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Virginia: Guide

to going places


Fall Festivals Add Fun to the Foliage


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of the Virginia Tourism Corporation

September, 2004

With 15.8

million acres of forestland (an amount larger than the total acreage of

some states), Virginia adds color to the color of fall. In addition to

magnificent autumn foliage that stretches from the Western Highlands

to the Eastern Shore, Virginia’s fall festivals as well as apple,

pumpkin, and grape harvests present a Virginia as fun as it is beautiful.

When is fall

foliage season in Virginia? It differs slightly depending on the section

of the state, but one thing that doesn’t vary is Virginia’s own Shenandoah

National Park, rated by AAA as one of the top 10 national parks in which

to view fall foliage. Typically, fall colors reach their peak in Virginia’s

far western regions from October 10th through 20th. The mountains see

peak colors from October 15th through 25th. Piedmont area colors are at

their best from October 20th through 31st. The dates are approximate and

are affected by the year’s rainfall and temperature. Virginia’s Fall

Foliage Leaf Line, 1-800-424-LOVE, will help you plan your trip. It

carries free up-to-date information on peak dates throughout the state.

The Virginia Tourism Corporation also has a special

fall travel web site with information on foliage projected dates

and includes “Forester Tim’s Leaf Report.” You can also

view weekly foliage pictures from “Leaf Cams” located at selected

Virginia State Parks. The website lists fall events throughout Virginia

and has links to fall foliage travel package information.


and wherever you choose to view Virginia’s autumn splendor, you’ll find

a nearby festival or event to add to your enjoyment. Virginia fall festivals

are family-friendly, and many of them are pet-friendly. They are also

perfect for couples looking for a weekend getaway that is both romantic

and fun.

The Mountain

Foliage Festival in Independence (Oct. 9) brings the traditional

as well as the unusual to Southwest Virginia. Mountain music, foods, crafts

and children’s activities are familiar delights, but the festival’s signature

event is sure to raise an eyebrow and a smile: the annual “Grand

Privy Race.” Contestants race outhouses on wheels down Main Street,

and the winner advances to a national competition. Information:

www.graysoncountyva.com, 540-273-3711.

The Garth

Newel Music Center boasts

Music to Match the Mountains,” and never is this

more appropriate than during the fall. The Garth Newel Fall Foliage Music

Holiday brings beautiful chamber music to Warm Springs in Western Virginia

and offers foliage and foods to please the visitor’s eye and palate. Concerts

are held the last four weekends in October, and optional gourmet dinners

with the musicians are available following all Friday and Saturday evening

concerts. The historic, mineral-rich resort town is also near The Homestead,

a premier golf and ski resort. The area offers some of the most spectacular

fall colors in the Alleghany Mountains. Information: 1-877-558-1689.

Autumn brings

mild temperatures to Virginia and makes it one of the best seasons for

outdoor recreation. For those wishing to burn calories while viewing nature’s

beauty, Staunton’s Fall Foliage

Bike Festival (Oct.

15-17) offers bicycle trips through the Southern Shenandoah Valley. The

fee-to-ride includes a T-shirt, some meals, snacks, maps and evening entertainment.

Information: [email protected], 540-885-2668.

October is

also Virginia Wine Month, and many of Virginia’s 87 wineries celebrate

with open houses, special tours, tastings, foods, discounted wine selections

and live entertainment. Some of the events have a special twist, like

the Apple Days Wine Festival at Tarara Vineyards (Oct. 2), Oktoberfest

Fall Wine Festival at AmRhein Wine Cellars (Oct. 9), Rebec Vineyards’

Virginia Wine and Garlic Festival (Oct. 9) and the Town Point Virginia

Wine Festival in Norfolk (Oct. 16 -17). The latter features wines

from more than 30 Virginia vineyards. Whatever the occasion, you don’t

have to be a wine expert or connoisseur to enjoy a visit to a Virginia

winery. All you need is curiosity – and a tasting glass provided by the


Topping the

list of wine events is the Shenandoah Valley Wells Fargo Hot Air Balloon

& Wine Festival (Oct. 15-17) at Historic Long Branch near Berryville.

More than 35 balloons of all colors and shapes will be on hand to inspire

and even transport. Rides can be arranged for a fee through the Long

Branch website or by calling 1-888-558-5567. The festival also

includes live entertainment, food, children’s activities, historic mansion

tours and wine tastings by more than 15 participating wineries.

If you find

balloon flight a bit too daring for your tastes but are still enticed

by the thought of airborne foliage viewing, you can enjoy mountaintop

fall colors from the comfort of a ski-lift at the annual Fall

Foliage Festival (Oct. 23-24) at Wintergreen Resort. Wintergreen’s

popular ski slopes, unencumbered by snow in October, are great places

to take in the fall colors of the Blue Ridge Mountains. You can also go

on guided nature hikes, view exhibits and participate in a variety of

activities. The ski-lift ride takes you to the top of Crawford’s Knob

for an unforgettable view of 6,000 acres of mountain beauty. Information:


You may feel

that flight of any kind is simply for the birds, and so it is at the Eastern

Shore Birding Festival (Oct. 8-10) at Kiptopeake State Park near

the northern terminus of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. October is

a peak migration month for thousands of birds winging their way to points

south, and the park offers prime viewing opportunities. Festival activities

include canoe trips, natural history walks, bird banding demonstrations,

gallery visits, vendors and representatives of conservation and nature

groups. Other winged creatures get the spotlight as well: butterfly walks

and moth viewings are popular with adults as well as children. Information:


More options

are available for those wishing to stay rooted to terra firma. You can

put your feet on the ground again and again on a walk with naturalist

and Monticello garden guide, Fran Boninti, during the Autumn

Changes Parkway Walk (Oct. 23) near Charlottesville. You’ll learn

about the flora and fauna of the historic hardwood forests surrounding

Monticello while walking the Thomas Jefferson Parkway. Reservations are

required and can be made at 434-984-9822. Don’t forget your binoculars!

Also recognized

for its bountiful seafood harvest from the Chesapeake Bay region, Virginia

offers blue crabs, oysters and many varieties of fresh fish that find

their way into a variety of tantalizing dishes such as crab cakes and

oyster stew. For a taste of these delicious Old Dominion traditions, try

the Northern Neck Seafood Extravaganza

(Oct. 23) held at Ingleside Vineyards near Oak Grove. The best of Chesapeake

seafood is complimented by live music, lively patrons and a glass of Virginia

wine. Information: 804-224-8687.

Fall in Virginia

is also a time for traditional steeplechase horse racing. The pounding

hooves of thousands of pounds of pedigreed horseflesh mark the annual

International Gold Cup races (Oct. 16) at Great

Meadow Events Center

near Warrenton. Tens of thousands of spectators arrive with picnic lunches,

lawn chairs and blankets to relax on a pastoral slope surrounded by rolling

hills. “Tailgating” is an art form here, with many folks showing

up with linen tablecloths, candelabras, catered meals and creative haberdashery.

The racing is outstanding, featuring horses and riders from around the

world, and the “people-watching” is unparalleled. Information:


Come to Virginia

this fall and enjoy breathtaking displays of fall foliage. Mix in a fall

festival or two and you will find reason to come back year after year.

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