Around Clarke County

February

13 Self-Defense Basics

Clarke County Recreation Center, 255 Al Smith Circle, Berryville; 6:45–8:45pm. Learn awareness of one’s surroundings, how to create escape routes, hit & run tactics, releases from holds, fighting strategies and use of common objects as self-defense tools. Ages 16 and up. 1 class. Instructor: Steven LaForce. $13 For information call 540-955-5140.

 

15

Red Cross Babysitter Training

Clarke County Recreation Center, 255 Al Smith Circle, Berryville; 9am–3:30pm. This course can help participants care for children and infants, be a good leader and role model, make good decisions and solve problems, keep the children you baby-sit and yourself safe, handle emergencies such as injuries, illnesses and household accidents, and more. Bring a packed lunch. Successful completion of final tests is required for certification. Ages 11–15. $70. 1 class. For more information call 540-955-5140.

 

20

Furnace Mountain

w/ Julie Miles Art Exhibit Opening. Barns of Rose Hill, 95 Chalmers Ct., Berryville. A special evening of music by Furnace Mountain and artwork by Julie Miles. Furnace Mountain is Aimee Curl on bass and vocals, Danny Knicely on mandolin and fiddle, Dave Van Deventer on fiddle, and Morgan Morrison on guitar, bouzouki, and vocals. The band creates music that is at times lively and raucous, with spirited fiddle melodies weaving in and around the powerful rhythms of the bass and bouzouki, and other times poignant and poetic. Exhibit opens at 7. Music starts at 8. $15 in advance $20 at the door. For information visit www.barnsofrosehill.org.

 

20

4-H Spaghetti Dinner & Auction

Clarke County Ruritan Building. Dinner is from 5–7pm (including silent auction). Live auction starts at 6:30. Auction items typically include homemade cakes, wine tastings, Rubbermaid products, home & garden items, sporting goods, restaurant gift certificates, collectibles, toys, gift baskets, live trees and much more! The funds raised will help the Clarke County 4-H Volunteer Leaders’ Association (VLA) improve and enhance opportunities available to 4-H members. VLA directly supports the 4-H youth and its educational programs such as 4-H camp scholarship assistance, regional, state and national educational competitions, and higher education scholarships. The mission of 4-H is to empower youth to reach their full potential, working and learning in partnership with caring adults.

21

Terra Voce

Barns of Rose Hill. 95 Chalmers Ct., Berryville. Terra Voce is a flute and cello duo known for lively and creative programs combining the diverse and the unexpected. Cellist Andrew Gabbert and flutist Elizabeth Brightbill thrill audiences with their virtuosity, engaging, conversational style of presentation, and their genre-expanding programs that explore musical styles ranging from Baroque to Brazilian choro, contemporary tango, Irish traditional, and beyond. Concert starts at 4pm. doors open at 3:30. $20 in advance. $25 at the door. For information visit www.barnsofrosehill.org.

 

26

Salam Neighbor

Barns of Rose Hill. 95 Chalmers Ct., Berryville. Salam (Hello) Neighbor is a film and campaign to connect the world to refugees. Immerse yourself into the life of a Syrian refugee through the journey of Chris and Zach as the first filmmakers allowed to be registered and given a tent inside of a refugee camp. In Syria alone, more than 4 million people have fled the country to escape the atrocities of war. Movie starts at 7. Doors open at 6:30. There is a suggested donation of $10; 70% of proceeds go to Save the Children www.savethechildren.org. For information visit www.barnsofrosehill.org.

 

28 Winter Film Series

Mistress America, at the Barns of Rose Hill, 95 Chalmers Ct., Berryville. College freshman Tracy Fishko (Lola Kirke) is having trouble adjusting to college life at Barnard. On her mother’s advice she contacts her soon-to-be stepsister, who also lives in New York, Brooke (Greta Gerwig). Tracy is immediately entranced by Brooke and her life-style, and becomes wrapped up in Brooke’s dream to open a restaurant. The Winter Film Series is presented by Barns of Rose Hill and Magic Lantern Theater. Film starts at 4. Doors open at 3:30. $5 for BORH and Magic Lantern members. $8 for non-members. For information visit www.barnsofrosehill.org.

 

March

 

2

Russian Duo

Barns of Rose Hill. 95 Chalmers Ct., Berryville. Russian Duo is an international project, born out of a love of traditional music and classical elegance. Oleg Kruglyakov, balalaika virtuoso, and Terry Boyarsky, masterful pianist, have teamed up for exuberant performances of soulful, passionate music. Music starts at 8. Doors open at 7:30. $20 in advance $25 at the door. For information visit www.barnsofrosehill.org; see article on page 16.

4

The Plank Stompers

Barns of Rose Hill, 95 Chalmers Ct., Berryville. Plank Stompers do not like to think of themselves as a group; but rather, as a movement. Before knowing Plank Stompers, you must first know the Preamble to the Stompstitution: “We, the Stompers of the United Planks, in order to form a more funky union, establish ruckus, insure intergalactic stank-quility, and provide listening pleasure to whoever we may encounter along the way, do hereby proclaim: If sound was butter, and the last 250 years were a biscuit, then Plank Stompers would be the hypothetical knife that smears, scrapes, and swirls all of the sounds from the past together. Pickaxes and pianos, war whoops and woodwinds, fiddles sawin’ and crows cawin’, bass drones and mobile phones, all getting pushed into a greasy noise anthology.” Music starts at 8. Doors open at 7:30. $15 in advance $20 at the door. For information visit www.barnsofrosehill.org.

 

4

/5 Trunk Art Show

by Cosmic Harvest! Fire House Gallery. 23 E. Main Street. Berryville. 5–7pm Friday. 11am–4pm Saturday. Local artists Keith and Kelli Patterson will share not only their art, but their philosophy in our first Trunk Art Show. They believe in supporting sustainable agriculture and will be donating part of their proceeds to a local organization (as yet undecided). Keith works with acrylics, using his own “drip and splatter” technique and bold color palettes that blend to create a unique vibrancy on his paintings. Kelli works in mixed media collages and incorporates vintage and repurposed items into her pieces. For more information visit Firehousegalleryva.com or call 540-955-4001.

 

5

Book Signing

Best selling local author Forrest Pritchard at the Fire House Gallery, 23 E. Main Street. Berryville; 1-3 pm. the author of Growing Tomorrow and Gaining Ground will be at the Gallery to sign books and answer questions about sustainable farming and life as a farmer/writer from Clarke County. Refreshments will include nitrate-free beef sticks and other delicious foods from the author’s Smith Meadows Farm. For information visit Firehousegalleryva.com or call 540-955-4001.

10

Sketch This!

A Drawing Workshop with Tia Maggio, Fire House Gallery. 23 E. Main Street. Berryville; 7pm. Learn how to draw what you see, not what you know, with artist and teacher Tia Maggio. Tia is an artist based in Millwood with 15 years experience as an art educator. With creative exercises in a relaxed environment, master the basics of drawing. Supplies included. $40/session. More classes coming in April. No prior experience necessary—artists of all levels are welcome. For information visit Firehousegalleryva.com or call 540-955-4001.

 

13

Madeline MacNeil Concert

Barns of Rose Hill, 95 Chalmers Ct., Berryville. Join Madeline MacNeil for an evening of tunes and songs. Since 1972, when she began performing in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park, MacNeil has brought listeners into the song. Her interest in stories first brought the mountain and hammered dulcimers to her attention, for they are part of this country’s musical history. She’s been honored by folk organizations and festivals across the country. Music starts at 6:30pm. Doors open at 6. $15 in advance. $20 at the door. For information visit www.barnsofrosehill.org.

Prepare for Thrills and Chills

By Victoria L. Kidd

Hollywood does not have the market cornered on horror. While October advertisements entreat audiences to settle into theater seats for the next big blockbuster, true aficionados of the genre are scheduling an alternative way to get their horror fix by planning to attend the upcoming Virginia Independent Horror Film Festival, an event that is now in its 3rd year.

Festival Director Christopher Schoen is one of the visionaries behind the Festival. His love of a good scare started at a young age. “When I was  little, living in southern California, my family took us to a Halloween festival, and the experience stuck with me throughout my life,” he says. “Now that I have grown and found more passion for horror films, I want to create that same feeling for modern audiences…I got the idea for the festival by attending the Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville several times over the years. Seeing the atmosphere they created where filmmakers, industry folk, and film fans got the opportunity to interact was Hollywood magic at its best. I wanted to create a similar experience.”

That four-day festival experience will be taking place between October 29 and November 1, and it’s going to be a Halloween weekend that is packed with activities that members of the cult of the scary movie will enjoy. Most important among those activities is the screening of the films around which the event is centered. The festival features short films that have a runtime of no more than twenty minutes and feature-length films with runtimes between 55 and 120 minutes. Selecting the films that will be shown is a task that falls to to Schoen and Public Relations Director Leslie Taylor as well as numerous volunteers who pitch in to help.

From nearly 870 short films and 160 feature-length films submitted, Schoen and Taylor will select between 35 and 40 short films and between 10 and 12 feature-length films to show to audiences over the four festival days. (The final number of selected films will depend on the collective run time of those selected, since the objective is to show as many quality pictures as possible.) While all submissions meeting the general dictated requirements are accepted, they are particularly interested in films that are shot in Virginia or the Mid-Atlantic Region (or have some connection to the area).

“We are passionate about presenting films made in the region,” Taylor states. “That’s always been the objective. Nevertheless, there are so many filmmakers who are just trying to get their work in front of an audience, so we do accept work from throughout the United States and from around the world.”

To those unfamiliar with film festival operation, receiving submissions from around the world may seem far-fetched for a small operation based in Virginia, but Schoen and Taylor have proven themselves to be up to task when it comes to building a festival worth noticing. They have grown continually since the event’s start three years ago in Richmond, VA. Taylor explains, “That first year, well, we struggled to find enough submissions to fill the one-day festival. We received maybe 30 to 40 shorts and maybe no more than six feature-length films. Then the next year we were able to fill a two-day festival, and now this year we have exceeded even our own expectations.”

The dramatic increase in submissions (from no more than 40 short films originally to 870 and from no more than 6 features to 160) is largely the result of a sound decision the pair made with regard to how films should be submitted for consideration. The festival now uses FilmFreeway (www.filmfreeway.com) as the conduit for submission. The service provider boasts that there are more than 2,700 festivals and contest administrators currently using FilmFreeway to solicit and accept films.

“FilmFreeway really made us accessible to a lot of filmmakers,” Taylor says. “There are so many people looking for a place to submit their work, and this site really helped us get the word out about what we were doing…We have had submissions come in from Italy, India, Greece, England, and everywhere else you can imagine. It’s neat to see how far word of the festival travels.”

While the new submission platform helped draw interest from filmmakers, the festival’s partnership with Winchester’s Alamo Drafthouse Cinema (www.drafthouse.com/winchester) has greatly expanded what attendees can expect over the four days. Taylor relays, “Our goal is to make this a convention-style, destination festival, but while we grow into something even bigger, we want to use the resources available to us to put together the most fun, interactive festival you can imagine.”

continued on back cover…

Prepare for Thrills and Chills
continued from page 5… 

 

 

 

That vision of a fun, interactive festival includes a costume contest, a horror-themed burlesque show performed by Timeless Tease (a troop from Baltimore), a beer-tasting event sponsored by O’Connor Brewing Company, opportunities to meet special guests, booths where festivalgoers can shop the wares of vendors, and the opportunity to get “spooked” by roving “creepers,” as Taylor calls them. There will even be a family-friendly screening on Saturday with an all-you-can-eat “cereal bar.” The Alamo’s theater space and parking lot will literally be transformed for the weekend, and Taylor praises the Alamo for being more than simply a venue for the event.

“They are a real partner in this festival,” Taylor says. “It was a happy accident that we got connected with the theater. A local who is involved in filmmaking saw our call for submissions and suggested the Alamo as a great place for us to hold an event. I am so glad we received that tip. The theater is perfect, and Steve [Nerangis] has been terrific.” (Nerangis, a well-respected area businessman, is the executive heading up operations at the Alamo in Winchester.) The Alamo will also be serving as the box office for the event, providing a seamless and familiar way for festivalgoers to purchase tickets for the events occurring over the weekend.

Since many aspects of the event are still being finalized, the price for admission has not been established yet, but Taylor offers assurances that interested parties will not have sticker shock once additional details about pricing are released. “We want people to come, and we want to showcase the amazing work of these filmmakers, and we want to offer this opportunity to as many people as possible.”

Schoen echoes Taylor’s excitement about what’s planned this year. “This year, festivalgoers can expect a variety of different films from the genre, from Slasher flicks to Zombie Movies,” he explains. “They can expect some of the favorite classic horror films alongside of the cutting edge films of 2015…This year we are closer than ever to creating that immersive, film-going adventure. I truly believe that this year will be a unique experience that has not been seen in this part of Virginia for a long time.”

If you like having the hairs on your neck stand up and your pulse quicken, you will very likely find yourself in good company as you watch carefully selected horror films…in the dark…with strangers. Visit www.vahorror.com, pull out your calendar, and cancel any and all engagements you have planned for October 29 through November 1. Schoen, Taylor, and a hoard of ghoulish volunteers await the opportunity to make your blood run cold at the 3rd Annual Virginia Independent Horror Film Festival.

Winchester Book Gallery, 40 years of feeding a love of reading

Show some Love on Independent Bookstore Day
Visit Winchester Book Gallery on May 2nd

By Victoria L. Kidd

Language is arguably one of the greatest of all man’s creations. The ability to communicate ideas—to put words to paper and convey things otherwise abstract—should not be an achievement that’s impact is underestimated. Language has allowed the creation of books, and books have provided us a means of escaping reality, learning new things, exploring food, and finding faith. For some, bookstores are equivalent to universities and lecture halls, temples and sanctuaries.

For 40 years, the Winchester Book Gallery has been a place of such reverence, and despite economic pressures on independent booksellers nationwide, the business is thriving. (Check them out at http://winchesterbookgallery.com.) It’s often seen as a community hub, serving as a place for entertaining game nights, a venue for authors to connect with readers, and a parlor for book clubs to commiserate or rejoice over a protagonist’s pursuits. They are a business that merit celebration and appreciation, and local residents have an opportunity to show them some love by participating in the upcoming Independent Bookstore Day, a day set aside by national bookseller associations and bibliophiles for the celebration of independent booksellers.

Independent Bookstore Day is coming up on May 2nd, which many will recognize as the same day of the Apple Blossom Festival’s Grand Feature Parade. The Gallery will be celebrating from 8am to 10pm, so even “bloomers” will be able to carve out time to stop in, browse, enjoy some of the planned activities, and purchase a book or two on this very special day.

In addition to offering a curated selection of “good reads” the store will be hosting hourly giveaways in appreciation of their customers. Freebies are certainly not the only reason to stop in. Visitors will also find a “favorites book wall” for drawings about literature and for sharing details about favorite books. A poetry mic corner will provide a stage for guests to enjoy and experience poetry—through readings, recitations, and performances—occurring throughout the day. The Book Gallery Prize Wheel will serve up prizes to those participating in literary trivia, and a MadLibs table will be available for everyone to join in the silliness and celebration.

It’s an event that certainly sounds like a lot of fun, particularly in the context of the citywide celebration that culminates that weekend. Locals have supported the Winchester Book Gallery for four decades. Their selection of new books, cards, gifts, e-readers, locally produced art, and more keeps people interested in the little shop, but its the personal service and booklover-to-booklover connection that keeps them coming back. Experience that connection by making plans to attend the 2015 Independent Bookstore Day event. Be sure to circle back to our Facebook page us and let us know what title you picked up!

Don’t Miss the 60th Annual Clarke County Fair

Story by Victoria Kidd, photo by Jennifer Lee

There’s a time of the year when the summer solstice has passed and the days start to get shorter. Each August promises one more month of summer indulgences before September bridges the season’s retreat with the advance of autumn. Essentially, it’s a perfect time to enjoy the Clarke County Fair at the Clarke County Ruritan Fairgrounds in Berryville, Virginia, August 10-16.

This year marks the 60th annual Clarke County Fair, and the Ruritan Club has been hard at work to make this a year to remember. The club is a service organization that participates in a number of community service projects each year. They are most widely recognized as the presenters of the annual fair, a weeklong celebration of the county’s rich heritage.

The club spends significant effort planning and preparing for fair week. Their event webpage expresses their desire to “give back” by presenting this event year after year for the enjoyment of county residents and neighboring friends. This year’s event, scheduled August 10–16, includes some long-standing favorites and exciting entertainment.

The opening ceremony takes place Sunday the 10th—a busy and lively day at the fairgrounds, as livestock owners ready their cows, sheep, goats, and hogs for exhibition. The day concludes with the Junior Miss Clarke County Fair Contest and the Miss Clarke County Fair Scholarship Pageant.

Monday brings an opportunity to enjoy the legendary beef and chicken barbecue (complete with sauce prepared by the Ruritan Club) that locals wait for all year. Once attendees have satisfied their cravings, they can head over to the area where R.C. Cole Shows operates carnival rides to excite the thrill seekers among the crowd.

For some, Tuesday may bring a cotton candy hangover. For others, the day will be filled with livestock judging, more barbecue, the King BMX Sports Stunt Show, and a night of rock & roll, as the HTH Kiss Tribute Band fills the evening with music.

 

Wednesday is special to both senior citizens and children, as it’s the day when individuals falling within certain age ranges enjoy free admission. Those attending will have the opportunity to enjoy a puppet show at the fairground’s grandstand or the SAWJAC show—an event that is equal parts chainsaw and artistic expression. The Dragon MotorSports Truck and Tractor Pull rounds out evening activities, offering attendees a chance to enjoy an event that could be considered “quintessentially Clarke County.”

All active-duty armed forces personnel and military veterans are invited to enjoy Thursday without admission fees. While the day brings another chance to enjoy the truck and tractor pull, it also affords the opportunity to witness the sheep and goat Olympics and the bunny carrot-eating contest for those who seek the softer side of the fair.

Friday rounds out the weekday happenings with more livestock-related activities, a tractor-driving contest, and a children’s fair day camp. Attendance swells on Friday, with fairgoers flooding in to enjoy the professional bull riding and rodeo event. This beloved event is one of the most exciting of the entire week.

All good things must come to an end, and Saturday, August 16 marks the last day of the fair. The day is truly the crescendo of the weeklong celebration of Clarke County life, as fairgoers get their last taste of carnival treats and excitements before settling in to watch the demolition derbies. Some attendees will spend the day purchasing the animals that were shown throughout the week. Others will take in the sights and sounds before presenting their tickets to see Tyler Farr—a country music singer who has signed with Columbia Records. His debut album includes the popular “Whiskey in My Water” and “Redneck Crazy” songs, which he will assuredly share with the audience.

The close of the fair is always bittersweet. After all, an entire year will pass before fairgoers will have another chance to experience all the week has to offer. Yet, there is something special about the event’s infrequency. Essentially, it is a week that many look forward to every year, even if it marks one of the last chapters of the summer’s tale.

Be sure to include the fair among your August plans, and mark your calendars to enjoy all that the Ruritan Club’s 60th Annual Clarke County Fair has to offer. For information (or to obtain tickets), visit www.clarkecountyfair.org or call 540-955-1947.

The End of the Internet As We Know It?

By Steve Chase

U.S. ranks 33rd worldwide in Internet speed

How fast is your Internet? I recently saw an article (tinyurl.com/mrf7xps) that ranked global Internet service speed, and the U.S. was ranked 33rd, ahead of only Russia by one and far behind Romania’s third, and the number one, South Korea. The real world example for me is being able to stream video only after midnight when there is far more bandwidth available on my rural “high-speed” network.

We have few choices for really high-speed service. in the U.S. today, Internet service providers (ISPs) focus their efforts on maximizing revenue over providing good service; and in my case, living in a rural area, the opportunity for real broadband, with 21st century speed, is non-existent. Those who support the free market have made it clear to me that my choice to live in a rural area drives my Internet service choices—go live in the city if you want fast Internet. 

Recent events complicate the U.S.’ poor position on the world chart even further. The concept of Net Neutrality, which defines the Internet as a free and open network that does not favor any particular content, has begun to break down. This event came none too soon for the big media companies. In January, a federal court struck down FCC rules that had been promulgated in 2010 with a 21st century mindset. The court, ruling in Verizon v. FCC, said that rules prohibiting ISPs from blocking certain content and favoring others should be struck down, because the ISP was not classified as a “common carrier,” like your average utility company. This ruling opens the door for ISPs to show favor for certain content, including content that they are paid to make available. 

The growth of streaming video makes all the difference in this issue. I can’t get Netflix, but lots of people do. This puts tremendous pressure on ISPs like Comcast to keep the data flowing as they watch the latest episode of House of Cards. Netflix recently announced an agreement with Comcast that provides Netflix a direct connection to Comcast, for a fee. The initial reaction from some corners was that of Internet Armageddon: ISPs would turn the Net into nothing more than another cable television outlet.

We pay for the various channels and networks of content while the ISPs force you to watch what they want you to see. Those screams have been countered, as people have calmed down and realized that agreements such as this one represent an instance where the ISP industry is self-regulating to better manage bandwidth when the pipes are very busy. Who is right? 

Time will tell how this plays out, and I’m not ready to give these ISPs the benefit of the doubt—yet. Comcast, Verizon, and the other ISPs need to remember that we customers pay a pretty penny for access to the Internet. Raising rates even further and taking away a free Internet would spell the end of  the Internet as we know it.

Streaming Music News

Online streaming music continues to evolve. In the past, Spotify has given you a free account with a limited amount of listening time each month. They have dropped that limit, so you can now listen to Spotify on your PC for free all the time; the only cost is that you have to listen to some annoying ads. Following up on his very successful audio technology line, rapper Dr. Dre has started a new music streaming service called Beats. The interface is all new, giving you the chance to set up your interface with the music you like, making it way easier to find the music you want to hear. It also has a feature called “the sentence” that helps you find music that fits your mood and your current situation, be it sitting on the front porch or crunching numbers at work. Beats should prove to be tough competition for Spotify and MOG over time and you can check Beats out for a week for free (www.beatsbydre.com).

 Neil Young’s Pono

Neil Young is using technology to reconnect listeners to high-quality analog music. He laments that MP3s simply do not have the fidelity to allow listeners to truly hear the music as performed—a disservice to artists. You’ll be able to buy original master recordings at ponomusic.com, and load them onto your own portable Ponoplayer, which features a digital-to-analog converter, or DAC, to ensure what you are listening to is as close to the original intent of the artist as possible.

These players are currently $300+ on the Kickstarter site, to be available in the fall. Once Pono is up and running, the cheapest player will be $399. That’s pretty pricey, but Young promises his service will be revolutionary. There has been a big media blitz on Pono, but I wonder if the prices and the proprietary store will serve up the revenue necessary to keep things viable over the long run. More at http://tinyurl.com/q2rzryn .

Listen to my April playlist, a mix to help us welcome spring after a long and cold winter. Listen at playlists.net/epolyphony-april-2014 .

Steve Chase listens and writes about music from his home in Unison, Va.