Study Cites Berryville As Potential Hotel Site

By David Lillard

The Town of Berryville has released a market feasibility study for developing a hotel site at the corner of U.S. 340 and Virginia State Road 7 north of town. The study, conducted by the Florida-based firm Nichols Hospitality Consulting, Inc., projects that a hotel on the site would generate more than $20,000 in lodging excise revenue for Clarke County—which would nearly double the roughly $23,000 in lodging taxes received in 2012.

According to Berryville town planner Christy Dunkle, funding for the study came from a USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant provided to hire a consultant to conduct the study.

“The intention was to have a professional determine whether this would be a viable effort,” said Dunkle.

Jan Nichols, the lead researcher on the study, looked at different sites in the town and county to find the most viable site for a hotel. She felt that the location north of the Food Lion would be the best option, added Dunkle. “We have forwarded the study to the representatives for the property owners.”

Nichols cited several advantages of the site. Among them, quoting directly from the study, are:

Good Accessibility: The subject site is accessible to a variety of local, county, and state highways, and features good access to SR 7 (the most highly trafficked roadway in Clarke County with an AADT of 21,000 to 25,000 near Berryville). Berryville is the County Seat of Clarke County, and is centrally located with good access to numerous leisure, meeting and group, and commercial lodging demand generators within the region.

Excellent Ingress and Egress: A planned extension of McNeill Drive and/or McClellan Street, which intersects with Mosby Boulevard one block southwest of the site, will provide ingress/egress. Mosby provides access to North Buckmarsh Street/US 340 within one block, which provides access to SR 7, located within one block. A traffic signal eases access from North Buckmarsh Street in both directions.

Excellent Visibility: Due to its location directly adjacent to and above the highway grade, the subject site should enjoy good visibility from North Buckmarsh/US 340 and SR 7. Prominent signage on the proposed two story hotel building and at entrances to the site will enhance the property’s visibility. Signage on SR 7 indicating lodging at the Berryville US 340 exit should be provided as well.

Ample Land, Zoned for Hotel Use: The subject hotel site is part of a greater parcel with a total of 11.6 acres, and is zoned for Business and Commercial, which allows hotels as well as other commercial/retail land use that would complement a hotel facility. Public water, sewer, and utilities are available to the site.

Complementary Adjacent Uses: Food Lion grocery store (convenient for hotel guests to purchase deli and other food or sundry items), a bank, and several retirement/assisted living facilities (can generate lodging demand) are nearby, with room for additional commercial development, including restaurants. Within one mile north, a new mini market and gas station, “Route 340 Depot” is scheduled to open in 2014, and a gasoline service station is located within one half mile of the site on N. Buckmarsh.

Proximity to Restaurants: The site is approximately one-half mile north of Main Street via N. Buckmarsh Street, within walking distance of +12 restaurants plus unique shops and entertainment in downtown Berryville. Numerous additional restaurants are located within a 10-minute drive, including fine dining.

No proposals yet

According to Dunkle, the objective of the study is to evaluate the feasibility of attracting a hotel operation. Nichols evaluated a number of market-area factors to determine demand. The objective of this study is to evaluate the supply and demand factors affecting transient accommodations in the subject market area and determine the market feasibility of a proposed hotel, and estimate the occupancy, average rate, and net operating income available for debt service for its first ten years of operation.

Dunkle said the report would be used by the Town of Berryville and/or potential investors in connection with business decision-making purposes.

The most likely investor in the hotel site, according to Nichols is a chain hotel that could support the brand through affiliated advertising and promotions. She concluded that the site could support a midscale to upper midscale hotel of 40 to 50 rooms, plus a small conference center.

Ingress and egress to the subject hotel site is planned via an extension of McNeill Drive and/or McClellan Street, which intersects with Mosby Boulevard, one block southwest of the site. Mosby provides access to North Buckmarsh Street/US 340 within one block, which provides access to SR 7, located within one block.

North Buckmarsh Street, said Nichols, is the potential hotel guests’ primary access to downtown Berryville, and many will want to walk the half-mile distance. “It is important that this be a pedestrian-friendly route,” writes Nichols. She recommends, “That the town consider streetscape beautification and wayfinding signage to enhance visitors’ experience traversing to Main Street.”

Dunkle said the study also recommends the development of a tourism strategic plan, projecting that as much as 50 percent of the accommodation demand would be from tourism. “We have been discussing this for years—the town, county, Economic Development Advisory Committee and through a series of community summits held in 2009 and 2010,” she said. A tourism plan has been drafted, Dunkle added, and is now being reviewed by county staff. The scenic country roads, wineries, historic sites, and other attractions bring in about $17 million a year in travel dollars to local businesses. Currently, Clarke ranks near the bottom of all Virginia counties in terms of tourism spending, according to figures compiled by the Virginia Travel Corporation and the U.S. Travel Association, says Nichols. The two most significant reasons for these low numbers cited by Nichols are the lack of a marketing effort and the absence of a hotel to serve out-of-town guests.

Destination marketing programs are funded in large part through taxes on lodging. At 2 percent, Clarke County’s hotel/motel tax is among the lowest of all surrounding counties—including in the nearby counties of West Virginia and Maryland. It creates a chicken-and-egg scenario: In order to increase tourism, counties need to invest in marketing, but to have the funding for marketing they need a stronger tourism industry.

Nichols suggests one way to expand the marketing outreach to tourists is by raising the current county lodging tax to 5 percent. The increase would align Clarke County with surrounding jurisdictions. Loudoun, for example, taxes hotels and motels at a rate of 7 percent. This increased revenue would expand resources available to promote Clarke’s attractions beyond county borders.

Research suggests that modern destination marketing relies on a robust social media effort. Travelers increasingly visit travel blogs and websites like to plan their trips.

The good news for Clarke County is that its B&Bs and country inns are highly rated in, says Nichols. Smithfield Farms, Rosemont Manor, Berryville Inn, and Battletown Inn all get great scores from guests—people who, in turn, become online ambassadors for the county. What the county tourism industry needs, according to the study, is more rooms at mid-scale prices and highway convenience.

Good Sports for a Good Cause

By Jennifer Lee

Clarke County Education Foundation brings Harlem Wizards back to play February 9.

The Harlem Wizards basketball team returns to Clarke County High School for a second consecutive  year to take on the fierce Clarke In Motion team for a game that guarantees more entertainment than competition. “The response was just overwhelming last year,” said Kim Stutzman, executive director of the Clarke County Education Foundation (CCEF), who is hosting and benefitting from the event. The game was played in front of a packed house in 2013, prompting the CCEF to invite the Wizards back for a return performance.

The Wizards are a travelling troupe of former college and NBA ball players that combine athleticism with fun, humor, and wild antics to entertain audiences, mostly schools and non-profit organizations, around the country. “They are extremely entertaining. They are both skilled basketball players and entertainers,” Stutzman said. “And they are very fun and easy to work with.”

This is the fifth year of a CCEF-sponsored basketball tournament, an event created to invite the community to have some fun with school officials while raising funds for the foundation, whose mission is to promote, expand, and augment the educational opportunities for students and staff in the Clarke County Public Schools. Twelve thousand dollars were raised from the game last year to further that mission. CCEF has contributed a total of over $2.3 million to the school system in the last 20 years.

Tickets are available before game day at all of the county’s public schools, each of which engages in a contest to sell tickets. The school that sells the most tickets wins a prize. D.G. Cooley Elementary won overwhelmingly last year, and was awarded ten new basketballs.

“I have a point person at each school” to help coordinate and promote the effort, Stutzman explains. The roster of the Clarke In Motion team is comprised of four staff members from Clarke County High School, four from Johnson-Williams Middle School, four from Boyce Elementary, two from Berryville Primary, two from D.G. Cooley Elementary, one from Powhatan School, and a couple of community leaders.

“There will also be a referee, who becomes part of the show,” said Stutzman. Even though the game is played according to standard game rules, they are often twisted a bit to bring a theatrical and interactive experience to the audience. “They got a ton of people on the floor last year to do the Harlem Shake,” Stutzman said, referring to a popular video that combines dance, music, and comedy.

Tickets are also available at the Berryville branch of the Bank of Clarke County. Tickets are $11 for adults, and $9 for students until February 7. If any spaces are left, tickets can be purchased at the gate for $15/adult and $12/student. Concessions will be sold by the Eagles Booster club and souvenirs will also be for sale.

The high school’s gym capacity is approximately 1,150, and Stutzman predicts the event will be a sell-out again, so, she says, get your tickets today!

Game Day Details:

Harlem Wizards vs. Clarke In Motion , February 9; Clarke County High School gymnasium. Doors open at 2pm, game starts at 3pm. Sponsored by Jim Stutzman Chevrolet, Courtyard Marriott, Bank of Clarke County, and The Observer.

For more information, call 540-955-0430 or visit

LaRock, Minchew Praise New Park

Virginia Delegates David LaRock and Randy Minchew applauded Governor McDonnell’s announcement of a new state park in nearby Loudoun County following donation of 600 acres adjacent to the Blue Ridge. The land is part of the 900-acre Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship, a popular day-hiking and camping location for local birders, walkers, and scouting and youth groups. The Blue Ridge Center also managed Bears Den Trail Center in Clarke County in the early 2000s.

The land was donated by the Robert and Dee Leggett Foundation to the Old Dominion Land Trust, which, in turn, is donating the land to the state. LaRock, who represents the district where the park is located in addition to parts of Clarke County, sees the park as part of the expanding tourism and “agri-tainment” zone. “I’m excited about this new parkland being made available, and thankful for the Leggetts’s generosity and Governor McDonnell and Secretary Domenech’s efforts to bring this to pass,” said LaRock. “This Park will be a great addition to Western Loudoun’s already-vibrant winery and tourism industries.”

The property includes historic farmsteads, deep woods and wildflower meadows, and borders the Appalachian Trail. Much of the land witnessed action of Mosby’s Rangers and others during the Civil War.

“Through the work of the Leggett Foundation and now the Old Dominion Land Conservancy, lands of both natural and historic significance have been preserved in an area of the state where such lands are rapidly disappearing,” said McDonnell. “Because of their most recent efforts many of these lands will be available to future generations as a Virginia State Park. I want to commend Robert and Dee Leggett, whose foundation acquired land that became the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship in Loudoun County, and will benefit future generations as a Virginia State Park.”

The announcement might surprise land conservation advocates, since McDonnell entered office four years ago amid statements that the Commonwealth had no business owning land of any kinds. According to Leggett, though, the deal has been in the making almost since the beginning of the McDonnell administration. “I want to thank Secretary Domenech and the staff at State Parks, the Department of Conservation and Recreation, and the Governor for all their work to make this happen,” said Leggett.  “I have enjoyed this land for a long time and now I am pleased to share it with the people of the state.”

“As a Loudoun County Scoutmaster, I have had the opportunity to spend many campout weekends at the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship enjoying its wonderful and scenic attributes,” said Delegate Randy Minchew. “Now, as our newest Virginia State Park, this land will provide our citizens with both active and passive recreation opportunities and a beautiful venue for conservation education and environmental stewardship training. I join Governor McDonnell and Secretary Domenech in thanking Bob and Dee Leggett for their generosity and leadership.”

Virginia has 36 state parks open for the public, which host more than eight million visits per year.

Exchange Students Enjoy Homes In Clarke County

By Colleen Lentile

Have you wondered what it would be like to learn about another country from someone who lives there, speaks the language, and knows all about its culture—all without going overseas? Thanks to the Program of Foreign Exchange (PAX) and Clarke County’s local community coordinator Tanya Barton that dream can be made into a reality.

Barton has been the local coordinator for 13 years and has hosted 13 foreign exchange students herself. She is assisted by her co-coordinator Olivia Lanham, senior at Clarke County High School whose family has hosted three foreign exchange students.

“I love how the program connects everyone,” said Lanham, who has travelled to Spain to visit her foreign exchange student’s family. Together Barton and Lanham arranged for eight students to stay and connect with families in Clarke and Loudon counties until June of 2014.

This year there are four girls and four boys staying in the two counties. The girls are Natalia, age 17, from Finland; Dania, age 15, from Jordan; Fanisyah “Fani”, age 17, from Indonesia; and Catherine, age 16, from Tanzania. The boys are Pierre, age 16, from France; Japheth, or “Jeff,” age 16, from Ghana; Javier, age 15, from Spain; and Laban, age 17, from Kenya. They all reside with families in the Clarke and Loudon County areas, and all but Laban attend Clarke County High School.

The foreign exchange students are not only placed under the care of host families, they become a part of their family. The host families play a large role in a student’s experience. To be chosen, they are interviewed by Barton before a student can be placed with them. The students become completely integrated into their host families and are supposed to keep limited contact with their families in their home countries.

Barton believes that since the students are so young, they could easily become homesick, so she tries to manage how much they communicate with their families without cutting them off completely. “I want them to embrace what they are gaining here,” said Barton about the students focusing on what’s going on here, instead of thinking about what they are missing out on at home.

The host family is required to have a separate bed for the student. If they are to share a room with another child, it is preferred that they are of the same age. Then, as with their own children, the parents provide the necessities and treat the student like a part of their own family—including having the student do chores and live up to certain expectations.

More often than not, students and their host families make a lifelong connection. “They are our sons and daughters for a lifetime,” said Julie Kerby, host mother to Jeff and Barton.

Besides becoming a family member, students are encouraged to join organizations and sports teams and to spend time with their new American friends during their stays. They are required to do community service as well. Some of the students volunteer at places like the local animal shelter or nursing home. “I want them to give back to their community and take back what they’ve learned. We want them to go back [to their home countries] and give back,” said Barton.

When the students first arrived in the United States, Barton and Lanham took them on a bus ride through Berryville with CCHS teacher Ed Novak. During their stay, Barton plans a weekend trip each month to attractions like New York City and Washington, D.C. They do spontaneous trips throughout the rest of the month that may include hiking, parties, or pumpkin picking.

Barton says the trips allow the students to “bond and become closer,” but she also considers the possible learning experiences that may come out of the trips. She takes the students to the Newseum in Washington, D.C., hoping they will learn about the free media enjoyed in the United States—some of the students come from countries where the media is restricted.

Among the observations offered by the students:

Typically, there are no problems with their fellow classmates making fun of their accents, but sometimes Americans have trouble understanding them.

Many students were surprised by the style of dance in the U.S., and that American students could dance with whomever they wanted to, even if they did not know them.

Jeff, from Ghana, has become fond of eating hamburgers, which he eats every day, according to Kerby. Some other popular foods among foreign exchange students were Chipotle Mexican Grill and pizza.

Jeff and Catherine are having trouble getting used to the cold weather, and are looking forward to seeing snow for the first time in the upcoming winter.

All of the students had trouble understanding the currency in the United States when they arrived. They wondered why the penny is larger than the dime. Most found sales tax a puzzling concept, and the prices of products either much higher or much lower relative to what they are used to. Importantly, all of the students plan to come back to the United States in the future.

PAX brings foreign exchange students into people’s lives and deeply enriches the lives of everyone that is involved in their journey in the United States. Kerby hopes that the students can give their fellow Americans a new perspective on diversity and hope that people remember that, “It’s just us, there is no them.”

If you are interested in being a host family or learning more about the program, contact the local community coordinator Tanya Barton at or 540-955-9135 or visit the PAX website at


Colleen Lentile is The Observer student reporter.

Berryville Main Street

Jewelry Showcased in Art of Making Art Demonstration

Berryville Main Street’s Fire House Gallery offers its next installment of the Art of Making Art series, December 7, from 11am to 3pm at the gallery, 23 East Main Street, Berryville. The event features the jewelry of Christy Dunkle, Charmaine Jackson, and Linda Sinish.

Visitors are welcome to stop by the gallery, meet the artists and talk with them about their art and creative approaches to making it. The artists’ works will be for sale during the show—a fine opportunity to do a little Christmas shopping, points out gallery director Kate Petranech.

Light refreshments will be served.

The Art of Making Art is a series of live art demonstrations launched by Berryville Main Street with help from a grant from the Marion Park Lewis Foundation in 2010 to increase knowledge about art and raise appreciation for its value in our lives. Every form of art is explored from sculpture to photography and from stained glass to fiber art.  The monthly sessions are extremely informal.  Visitors to the gallery are invited to watch artists work, asking questions about the materials or technique being demonstrated as they occur. By seeing as well as hearing about each medium’s unique requirements, program planners hope community members of all ages – and from every background – will gain a deeper understanding of what it takes to make a work of art. And why it’s worth doing so.

The event is sponsored in part by a grant from the Virginia Commission for the

Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.


Gallery Holiday Baskets

Leaves have fallen and the smell of wood smoke floats on the country winds. The holiday season is coming. Time to visit Berryville Main Street’s Fire House Gallery for the annual seasonal gift basket.

“It’s guaranteed to delight family and friends on your shopping list,” said gallery director Kate Petranech.

This year’s holiday basket, which sells for $85 is once again filled with beautiful handmade items made by gallery artists, but, says Petranech, chosen with a slight twist. Instead of asking a jury to determine the contents, the gallery looked to customer preferences for direction, selecting four of the gallery’s most frequently purchased items for the basket.  These are the “crowd pleasers” the gallery can’t keep on its shelves, items like fiber artist Joyce Badanes’ tie-dyed bamboo cotton socks.

“Besides the socks,” said Petranech, “basket purchasers will find a stunning custom-glazed pottery vessel with lid by Robert Craig, charming hand blown lamp work earrings from jewelry artist Charmaine Jackson, and a distinctive hand-turned wine stopper by Terry Lund.”

In addition, Barns of Rose Hill, has donated a “Buy One Get One Free” voucher for an upcoming program at the beautiful performing arts center.

If purchased separately, the combined value of all these goodies would be $115.

“Historic Rosemont has provided a fabulous bonus gift to make the basket virtually irresistible,” said Petranech. All purchasers will be entered in a raffle to win “Tea for Two” at the historic home including a tea with all the trimmings plus a private tour of the rooms.  This alone is valued at $120.

You can give the entire basket or separate the items to make four gifts. And if you win the bonus gift? “Reward yourself and a special someone with an afternoon of pure enjoyment at one of the most beautiful, and historic, spots in Clarke County,” said Petranech.

Only 15 baskets are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Stop by or call the gallery at 540-955-4001 to reserve a basket.  Payment by credit card or check must accompany the order.

The gallery’s 2013 Holiday Basket initiative is sponsored in part by a grant from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Around Clarke County in November


 15 The Bumper Jacksons

Barns of Rose Hill, Berryville. $12 advance, $15 at door. The Bumper Jacksons are described as a big, fat party, playing tunes inspired by traditional jazz and old country and paying homage to traditions while crafting their own style. Purchase tickets at

 16 Clarke County Little League Auction

Ruritan Fairgrounds, Berryville. 9am–3pm. Time to clean out your garage and closets and donate items to help the “Give Our Kids Light” project, providing lighting at Little League ballfields. Furniture, electronics, lawn mowers, tools and the like gratefully accepted. Lunch available. For more info, call Charles (Peanut) Wright, 540-550-6100.

16 Annual Grace Episcopal Church Bazaar

Grace Episcopal Church, Berryville. 9am-2pm. Attic Treasures sale, handmade items from the Craft Group, bake sale. Delicious turkey luncheon for $10. Call 540-966-1610 for more info.

16 Dance for Blue Ridge Fire & Rescue

Benefit Dance Party for Blue Ridge Volunteer Fire & Rescue Co. Blue Ridge Fire Hall, 131 Retreat Road. 7pm-midnight. Dance lessons, dance competition, live & silent auctions. Sponsored by the Horseshoe Curve Benevolent Association. For details, visit

18 Full Moon Walk

Blandy Experimental Farm, Boyce. 6-7:30pm. FOSA members, $8; non-members $10; family, $20. Reservations required. Explore the Arboretum under the full moon. Wear comfortable shoes, bring a flashlight, and explore the sights, sounds, and smells of the natural world after dark. Register at or call 837-1758.

 19 CraftWorks Drum Circle

Join this free musical jam session where the focus is on fun, recreation and community.  It’s improvised and incorporates all ages and all levels of skill. 6:30-9pm, Sign up at

19 Yin Yoga with Turi Turkel

Barns of Rose Hill, Berryville. Doors open at 5:30pm, class from 6-7:15pm. This class is the first of a five-week series on Tuesday evenings. $70 for series, $16 per class for walk-ins. Yin yoga is a slower-paced practice to nourish the whole body. For more information, email or visit the website at

23 Remembrance and Anticipation Concert

A chorale concert at Market Street United Methodist Church, 131 S. Cameron Street, Winchester. 7:30pm. $10 suggested donation. Join the Arts Choral of Winchester to enjoy a new chorale work by American composer Donald McCullough commemorating the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s death, the season of Advent/Christmas, and the remembrance of people, places, and events. Visit for more information.

 23 Longaberger Basket/Vera Bradley Bingo for BRCTH

Longaberger Basket/Vera Bradley Bingo for Blue Ridge Center for Therapeutic Horsemanship. War Memorial Building, Jim Barnett Park, Winchester. Doors open at 1, bingo at 2. $20 in advance, $25 at door. Special games, raffles and drawings, loads of beautiful baskets and handbags. Funds raised support the BRCTH’s therapy horses and ponies through the winter and scholarships for children and adults. For tickets and information, contact Margie Youngs at 540-533-2777 or

23 Drawing & Painting Group

Join Rebecca Jones at CraftWorks for a monthly workshop of of artists. Enjoy a demo, studio time and critique. All levels welcome; no experience necessary! 2-5pm, Register at

 24 Beth Greer Concert

Berryville Baptist Church, 114 Academy Street, Berryville. 7pm. Free. Join Beth Greer, a gifted bible teacher, speaker, worship leader, and vocalist for an evening of worshipful music. For information, contact Mary Sue at 540-955-1423 or online at

24 Remembrance and Anticipation Concert

A chorale concert at Trinity Episcopal Church, 9114 John Mosby Highway, Upperville. 4pm. $10 suggested donation. Join the Arts Choral of Winchester to enjoy a new chorale work by American composer Donald McCullough commemorating the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s death, the season of Advent/Christmas, and the remembrance of people, places, and events. Visit for more information.

 24 Polymer Clay & Mixed Media

A free monthly gathering at CraftWorks for artists working in polymer clay and mixed media to work together, network and learn from each other. 11am-4pm, Sign up at

30 Mariana Mihai-Zoeter’s “Lucky 13”

Barns of Rose Hill, Berryville. Doors open at 6:30, show at 7pm. $12 in advance, $15 at door. This soprano singer travels back in time to the years 1613, 1713, 1813, and 1913 where she uncovers lesser-known treasures for soprano and piano. Also featuring clarinetist Garrick Zoeter and pianist Lisa Bloy. For more information, email or visit the website at


3 Ornament making workshop with Amy Oliver

Barns of Rose Hill, Berryville. 4pm-7pm. $10/child. Children will sculpt, paint, and decorate holiday ornaments under the instruction of potter Amy Oliver. Ages 3-6 from 4-5pm; ages 7-10 from 5-6pm; ages 11-14 from 6pm-7pm. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

 5 Help With Housing & FISH

Help With Housing & FISH of Clarke County Open House, 36 East Main Street, Berryville. 6pm. Help warm the new headquarters of these two beneficent organizations now housed in the former Clarke County library building. Join the mayor of Berryville and the Top of Virginia Regional Chamber for ribbon-cutting, refreshments, and tour of the building. Contact Ardis Cullers at 540.955.1706 for more information.

7 Berryville Christmas Parade

Downtown Berryville. Noon. Get in the holiday spirit with a wonderful small-town parade featuring Santa, local groups, and much more! For more information, call 540-955-5187.

7 CraftWorks Holiday Potluck

Bring your favorite homemade soups, salads and bread, beverages provided. Entertainment provided by the Washington High School Chamber Choir. 5-7pm, Sign up at

 7 Old-Fashioned Christmas

December 7 & 8. Millwood Old-Fashioned Christmas Fair, Millwood Community Center, 1610 Millwood Road, Millwood. 9am-4pm. Holiday shoppers will find a plethora of items from regional artists and crafters, including artwork, pottery, ornaments and décor, jewelry, candles, soaps. Home baked goods and a hot meal available for purchase and served by the Goodwill Association. Christmas trees and wreaths, too! Sponsored by and benefitting the Millwood Community Association and the Goodwill Association. Crafters interested in selling at the event should contact or call 540-837-2252.

 7 Holiday Workshop – Wreath Making

Blandy Experimental Farm, 400 Blandy Farm Lane, Boyce. 9:30am-noon. Create a wreath with fresh, local, natural greens and adornments. 12-inch mixed evergreen wreath. $30 for FOSA members, $35 for nonmembers. 20-inch mixed evergreen wreath – $40 for FOSA members, $45 for nonmembers. Sponsored by the Virginia Boxwood Company. Register and pay online at or call 540-837-1758, ext. 224.

8 Fiber Arts Group

A free monthly gathering for folks who create with fiber-art quilts, freeform crochet, embroidery, needle felting and mixed media. Share your techniques at CraftWorks. 2-5pm, Sign up at

10 Amazing Art with Polymer Clay

Learn to create with polymer clay in this two evening workshop at CraftWorks. All materials provided, all skill levels welcome. Dec. 10 & 12, 6:30-9:30pm. Register at

 15 Holiday Cookie Swap

Share your sparkle and dazzle. Bring 4 dozen cookies, cupcakes, brownies or other sweet treats to CraftWorks. 2-4pm, Free, Sign up at

17 CraftWorks Drum Circle

Join this free musical jam session where the focus is on fun, recreation and community.  It’s improvised and incorporates all ages and all levels of skill. 6:30-9pm, Sign up at

21 Historic Long Branch Christmas Open House

December 21 & 22. Historic Long Branch, 830 Long Branch Lane, Millwood. 11am-5pm. Area Garden Clubs decorate the historic house following the theme of “An 1850s Christmas.” Go to or call 540-837-1856 for more info.

 22 Holiday Cheer at Historic Long Branch

Following the holiday service at Old Bethel Church near Millwood, Historic Long Branch invites guests for light fare and warm drinks. Guests will also be asked to participate in the first-ever “Historic Long Branch Viewer’s Choice Art Competition.” Go to or call 837-1856 for more info.

Current & Ongoing

For a myriad of art classes and workshops for all ages at Opus Oaks Art Studio, visit

For a list of all classes and events at Clarke County Parks and Recreation, visit or call 540-955.5140.

Educational Seminar Targets Help for Neglected Equines

Educational Seminar Targets Help for Neglected Equines

The Clarke County Humane Foundation, along with the Clarke County Equine Alliance, is hosting an educational seminar on Friday, Nov. 1 featuring what local residents can do to help in suspected cases of equine neglect or abuse. A reception begins at 7 p.m. and the program starts at 7:30 p.m. in the upstairs meeting area of the Camino Real Mexican Restaurant in Berryville. Light refreshments and door prizes will be available. The event is free and open to the public.

Dr. Ian Harrison of the Harrison Equine Clinic in Berryville, a noted presenter on equine illness and disease and a Board-Certified Equine Surgeon, will be the featured speaker. Dr. Harrison, who is the Clarke County-appointed veterinarian when issues of equine neglect occur, will address signs and symptoms of potential neglect and/or abuse and discuss what steps a veterinarian takes in these instances. Clarke County Sheriff Tony Roper will address the legal aspects of what area residents can do if they suspect an equine is being neglected or abused.

“Unfortunately we have experienced some of these situations in our area,” said George L. Ohrstrom II, president of the Clarke County Humane Foundation. “With the approach of winter, colder temperatures, and lack of natural food sources, this program serves as a resource to identify equine situations that could potentially become serious problems,” Ohrstrom said.

The Humane Foundation works with Clarke County to provide a quality, well-maintained animal shelter as a resource to pet owners, lost and stray dogs and cats, and serves as a temporary location for larger animals such as equines. Existing through private donations, the Foundation sponsors an annual rabies clinic (Oct. 26 this year), spay and neuter programs, educational opportunities, as well as assisting with ongoing shelter operations.

The Clarke County Equine Alliance, a non-profit organization representing equine enthusiasts and a member of the Virginia Horse Council, works to promote the county’s equine-related businesses and activities while connecting professionals and amateurs involved in equine sport and pleasure.

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