One of Staunton's ongoing lures is its small city charm. It's like stepping out of the film It's a Wonderful Life, with community united in a strong way around the town's beloved downtown "Main Street America," center.
Or in more contemporary terms, it's like the television show The Gilmore Girls, set in quaint (and fictional) "Stars Hollow," Connecticut, where there's a festival (or some other fun and hyper-local hapening) driven by the townsfolk almost all the time.
In Staunton we've got this in spades year-round, especially with our seasonal offerings around food, beer, and wine.
But no time is as vibrant as the holiday season, when a bevy of local events really show off the "small town cool; big time culture" that we have right here at home.
For famrers and others, the fall season still offers plenty of bounty, especially with the upcoming Virginia Cider Week from November 11-23. Go to a cider pressing, visit a tasting room, or check dates and rates for pick-your-own apples before the season finally closes up.
Staunton kicks off it's holiday season this Friday with the annual "Sparkles and Sweets," a November Friday night tradition for several years now.
On this night — this year on November 14, 2014 from 6-9pm — the downtown stores stay open later than usual, with decor beginning to go up and small plates of enticements served up at various downtown locales. Sponsored by the Staunton Downtown Development Association (SDDA), the idea is to invite you in to see what living and shopping locally is all about, particularly at a time of year when shops sparkle and shine.
Shortly after, on Friday Novemebr 21, the SDDA will be awarding ribbons to the downtown shops with the most engaging holiday windows. With many shops vying for attention, it's a fun time of year to see Staunton at its best. In addition ton the windows, street banners, bows and lights add to the festive mood.
If you're in town visiting family or friends, or just visiting Staunton for a getaway, you'll also notice the emphasis on local that we have here.
Beginning this Friday, November 14, the Staunton Augusta Art Center hosts its annual Arts for Gifts show, with the main gallery devoted entirely to locally-sourced and locally-made unique gifts, including handcrafted artisan works, photography, painting and fine arts, ornaments, jewelry, ceramics, iron work, paper works and more.
Instead of the mad rush to gobble up bargains in a frenzied mood, Staunton prides itself on quiet and relaxed days after the Thanksgiving holiday, where family and a gentle pace define the holiday weekend.
But on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, when folks want to go out and stretch their legs, Gypsy Hill Park is alive with walkers, bikers, and, when the weather is good, a good showing of "leftovers" picnics.
Downtown on the same day is "Small Business Saturday," a decided alternative to the so-called Black Friday craziness! Here revelers take to the streets and locals abound, shopping in support of local, small businesses — the backbone of any Main Street small city.
The following Monday, December 1, you can really feel the small city pride if you're here for the anual Downtown Christmas Parade.
Just down the street from us the American Shakespeare Center begins its holiday season in early December, with three holiday shows sprinkled into their regular rotation.
This year catch the outlandish and racy The Santaland Diaries (written by David Sedaris — need we say more?); the one-woman show The 12 Dates of Christmas (for mature audiences), and the holiday classic A Christmas Carol. These are popular shows, so if you're planing on coming to town, book your tickets now.
Another great time to come to Staunton is the weekend of December 6, when the Frontier Culture Museum hosts its Holiday Traditions Day. There are children's workshops during the day, and extended night hours to see the living museum houses by candlelight at night.
That same weekend Historic Staunton offers its annual Historic House Tour. This year's theme is Adapting Historic Houses to the 21st Century. This is the 42nd annual house tour — we're sure architecture fans and history buffs won't want to miss it!
We could probably go on and on with the many fun things there are to do and see in the coming weeks. Follow our Facebook page and Twitter feed and you're sure to hear more from us.
In the meantime, fill out your calendar with all this fun stuff. We know we will!
— Joe and Evy (rhymes with heavy) Harman, Proprietors, Frederick House