This Getaway Weekend Sizzles with Variety

Are you a big believer that variety is the spice of life? The weekend of September 21-23 in Waynesboro, Virginia will fire you up with options! With a music festival, park adventure, craft-beer run, and gem and mineral show all packed into the same weekend, consider your life spiced!

Heat, Beats, & Beer

Virginia Chili, Blues n Brews Festival photo by Norm Shafer

There might be a nip in the air as fall approaches, but this festival puts some “heat” in the season change! Pro and amateur chili chefs compete for prize money and the title of People’s Choice. They’re joined by thousands of lovers of spice, music, and beer at the Virginia Chili, Blues n’ Brews Festival. Now in its 11th year, the downtown Waynesboro event is September 22 from 3-9pm. Staged against backdrop of the South River and sweeping mountain views, the festival promises a marvelous mashup of sensory experiences.

 Recharge at Shenandoah National Park

from Shenandoah National Park facebook page

Restoration and resilience are the focus of the 25th anniversary of National Public Lands Day on September 22, and if you’re looking to personally recharge, Shenandoah National Park is fee-free that day and filled with renewing vistas, waterfalls, or quiet glades. One of Virginia’s most beloved natural wonders, the 200,000-acre Shenandoah National Park boasts more than 500 miles of trails. Just three miles from the park’s southernmost Rockfish Gap Entrance, Waynesboro makes the perfect starting point for an exploration of its wild southern section.

A Run with a View—and a Reward

If a physical challenge is your spice, brace yourself for the Basic City Burn. Featuring a just under three-mile course that climbs a quad-burning 300 feet to the highest point in Waynesboro, the stunning view of the valley is just part of the event’s allure. Runners and walkers also get treated to cool swag and a post-race party with beer tastings at Basic City Beer Co. and food by Hops Kitchen.

 Not Just Any Old Rocks

from Shenandoah Valley Gem & Mineral Society facebook page

Second in age only to South Africa’s Barberton greenstone belt, the Blue Ridge Mountains are a perfect destination for rock hounds, nature lovers, and history buffs alike. The weekend of September 21-23 will allow you to feast your eyes on the fascinating and beautiful rocks and minerals found in the Shenandoah Valley (and beyond) at the 51st Annual Gem & Mineral Show. The whole family will be enthralled with the mix of unique shopping, treasure-hunting (for kids), educational talks, and demos like panning for gold and cabochon making.

Local Food & Fowl

The weekend options don’t stop there. Every Saturday through September 29, 9am-1pm, you can also visit the Waynesboro Farmer’s Market, both a marketplace and a community gathering space, in the heart of downtown Waynesboro. Visitors can shop, play along the river banks, or stroll along the nearby South River Greenway.

Autumn brings thousands of migrating raptors to the mountain pass of Rockfish Gap at the juncture of Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Manned by volunteers collecting raptor data for global research and education, the Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch is open to the public and easily accessible without hiking or climbing. Novice birders can witness this awesome natural event between now and November 30, although the peak migration occurs mid- to late-September.

3 Farm Fresh Experiences From Town to Country, Local Food has Never Felt so Close

Meet Your Farmer at the Waynesboro Farmer’s Market

Farmer’s markets are the perfect spot to meet the folks who grow your food. The Waynesboro Farmer’s Market (a producers-only affair, meaning all the farms on-site participate in producing the products they sell) delights with characters, stories, and delicious ways to get to know the growers who are greening our local food shed. Their regular assortment of offerings includes fresh veggies, meat, bread and baked goods, honey, flowers, and a variety of arts and crafts.

Occurring every Saturday from 9 a.m. to1 p.m. throughout the growing season, the Waynesboro Farmer’s Market is a family affair. Located in Constitution Park in the heart of downtown Waynesboro, children and adults are welcome to shop, play along the river banks, or stroll along the nearby South River Greenway.

With so many farms, wineries, bakeries, and local food producers dotting the Valley, there’s no need to wait for a Saturday to explore a regional farmer’s market. The Staunton, North Augusta, Harrisonburg, and Lexington farmer’s markets will keep you munching all week with schedules that include Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday.

Cuddle Baby Goats

Nothing says springtime like soft fur and baby goats. Both A Better Way Farm and My Peeps Farm offer goat cuddling sessions that never fail to elicit smiles and shrieks of delight. Pair them with cheesemaking classes, farm tours, or a chance to buy pastured eggs.

My Peeps Farm raises Nigerian Dwarf goats on 10 acres. A Better Way Farm is a small eco-farm and micro-dairy in Augusta County focused on managing their land in harmony with nature. They promise “Happy goats make sweet, delicious milk,” and they let you be the judge by offering goats’ milk cheeses and more in their farm store.

Meet the Cow that Came to Town

The best part of cities nestled in farmland is the locally grown food available to downtown restaurants and retailers. This summer, the City Cow, the latest entrepreneurial initiative of the the owner of the Purple Cow Ice Cream Parlor and Cafe, comes to Waynesboro. Featuring displays from a variety of local vendors, visitors will find farm-fresh produce, items from the Enchanted Apothecary, Stone Cottage Candles, tie-dye, and even cow mugs to match the marketing decor. The City Cow will be one of the first landmarks seen by drivers exiting the Blue Ridge Parkway and heading into Waynesboro.

Visitors will find even more locally grown food at several downtown restaurants. The Farmhaus on Main serves up seasonal salads, sandwiches, coffee, and books, while BlueOregano specializes in catered meals and family cooking classes in their downtown storefront.

However you choose to partake in local food and farms this season, it’s glasses up and cheers to the many growers who are serving up great fare and farm-fresh experiences in the Shenandoah Valley!