From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, To the Blue Ridge

Olympic Riders, Air Acrobatics, Outdoor Concerts and the County Fair

Olympic Riders, Air Acrobatics, Outdoor Concerts and the County Fair

By Julie Reardon

For the first time ever, the U.S. will host the best equestrians in the world at an FEI Nations Cup for the Olympic sport of three day eventing July 8 –  10, the Land Rover the Great Meadow International. And it’s right in Fauquier County, at Great Meadow in The Plains. A brand new, million-dollar arena has been constructed for this FEI Nations Cup, the first one ever held outside of Europe. FEI is the International Equestrian Federation, the international governing body for eventing and other equestrian sports. Three day eventing is the most complete and rigorous equestrian discipline, originally developed as a means to train the complete cavalry horse and rider. In fact, in its early days as an Olympic sport, three day event teams, including our own, were fielded from the military.

Today, horses and riders still compete in three different disciplines: dressage, which literally translated means training and is a series of precise tests on the flat; cross country jumping, a timed event of several miles length with usually 20 to 25 obstacles that the horse must jump, including ditches, banks and water; and finally stadium jumping, also a timed jumping event but held in an arena. This last phase shows control and stamina because having completed the exciting but often grueling cross country part, the horse and rider must then successfully negotiate a tight course of show jumps. These jumps, unlike the solid cross country obstacles, have flimsy rails and poles that are easily knocked down by a careless ride or tired horse, resulting in faults. At a Nations Cup, teams of horses and riders representing their country have their overall scores averaged together and gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded to the winning country’s teams; there are also medals for the top individual performers. This will be the last competition for our Olympic equestrian three day event team before they leave for the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil; you’ll also see Olympic hopefuls from several other countries competing. In addition to the Land Rover Great Meadow International, there will be other events and vendors; reportedly prime tickets are nearly sold out. General admission tickets begin at $30 per car, for ticket and admission information visit or call Great Meadow at (540) 253-5000.

Enjoying live music concerts outdoors during the lazy, hazy midsummer days close to home needn’t cost a king’s ransom.  The Bluemont Concert series, committed to bringing quality music to rural locations for 40 years, charges a nominal donation of $5 per person ($4 for members) to attend any of their outdoor concerts in nearby small towns.  One of the best kept secrets for rural residents in Northern and Central Virginia, the Bluemont Concert Series  has been bringing live music and enriching the cultural fabric of small towns since 1976.  Performances are held outdoors in Warrenton, Winchester, Middleburg, Leesburg,  Culpeper, Fredericksburg, Ashland and Colonial Beach, and musicians include an eclectic and varied mix: bluegrass, zydeco, Caribbean, African dance, Celtic, traditional folk, rockabilly and more. Bluegrass aficionados won’t want to miss legend and banjo virtuoso Bill Emerson & the Sweet Dixie band, playing in Middleburg July 23. Emerson, who’s been playing the banjo since 1957, was perhaps best known as the key member of the legendary Country Gentlemen group.

If you, your parents or grandparents love the World War II era sound of big band and swing, put July 23rd on your calendar for the Warrenton concert of the Silver Tones Swing Band. This group of local musicians started in a garage, debuting in October 2012 as a tribute to the music of World War II and has been entertaining audiences ever since. The band members are from Fauquier County and surrounding areas and based in Warrenton. The Silver Tones play the great music of the Big Band Era, featuring songs made famous by Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Harry James, Count Basie, and the Andrews Sisters.

Members of the Silver Tones include 17 instrumentalists, who put out a powerful sound and raise the energy level in every setting. The band has its very own Andrews Sisters trio, singing the great numbers performed by these ladies in the 1940s. Crowd favorites include Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree, Rum and Coca-Cola, and Apple Blossom Time, among many others. In addition to the vocal trio, the Silver Tones have great female and male soloists who bring to life songs originally sung by Natalie Cole, Bette Midler, Dean Martin, and Rosemary Clooney.

One fan had this to say about the band: “The Silver Tones’ renditions of big band-era songs bring back many good memories of my childhood when my parents played and danced to the sweet sounds of Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, and the like.And as for the Silver Tones vocalists, all I can say is ‘Wow’! Close your eyes and you’d swear that LaVerne, Maxene, and Patty [Andrews] had just stepped to the mike.”

Other featured groups that will play at various locations this summer in the Bluemont Concert Series include Virginia’s own Mary Ann Redmond Band, which plays a soulful mix of traditional and contemporary R&B and jazz; and the ever popular PanMasters Steel Orchestra, a Caribbean group originally from Trinidad and Tobago. The group is locally well known in the D.C./Baltimore area and has been playing together since 1982; in fact there are children of the original members now in the group. All concerts start at 7:30; a complete schedule of performers and venues along with band bios is on

The Flying Circus Airshow near Bealeton has delighted young and old alike with daring expert pilots performing stunts in vintage biplanes, vintage plane rides and hot air balloon rides for many years.  A parachute jumper opens the show, a wingwalker hangs upside down from the biplane’s wing, and more. Bring the family and a picnic and enjoy the show; gates open every Sunday in July at 11 and the show starts at 2:30 p.m. The Flying Circus Airshow has been a major Southern Fauquier attraction for both locals and visitors. It’s located at 5114 Ritchie Road (off Routes 17 & 644), Bealeton, and admission is $10 per adult (plane and hot air balloon rides extra).  For more information, call (540) 439-8661 or visit:

July also opens the country fair season, and the Fauquier County Fair will be held July 13 through Sunday the 16th. In addition to the farm animal, poultry, horse and crafts exhibits, there are rides, contests, rodeos, camel and pony rides, and for the adult kids, a mechanical bull, plus live entertainment each night; CMA Entertainer of the Year Neal McCoy will be the featured concert on the final evening. Contests include hot dog, pizza and watermelon eating competitions, barnyard beauty pageants, lawn mower rodeos and races, frozen T shirt contests, and more—anyone can enter most of them. The fairgrounds are located at 6209 Old Auburn Road in Warrenton and this old fashioned fair is great entertainment, food and fun for the family. Admission varies by day but generally $10 per adult days; $15 nights; children are less. For a complete schedule of events, and additional information, visit


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