HDR selects Grand Marshal for Valley Fourth parade

harrisonburgHarrisonburg Downtown Renaissance has selected the Bicycles for Refugee program organizers and participants as the Grand Marshals for its Valley Fourth parade.

Valley Fourth is a much-anticipated annual event that attracts more than 10,000 people to a full-day of festivities celebrating the Fourth of July and the spirit of community. The parade will be held on Monday, July 4, at 6:00 p.m. on Main Street in Downtown Harrisonburg. This year’s parade theme is “Many People, One Community.”

“We see downtown as Harrisonburg’s living room. It should be a place where everyone feels welcome and sees it as an extension of their homes. This year’s parade theme celebrates the rich diversity of our community and the welcoming nature of the Friendly City,” says Andrea Dono, HDR’s executive director. “Having Bicycles for Refugees lead the parade will help showcase Harrisonburg’s diversity in a meaningful way and celebrate this community initiative’s inspiring mission and great work.”

Harrisonburg is designated as a refugee resettlement area, and there are 51 languages spoken by students in its public schools. To bring attention to the diversity of Harrisonburg, HDR is launching a diversity initiative that seeks to bring community groups and individuals together to find ways to make downtown as inclusive as possible.

Last month, HDR announced its partnership with the Arts Council of the Valley and Harrisonburg Tourism on a public art project that takes a cue from the “Love” sculpture downtown and will bring additional “Love” installations in different languages throughout the city.

A coalition of a dozen partners led by Church World Service (CWS) Immigration and Refugee Program and the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition (SVBC) runs the Bicycles for Refugees program. Cycling skills and safety are taught by volunteers to program participants who receive a free bike, helmet, bike lock, and tire pump.

Since many refugees do not have driver’s licenses or cars, access to bicycles gives them independence and transportation to employment. CWS works with new refugee families and directs them toward this program. “It is great that the City of Harrisonburg is making this effort to showcase our welcoming community and what it has to offer,” says Rebecca Sprague, CWS’ Community Program Coordinator. “We live in a city that is so supportive of each other at all levels – schools, neighbors, government, organizations, and businesses. Church World Services is thrilled Bicycles for Refugees is going to be involved in the Valley Fourth parade.”

SVBC helps organize the program and accepts donations to sponsor bikes, locks, and pumps for its participants. Its members volunteer to teach refugees how to ride bikes and follow bicycle-related laws. “The only reason this program has been successful is because of the synergy of partnerships among so many people who care to reach out, donate, and volunteer their time,” says Ritchie Vaughan, the program’s coordinator. “We couldn’t do it alone and thank Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance for inviting Bicycles for Refugees to be the Grand Marshal.”

Join the Parade

The parade route travels south on Main Street, from the Rockingham County Administration Building to the City Municipal Building. HDR is encouraging more community members to enter the parade. Parade participants are encouraged to design a parade entry or float that displays a patriotic theme and/or promotes the diversity of the Harrisonburg community. Entry forms are available at downtownharrisonburg.org/parade. The deadline for entries is July 1.

In addition to the parade, Valley Fourth attendees can expect to enjoy a full day of activities, including Beers ‘N Cheers in the Park, live music, children’s activities, a fireworks finale, and more! Many restaurants and other businesses will be open downtown as well.

Valley Fourth, organized and presented by Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance, is the largest community celebration in Harrisonburg, drawing more than 10,000+ residents and visitors to downtown each year. All Valley Fourth activities are made possible by local businesses, organizations, and volunteers.



John McCutcheon at Court Square Theater on Saturday, June 18

court square theaterNo one remembers when the neighbors started calling the McCutcheons to complain about the loud singing from young John’s bedroom. It didn’t seem to do much good, though. For, after a shaky, lopsided battle between piano lessons and baseball (he was a mediocre pianist and an all-star catcher), he had “found his voice” thanks to a cheap mail-order guitar and a used book of chords.

From such inauspicious beginnings, John McCutcheon has emerged as one of our most respected and loved folksingers. As an instrumentalist, he is a master of a dozen different traditional instruments, most notably the rare and beautiful hammer dulcimer. His songwriting has been hailed by critics and singers around the globe. His thirty recordings have garnered every imaginable honor including seven Grammy nominations. He has produced over twenty albums of other artists, from traditional fiddlers to contemporary singer-songwriters to educational and documentary works.

Even before graduating summa cum laude from Minnesota’s St. John’s University, this Wisconsin native literally “headed for the hills,” forgoing a college lecture hall for the classroom of the eastern Kentucky coal camps, union halls, country churches, and square dance halls. His apprenticeship to many of the legendary figures of Appalachian music imbedded a love of not only homemade music, but a sense of community and rootedness.

The result is music…whether traditional or from his huge catalog of original songs…with the profound mark of place, family, and strength. It also created a storytelling style that has been compared to Will Rogers and Garrison Keillor.

But it is in live performance that John feels most at home. It is what has brought his music into the lives and homes of one of the broadest audiences any folk musician has ever enjoyed. People of every generation and background seem to feel at home in a concert hall when John McCutcheon takes the stage, with what critics describe as “like a conversation with an illuminating old friend.

John McCutcheon performs at Harrisonburg’s Court Square Theater on Saturday, June 18. Doors open at 7:00pm, concert begins at 7:30pm. Tickets are $20 in advance and $24 at the door. Please visit valleyarts.org 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.

Staunton Stories Exhibit celebrates 20 years of Staunton Downtown Development Association

sdda logo2The Staunton Downtown Development Association hosted Staunton Stories, a one-day event to celebrate and document the people that make Downtown Staunton a dynamic and diverse community, to mark its 20-year anniversary.

The event was held at the R. R. Smith Center in March, and SDDA received almost 70 stories and items of memorabilia.

During the event, local residents and business owners were invited to bring up to three original photos or handheld items that told the story of their connection to Staunton. These items included photographs, documents, and memorabilia that relates to local families, businesses, downtown events, activities, social clubs, etc.

The data, digital images, and videos collected at the event have become part of the upcoming exhibit and an online archive housed on the SDDA website. The Staunton Stories Exhibit is being organized in partnership with the Historic Staunton Foundation, NBC Channel 29, Virginia Eagle Distributors, The Artisan Loft, FlyingWarthog Films, and the City of Staunton IT Department.

The Staunton Stories Exhibit Grand Opening is scheduled for Friday, June 17 from 6-9 p.m. at The Artisan Loft. The exhibit will run through July 31 and will consist of items collected at the March event, plus 20 years of photographs and documents depicting a history of Downtown development and SDDA accomplishments. 

“It is an honor to be part of the 20-Year Anniversary of the SDDA and to honor those people and organizations that make this community thrive,” says Julie Markowitz, director of the Staunton Downtown Development Association. “Everyone is invited to come and celebrate with us at The Artisan Loft, a new gallery space located above the Staunton Antiques Center at 19.”

The Staunton Stories Exhibit is funded by a $25,000 Downtown Investment Grant awarded by Virginia Main Street and is part of a series of activities and special promotions that not only commemorate the 20-year anniversary of SDDA but are designed to connect the Staunton Community to Downtown.

The SDDA was founded as a Virginia Main Street organization in 1996 and has been a driving force in the development of Downtown Staunton.

The idea for the March “Staunton Stories” was presented to the SDDA by Heather Cole, historian and newcomer to Staunton. Cole conducted a similar project in Massachusetts — the Massachusetts Memories Road Show — that held public events across the state to digitize family photographs and stories.

For more information about Staunton Stories, visit the SDDA website at stauntondowntown.org.

Trout Fishing in America with Dana Louise and the Glorious Birds at the Wayne Theatre

trout fishing in americaThe Wayne Theatre presents Trout Fishing in America with Dana Louise and the Glorious Birds on Saturday, June 25, at 7:30 p.m. at the Ross Performing Arts Center in downtown Waynesboro.

Tickets are $25 and $20. Tickets are on sale now.

Four time Grammy award nominees Trout Fishing in America is the long-standing musical partnership of Keith Grimwood and Ezra Idlet. Trout Fishing in America is an eclectic folk/rock/pop band.
Best known for family music and kids’ songs, this show is for all ages. Keith Grimwood and Ezra Idlet, the musicians of Trout Fishing in America, met in Houston more than three decades ago and have been playing together ever since.

The name, taken from a Richard Brautigan novel, seems almost as incongruous as a picture of this musical duo: Ezra Idlet (guitar) stands six feet eight inches and Keith Grimwood (bass), five feet five and one half inches. Ezra is more playful and extroverted while Keith is more serious and reserved. Each of them bring out the best in the other and the joy that comes from this musical interaction is contagious and impossible to deny.

story-danalouiseDana Louise is a new songstress astonishing audiences with her vibrant, melodic vocals, adept finger-picking and cool sound.

Now touring her debut album, she is joined by the Glorious Birds — Adams Collins (vibraphone and 5-string banjo), Ezra Idlet and Keith Grimwood (Trout Fishing in America/guitar, percussion and bass).

Drawing from jazz and bluegrass, carrying a contemporary beat, the sound is roots-rooted flung-into-the-future folk. Dana Louise & the Glorious Birds work to leave their audiences glowing with the magic music can bring: genuine human connection.

“Dana Louise is something special … nothing short of magical.” Doug Treadway for Nightflying

10th anniversary national gathering of Coming to the Table

coming to the tableThere will be a national gathering of the 10th anniversary of Coming to the Table at Eastern Mennonite University on June 9-12.

CTTT provides leadership, resources and a supportive environment for all who wish to acknowledge and heal wounds from racism that is rooted in the United States’ history of slavery.

The keynote speaker, Dr. Gail Christopher, is senior advisor and vice president at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. She leads the foundation’s Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) enterprise (with which CTTT is a partner) and serves on the president’s cabinet that provides overall direction and leadership for the foundation. Dr. Christopher will be speaking on Thursday, June 9, 7-8 p.m.

On Friday, June 10, 7-9 p.m. in Martin Chapel , Dr. Edda Fields-Black will speak on writing the libretto for “The Requiem for Rice,” a classical music piece written for the repose of the souls of Africans enslaved on rice plantations in the South Carolina and Georgia Lowcountry and will discuss the need for a “requiem” for enslavement.

Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library hosts Flag Day celebration

Celebrate the 100th anniversary of Flag Day at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library Tuesday, June 14th at 12:00 pm as Museum Curator Andrew Phillips examines the United Sates entry into World War I.

Why did it take so long for the United States to enter the war? Was Woodrow Wilson a pacifist?  Join Andrew in the Education Parlor of the Dolores Lescure Center to learn the answers to these and other question and travel the thorny road that was American neutrality. The presentation is free and open to the public. In addition, the WWPL will be handing out American flags free to guests on Flag Day.

President Woodrow Wilson established Flag Day with a Proclamation on May 30, 1916.  Wilson’s Proclamation began “I, therefore, suggest and request that throughout the nation, and if possible in every community, the 14th day of June be observed as Flag Day with special patriotic exercises, at which means shall be taken to give significant expression to our thoughtful love of America, our comprehension of the great mission of liberty and justice to which we have devoted ourselves as a people, our pride in the history and our enthusiasm for the political program of the nation, our determination to make it greater and purer with each generation, and our resolution to demonstrate to all the world its vital union in sentiment and purpose, accepting only those as true compatriots who feel as we do the compulsion of this supreme allegiance.”

Communities across the nation began celebrating Flag Day on June 14, 1916, and for years to come.  In addition to his Flag Day proclamation, President Wilson gave two major speeches about Flag Day.  On June 14, 1915, the year before the proclamation, he gave an address honoring the flag.  The next year, on June 14, 1916, one month after his proclamation, he gave another Flag Day address describing the proclamation and urging Americans to honor the flag.  Wilson also led the Flag Day parade in Washington D.C. on that first Flag Day.

The idea for Flag Day actually originated in 1885, when a Wisconsin public school teacher decided that his students should celebrate June 14 as “Flag Birthday.”  That day marked the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of the Stars and Stripes in 1777.  In 1949, 33 years after President Wilson’s proclamation, President Harry Truman signed an Act of Congress officially designating June 14th of each year as National Flag Day.

Those interested in more information about Flag Day or visiting the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum should contact the Presidential Library at (540) 885-0897, ext. 100.