Category Archives: Special Events

I’m Dreaming Of An Orange Christmas…

Some of us will be shopping (and wrapping, and cleaning the house) until the wee hours of Christmas morning–which, if you have the constitution for it, is as chaotically fun as it is stressful. For the rest (those whose stockings are already hung by the fire with care) this weekend is the perfect chance to take a breather, enjoy some holiday music and lights, and let the folks at Holladay House worry about what’s being served at the breakfast table. Below are two cool events happening this Saturday & Sunday, as well as a collection of seasonal decorations from around Orange (all located within walking distance of Holladay House.)

A Blue & Gray Christmas

Come meet a Civil War-era Santa Claus, attend a 1860′s church service, take a historical walking tour of downtown Gordonsville, and experience living history displays and ghost stories. Cap it all off by attending the Gordonsville Holiday Ball, where you’ll have the opportunity to join the Shenandoah Valley Civil War Era Dancers in partying like it’s 1863. Find out more here.

A Musical Winter Wonderland

The elusive (but talented) Orange Community Band & Chorus has finally released the dates for their holiday concert schedule. The choral performance will be December 20th at 4:30 PM, at the Orange Presbyterian Church. (There are a lot of historic churches within walking distance of the inn; Sharon will point you towards the right one!) Meanwhile, the band concert will be held December 21st at 7:30 PM at Orange County High School. Check it out here.

And now, a few photos from around Orange…..






























….and a few from Holladay House.

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Holiday Events 2014

Orange has a lot to offer this season! Come spend time with us at the Holladay House (and check out the seasonal “Holladay” decorations, like the Blog--Holiday--Chrismoose--11-25-14Chris-moose collection and the new owl tree!) as you enjoy a medley of events in the area: holiday movies, concerts, open houses, and, yes, opportunities to dress like Santa. There are some big things going on locally (the Moscow Ballet, anyone?) and some small-town-Christmas events to help you get into the holiday spirit. Not to mention, you’ll complete your Christmas shopping without having to ever set foot inside an overcrowded mall!

Little Women: November 21–December 14
Now playing at Four County Players in Barboursville. Tickets start at $8.

It’s A Wonderful Life: November 22–January 4

Now playing at the Riverside Dinner Theater in Fredericksburg. Tickets start at $45. A unique retelling, staged as a 40’s radio broadcast—including “commercials” and a live sound-effects artist.

Culpeper Holiday Open House: November 23
Admire the storefront decorations, watch classic Christmas specials at the State Theatre, enjoy live music, and take advantage of in-store specials as you start your holiday shopping! Ride the trolley,  get your photo taken with Santa & Mrs. Claus, and lots more at Culpeper’s open house.

Monticello Holiday Events: November 28—December 30
Come see what it felt like to attend an evening holiday party at the Jeffersons. Participate in the 28th annual wreath-making workshop, make homemade beeswax candles, or construct your own Monticello out of gingerbread during the family-friendly workshop! See complete dates & reservations info here.

Candlelight Christmas Tour at Montpelier: December 5,6,12,13
Come out for a cozy tour of Montpelier by candlelight. The event includes crafts and activities for kids, plus entertainment and refreshments for all. Adult tickets from $25.

Historic Downtown Orange Holiday Tour: December 6

The shops in Orange are decorated for Christmas and stocked with unique, one-of-a-kind gifts!

Rappahannock Choral Society Annual Free Christmas Concert: December 6 & 7
Wonderful holiday concert performed by a 75+ voice, audition-only choral society, featuring a medley of Christmas, Hanukkah, and humorous songs.

Fredericksburg Holiday Craft Show: December 6 & 7
A great place to shop for unique handmade gifts for loved ones (or yourself.) Featuring over 225 vendors. Tickets are $8 at the door. Get directions, advance tickets, and vendor info here.

The Great Charlottesville Santa Fun Run & Walk: December 7
Enjoy breakfast by Whole Foods, don a Santa costume, and run (or walk) a mile for charity. Donations benefit folks with intellectual & developmental disabilities, so it’s a great cause and lots of fun. Entry fee is $22 for adults, and includes the cost of the Santa suit. Sign up here.

Moscow Ballet Presents: The Great Russian Nutcracker: December 7
40 world-class dancers perform the Nutcracker at the Paramount Theater in Charlottesville. Premier Ticket purchasers will have the opportunity to go backstage before the show. Tickets start at $29.50.

Orange Christmas Parade: December 7
No driving required—just step outside the Holladay House and have a seat. The show comes to you!

Jim Brickman: On A Winter’s Night Holiday Tour: December 10
Featuring some of 2-time Grammy nominee Jim Brickman’s most popular hits. Coming to the Paramount Theater in Charlottesville. Tickets from $30. Learn more here.

44th Annual Candlelight Tour: December 13 & 14
Come see some of Fredericksburg’s most historic homes by candlelight. Tickets are $30 for adults. See a complete list of houses here.

The Nutcracker Suite: December 13 & 14
Three performances over 2 days, produced professionally by the Charlottesville Ballet and performing at the Culpeper State Theatre. Tickets start at $20, and the show clocks in at 90 minutes.

A Christmas Carol: December 16
Performed at Culpeper State Theatre by the Nebraska Theatre Caravan. Tickets start at $29.50.

Bethlehem Village: December 17-December 21
A living nativity village, complete with working scribes, carpenters, weapon-makers, weavers, Roman guards, live animals, and a reenactment of Christ’s birth. It’s been running for over a decade, and enlists several hundred participants. Get all the details here.

The White House Band presents: Christmastime in Washington: December 19
An evening of Christmas music, performed by The White House Band at Culpeper State Theatre. Advance tickets $15, and going quickly!

13th Annual Christmas Party At Rapunzel’s: December 20
Rapunzel’s is a “funky” little coffee-shop/bookstore/recording studio built in a 100-year-old, renovated apple-packing shed. For 13 years now they’ve been doing a Christmas party featuring live music by popular local artists, and serving up local wines & microbrews. The party starts Saturday, December 20th @ 8PM. Bring along a $10-per-person donation.

Library of Congress Packard Campus Holiday Movies:
In the week leading up to Christmas, the Packard Campus will be screening a few lesser-known Christmas films (including “The Man Who Came to Dinner”).

Culpeper State Theatre Holiday Movies:

Culpeper State Theatre has a whole calender of really cool stuff going on that didn’t make the list. For the whole schedule, including concerts and even a whimsical “Classic Christmas Cartoons” screening, visit their website.


Central Virginia Celtic Festival & Highland Games

When you’re young, one thing on your bucket list involves announcing, coolly and indifferently (like you aren’t impressed with your own fabulousness) “Yeah, I’m with the band”. It never crosses your mind that, someday, the band you’re with will be a bagpipe band, and you’ll be dragging a laundry bag containing your husband’s gear (including the “whole nine yards” of his wool kilt. Oof.) You’ve bypassed “groupie” and run directly into “roadie”, you have mud on your tennis shoes, and you’re thinking, I bet Bon Jovi’s posse never had to remind him to bring his wool knee-highs..BlogCelticGamesMassedBands102114

Each year at the annual Central Virginia Celtic Festival & Highland Games, I get a ringside seat to lots of traditional bagpipe music, played by traditional bagpipe bands turned out in their best clan tartans. When I need a break from “Scotland the Brave” (and that moment does always come) I head over to the harp competition to experience the more Celtic Woman-esque side of Irish music. Then, there’s highland dancing performances for me to imitate later (badly) in the privacy of my own home, a British car show for my husband to wander through longingly, and a fiddling competition to remind me of why I was once so entranced by the violin. (Why I quit is another matter altogether.)Blog--CelticGames--DrumMajor--10-27-14

There’s a hurling competition, which is—as near as I can tell—a sport where baseball, hockey, and lacrosse are essentially placed into a blender together to see what happens. And, of course, there will be a good game (or two) of rugby, which is always pretty interesting. Particularly if it’s attended after a session at the whiskey-tasting table, which has a tendency to make everything more interesting. (Wristbands are available for those who planned to drink like an Irishman, all day long.) There’s a heavy-athletics competition, involving the throwing of things like blacksmith hammers, box weights, logs, and stones—really, anything historical people could get their hands on to chuck across a field.

I particularly look forward to the large vendor area, which stocks a huge and varied assortment of Celtic-themed gifts—things like Irish fisherman sweaters, handcrafted swords and daggers, claddagh and eternity-knot jewelry, tartan scarves, leather hand-tooled belts and silver buckles, and hand-carved pipes. Not to mention the classic tartan items—there are vendors who will help you outfit not only yourself in clan colors, but also your small children, your dining room table, and even your family pet. Literally.

The Central Virginia Celtic Festival & Highland Games return to the Richmond Raceway Complex for one late-October weekend each year. Check it out at

All photos courtesy of Katie Yarrow.

“Fall Fiber Festival & Montpelier Sheepdog Trials”…. (whew!)

Anyone can walk into a “Hobby Lobby” and purchase a skein of yarn. I can say this with authority, Blog--FiberFestival--Yarn--9-22-14because I have several skeins wrapped in plastic in my closet, waiting for that moment when “Inspiration” will intersect with “Skill I’ve Yet To Acquire”, and I’ll knit something fabulous. However, for those folks who are “craftier” than me, define themselves as “textile-fiends”, or are just looking for something a little more special than mass-produced yarn shelved beneath industrial lighting, look no further than Blog--FiberFestival--Llamas--9-22-14“The Fall Fiber Festival & Montpelier Sheep Dog Trials”.

“The Festival”, as the cumbersomely-named event will be hereafter known, brings knitting, weaving, and crocheting back to their most organic, locally-sourced levels. First, meet the little fur-factories themselves as you visit with the sheep, goats, llamas, alpacas, and rabbits who live and “grow” locally. (Some big names in the business will be represented, including “cashmere” and “angora”.) Next, check out the shearing demo, where a few lucky (or not so lucky….) sheep will show off how they slim down for swimsuit-season. Then head over to the display & demo tent, where expert crafters will illustrate how all of that raw fiber is turned into fabric. Demonstrations will include popular favorites like spinning, weaving, rug hooking, knitting, needle felting, crochet, and fiber blending, as well as a few intriguingly mysterious ones like inkle weaving, kumihimo, and rigid heddle weaving.Blog--FiberFestival--Shave--9-22-14

Take a break to buy some high-quality fleece of your own, or (as is more my speed) visit one of over 50 craft vendors and purchase a completed, one-of-a kind work of art. Munch on something tasty from the food vendors as you hunker down on the grass to watch the sheep dog trials. I enjoy these particularly because, as the former owner of an Australian Shepherd, it’s exciting to see these beautiful dogs strutting their stuff as they do what they were born and bred to do (rather than, say, tearing up a carpet and beaming up at me delightedly afterwards, as my dog was inclined to do.)

This year’s Festival falls on the weekend of October 4th & 5th, 10AM—5PM. For complete Blog--FiberFestival--Dogs--9-22-14information, including schedules, workshop sign-up sheets, and directions (it’s located less than 5 minutes from Holladay House!) visit:

Somerset Steam & Gas “Pasture Party”

My husband was a historic preservation major at UMW (and a nerd, albeit a lovable one, about all Blog--Somerset2--8-17-14things from the past) but when I told him the “Somerset Pasture Party” was coming up soon   he looked a bit blank. I suspect he was probably picturing eating cucumber sandwiches while chilling with a group of beribboned sheep, which is the  image that “pasture party” has always conjured up for me. However, when I started explaining what I meant—using terms such as “live steam-tractor demonstrations”, “classic car displays”, and “functional sawmill”, he began to get that special glow in his eye.

There’s something for the non-tractor Blog--Somerset3--8-17-14enthusiast of your party, too (in this case, me). Vendors will be on hand to present an eclectic variety of goods, hot food (including the party’s “Famous Steamed Beans”) will be served, and live country bands will perform throughout.

The annual (and very popular) event returns to Somerset September 12, 13, 14th. Admission donations are $7 per person.

Check out their website:   Blog--Somerset--8-17-14

39th Annual Street Festival

Orange’s 39th annual street festival is located, literally, right outside Holladay House’s front door. Throughout the years I’ve seen a huge variety of different vendors: beautiful clothing knit from Blog--OrangeStreetFestival--8-17-14alpaca hair (or should that be ‘fur’?); racks of handmade quilts; colorful clothing and bags from South America; cases of eclectic jewelry; local artists showcasing their paintings/cds/novels; hand-painted Christmas ornaments; hand-carved wooden trains; hand-sewn doll dresses. There’s always a collection of food vendors on hand as well, serving everything from snow-cones and kettle corn to BBQ and Chinese food.

This year’s festival will include live music and adult beverages, presented in Taylor Park throughout the day. When the Main Street feature wraps up at 6 PM, folks can move into Taylor Park for “Dancing Till Dusk”–a featurette of music, food, and drinks served until dark.

Check it out September 6th, 10AM to 6PM.

Oakland Heights Brings Bull Riding To Orange

Cowboys in button-down shirts, Wranglers, and well-worn boots scuff around the paddock area, their faces shadowed by statement-making hats (the size of which is usually measured in gallons.) A rodeo clown jogs across the arena, the fringe on his chaps dancing. Dust plumes beneath the hooves of a trotting horse and lingers in the air, illuminated by a ray of stadium lighting. A girl on horseback lopes by, standing in her stirrups, the American flag streaming out behind her.Blog--RodeoTeaser--AmericanFlag--7-29-14

No, it’s not somewhere out in the Wild West, and it’s not on television. Every 2nd Saturday of the month, May through September, Oakland Heights Farm hosts the BLM Bull Riding tour. For most of us around here, it’s our only shot to see an authentic rodeo, complete with bucking bulls, ladies’ barrel racing, and a little something called “mutton busting” involving tiny kids trying to stay aboard sheep. (The kids seem to enjoy it. The sheep just want to get the heck away from the crazies.)

There are two more chances to see the rodeo live this season: August 9th and September 13th. The gates open at 5:30, the live music begins at 6:00, and the bull-riding commences at 7:15. Adults get in for $15 each, kids under 13 are $10, and toddlers sneak by for free. The bleachers tend to fill up fast (and early) so I recommend being there when the gates open to get good seats (and close parking.)

Located in Gordonsville, Oakland Heights is an easy 10-minute drive away from the Holladay House. Find out more at

“Shrek: The Musical” at 4 County Players

The new show playing out at 4 County Players encourages you to “let your freak flag fly”. “Shrek: The Musical” opened July 18 and was quickly sold out for opening night. My hubby and I were able to procure tickets for the July 26th performance (is that the most romantic anniversary gift ever, or what?)Blog--4CP--LunetteDoors--8-1-14

4 County Players is located in Barboursville, VA–only about 15 minutes away from Holladay House, down Rt.20. We made the drive just in time to claim our seats, which were perfect: midway back, and right in the center. Then again, there aren’t any bad seats in the house. The theater is larger than it looks from the outside, but small enough that even the back row doesn’t miss a word (or a note from the live orchestra).

The show was, as always at 4CP, well-acted, well-directed, and accentuated with beautiful costumes and backdrops. We thoroughly enjoyed the performance—particularly “Donkey”, who was spot-on.Blog--4CP--StonefireKitchen--8-1-14

During intermission we enjoyed drinks and snacks from the 4CP’s very own Bistro, though there’s a more complete dining venue available. Stonefire Kitchen, located just across the road, stays open until 8PM on show nights to provide theater-goers with a great gourmet deli experience. You can find their menu, photos, and info about the owners and chefs here:

Sadly, by the time this post was ready to go live, “Shrek” was entirely sold out for the remainder of its run—a testimony to the quality and popularity of 4 County Players’ productions. Still, they have a great season coming up, and lots to see. Upcoming shows on the Mainstage include “Little Women” (Nov.21st—Dec.14th), “The Fantasticks” (March 6th—29th), and “Our Town” (May 8th—24th). There’s also an assortment of shows lined up for the Cellar—check out the full schedule, plus photos and history, at their website:


Orange’s Edible Food Fest: “Celebrating Food From Earth To Table” on August 9th

At last year’s Edible Food Fest I discovered that I love goat cheese. Previously I’d been unimpressed (and rather revolted, frankly) by the grocery-store variety, so I was initially dubious about trying it. Still, you can’t claim to love cheese without being willing to sample every variety, so I reached for a Romano-laden toothpick and gingerly nibbled off the edge. And, that quickly, I was hooked. There was just something special about it. Maybe it was the simple, straightforward way it was presented, or maybe it was just that it was amazing, flavorful hard cheese, straight from the brine. Regardless, it was mouthwateringly good: strong, salty, and pungent. Needless to say, I took home a package—and a business card, so I could reorder.Blog--edible Food Fest in Orange--7-25-14

This seems to be a common experience of many who have flocked to the Edible Food Fest during the past two years. Whether it’s a homemade granola, a locally made cider, or a line of jams and jellies, most people find something new and exciting they want to take home and talk about. Also extremely popular are the chef demonstration tents (they’ve added a second one this year!) which late-comers find to be standing-room-only.

The fest is a great chance to meet fellow foodies and get a hands-on look at some of the best local, organic, and homemade offerings the area is producing. Among the vendors this year: Plantation Peanuts of Wakefield, Bees n’ Blossoms (raw honey), Croftburn Market (meats), Spring Mill Farm (goat cheese), Wildwood’s Hickory Syrup, and Family Ties and Pies.

Located within walking distance of the festival, the Holladay House is the perfect place to stay if you’re planning to attend this year. If you book two nights with us, we’ll even sweeten the deal and provide free admission to the fest.

Orange’s Edible Food Fest is scheduled for August 9, 2014, and will be open 10AM—6PM. See complete schedules and vendor lists at

Hops & Chops 2014

Like fastidious cooks everywhere, the “Chef-In-Chief” of Holladay House’s annual Hops & Chops couldn’t help but regard the food with a critical eye. However, judging by the enthusiastic response (and the scarcity of leftovers!) at the July 5th event, innkeeper Sam was alone in his severe evaluation of his own cooking. The general consensus: 2014′s edition hit the mark yet again.

The family-style dinner went off without a hitch. CBlog--Hops&ChopsFollowup--FamilyStyle--7-16-14onversation flowed throughout the evening, the food selections were well-received, and the festivities wrapped up just in time for guests to venture out for fireworks.

The “chops” for this year were “cider-brined pork rib chops with dried cherries and apple chips.” Rounding out the menu were fresh vegetables from local gardens, such as “spicy honey-lime radish slaw” “just-picked cucumbers in a yogurt and fresh dill sauce” and an assortment of freshly baked breads – Sharon baked them “from scratch” and the aroma delighted everyone in the house! Wrapping things up were several types of dessert, including a blueberry cheesecake and Sharon’s freshly-baked “amazing all-american apple pie”.

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Diners also enjoyed the beer selections, “hops”, complementing each course. All the beers were carefully selected to pair with the flavors of the meal, and all were craft microbrews from Virginia. Of special note was the Hardywood Park Cream Ale from Richmond, VA, picked for its distinctly American origins. Cream Ale has a long history in America. Until the late 19th century, British-style ales and porters dominated the US beer market. Then, in the mid 19th century, German immigrants began to arrive in larger numbers, bringing with them a tradition of their own: lager-brewing. Lager quickly became popular, forcing British-style ale makers to up their game. Their answer to the lager-craze was an all-new beverage, unique to America: cream ale. According to the menu, “this flavorful style of beer has the characteristics of a great lager, but is brewed like an ale.”

A quick (and probably over-simplified) distinction for anyone out there as unfamiliar with beer-brewing as I am: ale-brewing uses a type of yeast that performs best in a warm fermentation environment. Lager employs yeast that ferments best in a colder environment.

Also on the beer menu this year was the Chin Music Amber Lager from Center of the Universe Brewing ( and the Woodbooger Belgian-Style Brown Ale from Strangeways Brewing ( Sam grew up in Ashland, VA, (locally known to be the “center of the Universe”), and was eager to try this new brewery’s selections. Strangeways Brewing provides a unique and eccentric twist to the Virginia craft brewing business, and the Woodbooger brown ale was a favorite at the table, particularly during dessert.Blog--Hops&ChopsFollowup--Herbs--7-16-14

Bold Rock’s Virginia Draft hard cider rounded out the list, appearing not only in bottled form (“balancing soft sweetness with a bright apple taste”) but also serving as the main ingredient in the brine for the pork-rib chops.

All in all, a good evening with good people and good food. We’re looking forward to next year!