Liza Peltola grew up in Waynesboro, VA, and after living overseas and on the west coast, returned to the Shenandoah Valley, where rolling farmland and Blue Ridge Mountains foster a thriving arts and agriculture scene.
Have you mowed the lawn until the grass is sticking in your throat? Are you slaving over an outdoor grill, flipping hamburgers while the sweat trickles between your shoulder blades? Do you drive a car without air conditioning, peeling your thighs off the seats and sporting a windblown hairstyle? Then make a beeline to Waynesboro for one of these throat-soothing, spine-chilling frosty treats!
Micah’s Coffee. 1000 West Broad Street. When the weather turns hot, Waynesboro’s popular drive-thru coffee stand whips up cold espresso drinks and frappes. One of their most popular treats is the Frozen Mocha, blended with Ghiradelli chocolate, espresso and milk, topped with homemade whipped cream. Kids will enjoy a Frozen Hot Chocolate, the same recipe without the espresso.
2017 will mark the 45th year Waynesboro hosts the annual Fall Foliage Art Show, which draws over 150 fine artists and artisans from around the country to the City’s downtown in October. But the City is doing more than just bringing artists in; it’s producing artists of its own. A growing number of visual and dramatic arts venues promise the advance of creative expression in a community already rich with that heritage.
One of the advantages of living in a modestly sized city like Waynesboro is the abundance of hometown events that pull the community closer together. Often celebrated with regularity each year, these gatherings create space for multiple generations to rub elbows with each other, for a city’s culture to be shaped and maintained, and—inevitably—for adults to cross paths with their former middle school teachers.
May showcases some of Waynesboro’s best hometown charm! From local theater to music on the mountain, Waynesboro strives to make its citizens and visitors feel right at home.
Roller-skating, romance, and retro music—the royal combination for an entertaining stage production! Based on the 1980 movie starring Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly, this Tony Award-winning musical is sure to inspire audiences to dream big. Familiar hits like “Suddenly,” “Strange Magic,” and “Evil Woman” will have both young and old rocking in their seats. And if that’s not enough, each Saturday performance will be followed by a dance party!
Now in its 24th year, the Blue Ridge Classic Soapbox Derby is a gravity car race that unites children, parents, and grandparents in a collaborative effort. Participants between the ages of 7 and 20 team up with family members and sponsors to create their own derby cars over the course of several months. On May 6, the cars are pitted against each other down the long hill on Main Street. Come out and cheer for the young competitors and their sponsors!
May 6, 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., Waynesboro Public Library
The Blue Ridge region grows beautiful dogwoods this time of year, but it also grows literary talent. Over 30 published writers from the area will gather at Waynesboro Public Library to showcase their works and autograph title pages. Books will be on sale at the event so that you can support your new favorite writer. Read more about some of the attendees on our blog.
Meet the neighbors you never knew you had at this block party and potluck featuring fire trucks, inflatable bounce houses, face painting, and local gospel music. Hot dogs and drinks are provided by the City of Waynesboro, and the Rosenwald Community Center will be open for basketball.
Let’s not forget that our community has furry members, too! Coyner Springs, the City’s designated dog park, rolls out the green carpet for your canine companion at an event that places dogs at the center of attention. Have Fido’s caricature made, treat him to a game of Musical Sit, and share lunch from any of the food trucks while you watch a jaw-dropping performance of The Marvelous Mutts. Donations are accepted, and all proceeds benefit Shenandoah Valley Animal Services Center.
May 28, 2:00-4:00 p.m., Humpback Rocks Mountain Farm & Visitor Center, Milepost 5.8 on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Not long ago, an Appalachian family might gather with neighbors on a Sunday afternoon to enjoy homespun music and fellowship. The Humpback Rocks Mountain Farm maintains this tradition by offering Sunday afternoon concerts on the farm grounds throughout the summer. May 28 marks the first concert of the season and features the band “Sunny Side.” Bring a lawn chair and a picnic and enjoy the shady trees while relishing authentic bluegrass music.
The hometown events don’t stop in May. Check out our full calendar of events for other celebrations throughout the summer!
You may walk past them without even recognizing them—authors from the Blue Ridge region who have published books and even received national acclaim. And they’re gathering in one place for the 3rd Annual Author Fest at Waynesboro Public Library on May 6.
The public is invited to meet over two dozen of the area’s authors—from well-known to little-known—at an event that offers books, refreshments, and signings. Marta Grove, Publicity Coordinator of the Waynesboro Public Library, is excited by what the event promises. “Author Fest exposes the community to local writing talent and is an excellent time to broaden the horizons of readers. Book lovers will enjoy this time to meet authors and buy their books, and authors will benefit from the opportunity to expand their exposure.”
Jake’s is a welcoming watering hole with a cozy, western flair, serving 100% all natural, locally raised, USDA ground beef burgers. Try their award-willing Tumbleweed Burger, featuring a beef patty topped with breaded jalapeño nuggets, cream cheese, apple jelly, and crunchy fried onion strips served on a glossy brioche roll. Once you’ve tasted it, you’ll know why it swept all three categories at the Staunton-Augusta Regional Chamber of Commerce Burger Cookoff. Jake’s also won the attention of Scoutology as being among the best burger joints in the state!
Also try the Sagebrush, a beef patty smothered in grilled onions, peppers, and mushrooms with melted Swiss and homemade Coyote sauce.
Just because the thermometer is dropping doesn’t mean you have to stay holed up inside. Waynesboro’s park system invites outdoor play any season of the year. Each park has its own flavor, so read on to find the perfect park for you this fall and winter.
Highlights: Play structure, tennis courts, ball fields, forest trail, sledding
Ridgeview Park hosts numerous festivals and concerts during the summer months and lures crowds to its 50-meter outdoor swimming pool, but when fall comes, a whole new beauty emerges. Cross the iron footbridge and watch the autumn leaves drop into the South River. Enjoy a nature walk through the wooded trail that borders soccer field #3 (across the bridge). Play a game of catch in one of the sunny baseball fields or simply enjoy the gazebo overlooking the serene river. Kids will love the elaborate play structure even on cooler days. And in the winter months, the bare trees and snowy landscape make a lovely backdrop for a walk—a paved path cuts through the center of the park, connecting two neighborhoods and making it easy to access even during snowy weather.
If it snows: Bring your sled, tube, or snowboard and try out the steep sledding hill that has been drawing thrill-seekers since the park’s creation.
I grew up in Waynesboro in the 1970s, when the manufacturing giant DuPont presided over the city like a godfather. Everyone knew someone who worked at the plant, and the research and development that went on there was a matter of pride for the whole community. The critical but silent partner in DuPont’s success was its water source, the South River, which wound its way gracefully through the city. Because DuPont extended its arms along a one-mile stretch of the river, there were only a handful of places within city limits that the public could enjoy the river’s beauty. Ridgeview Park was one—with its duck population and fun steel bridge—but I don’t recall ever dipping a toe into the water, and I never saw anyone paddling a kayak.
Fast forward to the present day, when access to the South River has changed dramatically. In 1987 DuPont donated riverfront land to create Constitution Park along Main Street, opening up a section of river that had previously been restricted; more recently, Parks Recreation installed an adjoining Greenway Trail for pedestrians; wading areas were developed in Ridgeview Park; fly fishing took off; and festivals lauding the river’s majesty began to sprout up. The river changed from an industrial asset to a tranquil spot for rest and relaxation. Continue reading “#LiveLikeaLocal: R&R on the River”