Gun and Prepper Expo Benefits Fire Company

It’s a safe bet that a lot of people who watch Doomsday Preppers and other survival shows spend almost no time thinking about or preparing for emergencies—from the mundane to worst case scenarios. Jay Blevins and friends are trying to change that, and they’re backing it up by helping raise funds for people who provide essential emergency services to a big chunk of Clarke County’s population, the Berryville Fire Company and Rescue Squad.

The Berryville Gun & Prepper Expo is planned for November 2–3 at the John Enders Fire Company, 9 S. Buckmarsh Street in Berryville. The event is sponsored by High Caliber Events and SEPS; Saturday hours are 9am–6pm; Sunday the expo runs 10am–4pm.

Organizers say the goal of the expo is to educate the public on the importance of emergency preparedness, and provide goods, services, and topics related to prepping.

Jay has appeared on National Geographic Channel’s series Doomsday Preppers, Access Hollywood Live, The Steve Harvey Show, The Today Show and CNN Headline news’ Jane Velez-Mitchell show. He has been interviewed on syndicated and major market radio and web programs, and has been covered by major domestic and international print media outlets like the Washington Post, USA Today, and Agence France Press.

Blevins also served as a Deputy Sheriff in the Washington DC metro area, where he worked as a patrol and SWAT officer, and currently works as an analyst at a business consulting firm.

The event will include several speakers addressing topics of preparedness. In addition to Blevins, speakers include Dr. Thomas Stoner, a board certified practicing adult medicine specialist who has been in medicine since 1991. Stoner is co-owner of TSSP Inc, a company that provides emergency consulting as it relates to “survival scenarios” and common-sense emergency kits. His most recent book is MED-P, which describes modern diseases and techniques to prevent contracting them.

Nicole Sundine, who teaches women and girls personal protection skills, presents her “Realistic Safety Strategies,” based on a combination of psychological, interpersonal and physical components that empower girls and women to protect themselves from a wide spectrum of threats to their safety.

Ryan McCullough, author of Law, Money and the Bank, and president of Liberty Union Metals Exchange which buys and sells precious metals offers information on financial preparedness.

A variety of vendors will provide prepper-related items like firearms, knives, bugout bags, lights, food, fire starters, silver and gold coins, books, real estate, survival gear, firearm accessories and much more.

Historic Long Branch Reopens

Preservation Group Invites Community To Experience The New Long Branch

Historic Long Branch, the steward of an American architectural treasure on 400 preserved acres in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, is planning to make history once again. On Friday, October 25, Historic Long Branch will re-open its doors to the public to experience newly installed exhibits and period rooms designed to complement the rich, 200-year history of the site. At the opening preview night, 6–9pm, guests will be treated to an evening in the home and talks by staff curators who have overseen the project and plans for the next phase.  Recently acquired historic objects will also make their public debut. Admission to the opening night event is free and all interested are encouraged to attend.

“It’s the start of something entirely new, exciting and important,” said Long Branch executive director and historian Nicholas Redding. He continued, “Together with a board of passionate supporters, we have embarked on a new journey and are very eager to throw open our doors again to re-introduce our friends to this special place.”

The completely new exhibit galleries explore various themes from the home’s 200-year history and the development of the Shenandoah Valley. The Long Branch Story takes visitors on a journey through the history of the house in the context of regional and national history. The Harry Isaacs Legacy is a gallery devoted to telling the story of the last owner of the home and the individual responsible for establishing Long Branch as a publically accessible site. Finally, rounding out the exhibits, History Detectives is a behind-the-scenes investigation of how historians and preservationists uncover the hidden history of historic sites.

Re-opening events will continue through the weekend on Saturday, October 26, 11am–5pm, and Sunday, October 27, 11am–4pm, and will feature self-guided and guided tours of the over 200-year old home, interpretive programs, and walks around the historic landscape, 19th century crafts & games and live old time string band music featuring music from Clarke County’s past. The Potomack Company will also be providing antique appraisals with a suggested donation fee that will be used to assist Long Branch’s acquisition of original furnishings.

Admission both days is $5 per person. Guests are encouraged to bring picnic lunches and enjoy the beautiful grounds and gardens.

On the evening of Saturday October 26 6–8pm, the house will remain open for “Long Branch after Dark” with a candlelight tour of the house featuring unique stories from the site’s long history. Admission is $15 per person and is recommended for ages 13 and up.

The weekend marks the beginning of a new era at Long Branch with historically-focused programs and events designed to enrich, educate and entertain. Visitors interested in attending the weekend events or to learn more about Long Branch are encouraged to visit Long Branch’s new website at: visitlongbranch.or

Clarke County HS Class of ’63 Celebrates 50th Reunion

The Clarke County High School Class of 1963 celebrated their 50th class reunion September 14, 2013. The day began with tours of three of the county’s schools: Boyce Elementary., Berryville Primary, and Johnson Williams Middle School. The tour culminated at the Bell Tower overlooking the JWMS campus. The administrators of each school opened their doors so alumni could walk in, and off they went reminiscing and looking for memories like first-grade classrooms, and, says Alice Hummer, “what Ms. Holmes would think of us now.”

The group ended the day by celebrating at John H Enders Firehall with Mr. Herman Lloyd, principal of Boyce; Mrs. Betty Levi, PE teacher and coach at CCHS, and Mr. Rudy Telek, PE teacher and coach at CCHS.

Third Annual Purcellville Halloween Block Party

Third Annual Purcellville Halloween Block Party

Over 6,000 people attended the Purcellville Halloween Block Party last year coming from all over Loudoun and Clarke counties and beyond; ranging in ages from infant to ninety years old. This family friendly event promises to be even bigger and better this year. The party will be Saturday October 26 from 5–9pm in Old Town Purcellville on 21st Street, which will be closed to vehicular traffic and transformed into Loudoun County’s largest Halloween Party.

Starting at 5pm, Mr. Knick Knack, one of the area’s best-loved children’s musicians, will have the little ones dancing and groovin’. With just his guitar and his voice he plays upbeat and uplifting music

centered on the power of the human heart.

Roam up and down the street all evening, watching the funny and ghoulish characters walking around. You can only wonder if these people are wearing costumes‑or has Purcellville been invaded by ghouls? Play tons of Halloween theme games, The Rat Toss, Pumpkin Tic Tac Toe, Pin the Nose on the Witch, among others, all with prizes for all.

Plan on having dinner at the party, food from Magnolias, Boodacades BBQ, The Roving Italian food truck, Lickety Splitz Hawaiian Shave Ice and Fun Country Kettle Corn, all set up right on 21st Street. The spotlight of the night will be the costume contest with four divisions: infant to 5 years old, 6 to 12 years old, and the Pet division (everyone’s favorite), which is open to all pets that come in costume. Last but not least, the teen and adults division will be judged. Over $2,000 in cash, prizes, and trophies will be awarded including $500 grand prize for the best overall costume.

Admission is free to the Purcellville Halloween Block Party along with free parking throughout the town. For contest rules and information visit, find the event on Facebook (Purcellville Halloween Block Party) or contact Michael Oaks and Kim Patterson at Re-Love It Consignment Shoppe, 540-751-0707, or email

Gallery Artists Gather To Look Ahead

Gallery Artists Gather To Look Ahead

Artists to suggest new programs with grant from the Virginia Commission for the Arts

Twenty of the 50+ artists who show and sell their work through Berryville Main Street’s Fire House Gallery gathered at the gallery on September 5 for something gallery director Kate Petranech calls, “a very pleasant task.” The group is exploring ideas for new events and activities promoting art and artists in Berryville, made possible by a $5,000 grant from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

This is the third consecutive year that Berryville Main Street received the grant, demonstrating the funders’ satisfaction with the quality and variety of its programs which include:

Solo Artist Exhibits, such as last year’s highly praised Wood-Turning Wonder: Robert Van Meter, a homage to the late master wood-turner’s life and work.

Group Artist Shows like Fabulous Fibers for All. Featuring the work of a dozen-plus fiber artists, this show was so well received it will be an “evergreen” or staple in the gallery’s annual offerings. Indeed, the 2nd Annual Fabulous Fibers for All exhibit opens on October 18 with a special reception from six to eight p.m.

Art Awareness Endeavors such as the widely publicized 2011 and 2012 Community Supported Art (CSA) program. This novel initiative—modeled after one created to promote the purchase of local fruits and vegetables—encouraged people to buy a “share” or basket of art.

Art Pays Dividends for Local Economies

While fostering knowledge and appreciation for art is both desirable and laudable, initiatives such as these bring more than just a “pretty face” to a community. They can be economic engines that drive traffic and revenue to a town’s commercial center. That kind of promotion is the mission of Berryville Main Street, and a key reason BMS created the gallery.

A quick look at the numbers suggests it’s working. According to Petranech, “Since the Fire House Gallery doors opened in January 2010, close to 7,000 people have stopped by to have a look. They came to view art, attend exhibits as well as pick up brochures and flyers about other places to shop or events to attend in and around Berryville,” she said.

Even more significant, almost 2,000 of them made a purchase, putting coins into more than 50 artists’ pockets, contributing a small but meaningful amount of revenue to the county coffers.

Bigger and (Even) Better Ahead

Petranech says three themes emerged from discussions September 5.

  • Increase offerings of current programs to one or more each month. This is already off to a good start, says Petranech, with the gallery’s new “Little Shows,” small displays of a single artist’s work. The next one, featuring hand-built pottery by Neenja Jhaveri, November 1. In addition, the number of the Saturday Art of Making Art demonstrations will increase.
  • Increase exposure with two new exhibits. Like the Robert Van Meter and fiber arts exhibit mentioned above, these are major endeavors that offer an in depth look at an artist, a medium, or a theme. Ideas presented at the September meeting include: By the Beautiful Sea, photography, watercolors, fiber art, ceramics; From the Earth, wood, textiles, jewelry made from gemstones; Black and White, photography, painting, glass, jewelry, ceramics.
  • Increase traffic and revenue by raising awareness about the gallery’s proud history, unique collection, and gifted artists. This will be done, says Petranech, through a reimagining of the gallery website. Funding will finally allow the gallery to hire various professionals to shoot the collection for promotional purposes, conduct interviews with artists; and do an overall audit to assess quality of content, visual appeal and ease of use.

“It’s an ambitious agenda,” said Petranech. “But with funding available and volunteers pitching in, it’s eminently doable. And a lot of fun to boot.”


Have a desire to work in the gallery? On an exhibit? Behind the scenes? Check out your options by sending an email to Put “Gallery Volunteer” in the subject line.

First Farmers’ Harvest Ball Set For October

First Farmers’ Harvest Ball Set For October

Guests invited to “eat a little pig, dance a little jig, and go whee, whee, whee all the way home!”

Three Clarke County non-profit groups are joining forces to bring the community the bounties of local harvest with the farmers who provide them. The Farmers’ Harvest Ball will be hosted by Berryville Main Street, Barns of Rose Hill, and the Clarke County Farmers’ Market at the Barns on Saturday, October 12, 2013.

“We wanted to collaborate on a party or activity that would bring the community together for an evening in Berryville, similar to the Blue Moon parties held in the past,” said Luanne Carey, director of Berryville Main Street. When the Farmers Market got involved, that “activity” became an event where local food will be provided by members of the market and prepared, for the most part, by Boyd’s Nest restaurant. Pulled pork and barbecued chicken and a variety of side dishes and desserts will be served, along with beer, wine, and soft drinks. After supper, “the Apple Valley Square dance club will give a square dancing demonstration and Rich Studman will call some dances for everyone to join the fun,” said Carey.

If eating good, locally grown food, mingling with friends and farmers, and dancing a jig isn’t incentive enough, proceeds from the event will be split evenly among the three groups, helping to fund the programs of each organization. The Barns of Rose Hill’s mission is to serve as a community center “celebrating life, the arts, and our culture,” according to its newly revamped website ( The Clarke County Farmers Market, going stronger than ever after 18 years, serves to support and promote local farmers by bringing their goods to one place for the community to purchase and enjoy, every Saturday from May through November. Berryville Main Street’s mandate is to encourage economic development, support local business, enhance community projects, and help beautify downtown Berryville.

Tickets cost $50, which includes two drink coupons for wine and beer, and may be purchased by contacting Carey at Berryville Main Street at 540-955-4001 or Kellie Hart or Morgan Morrison at Barns of Rose Hill at 540-955-2004. The Barns’ doors will open at 5pm for a mix and mingle; dinner will be served at 6pm, and dancing will commence at 7pm. The invite’s jingle is “eat a little pig, dance a little jig, and go whee, whee, whee all the way home!”

“We’re hoping the evening will be a fun, old-fashioned gathering to celebrate fall in Clarke County!” Carey enthused.

— Jennifer Lee

Down On Main Street Berryville


Gallery Launches ‘Little Shows’ with Perry Exhibit

“I love the smell,” says artist Patricia Perry of oil paint. “The buttery texture … and the richness you get with it.” Perry paints a little bit of everything—but right now she’s focusing on landscapes. It’s an apt subject given her lifelong love of travel to places ranging from Turkey to Costa Rica to New Zealand. The latter inspired a beautiful painting “On the River: Christ Church, Zealand,” which you can see through September 30 in the Fire House Gallery’s “Little Shows” series.

Born in the U.S., Perry moved to Europe when she was 19. She lived in Bad Homburg, Germany and studied at the Goethe Institut in Kochel am See, before moving to Paris for a year and enrolling at the American College in Paris.

Inspired by the works of Goya, Rembrandt, Turner, and Blake which she saw in museums, she enrolled as an art student at UCLA after returning to the U.S. There she studied under noted abstract artist Richard Diebenkorn, who came to define the California school of Abstract Expressionism of the early 1950s.

After graduating with a B.A. in fine art from UCLA, she worked at the UCLA Art Galleries and the U.C. Berkeley Art Museum.

She says that her landscapes are an attempt to represent her personal connection with the natural world and her deep regard for its beauty and mystery.

Perry lives with her husband in Jefferson County, W.Va. Her paintings are found in private collections in Philadelphia; Annapolis; Washington, D.C.; Seattle; Pasadena, Calif.; and Shepherdstown, W.Va. She teaches oil painting at her studio near Shepherdstown.

“Little Shows” is a new monthly offering at the gallery which highlights the work of one of its 70 local and regional artists.  This endeavor is funded in part by a grant from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Meet Perry and learn more about her work while enjoying light refreshments at the gallery on Thursday, September 5.

Downtown Yard Sales

Save the date for the Downtown Berryville Yard Sales, Saturday September 14, 8am—3pm. Visit and download the registration form or email or call 540-313-7467. Registrations due September 10.

Thanks to Rapphannock Electric

Crews from Rapphannock Electric hung the new banners in downtown Berryville free of charge. The banners were purchased through a grant secured by Berryville Main Street.

My Future Career in Rural Health in Virginia

By David Hardesty, Jr.

David Hardesty of Berryville captured first prize in the Virginia Farm Bureau’s essay contest on health-related careers in agriculture. Congratulations, David!


My desire to study agriculture and pursue a career in it is quite simple—living in an agricultural community is all I have ever known. I grew up on a dairy farm and can honestly  say that the experience has shaped my life. Growing up on a farm has taught me so many life lessons that I couldn’t have learned anywhere else. Throughout my life I have learned to be a hard worker. This has helped me strive to do my best in sports and in the classroom, working hard every day in practice  and always getting my homework done.

I also learned, at a young age, how to cooperate with others even if I don’t agree with them. On the farm, if we don’t cooperate then some jobs are almost impossible to complete. Another lesson that farm life taught me is that no matter the circumstances, you have to keep going. No matter how bad a day I am having, I have to keep working because cows do not wait for the work to be done.

Both of my older brothers went to college and came back to contribute to our family farm. We are a tight-knit family, and I also want to be able to be a part of our farm. Rather than coming directly back to the farm I have decided to become a large animal veterinarian. I chose this career because I have found that I truly have a love for working with animals. For many years now I have wanted to become  a veterinarian so I could help the animals when they were sick. This career allows me to stay outdoors and work around the animals that I love.

I began to gain experience by observing the veterinarian that  works with my farm. Mostly, she has allowed me to assist her with herd checks; however, she has also allowed me to help her with some minor  surgeries. I have already called veterinarians, both large animal and small, and set up shadowing opportunities at their clinics this summer. I believe that these opportunities will allow me to be more prepared for the undergraduate and graduate  programs I am pursuing.

After graduating from high school I will attend college and graduate  school for veterinary studies. In my undergraduate program I plan to major in pre-veterinarian studies and take all of the pre-requisite classes that I need for graduate school. After graduating from graduate school, I plan to join a practice in the Northern Virginia area, and eventually save up funds to start my own practice. As I practice as a veterinarian, I still want to remain a part of our family  farm, and also serve other  farmers in Clarke County.

I not only love the outdoors and animals, but I also love the people that are involved  in agriculture. In my life, I have met so many people through agriculture that are so caring and nice. These people  enjoy their careers in agriculture and will lend a helping hand anytime you ask. It is people like this that make me want to stay in the agriculture community and have a career in it.

Agriculture has given me so much and contributed to my life in endless ways. I hope that one day I can contribute to the field that has had such an impact on my life.

Remembering Mary Brisco and Lawrence Wilson

By Jennifer Welliver

The people on Liberty Street in Berryville have suffered a great loss this month. Indeed, so has our entire community. In less than a week two dearly loved neighbors have died.

Mary Brisco passed away on Friday, August 2 and then on Monday, August 05, 2013 Lawrence Wilson followed. They were two incredible,  unique individuals with one thing in common: their faith. Both were completely devoted to their churches and to sharing their faith with others through service and love. More than anyone else I have ever known, they always managed to teach by example more than by their words. Somehow in their presence I would always feel closer and more connected, even when religion was not in the conversation. Each of them exemplified the teachings of Christ and their lives revolved around service to others.

Spinning Wheels

Mr. Wilson would sit for hours on his front porch, enjoying the warm days, getting his “vitamin D,” and greeting folks as they walked by with his big hello, his signature laugh, and a sincere blessing. He knew everybody’s voice, and maybe even their footstep.

Every time I came or went, he would hear my front door close and as I walked to my car, he would say, “Hellooooo Jennifer, you spinnin’ your wheels again?”

“Yeah Mr. Wilson, I’m spinnin’ my wheels,” I’d say. He had me pegged. But he was one to talk.

Mr. Wilson lost his eye sight a few years back, overnight, forcing him to stop spinning his wheels, but before that he was always going. His fast pace was different, though. He was always on the run in service to others. He drove anyone who needed a ride wherever they needed to go. People would call, and he would take them.

He was a member of the Kiwanis club and the Masonic Lodge. He served 17 years on the Berryville Board of Zoning Appeals and 12 years on the Town Planning Commission. He served on the Board of the Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging, and was a founding member of Help with Housing. Most of his adult life before retirement he worked two jobs and, along with his wife, Margretta, put six kids through school.

As one can imagine, such a sudden change is a hard adjustment. One day you are running and doing, and the next you can’t see. That would be maddening, depressing, frustrating. It might destroy many of us, but not Mr. Wilson. Just as soon as he could, he reemerged, different physically, but not in spirit. That same man was back, just as soon as possible, brightening the days and lifting the spirits of everyone he came across.

Gifts from Across the Fence

“Jenny, can you come meet me by the fence? I got something for you,” Mary would call.

Mary Brisco was well known for her catering. She cooked for many people throughout Clarke and Frederick counties. She even used to cater the Queen’s Dinner each year at Apple Blossom. The backyard smelled so good when Mary was cooking—and we were often the beneficiaries of samples of her creations.

She was such a giving person. You never needed to ask Mary for anything. If you needed something, she was there and knew how to help. When my son graduated from high school, we had planned a big party in the backyard with lots of guests. I had plenty of food in the house for the event, but nothing was set up prior to the graduation. With a brief but heavy storm at the end of the graduation, things got a bit chaotic. Mary and our neighbor Diane fell right in and would not let me help. “Go outside with your guests. We can handle this.” And they did.

Mary also served the community as a volunteer in many ways. She volunteered with Hospice and the Salvation Army, working in their thrift stores. She was honored by St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital for her giving there. She spent a lot of time visiting sick and disabled people bringing them care packages and sitting by their bedsides. I know there was a great deal more that I am not even aware of because Mary was not one to talk about herself or her deeds.

In her later years, she was trying to reduce her work, but she never could quite retire as long time clients would call and ask her to do just one more party. She was blessed, though, to have her son and her daughters to help out because saying “no” was not her nature.


Mary Brisco and Lawrence Wilson both touched so many lives, and were well known throughout the community for their spirit, their character, and their service. I am grateful that they have been part of the foundation of my adult life and the lives of my children.