Ash Lawn-Highland, home of President James Monroe in Charlottesville, Va., is the setting for opera, a Broadway musical, concerts, and other events during the 15th annual Summer Festival of the Arts in progress through Aug. 16.
Visitors will be transported back in time to see the plantation as it was in Monroe's lifetime when "Plantation Days" is held there Saturday and next Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Costumed craftspeople and artisans will be engaged in open-hearth cooking, cabinetmaking, spinning, weaving and other 18th century activities. Some of their work will be for sale. Living history interpreters will portray traveling merchants and plantation slaves, and a military encampment will depict lifestyles of soldiers of the Continental Army. An 18th century troubadour and the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society will provide entertainment, while children enjoy 18th century games, songs and stories. Food will be available on the grounds.
The Virginia Dressage Association will present "Dancing With Horses: A Theatrical Performance" both days at 1:30 p.m. The performance requires a separate admission ticket.
Festival admission, which includes a tour of the house, is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors, and $3 for children under 12. Tickets for "dancing horses" cost an additional $3, and proceeds will be used to benefit the Equine Rescue League in Leesburg.
Major productions scheduled there this summer are the Mozart opera "The Marriage of Figaro," the musical "Oklahoma" and the Johann Strauss operetta "Die Fledermaus." All performances begin at 7 p.m. and in many cases are preceded by a lecture at 6:15 p.m.
Other offerings are the Music at Twilight series, featuring bluegrass, country, jazz, Italian opera and Appalachian folk music on Wednesdays in July at 8 p.m., and Summer Saturdays, family entertainment geared to children, on July 11, 18, 25 and Aug. 1 and 8 at 11 a.m. Picnic suppers are available by reservation on evenings of musical presentations. The box office number is (804) 293-4500.
Owned and operated by the College of William and Mary, Ash Lawn-Highland is open to the public daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is located on county Route 795, two and a half miles past Jefferson's Monticello. To get there, take the Scottsville exit (state Route 20 south) off Interstate 64, and follow the signs. For information, call (804) 293-9539.
Family fair in Warrenton
To celebrate its 20th anniversary the Piedmont Environmental Council will hold its first family fair next Sunday at the Airlie Conference Center just north of Warrenton, Va. The event will take place rain or shine from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The center is situated on a 3,000-acre tract filled with gardens, lakes and fields that are home to endangered swans and other wildlife. At the fair you will find a petting zoo of exotic and domestic animals, including llamas, pygmy goats and potbellied pigs, and there will be draft horse and mule rides, sheep dog demonstrations and an appearance by the Orange County Hounds.
Continuous musical entertainment, craft booths, vintage airplanes, nature walks, blacksmith demonstrations, face painting and special performances for children are among the many attractions.
Programs on environmental issues also will be presented, including displays, talks and seven nature films from the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival. Food will be sold on the grounds. All activities are free, except the animal rides, which cost $1.
For information, call (703) 347-2334.
West Virginia festival
The 1st West Virginia Products/Wine and Cheese Festival promises a lively holiday weekend. Sponsored by the Potomac Highland Convention and Visitors Bureau, this new event will be held Friday through next Sunday at Crystal Valley Ranch near Romney, W.Va.
The festival provides a showcase for West Virginia's arts and crafts, wines and cheeses and other products. For a $10 fee, visitors will receive eight wine tastings and a collector's wine glass. There will be several different craft demonstrations, along with horse-drawn trolley rides, games, contests, hourly drawings for prizes, pony rides, hay rides, and a stagecoach ride complete with a staged robbery. You can also ride horseback, take a trail ride or attend the horse show on Sunday. The ranch and several local organizations will have food for sale, and the Romney NTC Volunteer Fire Department will offer chicken barbecue.
Another attraction is the Potomac Eagle Rail Excursion, a 3 1/2 -hour scenic train ride through the Trough, a remote region inhabited by American Bald Eagles and other wildlife. Trains leave the Romney station on U.S. Route 28 at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday and 12:30 p.m. on Sunday. Dinner trips are available on Friday and Saturday evenings at 6 p.m. For information, call (800) CALLWVA.