This Saturday: 94th Running of the Middleburg Spring Races

Posted by Editorial / Friday, April 18th, 2014

Courtesy of Lawrence French Photography

By Janeé Williams

Spring is here, so race horse season is underway. The 94th Running of the Middleburg Spring Races is set for tomorrow at Glenwood Park. Gates open at 11 a.m. and the first race will begin at 1 p.m. There will be seven races running every half hour as well as food and retail vendors with an Easter egg hunt for kids beginning at noon.

The Middleburg Spring Races are more than just a race, it’s history. The races are held right outside the town of Middleburg and  the course is the  only course that holds land in that area. The races attract so many people from the surrounding areas, many of them new to horse racing. 

“What makes this event unique is that many of the people attending have never been to a horse race before. They get to come here and experience it for the first time,” says Michelle Hobson of Middleburg Spring Races. These races are also prep for the The Gold Cup Race, one of the largest races in the areaThe meet runs a variety of races including hurdle, timber and flat races. The race will also feature The Temple Gwathemy Stakes Race, a race inspired by James Temple Gwathemy, a New York resident who was a constant supporter and amateur rider of steeplechasing.

Some contenders of the race are Michel Smith’s Arrows Conquest; Ms. S.K. Johnston’s Polarity; Virginia Lazenby’s Pleasant Woodman; Magalen Bryant’s Lea Von; Beverly Steinman’s Master of Markets; Ann Pape’s Fog Island; and Magalen Bryant’s Dakota Slew

Proceeds will go to benefit INOVA/Loudoun hospital, Glenwood Park Trust and local charities. / 94th Running of the Middleburg Spring Races; April 19th, Glenwood Park Racecourse in Middleburg; 1:00 p.m.


A Less Dangerous Game

Posted by Robby Osborne / Thursday, April 17th, 2014

By Robby Osborne

Northern Virginia Easter Egg Hunts

Photo courtesy of Kostenko Maxim/shutterstock.com

The Easter Bunny has laid eggs throughout the world, often with treats inside. Who will find these eggs? What will be in them? Only you can solve the mystery. Here are a few Northern Virginia hunting grounds.


Herndon Easter Egg Hunt 

On Saturday, the Herndon Parks and Recreation department will be holding an old-fashioned Easter party beginning at 9 a.m. The Easter Bunny will make an appearance, bringing cheer wherever it hops. There will be an baby-animal petting zoo, which will delight festival goers of all ages. The hunt itself is divided by age groups, which stagger start times depending on the age of the little hunters. Children ages 5-to-7 begin their hunt at 9:30 a.m., 3-to-4 at 10:15 a.m., and toddlers-to-2 begin at 11 a.m. The only requirement for children to participate is that they are walking. 

Herndon Municipal Center, 777 Lynn Street, Herndon
April 19, 9 a.m. to noon; $9

Narmada Winery gets into the spirit of the season with their own egg hunt on April 20. Open to children ten and under, the hunt begins at 1 p.m., and while the children stalk their colorful prey, parents can venture into the tasting the room, and hunt for their favorite vintage. Those in the tasting room will be serenaded by the music of Luke Johnson until 4 p.m. Reservations are required, though, so plan early.
43 Narmada Lane Amissville,  20106
(540) 937-8215, 43, narmadawinery.com/
April 20, 1 p.m.

George C. Marshall International Center Easter Egg Hunt

For the fourth time, The Marshall House plants their unique crop of 2,500 treat-filled eggs around the grounds. From 2 to 4 p.m., children will search throughout the area to see how many eggs they can store in their bags. While the day is free, and walk-ins are more than welcome, the house would not turn down a $5 donation per family. Along with the hunt, there will be face-painting stations, bag decorating and a raffle. 

217 Edwards Ferry Road Leesburg, 2017
(703) 777-1301, georgecmarshall.org
April 19, 2 to 4 p.m.; $5 suggested

Hogback Mountain’s Easter Bunny Hunt

For those who feel that they may too old to hunt for eggs, Hogback Mountain adds a more mature element to the great hunt: Paintball guns. Hogback Mountain Paintball is holding their annual Easter Bunny Hunt, who will be making its appearance throughout the day, mixed in between normal weekend games. While providing tempting target, if players pay too much attention to shooting the bunny, they might find themselves shot by the opposing team. Along with the bunny, Easter specific games will be on rotation throughout the day, where players can find eggs that will be filled with anything from vouchers, to raffle tickets, to just plain old candy. 

20267 Hogback Mountain Road Leesburg, 20175
(703) 777-0057, hogback.net
April 19, 10 a.m.; $20

Second in City, First in Comedy

Posted by Editorial / Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

By Robby Osborne

The Second City Cast.

The Second City Cast. Standing, left to right: Paul Jurewicz, Lisa Barber, Christine Tawfik, Nick Rees; Seated: Rachel LaForce, Adam Schreck. Photo by Kristen Miccoli.

Seasons change, or at least their supposed to, and snow or shine, Second City is returning for their highly-anticipated annual performance at Wolf Trap this weekend.

This year, the touring comedy group will perform “Happily Ever Laughter,” an ensemble of improv comedy ripped from today’s headlines.

“We keep enough of our show improvised so that we’re able to respond in the moment to what the audience is demanding to hear more of,” said producer Joe Ruffner in an email response, “these portions are entirely made up, they can both speak to very recent events and are unique to a particular performance.”

Second City has a tradition of selling out their performances, and this year is no exception, with their Saturday show already sold out, and a handful of seats left for Friday.

For those unfamiliar with Second City, the best way is to think of this improv troupe as a launch pad for some of today’s funniest stars. Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Bill Murray and many more comedy mainstays started at Second City. Audiences can expect Friday’s performance to be a highlight reel of successful sketches taken straight from the archive.Along with classic sketches, the show utilizes recent news items, not from The Onion, as inspiration for other sketches.  

“So the evening will be a revue, assembled from scripts from our storied past, perhaps with a fresh twist, as well as material hot from our resident stages, with a scattering of improv scenes & games, all with the aim of making you laugh,” said Ruffner.

If a night of laughter isn’t enough motivation to head out to the Barns, audiences will be able to say “I knew them before they were famous.”

Second City has theaters in Chicago and Toronto, as well as training centers in Hollywood. It boasts 11 full-time touring companies, and its own video network. Not bad for a company that started as a cabaret theater in 1959.

The Barns at Wolftrap is a 382-seat indoor stage allowed Wolftrap to have a year-round venue for music, comedy and any other performances.

The Barns at Wolftrap
1635 Trap Road, Vienna, 22182
(703) 255-1900, wolftrap.org 
April 18, 8 p.m.; $25-$27

Take a Wine Tour this Saturday

Posted by Editorial / Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

By: Shelby Robinson

Is there any better way to enjoy the spring weather this weekend than to be taken on a wine tour in Loudoun County by a limousine service? We don’t think so.

Reston Limousine is offering a tour of the Loudoun County wine scene this Saturday, allowing indulge in some of NoVA’s finest vino while riding in style.

Passengers can depart from East Falls Church Metro at 10 a.m. or at the Dulles Town Center in Sterling at 10:30 a.m., on the lower level between Lord & Taylor and JCPenney.  After you hop into the minibus, Reston Limousine will whisk you away to your day of relaxation in the rolling hills of western Loudoun.

The first stop on the wine tour is 868 Estate Vineyards in Purcellville. The 868 Estate Vineyard is unique in that its’ vintners make use of sustainable practices in their grape cultivation and the vineyard culinary staff use fresh food from their garden in their meals. If you get hungry while wine tasting, gourmet flat-bread pizzas are available in the tasting room.

868 Estate Vineyards.

Back deck off of the Tasting Room. Photo courtesy of 868 Estate Vineyards.

At 1:30 p.m., you will arrive at the second stop on the wine tour, Loudoun Valley Vineyards. Located in Waterford, Loudoun Valley Vineyards offers tasters a beautiful view of the mountains and a variety of wines from which to choose.

After the wine tasting at Loudoun Valley Vineyards, the Reston Limousine will take you back to either the Dulles Town Center, at 3:45 p.m. or the East Falls Church Metro, at 4:15 p.m.

868 Estate Vineyards and Loudoun Valley Vineyards Wine Tour
Various Locations
Saturday, April 19
Transportation – $39, Wine Tastings – $10 each, Box Lunch (optional) – $15 

Where Penguins Dare

Posted by Editorial / Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

By Robby Osborne


Photo courtesy of Kian McKellar.

Sometimes people just want to look fancy. This Tuesday, Sportrock in Alexandria  offers a chance to do just that with their sixth annual Penguin Climb on April 15. Both ladies and gentlemen are encouraged to dig deep through their closets to find their “best” formal wear to come climb. Who says that prom dresses can only be worn once? Though after climbing in it, there is a chance that dress may never be worn again. Though, this year, it’s been re-branded as Tux Day, in honor of 1040′s  everywhere. 

How did an event like this get started? “It grew out of our management team reminiscing about prom, joking how everyone still had their gowns,” said Jessica Lewis, director of marketing and youth programs. ”It seemed like such a funny juxtaposition – the rugged nature of rock climbing against dainty dresses and tuxedos.” While it isn’t black tie exclusive, climbers are greatly encouraged to try, even if its only putting a tie over a bare chest.

Female formal-wear presents a problem, as dresses do not allow for safety harnesses to be worn, which is mandatory for all climbers. “The ladies have to cut holes in their dresses if they plan to do any roped climbing to make room for their harnesses so it is fun to watch a lot of the ‘alterations’ that take place once they arrive,” said Lewis. 

Some clothes just live inside a closet, never seeing the light of day. Sportrock will be collecting clothing to donate on Tux Night as well. The clothing donated provides business attire for those looking to re-enter the work force.

“This year, we are looking at either Suited to Change, Strive DC or Goodwill, but the final decision will depend on the quantity and quality of what we receive,” said Lewis.

Sportrock Climbing Center
5308 Eisenhower Avenue, Alexandria, 22304 
703-212-7625, sportrock.com
April 15; $14 

Beat the Monday Blues: Bobby Bare, Jr. is coming to IOTA Club

Posted by Editorial / Monday, April 14th, 2014

By Katie Bowles

Photo courtesy of Bobby Bare, Jr./Joshua Black Wilkins.

Bobby Bare, Jr. was raised by country royalty and nominated for a Grammy at the age of six. Impressed yet? If not, learning that Shel Silverstein was a close family friend and critiqued/helped write many of his songs might do the trick. Silverstein was actually the author of the Grammy-nominated song, a duet with Bare’s father (Bobby Bare) called “Daddy What If”.


For all that he has to be proud of, Bobby Bare, Jr. remains close to his fans, often playing smaller venues (like IOTA Club) and even house parties. He’s also the father of three children and appears to be passing on the music gene to them just as his father did for him–he recently recorded a cover of “Daddy What If” his own daughter, Isabella.



Bare, Jr.’s Americana-style music isn’t quite as country as his father’s, but it’s just as catchy. This tour celebrates the release of his newest album, “Undefeated” (recorded with his band, the Young Criminals’ Starvation League). Come see Bare for yourself in NoVA this coming Thursday, April 17, at IOTA Club in Clarendon. The show’s at 8:30 but you’ll want to get there early since IOTA only sells tickets at the door

Bobby Bare, Jr. at IOTA Club
2832 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington
Thursday, April 17
Tickets $12 

The NoVA Runner’s Guide to Spring Races

Posted by Editorial / Friday, April 11th, 2014

By Katie Bowles

With winter out of the way and warmer temperatures here, many of us are thinking about hitting the pavement and signing up for a 5K, half marathon or even ultramarathon. Find the right race (and shoe, as suggested by The Running Store in Gainesville) for you.

Courtesy of BROOKS RUNNING COMPANY (Brooks Ghost, Brooks Glycerin, Brooks Cascadia); Courtesy of Altra (Altra Superior 1.5); Courtesy of Newton Running Co. (Newton Boco AT); Courtesy of The Running Store (Hoka One One: Huaka, Asics Noosa Tri9, New Balance 1400v2, New Balance Minimus)


 (April 2014)

George Mason welcomes Japanese drum ensemble,TAO: Phoenix Rising

Posted by Editorial / Friday, April 11th, 2014

Tao: Phoenix Rising

Photo courtesy of Columbia Artists Management Inc.

By Janeé Williams

Get a bit of Japanese culture this weekend with Tao: Phoenix Rising. The Japanese Drum ensemble will be performing at the Hylton Performing Arts Center at George Mason University, Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday 4 p.m. Tickets prices vary and will be sold up to the performance day. All tickets holders will be able to enjoy a pre-performance discussion with the group 45 minutes before the show is to begin.

Tao: Phoenix Rising

Photo courtesy of Columbia Artists Management Inc

What can the audience expect to see?

You will find yourself immersed in Japanese culture and explosive drumming. This group has come from several different eclectic backgrounds ranging from Rock to Classical music and have drawn on these backgrounds to give you the best experience.

Founded in 1993 by Ikuo Fujitaka, the group began performing in the Kyusha region of Japan. From their they were invited to perform at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe were they hit it big with 25 consecutive performances, all sold out. Since then the group has been traveling the country and performing. 

Although a male-based genre, the group contains both male and female drummers who will perform. These performers go under intense training, meditation and exercise at a isolated mountain compound in Japan to bring the audience their best performance and reach the highest level of virtuosity. Combined with fashion designer Junko Koshino, the group will not only sound powerful but look powerful.

TAO: Phoenix Rising
Hylton Performing Arts Center
Saturday April 12, 8 p.m.
Sunday April 13, 4 p.m. 



‘Private Norton’

Posted by Editorial / Friday, April 11th, 2014

Loudoun Lyric Opera debuts an original production showcasing the witty, yet fatalistic Oliver Wilcox Norton, the struggles of war and its parallelism today. –Lynn Norusis

Loudoun Lyric Opera's Private Norton.

Photo courtesy of Loudoun Lyric Opera.

It is marked by the most ancient of poets that in peace children bury their parents; in war parents bury their children. … How dreadful to hold everything at the mercy of an enemy and to receive life itself as a boon dependent on the sword!” So says David Thomas Dorch, the antagonist in Loudoun Lyric Opera’s original production of “Private Norton” and Meredith Bean McMath’s great grandfather in an essay he wrote about the horrors of war when he served at the Battle of Fredericksburg.

Oliver Wilcox Norton has that same struggle.

Loudoun Lyric Opera's 'Private Norton'.

Photo courtesy Loudoun Lyric Opera.

“It is this weird juxtaposition where men really want to face death and then realize they have become death,” says McMath. “And that, if you’re talking about grand opera, that is where you go.”

McMath, an award-winning historian, director of Run Rabbit Run Productions and the librettist, had already begun her research on Norton—a man she describes as a “Forrest Gump of the Civil War” having been present at Little Round Top at the Battle of Gettysburg; a lieutenant with the 8th U.S. Colored Troops; and a bugler who worked with Dan Butterfield to create Taps, being the first to play the melody—when Pamela Butler, president and co-founder of Loudoun Lyric Opera, approached her about working on an opera. McMath immediately knew Norton’s story would be the focus.

“Everything that was prominent and important about his life is contained in this and creates the emotional arc in the opera.”

David Chavez, a composer and board member of Loudoun Lyric also joined the project. “Norton as a person, in his writings, had this deadpan sense of humor with this fatalistic streak. So he could be, at times, very humorous then very dark the next, and quickly change from one to the other,” says Chavez. “It takes audiences on a real roller coaster ride.”

Pairing fateful, sometimes witty monologue with Chavez’s music the audience delves deeper into the minds of the characters. Chavez’s use of layering existing styles and genres of music, pulls emotion from the notes.

Though set during the Civil War—timed to tie in with the Civil War Sesquicentennial—there is a modern take on the opera. “We live in probably the most politically polarized time in the nation’s history since the years leading up to the Civil War,” says Butler. “And Norton himself, after the war ended, he dedicated his life to making sure something this horrible never happened again.”

McMath does not shy away from its parallelism. She wants the audience to resonate with the characters (played by an acclaimed cast: Daniel Sherwood, Melissa Jean Chavez, Michael Forest, Natalie Barrens, to name just a few).

“It’s there, it’s absolutely there,” McMath says, “because Norton was so forthright (“And even though there are men here who fight for different reasons here then mine. And even though I suspect that God ain’t on their side … either one of us or both can catch a bullet on the fly.”). Where I’m asking for … ambiguity is that it is very easy for people to find in this country today the friend of prejudice and bigotry is ignorance. … This play allows those voices to come out.”

‘Private Norton’
Franklin Park Arts Center
April 4-13, times vary

(April 2014)

Loudoun & Fairfax County Home Show draws DIY stars

Posted by Editorial / Thursday, April 10th, 2014

By Robby Osborne


A house is a house, but that doesn’t make it a home. Houses aren’t timeless, and a pastel bathroom from the ’70′s, popcorn ceilings or a closed floor plan can alienate those who dwell within. Renovating, remodeling, and redecorating can seem like such a hassle that it’s to even know where to begin. This is what the Loudoun & Fairfax County Home Show is all about. 

This free Home Show arrives at the Michael & Son Sportsplex in Sterling this weekend. As part of the American Consumers Show series, its resources seem without limit.

The show itself is designed for homeowners in any stage of a home-improvement project, featuring three local specialists and HGTV’s Ahmed Hassan. Hassan has made a name for himself on shows like “Yard Crashers” & “Blog Cabin,” where he shows his expertise in landscaping, and more specifically, yard-based DIY projects.

The three guest speakers for the show are local to the Washington D.C. area. First, J Allen, an interior designer who’s designs have appeared HGTV’s Design Star, will regale the audience on what really happens on design shows.

The second guest, antique and art appraiser Todd Peenstra, will be on hand for free private appraisals all weekend. During Peenstra’s presentation, he will host his own styling of an Antiques Roadshow. Janet Schiesl will present “Getting Organized-It’s Not About the Stuff,” which, tackles the best ways to declutter a living space. All presenters will present on the lifestyle stage.

The show isn’t all speeches and advice. Exhibitors come from all across the area and include all areas of home improvement, from insulation to hot tubs. All of the booths are hosted by local businesses, who plan to offer discounts only available to those who attend the show. 

Spend the weekend perusing the show, or duck in for one presentation, it all costs the same. This show is a must see for those who intend on improving their homes.

Loudoun & Fairfax County Home Show
21610 Atlantic Blvd., Sterling, 20166
855-523-5326, loudounfairfaxhomeshow.com
April 12 & 13; Free

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