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Category: Special Event

Summer Music and More at Staunton’s Heifetz Institute

Heifetz International Music Institute educates young musicians in their artistic growth and treats the community to a variety of world-class listening opportunities. Here’s some background on the program and a peek at what’s on stage this summer!

What is Heifetz?

Heifetz was originally founded in 1996 as a 6-week summer experience by concert violinist and teacher Daniel Heifetz. In 2012, Heifetz moved its location to Staunton and opened the doors to 62 students. Now, 26 years later, the program is much, much larger. Students receive instrumental as well as performance and communication training.

Even in the midst of the pandemic, 40 Heifetz faculty members virtually served 100 students across 9 time zones. They streamed concerts to over 500,000 viewers through YouTube, Facebook Live, and the Violin Channel. And this year, more than 150 students are studying in Staunton!

Heifetz Institute’s Festival of Concerts

Celebrate music with this year’s annual Heifetz Institute’s Festival of Concerts, which extends through August 6th and offers both chamber music and multi-genre selections! Performers include Heifetz faculty, special guests, and 127 string musicians from 9-27 years old. Choose from over 50 concerts. Concert offerings can be either free or ticketed, but since children under 12 are invited to attend all concerts for free, there’s no need to hire a sitter!

  • Stars of Tomorrow (Francis Auditorium, Tuesdays and Thursdays, ticketed): This series is packed with incredible performances by extraordinary Heifetz students, visiting alumni artists, and Heifetz piano faculty.

  • Market St. Musicale (South Market Stage at Grace Christian School, Fridays, free): These afternoon shows include powerful performances and conversations with the musicians.
  • Junior Division Showcase (South Market Stage at Grace Christian School, Saturdays, free): You’ll be amazed by the talents of Heifetz’s youngest students, aged 9-15.
  • Celebrity Series (Francis Auditorium, Friday evenings, ticketed): These 75-minute programs bring top performers to Staunton and will feature works by various artists. There’s a happy hour event before each concert that will feature regional wines and foods.

  • Heifetz Hootenanny (Page Terrace, Saturdays, ticketed): This informal series allows students, staff, and special guests to create “one-of-a-kind, multi-genre mash-ups.”You might hear bluegrass picking, Broadway belting, folk fiddling, or rollicking rhythm and blues!”

  • Chamber Music Sunday Matinees (Francis Auditorium, Sunday afternoons, ticketed): Enjoy chamber music masterworks and spotlight performances by students in the Heifetz Chamber Music Seminar
  • Heifetz Grand Finale (South Market Stage at Grace Christian School, August 6): The season’s final concert is a passionate “rousing concert brimming with fire, passion, and virtuosity.” Performances by Heifetz students and faculty are followed by a farewell toast.

Heifetz Ensemble-in-Residence Program (HEIR)

As an alternative to normally scheduled Heifetz on Tour programming, Heifetz provided music during the pandemic with its HEIR (Heifetz Ensemble-in-Residence) Program. Heifetz alumni returned for intensive coaching sessions, public concerts, chances to record music together, and opportunities to provide lessons and partner with area schools. The successful program will conduct two sessions in the fall of 2022. 

Another part of the HEIR program is Heifetz’s Heartstrings program, which connects performers with frontline workers and patients at Augusta Health. This program connects musicians and patients for intimate virtual or in-person bedside performances. Additional ensemble performances cater to larger audiences and bring music and joy to the wider hospital community. 

Crescendo: A College Preparatory & Music Mastery Program

Stuart Hall School and Heifetz International Music Institute have partnered to build Crescendo, a program for students in grades 5-12 that provides academics to prepare students for “engaged lives of curiosity, creativity, and contribution.” The program also provides “intensive music study for violinists, violists, and cellists in an environment that is developmentally appropriate.” Apply now for fall enrollment!

Multimedia Offerings

Check out Heifetz’s multimedia page for videos and sophisticated recorded performances like the Rubato Virtual Concert Hall recordings and the Chock Full O’Bach series.

Looking for a Special Gift?

The Heifetz Gift Shop (107 E. Beverley Street) is your answer to finding music-themed gifts. From wearables and cards to Heifetz chocolate bars and sheet music printed umbrellas, you’ll find a unique gift sure to make someone smile. 

Want to rent an instrument for a budding musician? Heifetz has a large selection of instruments to rent or buy.

And if you’d like to take an unusual route to support Heifetz,  donate your unwanted household items and clothing. They’ll sell them on eBay and use the profits to support the Institute.

Staunton’s Happy Birthday America

For the past two years, Staunton has been quiet over the Fourth of July holiday. But this year, all the fun returns with the annual Happy Birthday America celebration in Gypsy Hill Park. Get ready for live music, a parade, fireworks, games, concessions, and more. Grab your lawn chairs and your sunscreen and dress in your sharpest red, white, and blue for a fun, patriotic day celebrating America’s independence!

History

Starting in 1970, the Statler Brothers brought free summer concerts to their native Staunton each July 4th for Happy Birthday U.S.A. Regularly drawing well over 50,000 guests (and sometimes as many as 100,000), the concerts were massive hits. Some Staunton residents remember years that it rained and the crowds still packed onto the outfield at John Moxie Stadium, unwilling to miss the music. The concerts continued for 25 years and brought in guest stars like Johnny Cash, Tammy Wynette, Reba McIntyre, Charley Pride and Neal McCoy, Conway Twitty, and many more.

After the Statler Brothers stopped performing, Staunton continued to host yearly celebrations at the bandstand. In recent years, cousins (and sons of two Statler Brothers) Wil Reid and Langdon Reid have headed up a relaunched celebration intended to emulate those hosted by their fathers. The event emphasizes patriotic family fun and live music, headlined by their group, Wilson Fairchild.

2022 Schedule

This year’s schedule includes two days of fun. Along with events, there are vendors selling food and merchandise, a carnival area, games for kids, and more. Here’s the 2022 schedule:

Sunday, July 3

6:30 p.m.: Entertainment and Vester Service at John Moxie Stadium. This event will feature keynote speaker Chaplain Col. Joel P. Jenkins, scripture readings, and music by Allison Fitzgerald, Greg Culpen, Amy & Sam Lessley, and Heaven’s Mountain Band.

Monday, July 4

7:30 a.m.: Firecracker 5K Run/Walk around the Gypsy Hill Park loop. Wear your patriotic gear and register here.

10 a.m.: Set up your lawn chair and watch community groups, businesses, athletic teams, and more show their patriotic spirit and decorating skills as they loop through Gypsy Hill Park for the 4th of July parade. After the parade ends, head down to the baseball fields to participate in the parent-child games. Kids should be between 8 and 12 and come with a willing parent.

2 p.m.: Stonewall Brigade Band performance at the Gypsy Hill Park Bandstand. Staunton’s historic 70-member Stonewall Brigade Band is the oldest continuous community band in the U.S. and has been playing in Gypsy Hill Park since 1889. Expect to hear lots of marching music!

2 p.m.: Jack and Davis Reid at John Moxie Stadium (Sons of Wilson Fairchild and the Grandsons of the Statler Brothers!)

3:30 p.m.: Prime at John Moxie Stadium

4 p.m.: Opening Ceremony and Posting of Colors

5:15 p.m.: Spencer Hatcher & the Ol’ Son Gang at John Moxie Stadium

7:30 p.m.: Feature performance by Wilson Fairchild (country, bluegrass and gospel) with special guests, Grammy-winning Rhonda Vincent and the Rage playing bluegrass

9:30 p.m.: Veteran’s Salute / Retiring of Colors / Taps

10 p.m. Fireworks in Gypsy Hill Park

Treat Your Dad Right: Ideas for Father’s Day in Staunton

Your dad helped you become the adult you are today with a special blend of support, advice, hugs, and tough love. Make sure you let him know how much you love him with a gift that’s specific to his interests. Check out this list of cool Father’s Day gifts to show the father figure in your life how much you care.

Father’s Day events

Here are a few special Father’s Day events happening nearby:

Grill him some steaks

Does your dad love steak as much as we think he does? Why not grill him up a feast for Father’s Day? Pick up some fresh, grass-fed meat from an area farm at Stanley Meat Market. They also sell free-range chicken and local produce. If your grill skills leave something to be desired, take him for a steak at Mill Street Grill,  Depot Grille, BLU Point Seafood, or Zynodoa instead.

Take him out to the ball game

Remember whiling away the summer nights watching baseball with Dad while you were a kid? Relive those wholesome memories by taking him to a Staunton Braves game at Moxie Stadium. The team is part of the 11-team Valley League that’s been entertaining fans since 1923 with the skills of talented college players, many of whom go on to the pros. Stop in at one of the day’s sponsors for free tickets! Treat him to a few hotdogs and a beer or two in the new beer garden. Keep the memories alive by gifting him a Braves hat.

Introduce him to his new favorite brew

Is your dad still embarrassing you at family functions when he pops open a cooler of boring supermarket beer? Help him develop his palate with a flight at one of Staunton’s three craft breweries. Redbeard Brewing Company and Shenandoah Valley Brewing Co. are just a short walk from each other. Queen City Brewing is about a mile away. All three offer the best local craft beer as well as regular entertainment (see their events listings). Skipping Rock Beer Company is located just west of town and visitors can choose to relax in the taproom or outside in the large beer garden. If he’s a cider fan, try a flight at Ciders from Mars, or if wine is his beverage of choice, enjoy a glass on Ox-Eye Vineyards tasting room patio.

Help him spruce up his car

Does all the spilled coffee and random stuff floating around in Dad’s car make you sick? How about helping him freshen his ride? Locally owned The Avenue Car Wash offers two drive-thru automatic washes and four self-service bays. Peterson’s Car Wash has soft-cloth washes and an interior package that includes window washing, vacuuming, dusting, and fragrance. AMG Detail has several detailing packages that include interior shampoo and steam work, hand waxing, tire dressing, and more.

Tee off at Gypsy Hill Golf Club

Send Dad to the links with a round at Gypsy Hill Golf Club. Not only is this a beautiful, challenging course, but it also boasts some of the cheapest rates in the area. 18 holes with a cart costs just $30 on a weekday. If your handicap needs some help, Gypsy Hill Golf Club also offers one-hour private lessons with the pro.

Get back to nature

Reserve a weekend at an area campground. Sherando Lake Recreation Area and Todd Lake Recreation Area let visitors camp, swim, hike, and fish. Shenandoah Valley Campground and Walnut Hills Campground are family-oriented and offer amenities like pools and camp stores. Before you go, pick out an outdoor-themed gift at Wilderness Adventure. Experienced sales staff will guide you in picking the most appropriate clothing and gear for dad’s favorite outdoor activity.

Send him a gift

Does Dad live out of town? Send him a gift he’ll love from one of Staunton’s retailers.

  • CFO Trading Co. sells fine, casual men’s clothing as well as accessories, grooming items, and gifts such as leather-bound traveler’s notebooks. They have an excellent selection of barware, as well as drink mixes and infusion cubes.
  • Sweeten his day with something chocolatey from Cocoa Mill. A good gift is the coffee break coffee and chocolate assortment, which includes over a pound of assorted chocolate-covered coffee beans, mocha bark, and more. 
  • Beverley Cigar Store sells cigars, pipes, pipe tobacco, and more, including smoking accessories, lighters, and clothing like summer guayaberas.
  • The Book Dragon sells both new books and a selection of used books as well as gifts created by local artisans. Better yet, they’ll gift-wrap!
  • Help Dad channel his youth by treating him to his favorite records, cassette tapes, and CDs from The Vinyl Asylum.
  • Crown Jewelers fine jewelry selection includes engravable cufflinks and Citizen watches. 

Staunton’s Best Gifts for Moms

Remember all the times your mom wiped your tears, gave you pep talks, and told you she loved you? Well, Mother’s Day is Sunday, and it’s time to spoil her the way she deserves! We’ve rounded up enough Staunton gifts, experiences, brunches, and more to make any mom or mother figure in your life feel special this year.

Share Some Brunch

  • You can’t beat Staunton when it comes to a tasty brunch! Take Mom out for a Mother’s Day brunch (or dinner) of “inspired Southern cuisine” at Zynodoa (brunch served from 10-2). Indoor and outdoor seating available.
  • Reserve a table at The Shack for a pre-fixe Mother’s Day brunch that emphasizes the best local and regional seasonal ingredients.
  • Table 44 serves up inspired twists on your favorites as well as an unforgettable loaded bloody mary (brunch served from 11-2).

Enjoy an Experience

  • Do you and Mom bond over theater? Take her to a production of Romeo and Juliet or The Comedy of Errors at the Blackfriars. Afterward, share your reviews over wine and snacks at The Green Room.
  • Sign Mom up for an art class or workshop at Beverley Street Studio School. Classes are held either in-person or virtually, and you can choose from a variety of topics for artists at all ability levels.

Find a Special Gift

  • Reserve Mom a massage, skin treatment, or manicure at the Spa at the Blackburn. You can also help Mom relax by surprising her with a massage at Mill Street Body & Soul Day Spa and Salon. Make her feel really special by giving her the gift of a boudoir photo session, which includes a hair and makeup team and professional photography. Dad will appreciate this gift, too! 
  • Do you have an outdoorsy mom? Grab her a new pair of running shoes at Sole Focus Running or some new hiking poles and a daypack at Wilderness Adventure.

Shower Her with Tradition

  • It’s a no-brainer that jewelry, flowers, chocolate, and wine are perennial favorites on Mother’s Day. Continue the tradition by having your personal message engraved on something glitzy from H.L. Lang Jewelers. You’ll also find beautiful and unusual jewelry at The Sparrow’s Nest. Choose from botanical, gemstone, leather, and antique button collections. 
  • Browse online and spoil Mom with a colorful bouquet from Rask Florist or Honey Bee’s Florist. Brin’s Posy Floral creates vivid and artistic bouquets.
  • Treat Mom’s sweet tooth with incredible looking and tasting chocolates from Giancarlo Fine European Pastries. Consider signing Mom up for an upcoming pastry class. Your mom would also love an overflowing “platinum pail of chocolates” assortment from Cocoa Mill

Wool Week 2022 at the Frontier Culture Museum

Have you ever wondered what people from the past did when they wanted to update their wardrobes? Today, we go to the store or even order our outfits online, but the process was much more involved for our ancestors and the early settlers of the Shenandoah Valley. Not only did they have to obtain the raw materials, but they also had to clean them, and transform them into cloth. Finally, they had to turn the fabric into wearable clothing or other textiles. Each year during Wool Week, the Frontier Culture Museum invites visitors to celebrate spring as well as the process of creating useful products from raw materials.

How can I visit?

Wool Week 2022 is April 25 – May 1

There is no extra cost beyond regular admission to the museum.

Museum visitors will see:

  • Demonstrations focusing on wool and flax processing
  • Sheep shearing
  • New baby lambs
  • Regular museum exhibits

How long will the lambs be little?

Lambs are born in the spring when there’s plenty of grass to eat and the weather has lost its winter chill. Ewes give birth to one to three lambs at a time, but twins are most common. Lambs usually weigh about the same as human babies. They can walk within a few hours of being born!

What is wool, anyway? How did people on the frontier harvest it?

Wool is the heavy winter coat of the sheep that’s harvested each year in the spring. While we typically use mechanical clippers now, people from the frontier would use sharpened blades like scissors with the pivot point at the end. Skilled shearers can remove the wool quickly and keep it in one piece.

Do sheep like getting shorn?

Sheep shearing is very much like getting a haircut, but nervous sheep may struggle during the shearing process. It takes a lot of strength to hold them still and clip the wool at the same time. Sheep shearers should take their time to prevent injuries. Shorn sheep feel cooler for the upcoming hot weather and are probably relieved to be rid of their heavy, dirty coats. 

How do they clean the wool?

Contrary to what we see in picture books, sheep are pretty dirty. Museum interpreters use their hands to pull and tease the wool fibers apart to get rid of dirt and parasites. Next, they wash and card the wool. Carding untangles the fibers and stretches them out so that they can be spun. The museum staff will teach you how to perform each of these steps.

How did settlers color the wool?

We didn’t have the synthetic dyes we use now until the middle of the 19th century. Before that, people colored their fabrics with plants, lichens, and even insects. They used fixatives like salt and vinegar to help the dyes stay in place. Professional dyers were very protective about their recipes since some worked better than others. Many colors weren’t readily available, especially in the materials for the dyes that came from far away. Wool can be dyed before or after spinning.

How did they turn that pile of wool into my favorite sweater?

Spinners wind stretched-out wool fibers into yarn. Next, the yarn is formed into a fabric by knitting or by weaving on a loom. Both the German and the Irish farms have looms and visitors can watch the intricate, time-consuming process of working one.

What else can I see at the museum?

The Frontier Culture Museum is a living history museum that will connect present-day people with the lives and histories of those who lived in the past. The walkable museum offers a chance to explore the homesteads of the various people who settled in the region from other places. They include farms from West AfricaEnglandIreland, and Germany. The museum also offers a Native American village and American farms from various time periods.

Have more questions? Head to Wool Week to get answers!

Check out more events on Staunton on Tap.

“Soil: Mother Earth From the Ground Up” – Staunton’s Earth Day 2022 Celebration

Have you enjoyed being outside this month? From balmy spring days and floral displays to heavy wind and freaky snowstorms, Mother Nature has been pulling out all the stops, and we are noticing! Spring is a wonderful time to channel some of that appreciation into learning about how to take good care of the Earth. Below, read about Staunton’s annual Earth Day as well as several local businesses making it their business to preserve and beautify our planet.

Earth Day: Saturday, April 23, 2022

Each year, Staunton holds a large, family-friendly educational fair for Earth Day. This year’s theme is “Soil: Mother Earth from the Ground Up,” and visitors will learn all about what lives in and makes up the soil as well as other environmental topics.

Head over to Bells Lane on Saturday for Staunton’s Earth Day Celebration

Enjoy live music from Heifetz and Cotton Hill Band (Bluegrass). You also won’t want to miss the Wildlife Center’s demonstration with the center’s educational animals. These creatures are native species like owls and opossums that received treatment at the center, but can’t return to life in the wild. See the full schedule.

Earth Day events are designed to help us learn to appreciate and preserve our planet by promoting clean air, land, and water, supporting native species, and more. The day’s ongoing activities include kite flying (bring your own or get one at the event), an “underground” classroom, fish kissing, and chances to befriend bats and worms.

Most exhibits will have demonstrations, games, crafts, or other hands-on activities designed for kids to learn actively. Check out booths by more than 20 local environmental organizations including Project Grows, Staunton Parks and Rec, the JMU Art Department, the Augusta Bird Club, Virginia Department of Wildlife, Friends of Middle River, and the Potomac Trail Club.

Staunton Businesses that Promote Good Stewardship of the Earth

Staunton has a number of businesses committed to reducing our impact on the earth.

  • Farmers’ markets shine as ways to obtain the freshest possible produce and connect with your community. They also support local agriculture and sustainable farming practices. Visit the Staunton Farmers’ Market April – November. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch some live music!
  • Staunton Plant Co. specializes in locally grown and native plants. Native plants are important because they have adapted to their native conditions and generally don’t require as much fertilizer or pesticides as other species. They also shelter and feed local species of birds, mammals, and insects like butterflies. Staunton Plant Co., a full-service garden center, also provides annuals, perennials, mulch, trees, and hanging baskets to beautify your property.
  • Not only does JMD Farm Market & Garden Center offer locally grown annual, perennial, and vegetable plants, they also carry garden gifts and fresh, local meats, fruits, and vegetables. Shop, enjoy a glass of wine and let the kids explore the natural playground.
  • Bryan Black, designer and owner of Concepts Created, consults with individual customers before constructing custom furniture out of reclaimed wood and other materials. Skilled handcrafting and attention to detail produce durable and unique pieces that have both beauty and history.

Buy your favorite cleaning and personal products at Refill Renew, a low-waste refill shop where you bring your own refillable containers, and pay for the bulk product you add. Choose from hair and body products, sunscreen, various cleaners, and detergents, as well as local apple cider vinegar. You’ll also find reusable lifestyle goods like stainless steel utensils and straws, mesh product bags, beeswax wrap, biodegradable trash bags, and more.

Natural Areas in Staunton’s Parks

If you’d like to connect with nature while in the city of Staunton, explore some of the natural areas in our parks. Betsy Bell Wilderness and Montgomery Hall Park both offer miles of trails for hikers and mountain bikers. Birders, too, will revel in the high number of species that can be identified in these areas. Montgomery Hall’s Nature Ridge natural playground doesn’t have swings or slides, only natural elements that will absorb kids for hours of imaginative and exploratory play.

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!

Your Guide to Things to Do On Presidents’ Day

Whether you know it as Presidents’ Day or George Washington’s Birthday, the holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February is designed to let us think about the founding and safeguarding of our democracy. You might mark the occasion by exploring history or hitting the Presidents’ Day sales, but you don’t have to travel all the way to Washington D.C. Here are some Staunton-area things to do.

Learn About a President at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum

Woodrow Wilson was born in Staunton, and though he only lived here a short time, you should visit the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum complex. You’ll learn about Wilson’s life and times as well as the history of Staunton and what it was like to endure a WWI trench. Exhibits also examine prohibition and suffrage. Explore gallery space in the Presbyterian manse where Wilson was born, the Pierce-Arrow Presidential limousine, the surrounding gardens, the research library, and the gift shop.

Register for one of the upcoming programs in the Reckoning: U.S. Presidents and Racial Inequality series. The series concerns the struggle for racial equality in our nation with the hopes that discussion and reflection will help us advance as a just society. It “explores the views and the political policies of individual presidents toward minority populations, with an in-depth focus on how each of these minority groups was affected by presidential policies directed toward them.” The programs feature conversations between historians and opportunities for the public to ask questions. Past programs have been recorded and are available on the website.

Learn About Other Virginia Presidents

Virginia is sometimes called the Mother of Presidents because it has produced more presidents than any other state. The eight are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Woodrow Wilson.

You can also travel over Afton Mountain to Monticello to learn about the life and legacy of Thomas Jefferson. Explore Jefferson’s house and gardens. On-site tours, virtual events, and other resources examine Jefferson’s own complex history as both an enlightened thinker and an owner of enslaved persons. James Madison lived at Orange County’s Montpelier for 76 years. Visitors can learn about the house, grounds, and his role as “Father of the Constitution.” Travel a little farther to D.C. to tour George Washington’s Mount Vernon, or explore the house and grounds virtually

Check out the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s exhibit, The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden, which “grants visitors an insight into the lives and contributions of the men who led our nation since its founding through 900 historical objects and artifacts.” This permanent collection can be viewed in person or online. It will answer all your burning questions like, “what creature was featured on James Monroe’s dessert service,” and “did Grace Coolidge really keep her pet raccoon at the White House?”

Take a Virtual Field Trip

Other online exhibits that deserve a timely visit are the Lincoln Home and the Museum of the American Revolution. Head to South Dakota where The National Park Service has put together a Mount Rushmore site with a lot of valuable educational plans for kids of various ages. 

Other History Near Staunton

There’s nothing about the lives of presidents at the Frontier Culture Museum, but you can connect with the past lives of ordinary citizens through costumed interpreters working on traditional farms. 

Write a Letter to President Biden

Finally, whether you agree or disagree with the current administration, you have the right to make your opinion known. Why not put your valuable ideas into a letter, and send it to the President? You might even get a letter in return!

The President of the USA 

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW

Washington, DC 20500

For more events in Staunton, please check out Staunton on Tap!

Galentine’s Day in Staunton

Valentine’s Day takes center stage every February, but there’s more to life than your love life. In fact, relationships with gal pals often last much longer. Your friends support you through your highs and lows, and you can count on their total honesty. And let’s face it, who else can you complain about your romantic partner to? Let’s devote some energy to making memories with your girlfriends this year. Galentine’s Day is February 13. Here are some of our Staunton picks.

Have Some Fun

Channel your inner Sherlocks and work together to problem solve at Crack the Code Escape Room. The escape experience will test your communication skills, make you feel confident, and you’ll be sucked into the story. Better yet,  they’re running a special on February 13 where participants get 10% off and some chocolate from Giancarlo Fine European Pastries! If you’d rather have an outside experience specific to Staunton, download the Traipse app, which is part walking tour and part scavenger hunt with puzzles at every stop. Explore Staunton’s watering holes with the Pub Crawl tour or meet the trees in Gypsy Hill Park. Another good way to bond with your besties is to hit the trails at Montgomery Hall Park for a round of disc golf or some mountain biking.

Sick of girl talk? Take a break with an energizing Drum for Fun class and learn to connect on a more rhythmic level. Classes are appropriate for both beginner and advanced drummers.

If you’re OK with going out with the girls on a night that’s not the 13th, you could attend a weekly Tuesday trivia event like Cheesy Team Trivia at the Clocktower or Trivia Tuesdays with King Trivia at Redbeard Brewing Company. Queen City Brewing hosts regular open mic nights, so you can support your sisters in their creative endeavors.

Check the schedule at the Tempest Bar and Lounge (formerly Downtown 27) for lots of live music and fun, including the return of the immensely popular Studs of Steel Live on February 18. This show promises “high energy, theatrical performances and crowd participation. Inspired by the movies “Magic Mike and Fifty Shades of Grey.” The Tempest Bar and Lounge has also scheduled a speed dating event if your gang is looking for romantic partners. 

Friends who enjoy shopping together will love Design at Nine for the latest in women’s fashion, shoes, and accessories. Try The Sparrow’s Nest for jewelry, pottery, art, and more. If you’re looking for cool gifts, check out Made; By the People, for the People, The Foundry Pop-Ups, and Latitudes.

For home scents and luxurious bath and body products, try Marian’s Candles Scents & Seasons, Redwood & Co., or Essentially Zen.

Book a Spa Day

Wind down after all that action with a spa day at the Spa at the Blackburn. Indulge yourself with skin treatments, massage, reflexology, and nail care. You can also relax at Breezy Hill Day Spa with massage, pedicures, body wraps, and more. Mill Street Body and Soul Day Spa and Salon offers a menu of body treatments as well as makeup application classes and boudoir photo sessions.

Get Crafty

Harmony Harvest Farm is hosting an event for Galentine’s Day called Blooms, Besties, and Brews at Stable Craft Brewing on February 12. You’ll be guided by a professional floral designer as you create a beautiful arrangement. This workshop includes materials and is appropriate for all levels.

Create a beautiful and unique addition to your wardrobe with a Silk Scarf Workshop on February 10. The workshop is led by Suz Hues of The Foundry Pop-Ups. You’ll learn a new technique and take home wonderful memories and a new scarf. All materials are included.

Share Some Nibbles

Toast the friendship and your feline friends at the Valentine’s Tea at the Frederick House. Proceeds benefit Wendy’s Place Cat Rescue.

Enjoy the area’s biggest selection of fine wine by the glass or bottle at Yelping Dog Wine. Share a cheese plate or munch on gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. Yelping Dog runs regular wine tastings from 5-7 p.m. on Wednesdays.

Seed to Tail also hosts a weekly wine tasting event. This new farm-to-table gourmet sandwich shop sells a large selection of wine from Virginia and around the world. 

Celebrate your love for cider at Ciders From Mars! From February 9th – 13th they will be offering a flight/cocktail combo special. Choose four ciders and any of their Craft Cider Cocktails for just $15!

It’s igloo season at Stable Craft Brewing. Rent a private heated igloo for up to eight friends and enjoy fresh craft beer and a delicious pub menu. Are you hard cider fans? Ciders from Mars presses locally grown apples into their out-of-this-world varietals, which can be enjoyed by flight or glass in their downtown cidery. You can also savor cider, as well as wine, beer, cocktails, and light fare such as baguette sandwiches and loaded tater tots at The Green Room.

Dine at Table 44 for amazing Southern food with a twist. It’s open for lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch. Make sure you try a few of the cookies and cupcakes at Paris Cake Company after your meal. Serendipity Java Bar & Eatery is a cozy new coffee and lunch spot located near the historic train station. It serves muffins, seasonal scones, cinnamon rolls, egg and cheese bagels, French toast plates, and more. There’s a wide selection of coffees, espressos, and specialty drinks like razzle chai. Stop in later in the day for grilled lunch sandwiches. Looking for something to share?

Try a range of Spanish tapas and other Mediterranean food at Aioli Restaurant. Start with the bacon-wrapped quail, follow with parmesan truffle risotto or seafood paella, and save room for the Callebaut dark chocolate mousse.

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.