By Joe Beck - firstname.lastname@example.org
"Every man has a right to a Saturday night bath." -- President Lyndon B. Johnson
For those looking for a little more than a bath to jazz up their weekends, the communities of the Northern Shenandoah Valley are offering an abundance of activities.
No need to let Saturday night go down the drain when there is so much else to do, especially for those with enough flexibility to take advantage of events scheduled throughout the weekend.
There's always plenty of sight seeing and outdoor recreation in area parks and on the Shenandoah River, but those more inclined to seek out opportunities for self-improvement may want to consider educational events ranging from Civil War history to a program on the risks of distracted driving.
Front Royal will hold the first of several events scheduled through mid-May marking the 150th anniversary of the bloody Battle of Front Royal in 1862. The battle rarely makes its way into school textbooks that focus on larger clashes between North and South, but historians recognize it as a key part of a much larger struggle for control of the strategically vital Shenandoah Valley during Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's 1862 Valley Campaign.
"Brother Against Brother: The Legacy of the Battle of Front Royal" begins Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a free open house exhibit at the Warren Rifles Confederate Memorial Museum, 95 Chester St. The exhibit will focus on Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson's Valley Campaign of 1862. Civil War-themed vendors, publications and historical organizations will appear at the Front Royal Holiday Inn, 111 Hospitality Drive, from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. The Holiday Inn is also the site for a dinner followed by a talk on the battle by former U.S. Secretary of the Army and U.S. Rep. John O. Marsh. The dinner is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. with Marsh scheduled to speak at 7 p.m. The admission fee is $25.
Another guest speaker is scheduled from 8:30 to 9:15 a.m at the Holiday Inn. Dan Toomey will speak on "Col. John Kenley: Hero of the Battle of Front Royal." Breakfast, which begins at 8 a.m., is included with Toomey's lecture. Admission is $12.
Toomey's appearance will be followed by a commemorative ceremony at nearby Fairview featuring representatives of military units from Virginia and Maryland and the planting of a symbolic evergreen tree. Fairview is the site where the Battle of Front Royal ended in a hard-fought Confederate victory. Joseph Whitehorne will speak about the battle and Patrick Farris, executive director of the Warren Heritage Society, will conduct a tour of Fairview. From 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., interpreters will also be available at selected stops along the self-guided Battle of Front Royal driving tour.
The Old Courthouse Museum at 20 N. Loudoun St. in Winchester will be the site of another Civil War-themed event on Saturday and Sunday depicting how women in Winchester, residents and nurses, saw the conflict. The first of several presentations begins at 10:30 a.m. Saturday and continues to 4:45 p.m. Sunday's presentations run from 1:15 to 5 p.m.
The Toastmasters and Shenandoah Royal Orators are holding a free open house from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the Warren County Community Center, 538 Villa Ave. Front Royal. The program includes advice on listening effectively, thinking on your feet and speaking confidently. More information is available from Michael Wolniewicz at 336-1922 or email@example.com.
The Salvation Army is holding its annual dinner at 6 p.m. at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club, 134 Golf Club Circle, Front Royal. The program includes a guest speaker, awards program, musical entertainment, live auction and a trivia contest. Tickets are $45. For reservations, contact Lina at 635-4020.
The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley at 901 Amherst St. in Winchester will be staying open Friday from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. as part of its Galleries of the Night event. A lecture by Stephen R. Potter, a National Park Service archeologist, on "Buffalo in the East: A Story of Pigs, People, and Pigeons" is scheduled for 7 p.m. Potter will discuss the impact of buffalo on exploration and settlement of the Appalachian Mountains. Admission is free for museum members and $5 for all others.
Warren County Sheriff Daniel T. McEathron is holding an event to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Jack Evans Chevrolet, 125 S. Royal Ave. Front Royal. The activities include an opportunity for visitors to try out a car specially equipped to allow drivers to safely simulate distracted driving scenarios while behind the wheel. The event is co-sponsored by Jack Evans Chevrolet and the Front Royal Elks Lodge.
The Samuels Public Library, 330 E. Criser Road, has scheduled an event combining books and food from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Buffet tables will be hosted by local groups with food and decorations celebrating books. A martini bar and silent auction are also planned. Tickets are $25 each.