The 2021 John Wilburn Scholarship awardee, Kathryn Motley, spent her summer in working with a…
After nearly five weeks with no rain in the Shenandoah Valley, as FNFSR’s Program Coordinator (Mariama) and Education Support Specialist (Daisy) drove up to the venue for Friends of the North Fork’s second Voices of the Shenandoah event, it was anything but dry. As they unloaded their cars of equipment in the pouring rain, splashing between the shallowist of the puddles outside, they finally found refuge in the large event barn of Backroom Brewery in Middletown, VA. Once inside the women got to work setting the stage for what promised to be a glowing night filled with stories, music, and human connection even in these times of increased numbers of COVID cases throughout the valley. And, as for mitigating risk related to COVID, they were prepared. The venue had tables placed six feet apart, they had a COVID filter on their HVAC system, and outside seating available to folks as well.
As the rain drizzled to a stop outside, the evening was kicked off by Friend of the River, Kevin Whalen, playing tunes about the river flooding (which seemed appropriate given the weather just preceding the event) and his connection to it. Next, we heard a mystical tale from Rachel Fitzsimmons inspired by her childhood, growth and parenthood alongside the Shenandoah River. The Two Huge Dudes (Dustyn Vallies and Chris Bachmann) took the stage next, and performed two songs they graced the kids of the Shenandoah Valley with at summer camp this past year: one about Seven Bends State Park and the second about the water cycle as it relates to the Shenandoah River. Following that, Craig Richardson performed a poem written by his friend Terry, related to how the Shenandoah River had brought her and her partner together. John Bauman, a Board Member with Friends of the Middle River, wrapped up the stories portion of the evening with a stunning performance of his original song, “Daughter, Daughter of the Stars” about the Middle River and its course to the Shenandoah.
Meanwhile, dotted throughout the performances attendees had the opportunity to participate in a ‘pub quiz’ about the North Fork and the Shenandoah River more broadly, and three lucky winners went home with a Friends of the North Fork t-shirt or water bottle!
Finally, the last two hours of the evening boasted stellar performances from Harrisonburg’s Prince Bellerose; take a look at their cover of ‘Take me to the River’ here.
Thank you to all who made this event possible, including our volunteer storytellers and musicians, those who came out to participate in it, our venue Backroom Brewery, and our event sponsors: Bowman-Shannon Grant of the Shenandoah Community Foundation, Team Abby Walters, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, & Regulus Group LLC.
Don’t forget to come to our final Voices of the Shenandoah event at Swover Creek Farms Brewery on September 17th from 6 – 9pm, featuring Katie and Kelly Music; RSVP for it at this link: https://fb.me/e/M96jKIDj. See you there!