Man’s Best Friend, Through the Ages

July 26, 2011

If you asked most people what Middleburg, VA has that can’t be found anywhere in the U.S., you’d probably hear something sounding a little like a travel brochure.

Something like: a thriving equestrian culture just an hour outside the city, a chummy community of tavern owners, vintners, billionaires, and shopkeeps, a tradition of rustic living held onto as tightly as horse reins.

What you probably won’t hear about is the nearby, near-priceless cache of books in the National Sporting Library and Museum’s basement.

But you should. The library’s trove of rare books and art, everything from first editions of Hemingway and Walton’s “Compleat Angler” to the paintings of sporting artist Alfred Munnings to Paul Mellon’s collection of antique weathervanes, gives you that surreal, ghostly feeling you get around something beyond your age and time. Embrace it. The 56-year-old library’s holdings are the envy of scholars across the Old and New Worlds, and in the esoteric worlds of classical sportsmanship — that is, angling, foxhunting and the rest — the collection there reigns supreme. And just in time for summer’s proverbial dog days comes the library’s newest exhibit, “Lives of Dogs in Literature, Art and Ephemera,” a one-room shrine to man and, more importantly, man’s best friend.

“We decided to focus this on the complex relationship between humans and dogs and show, over 400 years, some of the examples of how people related to their animals,” said Mickey Gustafson, the library’s communications director and curator of the exhibit. The inspiration came from a lecture at a library symposium last fall by gallerist William Secord, whose book on the dog’s historical role in art caused such a stir it prompted staffers to dive into the archives looking for more artifacts to make into an exhibit. They soon found their cup running over.

“It was culling, narrowing down,” Gustafson says. “We had over 75 [dog] collars, for example, and you’ve seen how many books we have. Within the books, choosing what page to have open, and finding relationships between all these things … That’s fun. To me, it was like creating an installation, like an artist, almost.”

Actually, it would be hard to deny any claim to artistry or history, especially since the exhibit — and museum — are practically alive with it.

Founded by sporting enthusiasts George Ohrstrom and Alexander Mackay-Smith in 1954, the collection that started with 7,000 assorted volumes has grown to 17,000 meticulously categorized titles, some dating back to the 16th century. The library is open to the public, who may freely browse most stacks, but may not check out items.

The main floor, appointed in wood boiserie, is stocked with books on everything from bullfighting to fly fishing, but it’s the rare book room on the bottom level, temperature controlled and sealed behind glass, that should get the bibliophile’s juices flowing (tours are available by appointment Tuesday through Friday).

“This is really unique material, and a lot of this has never seen the light of day. There’s lots of that kind of stuff here that people just aren’t aware of,” said the library’s Chief Operating Officer Rick Stoutamyer, born and raised a sportsman in West Virginia before entering the rare book business.

Besides a healthy collection of first editions throughout, the rare book section houses the library’s oldest volume (on dueling, dating to the 1520s), along with an original manuscript penned by a young Theodore Roosevelt, in which he wrote about Long Island fox hunting for the now-defunct Century Illustrated magazine. “The thing that’s really cool about it,” said Stoutamyer, “is if you look there’s very few corrections, really. He pretty much knew what he was going to say when he sat down to write it.”

Not bad for a budding president. Elsewhere, readers can find an original set of John Audubon’s “Birds of America,” the riding tutorials of Vladimir Littauer — who brought to America the idea that riders ought to lean forward on horseback — and a beautiful collection of fore-edge paintings, jargon for watercolors painted over the edges of a book’s pages.

Inside “Lives of Dogs,” entrants are greeted by a bronze bust of a foxhound, its expression etched somewhere between curiosity, drive and affection. It forms the center case in a square room, surrounded by other boxes of glass tucked against the walls. Within each sits an antique dog collar or two, some picked for their craftsmanship, others for quirks. One collar, built for hunting, sports a row of sharpened metal teeth to protect the hound during a scrape with pugnacious wildlife. Another, daintily built of sterling, bears the Tiffany’s stamp and, not surprisingly, a Gramercy Park address.

Throughout the cases are books of sketches and paintings and scenes of the hunt, the infectious excitement and pandemonium enough to move even 21st-century eyes. One engraving by the Belgian Johannes Stradanus, for instance, shows a royal hunt reaching crescendo: the lord holds his spear aloft, his hounds nipping at the stag’s heel. In his “Booke on Hunting” Englishman George Turbervile extols the culture of the hunt, well over a decade before Shakespeare even lifted a pen.

And on the walls you have the paintings, including Oudry’s “Poodle Flushing a Heron,” displaying the flourish that made him a favorite of Louis XV. “The king of France became really fascinated by [Oudry],” says Gustafson. “He would invite him to the palace and have him paint portraits of his dogs while the king watched and talked to him. He was immensely successful. In the development of European art, there’s this sense of eventually becoming interested in depicting things realistically and then also with a lot of drama and decoration. Things are not as easily defined as we often think.”

You could say that again. In the painting, a poodle has cornered a large heron, reared up in a fashion starkly frightening and primal, a kind of rage at wit’s end. On the adjacent wall hang a few (gentler) landscape works by John Emms — pastoral, faintly sentimental and, of course, crowded with dogs.

As a whole, the exhibit serves to remind us of the animal that touches and shapes our lives, sometimes as much as people do. Since it opened in late May, it has proven a hit, not least among dog lovers. “I think it’s really a rich environment, and we’ve had a lot of people who come to see it, and they seem to spend quite a bit of time here,” says Gustafson. “A woman was here the night we opened and she really knew dogs and [pointing to a painting] instantly said, ‘That’s a French dog, a French beagle.’ … Some other people came in and talked about the collars. Different things were appealing to different people.”

“Lives of Dogs” is on display until Dec. 11 at the National Sporting Library, 102 The Plains Road, Middleburg, VA. Admission is free.

This article appeared, in condensed form, in the Aug. 11 issue of The Georgetowner.
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Festivals In Fall

Can it get any better than illumined leaves, chilly evenings and harvest season on farm and vineyard alike? Actually, it can. Hunt country’s got some fabulous fests on tap this fall, so gather up a tasting (or riding) crew and get yourself out of town. Here are our top picks:

13th Annual Taste of Rappahannock Festival Sept. 11, 6 p.m. Belle Meade Schoolhouse, 2 Belle Meade Lane, Sperryville 540-987-3322 Tickets $150, table sponsorships available

They do it for the kids. Rappahannock County’s students have always been the primary beneficiaries of the region’s decade-old festival, this year more than ever. Students will feature prominently throughout the evening, from serving hors d’oeuvres to providing a little night music. Meanwhile, guests can count on a solid night of socializing and a chance to bid on a week-long stay at Burgundy’s Le Silence farmhouse. Feel like staying stateside? Raise your bid paddle for a VIP tour of Sperryville’s Copper Fox distillery, a trip to Cancun or a theater weekend in downtown D.C., among others.

National Sporting Library and Museum Polo Benefit Sept. 19, 12:30 p.m. Llangollen, Upperville 540-687-5053, Tickets $100, table sponsorships available

Baseball might be America’s pastime, but in hunt country, polo reigns supreme. Rub shoulders with the region’s equestrian elite at the Virginia International Polo Club’s benefit for the the National Sporting Library in Middleburg. In the English garden party tradition, a luncheon will take place at the International Polo Club pavilion, followed by a silent auction and polo match featuring prominent players from Argentina, Chile, and the United States. A vintage silver trophy, donated by Jacqueline B. Mars (of candy bar fame), will be awarded to the winning team — and will be on display at the library throughout the year. Don’t pass up this quintessential snapshot of life in the country.

The Commonwealth Cup of Polo 25th Anniversary Sept. 12, 1 to 6 p.m. Great Meadow, 5089 Old Tavern Road, The Plains 703-823-1868 Admission $30, purchasable online at

This rousing and spirited international polo tradition pits the US against the Brits in an afternoon of good fun for a good cause. Consider it a double-hitter: the Commonwealth Cup and The Wine Festival at The Plains pair up for one spectacular weekend key benefit match for raising vital funds that support projects for British and American servicemen and women all over the world. Guests will enjoy tastings of over 275 of Virginia wines, fine art and gourmet cuisine prepared by regional chefs. Activities also include wine and cooking demonstrations on the Viking stage, fancy hat and tailgate contests, and a carriage-drawn champagne divot stomp at halftime.

Second Annual Rappahannock County Farm Tour Sept. 25-26, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 12018 Lee Highway, Sperryville 540-675-5330 Admission $5

Weekend tour-goers will experience personally what the “Buy Fresh/Buy Local” movement is all about during the 2nd Annual Rappahannock County Farm Tour Weekend. More than 20 Rappahannock farms, orchards, and wineries – as well as farm-to-table student programs and environmental organizations – will participate in this self-guided, countywide, family-friendly farm tour. Tour-goers can pick up tour maps, buy local products, and listen to presentations at the “All Things Rappahannock” farmers market at The Link in Sperryville, which also will serve as the starting point for the tour.

Chrysalis Vineyards’ 10th Annual Wine and Bluegrass Festival Oct. 2 and 3, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 23876 Champe Ford Road, Middleburg 540-687-8222 Admission $20 at the door, $15 in advance

A long-time apologist for the uniquely American grape at which even hardened oenophiles can no longer turn their noses, Chrysalis is pairing up some of their latest bottles of Norton with another old-time Virginia favorite — bluegrass. Get out of the city and head west to Middleburg for a weekend of tastings (including Chrysalis’ recently debuted 2009 Norton), artisanal chocolate and cheese and the music of Jackass Flats and Hickory Ridge.

Outer Banks, NC

July 19, 2011

Stretching down more than half of North Carolina’s coast, the Outer Banks offers a great deal of luxurious homes away from home, delicious eats, and activities best for anyone and everyone. Take a pick from the three major areas of this Mid-Atlantic beach getaway: Northern Beach, Hatteras Island, or Roanoke Island. Regardless of where you are—in the waters, along the shores, or farther inland, iconic destination is sure to satisfy all your summer beach fancies.

Where to Stay

If you’re looking for some real rest, don’t let your plans overlook a reservation at The Sanderling Resort & Spa in Northern Beach. You (and your pet) will sleep comfortably in the individually decorated inns, only to wake up to this beachside resort’s panoramic views of the ocean. Immediately after, step outside to enjoy a sun-shining day. Or, perhaps if you need a break from the sun, you will allow your body to self-indulge at the spa with treatments that use only the coastline’s best natural resources.

At the opposite end, The Castle B & B is another great villa located at Ocracoke Island (accessible by ferry only). These inns too, individually decorated with classic, antique pieces welcomes you for the coziest comfort. Enjoy the Castle’s setting enclosed by the quaint docks and serene waters.

What to Do

Besides fishing at Hatteras Islands Fishing Pier in Rodanthe or boating at Pirate’s Cove Marina in Manteo (Roanoke Islands), there are many other “things to do!” Nearby Pirate’s Cove Marina is the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island. It’s a great place for kids and families to learn and get a close-up of the Bank’s marine life.

If you’re an archetypal adventurist, take a dare at Jockey Ridge State Park’s tallest sand dunes in Nags Head (Northern Beach). You can sand-board or paraglide from the peaks of the sandy hills or take a self-guided hike in and out of the valleys. If the waters are what you’re looking for instead, try kayaking, windsurfing, or simply swimming with the current on the other side of the park.

For those looking for something less recreational, the “shop ‘til you drop” activity might be a better idea. Also located in Nags Had, Tanger Outlet has stores with designer brand names like Polo and Tommy Hilfiger.
Other Great Activities

Wild Horse Adventure Tours (Corolla, NC) – Take a guided tour on an open or closed-top vehicle or rent your own jeep and sightsee the wild horses of Corolla Beach.
Visit the Lighthouses (locations vary) – Each lighthouse has its own charm and history. The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and Currituck Beach Lighthouse are open to climb, but the Ocracoke Lighthouse and the Bodie Island Lighthouse are not.

Where to Eat

Don’t let the name fool you, but Awful Arthur’s Oyster Bar is actually awfully delicious. Located in Kill Devil Hills for over 25 years, this stop is famous for their assortment of fresh seafood and thirst-quenching brews. Come out and enjoy the food and friendly community like one of the locals.

Make a second food stop at Tale of the Whale in Nags Head. This dining experience is promising with their principle, “To serve good food in ample portions with superior service in a comfortable setting.” Offering everything from cocktails, wines, and beer to clam chowder, pasta, and ribs, this restaurant offers an unforgettable experience for any individual, couple, or largely grouped families.

If you’re looking for a little more excitement and uniqueness, check out Mama Kwan’s. Not only does this grille feature a pallet of Hawaiian flavors and a medley of the island’s native aromas, but also live entertainment. Make sure to make it out here where a lunch and dinner experience is more than just a meal.
Other Great Restaurants:

The Pearl (Kill Devil Hills, NC) – An oceanfront, fine dining, French restaurant. If you want to avoid dining-in, call for a private chef.

Metropolis (Corolla, NC) – A tapas bar with a fusion of beverages; Offers a great ambiance especially for adults.
High Cotton (Kitty Hawk, NC) – A barbecue house faithful to Northeastern Carolina’s smoked flavors. [gallery ids="100227,106491,106489" nav="thumbs"]

Rehoboth Dining

July 13, 2011

For years, Rehoboth Beach has been a signature summer getaway for Washingtonians. From the beaches, to the boardwalk, to Funland, Rehoboth Beach offers tons of options for families visiting “The Nation’s Summer Capital.” More and more, Rehoboth is becoming known for its vast selection of restaurants. And we’re not just talking pizza or fried seafood.

The two-block stretch of Wilmington Avenue, adjacent to the beach, has exploded with new restaurants during the past year. Jenny Barger, of Rehoboth Beach Main Street, Inc. attributes the growth to a recovering economy. New restaurants, like Cypress and Tuscan Café, are in newly renovated spaces and are causing a stir in the neighborhood.

Bob Yesbek is a certified expert on restaurants in Rehoboth. On his website,, he reviews nearly every restaurant in the area. He gave us the scoop on what not miss on an eating pilgrimage to Rehoboth.

Back Porch Café has been a mainstay in the area for nearly 40 years. Located in a turn of the century house at 59 Rehoboth Avenue, this eatery includes a bar and not one, but two outdoor decks on its back porch in addition to its dining room. Their menu leans towards French cuisine, and features a wide selection of local seafood as well as lamb, veal and guinea hen. Prix-Fixe menus are offered on Thursdays, and Sunday brunch is also popular.

“The brunch is really popular, has been for years,” says Marilyn Spitz, co-owner of the restaurant.

The most popular item on their brunch menu is the Eggs Benedict. “How somebody can just so consistently poach so many eggs, and have each of them come out so perfectly is amazing,” says Yesbek.

The restaurant has a number of different rooms, which creates a charming, cozy atmosphere. In recent years, The Back Porch Café has lent its walls to local artists’ work and its relaxed ambiance has kept families coming back for generations.

The Back Porch Café is very good for families or groups celebrating a special occasion. If you’re looking for a little more excitement, your next destination is only a few blocks away at the Blue Moon.

Located at 35 Rehoboth Avenue, Blue Moon is a Rehoboth Beach landmark. It’s known for its late night entertainment and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner until 1 a.m. The menu includes a long list of steak and chops, as well as short ribs and rockfish. The atmosphere is a little more raucous, a bit louder overall, but the food is divine.

At night, the Blue Moon is a great launch pad for a night out. The restaurant’s dance floor gets hopping nightly, and there’s live entertainment six nights a week.

If you’ve come to Rehoboth for a romantic retreat, Eden may be the place for you.

Eden is highly recommended by Yesbek. “They tend to be a little bit more daring with their dishes than Blue Moon will tend to be. At Eden, you’ll get a little more unusual preparation, and a lot of people like it. The chefs there will take a few more risks in coming up with unusual combinations.” For the sophisticated palette, Eden offers a selection of artisanal cheeses and flatbreads.

Eden’s subdued atmosphere lends itself to more formal gatherings. Where the Back Porch can air on casual, and Blue Moon on the in-your-face, Eden is very quiet and romantic. If you are planning a romantic evening, Eden is definitely your best bet.

Henlopen City Oyster House opened last June in a beautiful location at 50 Wilmington Avenue. With floor to ceiling windows and a clean, chic interior, “The Oyster House” is a favorite among locals.

“Love the Henlopen City Oyster House,” says Amanda Ryan, Rehoboth realtor and native Delawarean. “Food is delicious, the staff is very friendly, and the owners did a great job with the ambiance. It is always packed so obviously they are doing something right.”
Co-owner Joe Baker says that the restaurant is popular for its beer nights. No surprise, given that they have nine beers on draught, and over 50 more on their menu. The restaurant also features eight different types of oysters.

According to Baker, the restaurant emphasizes using local oysters and food. “Our chef is a local farmer, so we use a lot of local farms. We like to keep the menu as fresh as we can.”

Obviously, there are many options to choose from, but not everybody can eat out every single night. For those entertaining or cooking at home in Rehoboth, Nourish Specialty Foods Market, Cafe & Catering offers gourmet foods and a great selection of artisanal cheese. Founders Deberah Sutter and Lois Pellegrino work to promote healthy eating and organic, local, sustainable agriculture. Their goal is to use organic or chemical-free local produce, meats and dairy products from small independent farms where possible.

There are so many restaurants in such a small area. People come from all around the Mid-Atlantic. Chefs must be distinctive to stand apart. Ryan puts it like this, “Restaurants see people from many of the hottest metro areas, Philly, DC, Baltimore, and we’re seeing more and more from New York and New Jersey. You never know who you could be cooking for!”

Events for Foodies in Rehoboth
June 26
Dining Out For Life At The Beach
Participating restaurants will donate 33 percent of your bill to AIDS Delaware.

October 2
Ninth Annual Celebrity Chefs Beach Brunch
Top area chefs gather for a foodie festival at the Rusty Rudder in Dewey Beach, DE. Proceeds Benefit Meals on Wheels.

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June 29, 2011

Although Annapolis may be best known for being the home of the U.S. Naval Academy, the serene, bayside town is also the perfect location for a quick and easy getaway from the hustle and bustle of D.C. No more than an hour’s drive away (around 32 miles), this charming town is a mere hop, skip and jump from the city. Unique shops, restaurants and bars line the main street and quiet B & B’s are within walking distance, making it easy to enjoy the downtown social scene before escaping into the cozy solitude of a old-fashioned inn.

Where to Stay

Chez Amis Bed & Breakfast is a quaint four-bedroom B&B that was once a corner grocery store and is located in the heart of historic Annapolis. Neighboring The U.S. Naval Academy, St. John’s College, the City Dock and State Capital, there is no need for a car when everything from the historic landmarks to the entertainment of Main Street is within walking distance.

There is also The Annapolis Inn, a historic landmark townhouse poised on prestigious Prince George Street right downtown.

Where to Eat

Best known for their customized all-you-can-eat crab feast package, Cantler’s Riverside Inn offers farm-grown sweet corn, spiced shrimp, French fries, coleslaw, beer, wine and of course… crabs. So stop by with your friends and family while sailing the Cheaspeake Bay or sightseeing in downtown Annapolis. With exceptional service, a bright, contemporary interior, and an extensive menu featuring buffets for kids and adults, Buddy’s Crabs and Ribs restaurant is the perfect stop for a relaxing fine dining experience.

What to Do

Shopping is also a main attraction in Annapolis. Specializing in unique hand-woven rugs with outdoor or nautical patterns and themes, Claire Murray offers special keepsakes or gifts from your time spent in Annapolis. Easy Street Gallery was founded in 1979 by Marsha and Terry Moore. This American craft gallery is a family business that offers beautiful and vibrant glasswork, wall art, paperweights, pottery and more from over 300 established and emerging artists.

Indepedence Day Fireworks Cruise is coming up soon and offers a perfect way to spend the holiday on the Chesapeake Bay. The cruise runs July 4 from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $45 for adults and $25 for children. Another unique Annapolis attraction is the Annapolis Carriage Ride where you can tour in style on a vintage carriage ride and learn about the town’s 300 years of history.

If you’re more of a hands-on person, you can learn how to sail at the Annapolis Sailing School where they provide a safe, enjoyable introduction to recreational sailing for the whole family.
But of course, this is Annapolis after all, and your trip wouldn’t be complete without touring the U.S. Naval Academy. Take a public or historical walking tour to experience life on the Yard.

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Quaint shops, hotels and restaurants line the streets of downtown Lexington, which teems with local flavor and small-town charm.

Where to Stay

Many of the nearby hotels and inns offer good deals and are walking distance from the main drag, including the Hampton Inn Con Alto. For those looking to be right in the middle of everything, the Sheridan Livery Inn is located right on Main Street and offers quiet, spacious rooms for a reasonable price. Guests and non-guests can enjoy a nice lunch or dinner in the Livery’s restaurant, or head across the street to some of Lexington’s most popular restaurants.

Where to Eat

The menu at the Bistro on Main features creations made with local produce. One can enjoy pizza and pasta accompanied by atmospheric piano music at Tuscany, or for a more casual experience, hang out at Macado’s and choose from over 60 different sandwiches. A few blocks away, Blue Sky Bakery is another local lunch favorite for its sandwiches served on bread made fresh daily. The Red Hen is one of Lexington’s more upscale dining options serving dishes that are a bit pricier, but made with fresh, local ingredients. The menu at Brix also features local foods, but serves them tapas-style, perfect for small group dining whether inside the restaurant or out on the patio.

Visitors can also enjoy wine tasting and tours of the Rockbridge Vineyard and the Lexington Valley Vineyard.

What to Do

The shops downtown are a collective cache of local treasures, from the tchotchkes and home accents at Pumpkinseeds to paintings and jewelry created by residents of Lexington and the surrounding Rockbridge area sold in art shops throughout the city. If shopping isn’t your thing, take a horse-drawn ride with Lexington Carriage Company and learn more about local history. After dark, visitors can relive the past in the present on a candlelit ghost tour through the city in the company of Civil War heroes Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Lee’s horse Traveller.

Just a short drive away from the downtown area, Hull’s Drive-In offers double features in the evenings for only $6, which you can enjoy from the comfort of your own car. Also on the outskirts are the Natural Bridge, an all-natural rock formation and caverns, or Foamhendge, a man-made foam replica of Stonehendge – something fun and quirky you don’t see everyday. The nearby Boxerwood Gardens and Chessie Trail are perfect for relaxing nature strolls after an exciting day of shopping and sightseeing.

If the timing is right, visit the Virginia Horse Center for horse shows, dining, shopping and other events hosted throughout the summer season. The Lime Kiln offers a unique theater experience and hosts concerts and local theater productions in its outdoor amphitheater.

The Blue Ridge outdoors offers beautiful scenery and fun hiking trails for the outdoorsy and the first-time adventurers alike, just minutes outside of historic downtown Lexington. Whether you climb the boulders of Devils Marbleyard or swimming in Panther Falls, you’ll get in a great day hike and perfect photo opportunities.
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Orange County, Virginia

A short two-hour drive southwest of D.C. lays the hidden treasure of Orange County, Va., waiting for weekenders to enjoy the quietness of the hills and the warmth of the sun. Noted for quaint bed and breakfasts and scenic, historic sites, Orange County is a great local escape.

Where to Stay

The Inn at Willow Grove in Orange, Va. greets visitors with great white columns, a cream-yellow exterior decorated with black shutters and lush gardens. Each room is unique in design, but incomparable in comfort. Personal butler services and five star dinning give the feeling of pure luxury, yet the elegant comfort allows visitors to relax just like they were at home.

A charming house with luxurious details and an atmosphere for romance, Chestnut Hill Bed & Breakfast is a great escape into Virginia’s beautiful countryside. With evening wine and cheese events and a library stacks tall with books, this B&B has the lavish amenities to take your weekend getaway to the next level.

Other Great Places to Stay

Keswick Hall Hotel: a grand and lavish hotel right in the heart of Monticello.
Clifton Inn: a charming southern place to relax and enjoy the countryside.
Inn at Westwood Farm: a historic inn rich with Civil War history and southern comfort.

Where to Eat

The menu at Silk Mill Grille prides itself on its American cuisine “featuring fine sandwiches, poultry, seafood, steaks, and spirits.” Black leather booths line walls decorated with odds and ends from the Virginia countryside, combining the luxury of the old south with the elegance of contemporary dining.

Bringing the French countryside to the Blue Ridge Mountains, Restaurant Pomme with Chef Gerard Gasparini serves the finest traditional French brunch, lunch and dinner. The warmly decorated dining room with traditional French accents ensures that the experience is full of French style and atmosphere.

Other Great Places to Dine

Marshall Farms Corner: a family fun deli made with farm-fresh ingredients.
Double D’s Ice Cream Parlor: a fun place to drop in for a sweet treat.

What to Do

The home of Former President James Madison, Montpelier Estate is a must-see location in Orange County, Va.. From outdoor cooking demonstrations and historic sites, to Civil War restorations,and museum exhibits, visitors can spend a full day learning about the history of Montpelier and the area.

Dating back to the beginning of the 19th century, Barboursville Vineyards entertains with excellence, highlighting their award-winning wine Octagon. Come enjoy the grapes in the vineyard, the food at the Palladio restaurant, or the calmness of the 1804 Inn.

Other Attractions in the Area

Castle Hill Cidery: opening in July 2011, a great alternative to wineries.
Lake Orange: for the outdoorsman, the lake offers family fun all day in the sun.
Civil War Trails: another great outdoor adventure full of history and sunshine.
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Be the Player at the Polo Match

June 20, 2011

With the summer season here, what better way to embrace the D.C. social scene than by attending a polo event? Never been? Well here is a quick how-to guide on breaking into the polo scene and becoming a polo-ite with ease and class.

Origins and Rules of Polo

Polo originated in Northern Persia around 600 BCE, but became the game we know today in Northern India in the 19th century. The word polo comes from the Indian word “pulu” which is the name of the wood from which the ball was made. Polo can be played either on a large grass field or in an enclosed area. A full game consists of six chukkas, or seven and a half minute long periods of play. Players score goals, located at opposite ends of the field, and after each goal, teams switch sides. The four players per team are designated by their jersey numbers. Player number one is offense and player two covers both offense and defense. Jersey number three is saved for the best player: the quarterback and the playmaker. Player four defends by keeping the ball up field with long, accurate hits. There are three-minute breaks between each chukka, and a five-minute halftime for divot stomping.

Stomping Divots

The best part about being a spectator at a polo match is that you get to participate and socialize with the players. During halftime, spectators get to stomp the chipped away pieces of turf back into the field. Players frequently join their spectators for divot stomping, taking time to entertain and mingle.

Polo Fashion

Summer fashion will follow you to the polo field. Base your outfit on a whimsical romantic flirting with a preppy style, and lots and lots of white. White linen shorts, white structured blazers, white crop dresses, white ruffle blouses… White is in! Show off your summer legs with some gold wedges; heels will only sink into the turf and wedges will keep you walking above the ground. To compliment the white, accessorize with leather and gold. Knee high riding style boots are always a classic, and gold statement jewelry will sparkle in the sun. To keep the sun out of your eyes and on the polo ponies, hats are a must; fedoras and dramatic floppy hats will get the job done. If you need some color in your fashion life, mix in a preppy color piece like a navy polo or a pastel pleated skirt. A great pair of sunglasses that compliment your face will complete your outfit.

Happy Polo Hour

Many polo-ites never leave their seat without their champagne flute, but there are more than just bubbles to tickle your nose on the sidelines. Mimosas and Bellini’s are a classic cocktail and a tasty alternative. Watermelon mojitos are breaking out in the summer happy hour scene as the new ‘it drink’: something fresh to keep you cool. However, nothing tops the Polo Cocktail: one ounce gin, one tablespoon of lemon juice, and one teaspoon of orange juice. This drink sends the message that you are a serious divot-stomping polo-it.

Players and Ponies

For the time in between the chukkas, chat about the important part of polo: the ponies and the players. Nicholas ‘Nic’ Roldan, grew up in the life of polo. His father played for the Sultan of Brunei in Southeast Asia. Nic is currently the captain of Prince Harry’s charity polo team Sentebale, and a model for Wihelmina Modeling Agency. According to the World Polo Tour Player Rankings, the current leading polo player is Juan Martin Nero from Argentina. His 2011 highlights include a U.S. Open Championship and Finalist at the USPA Gold Cup. Of course there is the beautiful Nacho Figueras, model and top ranked polo player. He plays on the Black Watch Polo Team and frequently models for Ralph Lauren’s Black Label. 2010’s American Polo Horse Associations top ranking pony was Dolfina Noruega, with winning performances in the U.S. Open, Pacific Coast Open and many other shows.

D.C. Polo

Great Meadows Polo Club is only an hour away and offers the perfect atmosphere for the up-and-coming polo-ite. Every Saturday night, weather pending, Great Meadows presents Twilight Polo, open to spectators to wine, dine, and enjoy an evening of polo. They also host weekly summer events such as Girls Night Out and Latin Dance Night. From lists of events to social memberships and even polo lessons, Capitol Polo Club is a great place to start on the polo scene. Located about an hour away from Georgetown, Capitol Polo sports games that members and public can attend.

Great Meadows Polo Club: The Plains, VA,

Capitol Polo Club: Poolsville, MD,

Polo Events

These are some upcoming events in the D.C. area to start your polo summer off. Contact the Polo Club for more information about each event.

Great Meadows Polo Club

– Twilight Polo: Every Saturday Night

– Capital Hospice Cup/College Night: June 18

– Disco Fever: June 25

– Military Appreciation Night: July 2

– Girls Night Out: July 9

– Hawaiian Beach Night: July 16

Capitol Polo Club

– Commus Sky Polo Tournament: June 18-19

– 4 Goal Club Tournament: June 25-26

– BBQ & Fireworks: July 4

– Eastern Circuit Constitutional Cup: July 9-10

– USPA 2 Goal Master Cup: July 16-17

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The Upperville Horse Show

June 16, 2011

When Colonel Richard Henry Dulany organized the first Upperville Show in 1853, the program listed two classes: one for colts, the other for fillies. 158 years later, the Upperville Colt and Horse Show spans seven days and includes over two thousand horse and rider combinations, 28 awards and eight competitive events.

This year’s event kicks off on Monday, June 6, “Under The Oaks,” 40 miles west of Washington D.C. Since 1853, Grafton Farms has been the site of the oldest horse show in the United States.

How it all Began

Colonel Dulany had the idea to begin the first Upperville Horse Show after coming across an abandoned and struggling colt during the winter of 1853. Determined to encourage surrounding breeders to take better care of young fouls and breed better stock, Dulany hosted the first Upperville Horse Show in June of that year. The show garnered so many entries and interest that a sponsorship club was started with Colonel Dulany as the president. The Upperville Union Club published their first account of the Upperville Horse show in 1857 in The Southern Planter.

By 1902, the organization was renamed the Upperville Colt and Horse Club and sponsored a two-day show in June of that year, expanding to include more classes, entries and events. In the years that followed, the Upperville Horse Show expanded over five days and included entries and riders from all over the country.

Since then, the Virginia Horse Shows Association has voted Upperville the Horse Show of the Year, and its been designated as a World Championship Hunter Rider Show and selected as the National Show Hunter Hall of Fame’s Horse Show of the Year.

Into The Present

Whether you are an equestrian, breeder, exhibitor or spectator, this event showcases the best of the best, as they compete for highly-coveted titles and awards. The competition is fierce, with over two thousand riders and horses ranging from children on ponies to Olympic and World Cup riders and horses.

Riders and horses are either scored or judged depending on the event. In a jumper competition, the main objective is to get the horse to jump over the jump without knocking it down, without concern for form or style while jumping. Grand prix show jumping, the highest level of show jumping, has become a popular and important spectator sport in the United States. Show jumping is also one of the few sports where men and women compete on equal levels, and range in age from 16 to 60.

Horses in the hunter class are judged not only on their ability to get to the other side of the jump, but also on their ease and grace while completing the various obstacles, such as a farmer’s fence, gates, stone walls and posts. The main objective is for both the horse and rider to navigate all the obstacles willingly and effortlessly.

Don’t Miss These Highlights!

Here, we share our favorite events, which we anxiously await each year. Publisher Sonya Bernhardt anticipates the Ladies Sidesaddle Hunter Under Saddle event, which displays women donning old-fashioned Victorian garb as they elegantly perch sidesaddle on their beautifully-bred horses. One of the most formal classes in the event, these women are the epitome of class and grace that represents the Victorian Era. It takes place on Saturday, June 11.

Evelyn Keyes, head of the In Country section, loves watching the Family Classes and the popular Piedmont Foxhounds invitational hack for the “silver foxes” of showing. The event is held “under the oaks” on Saturday, June 11, in the main ring in front of the grand stand.

Daily admission to the show is $10.00 per person. Children under 12 are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Gates open at 8 a.m. daily.

For special arrangements, entertainment, reserved parking, or box seat information, please call 540 687-5740 or, during the show, 540-592-3858

For a complete schedule of the seven-day show visit

The National Sporting Library

June 10, 2011

Escape from the midday heat of the Upperville Horse Show and stop into the neighboring National Sporting Library.

Founded by sporting enthusiasts George Ohrstrom and Alexander Mackay-Smith in 1954, the collection that started with 7,000 assorted volumes has grown to 17,000 meticulously categorized titles.

The library is dedicated to preserving and sharing the literature, art and culture of horse and field sports. It houses extensive collections of 16th-21st century books and manuscripts on equitation, along with hunt diaries, scrapbooks and photo albums.

Besides a healthy collection of first editions throughout, the rare book section houses the library’s oldest volume (on dueling, dating to the 1520s), along with an original manuscript penned by a young Theodore Roosevelt.

The Library offers educational lectures, book-signings and film-screenings. Art exhibits include paintings and bronzes from rarely seen private collections and museums. Art from the Library’s permanent collection is found throughout the Library, including eye-catching weathervanes from the estate of the late philanthropist Paul Mellon. Paul Mellon also donated the bronze Civil War Horse, a memorial on the NSL campus to the 1 1/2 million horses and mules that died in the Civil War.

The Library’s current exhibition is Horses at Work and Play, which displays the Library’s collection of artifacts and antique toys. This exhibit is on display until June 30th.

The Sporting Library is a historical treasure that is free and open to the public. For more information visit

The National Sporting Library has also received an extremely generous donation of $250,000 from Ronald M Bradley and fiancé Danielle Kazmier, both pictured in our Social Scene Section attending this year’s fundraiser in Washington D.C.

The Library is open Tuesday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Saturday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
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