Friends of the Rappahannock

16/09/12 12:48 PM

View of the Rappahannock

Saturday, Brett and I went up to the plantation and attended the Rappahannock River Fest.

This was a benefit for a group called “Friends of the Rappahannock”. According to their website they were formed in 1985 as a non-profit, grassroots conservation organization. Their common goal is to maintain the water quality and scenic beauty of the Rappahannock River and its tributaries. They work with a wide variety of stakeholders, from local governments to elementary students, to educate about the river and to advocate for actions and policies that will protect and restore the values that make the Rappahannock River so special. They promote environmentally responsible planning through active participation in the civic process. Their professional staff provides technical support to local governments, developers, and teachers in areas of special expertise, including Low Impact Development codes and ordinances, Watershed Planning, Water Quality Monitoring, Invasive Species Control, and Streambank Restoration. They believe that community education is an essential tool for promoting environmental awareness and protection. As a result, they lead a variety of public education programs which focus on understanding and protecting the river’s unique natural, scenic and historic resources.

Their Vision:

“A Rappahannock River…that is clean and safe for fish consumption and recreation from its H2waters to its confluence with the Chesapeake.

A Rappahannock River… that supports a healthy and diverse aquatic ecosystem, with submerged grasses, oysters, crabs and other species returned to their historic levels and productivity.

A Rappahannock River Watershed… where land use and runoff is managed to protect and enhance our riparian habitats, downstream waters, scenic viewsheds and historical resources.

A Rappahannock Community… where the citizens and local governments are educated about river stewardship, where they take a sense of personal stewardship over the river resource, and where they take action in their own backyards and communities to protect it.”

With Belle Grove sitting on a bluff overlooking the Rappahannock, Brett and I want to make sure we are being good stewards of the river and preserving the beauty and nature of this river.

Farley Vale Farm

The River Fest took place in King George County at the Farley Vale Farm. This farm sits on a very high bluff and has a wonderful view of the river as it bends and curves downstream. We arrived just as it was getting started. The first person to greet us was Rob Wittman, Congressman for this area. As we checked in, we were surprised to see out caretaker, Jimmy working as a volunteer too!

Congressman Rob Wittman, Michelle and Brett

Jimmy, Caretaker of Belle Grove

After everyone arrived there had to be a least 1,000 people there. For the cost of the ticket, we were served some of the best steamed crabs and delicious BBQ you have ever tasted! There was plenty to eat and lot of refreshments. There were several bands that played as we enjoyed our meal.

When Brett and I first sat down to eat, we met a father and daughter from King George. They showed us the ins and out of eating steamed crabs. The crabs were delivered to the table in a pile and there were small wooden hammers for you to us to crack them open. They also had small cups of “Old Bay” seasoning for you to dip it in. The band finished their song and all of a sudden everyone started hammering the table with their little hammers. This was something new to us so we are quite surprised. But of course we realized that because everyone’s hands were so messy from eating the crabs, this was their way of applauding. It was such fun!

After we ate, we headed into the barn to view the Silent Auction Items. There was so much to choose from! I didn’t know where to start! They also had items that they were going to auction off in a Live Auction later. Brett found one that caught his eye!

We then walked down to the river to the boat dock where they were giving free boat rides. As we waited, we met another father and daughter. They were from Stafford. We had a very enjoyable conversation with them and learn more about the area. We also met the volunteer working the boat rides. She was from Alexandria and works with an Outdoor Recreation company called “Virginia Outdoor Center”. They provide canoeing, kayaking, tubing, climbing and many other activities for people of all ages. I was very excited to meet her because we had already found them online and wanted more information on their activities so we could offer them to our guests.

Heading down to the River for a boat ride

When we got onboard the boat, we had a very pleasant surprise. Several of the other riders were from Port Royal, Virginia. In fact, one of them, we had been talking to through Facebook! It was so nice to meet him finally face to face. Our ride was so wonderful! The River is just beautiful. Our tour guide, Richard, talked about the view we were seeing. He pointed out that this would have been the view Captain John Smith would have seen as he sailed the Rappahannock River.

Friends from Port Royal

We found the Loch Ness Monster!

After our boat ride, we headed back up to the tent for some refreshments with our friends from Port Royal. They walked us over to their reserved table and we met up with their mayor, Nancy. I had met Nancy during the July 4th Port Royal Days Celebration. It was really nice to see her again. We updated her and the rest group on our progress. Nancy offered us a letter of recommendation from the city of Port Royal when we have our public hearing for our zoning approval! We can’t wait to become part of this wonderful community!

After we enjoyed some sweet treats and chatted for a while with the group, we headed to our car. We had one more stop to make before we headed home. We needed to stop at Belle Grove to measure the basement room areas. We have a sauna, soaking Jacuzzi and full restroom down in the basement of the manor house. We also have room to put in a small exercise room. We wanted to measure the height of the room though to see if we could place a treadmill in there. The jury is still out on that one. The room is 7 feet so with the treadmill, you may not be able to stand up. We may have to look at other options.

Wild Turkeys at Belle Grove

Wild Turkeys at Belle Grove

As we pulled into Belle Grove, we were greeted by our small flock of wild turkeys. How much they have grown in just a few weeks! We had a chance to chat with the caretaker’s wife about the appointments we have next weekend at the plantation. After we measured the rooms, we headed back outside to say good-bye. It was already dark and the caretaker’s daughter was running around with her light up shoes dancing around. What a sight to see. It was like a small fireworks show. This was also Brett’s first time at the plantation during the night. It was just so peaceful.

Caretaker’s Daughter lighting up the night

As we headed back home, we spent the time discussing our next weekend.

We have a lot going on next weekend at the plantation! We can’t wait to share all the fun with you!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Year of the Virginia Historic Homes | 34 Comments »

34 Comments on “Friends of the Rappahannock”

  1. Wow! That looks like a very fun event! And the river is so undeveloped – I was expecting to see more development along the banks. Thank you for sharing!

  2. It was a real fun event. One thing I have to say for King George; they have really worked hard not to over develop the area like Stafford and other DC areas.

  3. terry1954 Says:

    i am so glad you two were able to enjoy all of the activities. you met a lot of nice people and found those you already knew. so happy for you!!!! can’t wait til the day comes when you show me the inside of your Belle Grove!!!

  4. Thank you! The inside is coming soon!

  5. Looks like so much fun!

  6. It was a lot of fun. I am glad we went.

  7. Rhonda Says:

    Sounded like a great time…

  8. It was a really great time 😉

  9. maureenc Says:

    How wonderful to see natural river banks rather than “built up” I am so enjoying my travels with you. Maureen in Qld

  10. Thank you! It was beautiful! I am glad you are “coming along” on our journey with us!

  11. Looks like all had a great time. And that river…gorgeous.

    S. Thomas Summers
    Author of Private Hercules McGraw: Poems of the American Civil War

  12. It was a wonderful time and you are right, the river is just beautiful!

  13. PigLove Says:

    That trip looks like so much fun. Don’t you need a piggy running around up there? I act just like a doggy but I’m better. XOXO Bacon

  14. Bacon! I have missed hearing from you! Hurley was just asking me about you the other day! He says to tell you “Woof”. We would love to see you at the plantation some day! We aren’t really a farm any more, no barns are left, but it is still fun to see.

  15. PigLove Says:

    But it would still be so much fun running around and playing with Hurley! Tell him I said oink and I miss him too!

  16. I called Hurley down from my son’s room and told him you said “oink”. He smiled! He says he looks forward to you coming to see us at the plantation!

  17. A great post – and what a wonderful way to both fundraise and connect with other custodians of the river. It looks beautiful, and well done on the work to keep it healthy in good shape.

  18. Thank you! It was great fun and wonderful to meet others with like mind goals.

  19. Jane Sadek Says:

    for the exercise room – a stationary recumbent bike. that’s what I spend an hour on every day.

  20. We are thinking that too. I don’t think we can fit a treadmill in just because of the height. But there is 694 acres that someone can walk or run on. Who would want to hang out in the basement instead?

  21. Jane Sadek Says:

    I wouldn’t hang out – but an hour of cardio is de rigueur with me, not matter what else the day has in store.

  22. I have found your blog to be quite “lovely” especially the great pictures and events! So I nominated you for the “One Lovely Blog” award. Go to to check out the rules! Congrats on all your awesome blog, fellow traveler!

  23. Thank you so much for sharing our blog with your readers! It really means a lot to us! Thank you!!

  24. I love the Rappahannock. I once saw five scissortail flycatchers in Fredericksburg. Great river with an amazing history. Dianne

  25. It is a beautiful place! We are so excited to have it right out our door at the plantation!

  26. Nikunj Says:

    This is a wonderful cause and you have done justice to it by putting such a comprehensive note here. Although I am in India and can not really relate to it , but your blog has provided a feel good human factor to me .

  27. Thank you so much! We hope to open this history to everyone. I hope you will find some interesting information about the house and its grand history.

  28. hermitsdoor Says:

    In the Shenandoah Valley and neighboring counties in WV, lots of community host similar (though not with crabs feasts!) community events. We enjoy getting to tour 18th and 19th century homes, many of which are lived in, eat lots of goodies, and hear lots of music. Nice place to meet and catch up with the neighbors (what people on Facebook actually exist?!).

  29. We love the Shenandoah Valley communities! It is such a beautiful area! I have seen many beautiful homes there!

  30. […] Friends of the Rappahannock from Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast […]

  31. Thank you for sharing our blog again! This really means a lot to us!

  32. Reblogged this on Practically Historical.

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