By Josette Keelor
June is Great Outdoors Month in Virginia, a great time to get outside and enjoy the area's many natural resources like parks, trails, lakes, state and national forests and the Shenandoah River. In area towns this weekend, festivals, music and historical events will help make outdoor fun nearly impossible to avoid. And why try?
From 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, the 11th Annual GardenFest will be at Belle Grove Plantation, 336 Belle Grove Road, Middletown offering plant sales, displays and demonstrations, more than 20 specialty vendors, tool sharpening, children's activities and a petting zoo. Admission and parking are free, and the Manor House will host tours at a reduced price of $5 for visitors 12 and older, said Belle Grove Director Kristen Laise.
"There will be lots to buy," she said.
The festival's key feature will be the Master Gardeners' Plant Sale on the back lawn, with a Second Hand Rose tent offering gently used gardening and garden-themed household items for sale. Proceeds of the tent sale will benefit the 2014 Belle Grove Garden Intern fund. The museum shop will have garden and flower themed gifts for sale.
A free Kid's Trail Gardening Activities program will include instruction on water sheds and water quality, planting in the right place and making a seed bowl. It's available to children in second through fifth grade and their siblings. To preregister, email email@example.com or call 540-273-1072.
A schedule will include new workshops and guest speakers.
• 9:30 a.m. "Planning and Planting a Vegetable Garden," by Dr. Steve Carroll, director of public programs at the State Arboretum of Virginia at Blandy Farm, Boyce
• 10 a.m. a workshop on making a hypertufa composite planter, with a $5 fee for supplies
• 10:30 a.m. "Backyard Flocks" by Wendy Rush, owner of Eggcentric Egg and Chicken Ranch, Edinburg
• 11 a.m. a workshop on making garden stepping stones, with a $5 fee for supplies
• 11:30 a.m. "From Backcountry to Breadbasket: the Peopling of the Shenandoah Valley" by Shannon Moeck, park ranger, Cedar Creek Belle Grove National Historical Park, Middletown
The festival will happen rain or shine, Laise said, "but the weather looks good."
Information: 540-869-2028 or www.bellegrove.org
In Winchester Saturday, the Hop Blossom Craft Beer Festival will be from noon to 6 p.m. on the Loudoun Street Pedestrian Mall. Featuring 36 craft brewers from around the country, the event will include live entertainment, a homebrew competition and local restaurants offering food. Tickets to the festival are $25 online or $30 at the gate and are available at www.hopblossom.com. The festival benefits GoodDogz.org and the Winchester SPCA and is sponsored by Polly's Cab.
Historical activities this weekend include living history at Hupp's Hill in Strasburg, with free admission from 9 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and a gathering of the Civil War Eagles both days at the Old Courthouse, 20 N. Loudoun St., Winchester. The Eagles' interactive first person education seminar will be hosted by 50 members of Lee's Lieutenants and the Federal Generals Corps. Call Hupps Hill at 465-5884 or the Civil War Eagles at 540-542-1145.
Also this weekend:
Friday night in Front Royal, the Woodstock ROCS outdoor concert will feature The Instigators performing at W.O Riley Park on the playing field near the park shelters from 7 to 9 p.m. instead of at the concert venue which is under construction. Information: 459-3085, www.townofwoodstockva.com
A performance by the American Legion Community Band at 7 p.m. Friday at Randolph-Macon Academy's chapel in Front Royal will support the Salvation Army and C-CAP. Information: 540-635-6828, www.alcband.org
First Friday at the Bowman-Shannon Cultural Art Center, 5998 Main St., Mount Jackson, will include live music, food and drinks from 7 to 10 p.m. Information: 570-477-4131
In Winchester Saturday the World Explorer Obstacle Course will take place rain or shine behind the War Memorial Building in Jim Barnett Park. Open to ages 5 to 12, it will challenge participants to maneuver around the world through fantastic physical feats. Admission is $15. Register at 540-662-4946.
Later that day, Downtown Front Royal will sponsor its Front Royal Idol and Dancing Downtown from 6 to 10 p.m. at the gazebo on East Main Street. Food and beer will be available at the dance. Tickets are $5. Children younger than 10 get in free. Information: 571-233-3939