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

Apple Pie & Fourth of July

By Julie Reardon

There’s nothing quite like the July 4th fireworks on the Mall in Washington D.C. But braving the crowds once every few years (or every few decades) is plenty for some, who might wish for smaller crowds and a more small town atmosphere. You don’t have to go far, most of these are within an hour’s drive of the Beltway and can be as simple as some fireworks at dusk, or a full day celebration with parades, picnics, and more. As the actual date is on a Tuesday this year, some celebrations will be held on weekend dates.

Outside of Washington DC, the fireworks at Great Meadow in The Plains – 45 minutes southwest in Virginia’s Blue Ridge foothills – is probably the biggest display in the area, and the festivities include a full day of family fun. This year marks the return of its famous fireworks show and activities for the 34th year on Sunday, July 2. Gates open at 5 p.m., afternoon activities include family games—cornhole toss, sack races, face painting, tug-of war, additional games and entertainment. The Flying Circus will provide an exciting air show and there will be polo exhibitions and hat and tailgate competitions with prizes for the most creative. Bring a picnic or purchase food on site. There will be food trucks and a beer garden. The extraordinary fireworks display gets underway at dusk.

Attendees are encouraged to bring blankets and chairs (no umbrellas or tents, unless in reserved tailgate spaces.) Great Meadow, a beautiful 374-acre park is also known as the home of the Virginia Gold Cup races. General admission tickets are $50 per car (up to five passengers) in advance or $60 at the gate. Special tailgate packages, VIP passes and bus passes are also available. Go to for information on tailgate packages and to purchase tickets in advance. Event is rain or shine, no refunds. Please leave pets at home.

On the actual July 4th date, several towns in the Blue Ridge have Independence Day parades and fireworks at dusk, including Leesburg. After its daytime parade in town, the night sky will light up in red white and blue at Ida Lee Park including live music from Kevin Mac and the Homies. Gates open at 6 pm allowing time to lay out a blanket on the expansive lawn and enjoy the music, a picnic, hot dogs, burgers, funnel cake and ice cream before the fireworks show at 9:30. Choreographed to patriotic music, this display is one of the larger and most spectactular in the region.

Twilight polo at Great Meadow continues Saturday evenings in July at the Greenhill Arena with themed evenings held each week. Bring your family, friends and coworkers for an evening of fun and excitement in a wonderful outdoor setting on Saturday nights through July. Stunning sunsets, three polo matches, picnicking, wine, food trucks, giant tug o’war games for the kids at halftime, then dance the night away! One ticket admits an entire car load of family and friends.

Admission tickets are available online for $25 per vehicle (5 people), or you can pay $30 cash per vehicle at the gate. Limited VIP tailgate and box seat options available, providing you and your party a private space to enjoy the night. Perfect for groups, bridal parties, birthdays, corporate entertaining and more! Visit their Twilight Polo Facebook page or check out the website at for a schedule.

Now, about those apple pies: we have several suggestions. July kicks off county fair season in Virginia, and there’s no place like the bake sales at county fairs to sample some of this perennial favorite. Fauquier County Fair finally returns after a several year pandemic and scheduling hiatus; it will be held this year July 12-15 at the fairgrounds just outside Warrenton. And there are a number of farmers markets in the area with usually plentiful pie offerings. A personal favorite of mine are the apple pies and, in fact, anything apple from the bakery at the Apple House in Linden. Their apple fritters are melt in your mouth good, especially hot off the griddle. The Apple House is a restaurant located in Linden, a small village on the border of Fauquier and Warren counties off Exit 13 on I-66.

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