Year in Review: Diverse festivals debut throughout area

The Northern Shenandoah Valley played host for quite a few festivals celebrating music, film and culture and piloting their first year in 2015.

Other established groups continued to host events rich in history and the arts with plenty of entertainment to be had along the way.

Winchester Film Club 3.0 made new flicks available in the area after its Lost Weekend film festivals in the spring and fall. The club contributed to the Winchester SPCA in the spring with a silent auction and Handley Library in the fall by donating indie titles to a special collection in the library.

The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester began showcasing Shenandoah Valley history and artifacts in April with the “Collect, Preserve, Interpret: Ten Years at the MSV” exhibit and historical costumes from some award-winning films with “Cut! Costume and the Cinema” in October.

Shenandoah Valley Music Festival drew out a number of big names to Orkney Springs through the summer and early autumn with a wide variety of performers like Smash Mouth, Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn, Jackie Evancho and the Oak Ridge Boys.

“We try to get a nice mix of music, a little something for everybody,” said Dennis Lynch, festival president. “We know that the way music tastes have splintered over the past several years, it’s tough to find one thing that everybody’s going to like.”

The streets of Woodstock set the scene for portions of writer and director Lisa Mikitarian’s first full-length independent farce noir film, “Spent.” Her crew, a mostly volunteer group with varied backgrounds, did a majority of the shooting between Harrisonburg and Winchester over the summer, and the film is in post-production for a 2016 release.

Over Labor Day weekend, Skyline Ranch Resort in Front Royal hosted the first Appaloosa Festival, a roots-centered music festival organized by D.C-area band Scythian.

Four State Slasher Con made its debut for fans of thrillers and general gore at Bright Box Theater in Winchester. Organizers brought in a list of well-known names from cult films and TV.

Cedar Creek’s 151st anniversary commemoration and battle reenactment in October didn’t boast the attendance numbers of the 150th event last year, but Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park’s new site manager, Karen Beck-Herzog, said the public programming was well-received.

Chris (Comeswithclouds) White and Rene White (Feather), founders of Native American Church Sanctuary on the Trail in Bluemont, started The Gathering in late October at the Clarke County Fairgrounds as a celebration of both agriculture and Native American culture. Prominent guests from within the Native American community included Dennis Banks and Dennis Zotigh, and activities and dancing provided a weekend filled with unique experiences and learning opportunities.

“It’s been like wildfire in that people have caught the spirit of The Gathering,” Rene White said when they raised a teepee near Clermont Farm in preparation for the event.

Bonnie Blue Concerts announced the new Roadhouse Classic concert series to kick off in January 2016 with a performance by country star Travis Tritt. Series producer Christian Schweiger said the shows will be more personal than typical “prepackaged” shows.

With fanfare to spare, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” broke box office records and ended the year with a bang by rekindling the franchise’s legend for a new chapter. Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Winchester put its own spin on the premiere and reported sold out showings all weekend long.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com