Blog Archives

Harrisonburg’s inaugural Restaurant Week serves up local flavor

The City of Harrisonburg is home to a unique blend of locally-owned restaurants, craft breweries, grocers, bakeries and cafes, and Virginia’s first culinary district. The inaugural Harrisonburg Restaurant week, set for March 5 – 11, 2017, showcases the local flavors at more than 40 participating restaurants throughout the city.

The week-long celebration will feature the popular Taste of Downtown and introduce Savor on Port and Relish Uptown, a new branding initiative that will include a collection of local restaurants specifically on Port Republic Road and various locations throughout the city. Participating restaurants will serve upsignature dishes, daily specials, small plates, brunch bites, sweet treats and more. The week offers patrons an opportunity to visit an impressive and diverse mix of locally-owned eateries with international influences ranging from mainstream American to Asian-fusion cuisine to authentic Indian fare.

During Harrisonburg’s Restaurant Week, our chefs will showcase their creativity and talents. They create global comfort foods sourced from area farms and dishes that are inspired from secret family recipes, making it easy for you to take a “Culinary Trip around the World” right here in the Shenandoah Valley.

“This is a great opportunity to team up with our local food businesses to showcase the culinary arts in Harrisonburg,” says Brenda Black, Director of Tourism and Visitor Services. “We’re inviting visitors and our neighbors to join us as we indulge in home-grown goodness and celebrate the bounty of the Shenandoah Valley.”

“O’Neill’s Grill is very excited to be a part of restaurant week,” says Tim O’Neill, owner of O’Neill’s Grill. “It is a great opportunity for us to showcase our scratch kitchen to some of the community that hasn’t visited us before. We are also going to tie this event to one of our local monthly charity events.”

“I love these types of city wide events,” says Scott Coles, chef at Jimmy Madison’s Southern Kitchen & Whiskey Bar. “It’s an opportunity to stretch beyond my culinary boundaries and be a little more adventurous. My menu for Restaurant Week this year is “Contemporary Country” themed, with dishes such as Beer Can Quail, Mac & Cheese Tower, Spam Dynamite and a Baked Virginian.” He also says, “Restaurant Week is a chance for me to explore what the other creative minds of Harrisonburg have to offer.”

“Taste of Downtown is a unique showcase of the downtown food scene, which boasts more than 40 food-related businesses in a 40-block district” says Kim Kirk, Chief Marketing Officer at Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance. “Every restaurant offers a unique atmosphere and culinary experience. This diversity coupled with our chefs’ commitment to showcasing the local culture and ingredients are what makes Harrisonburg’s food scene incredible.”

Tickets are not required; however, reservations are encouraged and should be made directly with the restaurant. Guests can visit as many places as they wish during the seven‐day event.

For a list of participating restaurants and details of their offers, visit or

Solas brings Irish-American music to Court Square Theater

court square theaterThe Court Square Theater Music Series continues on Friday, February 24th with a concert by Irish-American group, Solas.

2016 marks the 20th Anniversary of the quintessential Irish-American band, Solas. Formed in 1996, in a manner befitting their name (Gaelic for “light”), Solas burst onto the Irish music scene and instantly became a beacon – an incandescent ensemble that found contemporary relevance in timeless traditions.

Eleven albums later, with numerous awards to their credit, and more miles traveled touring the world to count, Solas will mark this milestone with a exciting new recording project and tour, ALL THESE YEARS. It is a celebration of a band that, from its inception, captured the musical world’s attention and went on to become one of the most influential groups in the history of Irish music. ALL THESE YEARS sees Solas reuniting with all the members of the band, past and present, to record new material and embark on a year long world tour.

Anchored by founding members Seamus Egan (flute, tenor banjo, mandolin, whistles, guitars, bodhran) and Winifred Horan (violins, vocals), who form the backbone of the uniquely definable Solas sound, long time members Eamon McElholm (guitars, keyboards, vocals), and Mick McAuley (button accordion, vocals) and newest member, the dynamic Moira Smiley (vocals, banjo), Solas is musically at the top of their game and continues to be the standard bearer not only for great Irish music, but great music in any genre.

Solas performs at Harrisonburg’s Court Square Theater on Friday, February 24th. Doors open at 7:00pm and the concert begins at 8:00pm. Tickets are $22 in advance and $25 at the door. Please visit or call 540.433.9189 for more information and to purchase tickets.

Court Square Theater is located at 41-F Court Square in downtown Harrisonburg, Virginia.

Virginia State Parks stimulate $224 million in visitor spending in 2016

virginiaVirginia State Parks helped stimulate more than $224 million in visitor spending in 2016. The figure comes from a new economic impact report compiled by the Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business as part of an ongoing partnership with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, the agency that manages Virginia State Parks.

“In 2016, Virginia State Parks hosted over 10 million visitors, more than a million of whom spent the night in our world-class cabins and campgrounds. These important economic drivers support more than 3,500 private and public jobs across Virginia and improve quality of life in our Commonwealth,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Last year, out-of-state visitors spent around $98 million as the result of our state park system – an incredible return on only $19.8 million in general fund appropriations.”

In addition to a substantial positive impact on the value of nearby real estate, the report found that the economic activity stimulated by Virginia State Parks yielded approximately $19.6 million in tax revenue for the Commonwealth last year.

“For every $1 we receive from the General Assembly, Virginia State Parks generate 99 cents in tax revenue,” said Virginia State Parks Director Craig Seaver. “Sales taxes, business taxes and state income taxes all help to make state parks nearly budget neutral.”

“This report gives us a new baseline from which we’ll measure all state parks economic activity in the future,”said Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation Director Clyde Cristman. “Previously, we used decades-old calculations and multipliers to arrive at the numbers. We are continuously collecting customized spending information from thousands of visitors on line and in writing. We’re also using a special computer program, called IMPLAN, for our calculations. With this new process in place, we expect to have more precise figures that we’ll continue to refine every year.”

For the full Virginia State Parks Economic Impact Report 2016, click here. For more information about Virginia State Parks, visit

Shenandoah Valley Art Center features Governor’s School students

The Shenandoah Valley Art Center, during the month of February, in the Cabell/Arehart Gallery is paying tribute to art education exhibiting the artwork of the Visual Arts students from the Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School.

Mary Yoder, Visual Arts Director, commented that the students participate in a regional art program that connects them with other talented students from Augusta County, Staunton, and Waynesboro in a college-level studio setting. In this program, students develop their own unique aesthetic built on a strong foundation in technical skill. Regular peer critiques and study of influential artists assist students in formulating educated opinions regarding quality and intended purpose of visual art.

The program encourages students to explore a range of approaches and eventually dedicate time to concentrating on media and subject matter that interests them the most. In the AP Studio course this concentration on selected media or subject matter is referred to as “Sustained Investigation.”

The pieces in this show exhibit individual areas of interest within the art program. Students have thought carefully about the subject matter of their work and the media in which they communicate their message. An opening reception will be held February 4, 6 – 8pm.  The public is invited to come, meet, and talk to the young artists.

In the Hallway Gallery, the tribute to art education continues with an exhibition of artwork by the Blue Ridge Virginia Art Education Association showcasing its members from the Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains. The exhibit is an intriguing look into the creative process of educators. It is a rich tapestry of artwork that represents lives involved in the daily practice of nurturing young artists who will determine the evolution of art in the future.  In the Members’ Gallery, the theme RED will be interpreted by SVAC members through a variety of media and creative ideas.

Save the date! Ellen Schorsch, pianist will present a program, “Musical Celebration of the Renaissance,” Sunday, February 12, 2:00pm at SVAC. Included will be pieces inspired by Renaissance literature and art from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Want to make your art pay? SVAC presents: THE BUSINESS OF ART – A LECTURE SERIES – Wednesday afternoons, 1-3pm, February 8, 15, and 22. Lecture 1: Proposal Advice, Lecture 2: Getting Your Ducks in a Row: streamlining your administration so you can spend more time making ART, and Lecture 3: Staunton Creative Community Fund’s guest speaker will be talking about cash flow and financial resources for artists. SCCF will be able to help you take steps to make your business work for you!  Cost is$10 for one lecture or $25 for all three.

Come learn the art of making Basic Kiln Fired Enameled Jewelry taught by Audrey Young on February 11, 9am -5pm.  Study this ancient art of fusing glass to metal! All supplies included. ($80)

For the young artist, Shenandoah Valley Art Center offers, the ever popular Saturday Art for Kids, presenting a creative art experience for young artists. Designed as a program that expands upon art offered in school or as an art experience for the home schooled, the classes are taught by artists who are amazing with kids. All supplies and snacks included for children ages 6 – 10.  Preregistration required. (February 4, 11, 18, and 25, $15 per class).

Open studio opportunities in the Virginia Ross Education Studio are available to printmakers and ceramic artists.  Access to top of the line clay and printmaking equipment and space to work will be furnished for $60 per quarter.   Apply on line at

The art center is a retail alliance partner with the Artisan Center of Virginia. In the SVAC Gift Shop you can find the perfect creative gift in fiber, jewelry, wood, glass, pottery, and more by juried artisans from Virginia and SVAC member artists.

The Shenandoah Valley Art Center is located in downtown Waynesboro at 122 S. Wayne Avenue.  Galleries are open to the public 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.  For more information, call (540) 949-7662 or visit

The School for Scandal opens at American Shakespeare Center

Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s sharp-witted The School for Scandal joins the already playing Merchant of Venice and Coriolanus in repertory at the American Shakespeare Center on February 2.

Rumors abound in this searing comedy of manners, where no one can avoid the stinging bite of gossip – even though the truth is sometimes juicier. A rich guardian tests his wards to choose the worthier heir, but there’s more to them than meets the eye. Throw in a few scandal-mongers, a wandering wife, and a sneaking hireling named Snake, and A School for Scandal will have you rolling in your seats.

“School for Scandal ranks among the four or five great English Comedies of Manners,” says Ralph Alan Cohen, Co-Founder and Director of Mission at the American Shakespeare Center. “The scenes are delicious and the language is too scintillating to miss a syllable.”

The School for Scandal features the full company of the Actors’ Renaissance Season with Chris Johnston as Charles Surface, Grant Davis as Joseph Surface, and Ginna Hoben as Lady Sneerwell.

The Actors’ Renaissance Season is a unique theatrical venture in which the ASC dives deeper into Shakespeare’s staging conditions (leaving the lights on the audience and including them in the world of the play, a troupe of about a dozen actors, incorporating music before and during the show) by also re-creating some of Shakespeare’s rehearsal conditions: the troupe of actors direct themselves in these first three shows with limited group rehearsals, leading the charge with costume choices, and often with just their cue scripts in hand like scholars believe Shakespeare’s troupe worked.

Performances of School for Scandal begin February 2. Premium level tickets start at $42 and can be purchased online at or by calling the box office at 1.877.MUCH.ADO. Pay-what-you-will performances are February 2 and 3. Free pre-show lectures are on February 9 and March 23 at 5:30pm.

Residents of Staunton, Waynesboro or Augusta County can take advantage of $18 local rush tickets on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Student, Senior, Military, and AAA discounts are available.


About American Shakespeare Center

The American Shakespeare Center in Staunton recovers the joys and accessibility of Shakespeare’s theatre, language, and humanity by exploring the English Renaissance stage and its practices through performance and education. The ASC Blackfriars Playhouse, the world’s only re-creation of Shakespeare’s indoor theatre, is open year-round for productions of classic plays, which have been hailed by The Washington Post as “shamelessly entertaining” and by The Boston Globe as “phenomenal…bursting with energy.” Founded in 1988 as Shenandoah Shakespeare Express, the organization became the American Shakespeare Center in 2005 and can be found online at