, Staunton had 26 Black-owned businesses including grocery stores, cabinet-making shops, cobblers, restaurants, barbershops, laundries, and more. Within 10 years, there were nearly 50 Black-owned businesses in Staunton. These included a newspaper, hotel, restaurants, a meat market, an insurance company, a jewelry store, and professionals such as doctors and a lawyer.

Black-Owned Businesses Today

According to WHSV, while many businesses struggled, area Black-owned businesses were “nearly twice as likely to fail during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Want to support a local Black-owned business? Check out a regularly updated list of Black-owned businesses in the Shenandoah Valley compiled by the Black and Brown Owned Businesses-Shenandoah Valley Facebook page. The Newsleader identified some in Staunton.

Museums and Research

Booker T. Washington Museum and Library

The Booker T. Washington Museum and Library contains photographs, articles, books, yearbooks, and memorabilia like sports trophies and letterman jackets. It is housed in the Booker T. Washington Community Center, Staunton’s former segregated high school. The school educated Black students for 30 years before Staunton’s schools were finally integrated in 1966. The school served as both an educational space and a public meeting place for the African American community. It hosted social events, voter registration, and adult night classes. The building has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2014.

Frontier Culture Museum’s West African Farm Exhibit

The Frontier Culture Museum’s living history farms educate today’s visitors by recreating the past. The West African Farm exhibit “explores the cultural contributions of African captives who were brought to Virginia in the 1700s.” Captives from many ethnic groups came from all over Africa, but many were Igbo from the West African Coast. The West African Farm demonstrates how free Igbo people lived in Africa in the 1700s. Visitors can learn about history, architecture, farming, cooking, folklore, pottery, weaving, and more.

The museum maintains an archive of lectures developed during the Covid shutdown. They explore various topics, but several relate to the area’s Black experience. Visit YouTube to see Unfree Labor in Early Virginia, Black Lives at Natural Bridge, West Africa and the Slave Trade, and Igbo/West African Masquerade Culture and the Dynamics of the African Diaspora Carnivals.

Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum

Woodrow Wilson and a number of other presidents have been criticized for their attitudes on race and the history of slavery that surrounds them. The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum is tackling the topic of U.S. Presidents and racial inequality with a free lecture series. Register for the February 10 discussion about Abraham Lincoln with Edna Greene Medford, Ph.D., a historian and author of Lincoln and Emancipation, and Christina Shutt, the executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois. The museum further explores the topic of Wilson and race with several resources on their webpage.

Staunton/Augusta County African American Research Society

Want to learn more about the general and family history of Black people in this area? Visit the Staunton/Augusta County African American Research Society’s website for resources. The society’s mission “is to research, develop and maintain an ongoing written, pictorial and multimedia archive of the African American experience in Staunton and Augusta County from its early settlement in 1738 to the present by focusing on education, business, politics, religion, military service, and cultural experience.” The society has worked to gather genealogical records from the library as well as oral histories from older citizens.

Laten Ervin Bechtel’s In Their Words: Growing Up In Segregated Staunton and Augusta County, Virginia

Laten Ervin Becktel has delved into the area’s history of segregation by conducting interviews with 30 African Americans who grew up in segregated times. In this 300-page oral history, Bechtel records an important, and often overlooked, side of local history and shows racial discrimination through the eyes of those who lived it. Available in the Staunton Public Library.

Notable Staunton Addresses

  • In 1946, Montgomery Hall Park became one of only two Virginia parks dedicated to African American use, and people traveled long distances to visit. The park remained segregated until 1969. Learn about the park’s history by watching the Woodrow Wilson Birthplace and Presidential Library’s 2008 Montgomery Hall Park Project.
  • The congregation of Allen Chapel A.M.E (African Methodist Episcopal) worshipped in various places before the original church was built at 921 West Beverley Street. The first Black church west of the Blue Ridge is also the sight of the city’s first Black choir and first Black school for adults.
  • Fairview Cemetery is a predominantly African American cemetery located in northern Staunton that was founded in 1869. The Lambert Street location was outside city limits at the time and part of a Black community called Sandy Hollow. 
  • The masonic lodge on East Beverley and Market Streets was incorporated in 1882. Staunton’s “Colored Masonic Mount Zion Lodge, no.18” is one of the oldest African-American masonic lodges in the U.S. The nearby Cabell House (654 E. Beverley Street) is the last exposed-log structure in Staunton. It was built in 1869 by Edmund Cabell, a “free man of color,” and owned by three generations of his family. 

Notable Black Stauntonians

  • Robert Campbell was born free in 1794. After serving in the War of 1812, he moved to Staunton and opened a barbershop on Beverley Street. His successful business allowed him to buy five downtown buildings and he was considered wealthy by the standards of the times. 
  • Willis McGlascoe Carter was an NAACP leader who was born into slavery in 1852. He became a principal in Augusta County’s segregated public schools. He led the Augusta County Teachers’ Association and edited the Southern Tribune, an African-American newspaper. Carter helped create the Negro Industrial and Educational Association of Virginia. He’s buried in Fairview Cemetery.
  • Born in 1898, Dr. Charles J. Waller served as regional vice-president of the National Medical Association. He practiced medicine in Staunton for many years without hospital privileges. Later, he became a member of the King’s Daughters’ staff and was elected president. He was also the first African-American to run for Staunton’s city council.
  • Captain William Green Jr. was born in 1920 and graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in 1939. He joined the U.S. Army Air Corps and became one of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, one of our country’s first Black aviators. He flew 123 wartime missions in Europe and earned a Distinguished Flying Cross, an Air Medal with six oak leaf clusters, E.T.O. ribbons with three battle stars, and the Purple Heart.
  • Born in 1940, Rita Wilson was Staunton’s first Black councilwoman. She served 16 years as a member and vice mayor of city council. She also served on the school board and the board of the Frontier Culture Museum.

For more information, take a look at the Staunton African American Heritage Brochure.

10 Things We Are Thankful For In Staunton This Year

Thanksgiving is almost here. Take some time between raking leaves, planning side dishes, and agonizing over table settings to reflect on the many things we’re thankful for in Staunton.

Our Great Outdoors

Staunton’s location in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley provides incredible views of mountains on both sides. Were just a few minutes from Shenandoah National Park with its many trails and Skyline Drive. We’re also right in the middle of George Washington and Jefferson National Forest, a wonderful place to hike, bike, paddle, and explore. Even downtown Staunton offers a robust park system featuring trails, views, pools, wilderness areas, playgrounds, ballfields, and a dog park.

Independent Small Businesses

Staunton boasts a diverse mix of indie shops. Our small business owners are following their passions, and creating one of the best independent shopping districts in the state. Hurrah for Staunton Olive Oil Company, Essentially Zen Artisan Bath and Body Shop, Latitudes, Made; By the People, For the People, Medieval Fantasies Company, Refill Renew, Pufferbellies Toys and Books, and more

Foodie Scene

For a small town, Staunton has a lot of good food and this list only scratches the surface. Enjoy fresh coffee and out-of-this-world pastries at Reunion Bakery & Espresso, Crucible Coffee Roasters, or Newtown Baking. Sit down to a tasty lunch emphasizing local ingredients at Serendipity Java Bar and Eatery, Table 44, the Pampered Palate, or Cranberry’s Grocery & Eatery. Savor a dinner at Chicano Boy Taco, Zynodoa, the Mill Street Grill, or Aioli. Make sure to leave room for something sweet from The Split Banana, the Clocktower Eats and Sweets, or Wright’s Dairy Rite

Craft Beer, Wine, and Cider

Virginia is making quite a name for itself in the craft beer and wine scene, and our local area is no exception. In fact, Staunton was just named one of the “20 Best Beer Towns in the United States.” Hop on the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail to sip at 19 breweries, all within an hour’s drive. Queen City Brewing, Redbeard Brewing Company, and Shenandoah Valley Brewing Co. are all within city limits. Baja Bean Co. sells a wide selection of craft beers by the bottle or on tap. Wine lovers can taste the local varietals and more at Ox-Eye Vineyards Tasting Room, Yelping Dog Wine, the Green Room, or the new Seed to Tail Kitchen & Market. Barren Ridge Vineyards is just a short drive away. If you prefer cider, grab a seat and a flight at Staunton’s new cidery, Ciders from Mars.

Artists, Artisans, and the Performing Arts

There are many ways to explore Staunton’s flourishing arts community. Walk around and visit Staunton’s collection of murals and public art. Drop in at a gallery. Take a class at Beverley Street Studio School. Visit Sunspots Studios, where you can watch glass art being created in front of your eyes. Catch a virtual performance by The American Shakespeare Center or a live show at ShenanArts where local performers put on high-energy performances. Got dramatic kids? Sign them up for a theater class with Silver Line Theatre Exchange.

Live Music 

From the world-renowned performers who perform at the Heifetz International Music Institute, to the wonderful local musicians enlivening the scene at our favorite breweries and restaurants, Staunton is home to the very best in music–making. We’ve got live, free music almost every night of the week at Gypsy Hill Park during the summer. We have music festivals that entertain all year long. These include Red Wing Roots Music Festival, the classical Staunton Music Festival, as well as rock, blues, jazz, and folk festivals.

Local Farmers and Producers

We are fortunate to be able to enjoy some of the freshest, most delicious locally grown food available anywhere in the USA.  We have a seasonal farmer’s market (and new winter market,) farm-fresh roadside stands, and pick-your-own farms.  We’re the envy of many communities in the “buy fresh, buy local” movement. Plus, many of our restaurants prioritize using this seasonal and healthy food in their recipes.

Museums and Historic Sites

Staunton’s in touch with its history. Take a walking tour and admire downtown’s amazing Victorian architecture. See the past come to life at the Frontier Culture Museum and Woodrow Wilson’s Birthplace Museum. Check out the Camera Heritage Museum, explore Thornrose Cemetery, or even book a private ghost tour

Our Fun Community

Though Covid has put a damper on a some of the live community events, we hope to soon be able to take advantage of all our favorites. We’re thankful for the Staunton Christmas Parade, Caroling in the Park, Happy Birthday America Celebration, Celebration of Holiday Lights in the Park, Queen City Mischief and Magic, Art in the Park, Concerts at Trinity Church and many more.

The People

We are thankful for YOU!  You, as a visitor or local, all come together to make Staunton exactly what it is!  It wouldn’t be the same without you. We’re also thankful for our teachers, our police officers, and our Public Works department. We’re thankful for the servers and bartenders in the cafes who know our faces and orders by heart, the doctors who keep us healthy, and many more. We are grateful for all of the incredible people who live and work in Staunton that contribute every day to help make our small city so amazing. 

We hope you’ll enjoy and share this list.  But most of all – we hope you’ll add to this list with all the things you are grateful for in Staunton. Happy Thanksgiving!

How to Beat the Dog Days of August

We’ve all heard the term “the dog days of August”. It’s when dogs supposedly pass out from lying on the hot pavement and you can fry an egg on the hood of your car. The expression carries negative associations: drought, dangerous storms, rabid dogs, and just plain old bad luck. Though the term actually refers to the sun’s apparent location near the Canus Major “big dog” constellation, area kids are bummed that summer vacation is ending. It’s time to take a quick trip to Staunton and eke out a tiny bit more fun before the grind begins again. 

Dance to Roots Music

You don’t want to miss the dinner-concert Roots Music Events at the Frontier Culture Museum. You’ll hear bluegrass, blues, gospel, traditional Appalachian music and more during the five nights of concerts which “celebrate the influence of these musical roots genres on American frontier culture.” Grab dinner from onsite food vendor Island Wheels Caribbean Cuisine and listen to artists like Wound Tight Bluegrass and Southern Hospitality. Make a day of it by exploring the museum where you’ll learn all about the Valley’s earliest residents through living history farm exhibits, questions and answers with interpreters, and hand-on experiences. This museum is suitable for history buffs as well as kids, who can play historic games and check out cows, goats, pigs, and cats. 

Find Cheer with Craft Beer

August is Craft Beer Month, and fortunately most of our area breweries have areas that are family friendly. Redbeard Brewing Company is having a monthly outdoor concert series and on August 28, it will welcome the Findells. Come sing, dance, and enjoy some delicious craft beer. Skipping Rock Beer Company hosts live music most Friday and Saturday nights. Come get comfortable in their beer garden, grab a pint of your favorite brew, and get ready for a great night. Look for upcoming acts like VS., HoboJac, McHale & Justina, and more! Queen City Brewing sells “all kinds of beer in all kinds of ways.” Come check out their outdoor seating area and plan to come on a night where there’s something fun going on: trivia, live music, open mic nights, and more.

Splash Your Blues Away

Just because school is starting doesn’t mean it’s too late in the season to swim. Take the family to one of our area’s lakes or rivers for a day on the water. Good bets include spring-fed Sherando Lake and Todd Lake in George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. Both include sandy beaches, swimming areas, and restrooms. Paddlers will like the urban Waynesboro Water Trail and the more remote Goshen Pass, one of the top-rated kayaking spots in the area. For more on water fun, read Staunton’s Nearby Swimming Holes and Places to Cool Off.

The Best Way to Drive-Into Fall

If you’re sad because Staunton’s Movies in the Park 2021 season is over, you can still get your fill of the alfresco cinematic experience with a trip to Hull’s Drive In. Though it’s a bit of a drive, it’s worth it for the classic big-screen experience, the snack shop fare, and the community experience. Plus, it only costs $20 per carload of people for a double feature!

Dine out Downtown

There’s still plenty of time to dine out and shop in downtown Staunton. Each Friday night at 4 p.m., Beverley Street closes and stays closed until Monday morning. This lets restaurants in the busiest section of town use the sidewalk and street as dining, tasting room, and retail space. Shenandoah Valley Brewing Co., 101 West Beverley, Baja Bean Co., Shenandoah Pizza & Taphouse, Zynodoa, and more are all participating in the initiative. Stop by the Staunton Olive Oil Company, which is under new ownership, to taste some olive oils and vinegars on freshly baked 100% gluten-free bread, which we’ve heard tastes just like a normal French bread loaf. Follow this up with a selection of keto treats, which include blondies, power bars, brownies, and cheesecake bars. A map of the area with parking, pedestrian walkways, and restaurant take-out/pick-up spots clearly delineated is available here.

Pick Your Spirits Up

If your family hasn’t gotten enough fresh fruit pie from all the peaches you’ve been picking or buying, there’s still plenty of time to make more with bounty from the Staunton Farmers’ Market. Spend a Saturday morning perusing the stands, chatting with growers, and selecting the best fresh produce in the area. If you’d rather have a more hands-on experience, head to one of our nearby pick-your-own farms. Grapes and apples are coming into season at  Wenger GrapesSunrise Orchards, and Carter Mountain Orchard. School lunches always taste better with fresh fruit!

Just Let the Dogs out!

Nothing lifts our spirits like our pets, and since it’s the dog days of summer, we’d be remiss if we didn’t give a nod to Staunton’s dog-friendly destinations. Let your pet work off excess energy at Staunton’s Bark Park in Gypsy Hill Park. Divided into separate spacious runs for small and large dogs, it lets dogs play and socialize while their owners do the same. Other city parks are stocked with doggy-bag stations and open to well-behaved dogs on leashes. Serious hikers might enjoy the Betsy Bell Wilderness Area and the trails at Montgomery Hall Park. Finally, reward a good dog with a treat at the Well-Balanced Paw. This shop carries treats and supplements and provides nutritional guidance and therapeutic massage.

What’s Playing Next? Staunton’s Summer Music Roundup

Picture kicking back on a blanket under the stars enjoying a picnic and listening to the Steel Wheels and other favorite artists. Or imagine relishing the sounds of Beethoven while the light shines through the stained glass at Trinity Church. Or how about celebrating the 4th of July virtually from the comforts of your own home? There are plenty of ways to get live music into your life this summer. Here’s a guide to your Staunton summer soundtrack!

Happy Birthday America Virtual

It’s still too soon to hold Staunton’s traditional Happy Birthday America Celebration with Wilson Fairchild. However, you can join in the fun with the virtual version by tuning into the Happy Birthday America YouTube channel. The virtual celebration will “feature guests, pictures and memories looking back through the years.” Musical guests will include Rhonda Vincent, The Malpass Brothers, Jimmy Fortune, Tony Jackson, and Mark Wills & Ruth Graham. Tune in online at 7:15 p.m. on Sunday, July 4.

Heifetz Institute’s Festival of Concerts

You’re in for a treat with this year’s annual Heifetz Institute’s Festival of Concerts! Choose from over 50 different concerts extending through August 6. Concerts range from chamber music, Fourth of July music, and multi-genre selections. See world-renowned celebrity guests in the Celebrity Series and Sunday Matinee Series. Heifetz students perform in the Stars of Tomorrow Series as well as the intimate Fridays in the Gallery series, which is set in a quiet gallery surrounded by Shenandoah Valley art. Anything goes in the Heifetz Hootenanny Series, which will occur in the Blackburn Inn’s new Great Hall.

Red Wing Roots Music Festival

Have you bought your tickets for the annual Red Wing Roots Music Festival yet? If not, you’d better hurry. The festival is coming up on July 9-11, and features some of the biggest names in folk music. Listen to The Steel Wheels, Tim Mavericks, Sarah Jarosz, Hiss Golden Messenger, Ragged Mtn String Band, and over 40 more as they play five stages. The festival will be staged at Natural Chimneys Park against the stunning 120-foot limestone towers. Besides the music, festival attendees can expect a beer garden, food and craft vendors, and lots of fun outdoor activities. Join bike rides, yoga, and lawn games for adults and kids alike.

Summer Stage at the Blackburn Inn

Spread out your blanket and get ready for a great night under the stars at the Blackburn Inn’s Friday night SummerStage concert series. The concerts will extend through Labor Day and they will showcase talent like The Quebe Sisters, David Wax Museum, Bonnie Bishop, Hackensaw Boys, Bryan Elijah Smith, and more playing in a wide range of genres. Along with the music, you can enjoy beverages from local vineyards, breweries, and cideries. There will also be food from the 2nd Draft Bistro. The grounds open at 6 p.m. and the music starts at 7 p.m.

Staunton Music Festival

You’ll experience classical music spanning over 600 years at The Staunton Music Festival (August 13-15 and August 18-22). Dozens of musicians will perform in both large and small ensembles. Performances will take place in in downtown Staunton in historic Trinity Episcopal Church, Blackfriars Playhouse, and First Presbyterian Church. Festival highlights include “Time Lost and Found,” which examines the philosophical issues of time in music, “Music Transatlantica,” and “Masters and Students.” While some events are ticketed, many are free.

Redbeard’s Summer Concert Series

Want to sip some delicious craft beer while you listen to music? From now until October, find a seat at Redbeard Brewing Company on the last Saturday night of each month for their Live Summer Concert Series. Favorite groups like The Judy Chops, Six Shot Rebellion, The Findells, and Drägön Wägön will headline. 6-9 p.m.

Stonewall Brigade Band at the Gypsy Hill Bandstand 

Staunton’s historic 70-member Stonewall Brigade Band is bringing big sounds to your Monday nights from now through August 30. The oldest-continuous community band in the U.S. was originally a marching band, but with the addition of woodwinds after the Civil War, it became a concert band. It first played in what is now Gypsy Hill Park in 1889. Concerts begin at 8 p.m. See the full schedule here.

Tuesday Nights: Praise in the Park in Gypsy Hill Park 

Head to Gypsy Hill Park on Tuesday nights in July and August to hear Linden Heights Baptist Church’s annual Praise in the Park concert series. You hear contemporary and southern gospel as well as gospel bluegrass. Better yet, there will be activities to keep the kiddos busy while you listen to favorites like Faithful Men, Sierra Losh & Just Us Country Band, Ed Pettersen & Streets of Gold Quartet, Brian Buchanan & Heaven’s Mountain Band, and Covenant Band. Concerts begin at 7 p.m. See the full schedule here.

Bluegrass in Gypsy Hill Park

Local and regional bluegrass entertainers will visit Staunton on Wednesday nights between July 7 and August 25. Most concerts include sets by two different groups. Get ready for some energetic tunes and banjo picking from  Mark Templeton Band, Southern Rail Express, Page County Ramblers, Donnie Mason and In the Tradition, and more. Concerts begin at 7 p.m. See the full schedule here.

Thursday Nights: Jazz in the Park 

Celebrate hot summer nights with the Jazz in the Park summer concert series. You’ll hear classic jazz standards performed by S.P.L.A.A.A.T. Quartet, amazing stride/boogie pianist William Hayes performing with The Boogie Kings, and trumpeter John D’earth, who has collaborated with greats such as Tito Puente, Dave Matthews, and Miles Davis. Concerts begin at 7 p.m. See the full lineup here.

Nearby Music

You might also check out Waynesboro Parks and Rec’s Groovin’ at the Greenway and Wayne on Main events, which allow visitors to get comfy outdoors while listening to live music.

 

Top Things to Do in Staunton This Summer

After a year spent hiding in our homes it’s time to get outside and LIVE again. From live music to alfresco dining, here’s our roundup of fun things to do in Staunton this summer.

Shop & Dine Out Downtown

Celebrate summer by heading downtown to the Beverley Street area to dine alfresco during Shop and Dine Out in Downtown. Staunton closes Beverley Street from 4 p.m. Friday afternoon to 7:30 a.m. Monday morning so that restaurants and businesses can use space on the sidewalks and in the roadway for dining areas and merchandise displays. Customers can spread out and stay safe. Restaurants participating in Shop and Dine Out Downtown include: Laughing Bird Pho, Shenandoah Pizza & Tap House, Shenandoah Valley Brewing Company, Baja Bean Co., BLU Point Seafood Co., and more.

American Shakespeare Center at MBU’s Rose Terrace

Check out a performance by the American Shakespeare Center.  See the schedule for dates and showtimes of Macbeth, Henry V, and All’s Well That Ends Well. Some shows will be happening on-site at the Blackfriars Theatre, the world’s only re-creation of Shakespeare’s performance space. For a special summer treat, watch the Bard’s work under the stars on Mary Baldwin University’s Rose Terrace. Historic Rose Terrace has the distinction of once being the most expensive house in Staunton, and it appears on the National Registry of Historic Places. Its beautiful flat lawn makes a lovely, sheltered performance space.

SummerStage at The Blackburn Inn

How about kicking back on the lawn of the historic Blackburn Inn for a concert under the stars this summer? You’ll enjoy the sounds of Americana, roots, country, folk, and bluegrass bands during the weekly SummerStage series of concerts. The concerts will take place each Friday night from Memorial Day through Labor Day. You’ll be able to dine on a gourmet picnic box and enjoy beverages from local breweries, cideries, and vineyards. The series will feature artists like Danny Paisley and the Southern Grass, Fireside Collective, David Wax Museum, Bonnie Bishop, and more. Get your tickets today!

Get Your New Beerwerks T-shirt

Have you signed up for the Beerwerks Passport yet? As if you needed more incentive to try the 18 breweries along the Beerwerks Trail. Not only can you enjoy tasty craft beers, Valley views, and brewery entertainment like live music and trivia, but once you get your passport stamped at eight breweries, you can send it in for a free t-shirt. That’s high summer fashion! Start with Redbeard Brewing Company, Queen City Brewing, and Shenandoah Valley Brewing Co. right here in Staunton. Next, venture out of town to Skipping Rock Beer Company, Seven Arrows Brewing Co., and Stable Craft Brewing.

Nearby Swimming Holes 

Escape your stale house and take a break from the kiddie pool this summer! The Staunton area has several swimming lakes like Sherando and Todd Lakes with hiking trails, picnic areas, and sandy beaches.  Water seekers will also like hiking to waterfalls in Shenandoah National Park or the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest. St. Mary’s Falls is a four-mile out-and-back hike that pays off with an icy mountain pool and scenic waterfall. For more splashy ways to beat the heat, check out our post on area swimming holes

Frontier Culture Museum’s summer events – Juneteenth, 4th of July, Roots Music

Make sure you visit the Frontier Culture Museum this summer for a living history lesson on the earliest settlers in our area. You’ll get to see how various groups lived, worked, and passed the time. Exhibits include Native American, African, German, Irish, English, and American farms. The museum is hosting a free Juneteenth Celebration (June 19). This year’s theme is “The Continual Evolution of JUNETEENTH” and it will feature live music and event speakers. Later, the museum teaches visitors how our ancestors celebrated 4th of July with demonstrations, games, and more. Come to the museum in August for a series of live Roots Music concerts. You’ll enjoy the music of Karen Jonas, Haze & Dacey, Wound Tight Bluegrass, Troy Breslow, and Southern Hospitality.

Staunton Parks – Gypsy Hill & Montgomery Hall

There’s lots to do at Staunton’s public parks. Jump in the pool or take your dog to the Bark Park in Gypsy Hill Park. Let your kids feed the ducks, play on the playgrounds, or ride their bikes around the 1.3-mile loop. Set up your blanket for live music Monday – Thursday nights at the bandstand. Montgomery Hall Park also offers a pool as well as playing fields and playgrounds. Of special note is the Nature Ridge natural playground, where kids are encouraged to explore and interact with nature. Bird lovers and mountain bikers will love the miles of trails winding through the woods.

Music Festivals – Red Wing Roots Festival, Heifetz, Staunton Music Festival

There’s no shortage of live music this summer, and that’s wonderful news after last summer’s silence. 

  • Add live music to your summer schedule with The Heifetz Institute’s Festival of Concerts. The festival, made up of 50+ concerts, includes performances by Heifetz students, alumni artists, celebrity faculty members, and special guests hailing from around the world. The music will range from chamber music, to Fourth of July music, to the multi-genre Heifetz Hootenannies. It all starts on June 29 and extends through August 6. 

  • The annual Red Wing Roots Music Festival (July 9 -11) is your chance to groove to wonderful music under the towering limestone Natural Chimneys. Listen to The Steel Wheels, Tim O’Brien Band, Son Little, Ragged Mtn String Band, and many more. Camp in the Natural Chimney’s campground and enjoy outdoor activities like daily group bike rides, hikes, morning yoga, fun runs, and activities for kids. Your entire family will have fun at this festival, whether you come for the day or the whole weekend.

  • The Staunton Music Festival (August 13-15 and August 18-22) is an “immersive classical music experience featuring more than 600 years of music” from the middle ages to world premieres. Dozens of musicians will perform during the festival in both large and small ensembles in a variety of locations throughout historic downtown Staunton. While some events are ticketed, many are free.

Music & Miniatures of Note in the Valley Exhibit at the R.R. Smith Center for History & Art

“Music & Miniatures of Note in the Valley” is a fun exhibit at the R.R. Smith Center for History & Art featuring the whimsical pairing of the region’s musical story with miniature scenes from the Valley’s past. The exhibit runs April 23 – September 6.

Augusta County Historical Society History Gallery in the R.R. Smith Center for History & Art
20 S. New St., downtown Staunton
Free & open to the public
Exhibit hours: W-F 1-4 p.m., Saturday 10-4

Watch for special events associated with this exhibit throughout the summer.

Pick Your Own Fruit & Produce 

Imagine a summer day in the fresh air soaking in the scenery and picking the freshest fruit and produce around. The entire family can enjoy this wholesome pastime away from the crowds. Consider Critzer Family Farm, which provides strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries, peaches, plums, pumpkins, and fresh veggies, the “freshest, best-tasting and healthiest produce that you can find.”  The farm boasts environmentally-friendly methods and a commitment to educating kids and bettering the land and community. Enjoy your bounty in baked goods, canned for later, or by the handful on the car ride home.  Click here for our guide to more local pick-your-own fruit and produce farms.

 

Celebrate Juneteenth Staunton Style

Are you ready to embrace the warm weather and the loosening of Covid restrictions? Are you ready to celebrate community and learn about cultural heritage? Are you ready to dance? Read on for some local ways to enjoy  Juneteenth, the holiday to celebrate the end of slavery.

Juneteenth Celebration at Sunspots Pavilion

Get the Juneteenth party started early on Friday, June 18th at the Juneteenth Celebration at Sunspots Pavilion in the historic Wharf. The free event is from 6 – 10 p.m. and features a variety of vendors as well as music by Steve The Painter & DJ Adonis. Expect to hear old-school classic club hits from the 70s, 80s, and 90s as well as some sounds from South Africa. All that dancing will make you hungry, so grab a bite from one of the onsite food trucks, Wharf restaurants, or stroll over to Beverley Street to take advantage of dining opportunities. Beverley Street is closed to vehicular traffic on the weekends. 

5th Annual Juneteenth at the Frontier Culture Museum

In the past, the annual Shenandoah Valley Juneteenth Celebration was held at Montgomery Hall Park. This year, however, the Frontier Culture Museum is hosting the free family-friendly event on June 19, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. This year’s theme is “The Continual Evolution of JUNETEENTH” and it will feature live music and event speakers. Bring a blanket or lawn chair and plan to hang out. If you’re feeling competitive, join the 3-point shooting competition or the cornhole tournament. Food, jewelry, craft, and other vendors will be on site.

Visitors should also explore the rest of the 200-acre living history museum and learn about the early inhabitants of our area from costumed interpreters.  Of special interest will be the museum’s West African farm exhibit, which “explores the cultural contributions of African captives who were brought to Virginia in the 1700s.” Though enslaved peoples were captured from all over Africa and represented many ethnic groups, many were Igbo from the West African Coast. The clay farm exhibit demonstrates how the Igbo cooked, farmed, created crafts and pottery before enslavement.

Juneteenth After Party at the Pompei Lounge

DJ Adonis is back, this time at the Pompei Lounge at 23 E. Beverley Street on Saturday, June 19th, 10 p.m. – 1:30 a.m. This Juneteenth After Party is sure to get you dancing. The Pompei offers plenty of room to spread out over two floors with several unique spaces, a balcony, and an open-air terrace.

If you’d like to discover resources for gaining a broader understanding of our city’s African-American history, culture, and contributions, check out our post on African American History in Staunton.