ARTS AND CULTURE
A tremendous selection of cultural activities lies within short distance from everyone living within Staunton, Waynesboro and Fishersville and Augusta County. Options include community and professional theater, musical performing arts groups, historic sites, museums, libraries, art galleries and artisans' centers.
Waynesboro Players perform three times yearly. The open-air Oak Grove Theate delights audiences in warmer months. ShenanArts offers performances for youth and general audiences and conducts a workshop for playwrights and screenwriters. The Theater Wagon, a collaborative effort of a number of arts organizations, performs regularly. Local colleges also host a number of cultural events, many of which are open to the public, free of charge.
Music lovers can spend hours as participants or as part of the audience. Performances by the Staunton Choral Society, Schola Cantorum of Waynesboro, Inc., the Waynesboro Community Orchestra and the Stonewall Brigade Band delight audiences throughout the year. The Staunton, Waynesboro and Fishersville Community Concert Series attracts professional, high quality performers. The Shenandoah Civic Dance Company performs The Nutcracker during the holiday season and a concert in the spring. Valley Symphonic Concerts bring in renowned symphony orchestras from outside our region three times yearly. A number of schools, community groups and churches also hold musical and other cultural events throughout the year.
You probably know who the Statler Brothers are, but you may not know that Staunton is their home. The group maintains a museum here where their awards, tributes and memorabilia are displayed. The museum is housed in the former elementary school where group members were students, and visitors can also view a restored classroom and gym stage.
The Museum of American Frontier Culture in Staunton is a living history museum dedicated to showcasing "how immigrants to America (namely African, English, Scottish-Irish and German) lived in their homelands, crossed the Atlantic and traveled from coastal ports into the Shenandoah Valley."
The Woodrow Wilson Birthplace and Museum located in a residential neighborhood in Staunton's historic district explores the life and legacy of our 28th, President Woodrow Wilson, and includes period furnishings, Wilson family heirlooms and a personal guided tour. The Museum depicts Wilson's life through eight galleries and a research library.
P. Buckley Moss Museum in Waynesboro is a tribute to the life, art and philosophy of one of our nation's most popular contemporary artists. In addition to displays of prints and paintings, the museum follows Ms. Moss' life and the factors that influenced it. The museum is housed in a building that architecturally reflects the region, with a view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The Artisans Center, also in Waynesboro, is the official Virginia center for the works of over 1000 artisans juried in a wide range of mediums including clay wood, metal, glass, fiber, textiles and others. An exhibition gallery, demonstrations and classes for children and adults make this a must on your list of places to visit.
Art lovers can also visit the Shenandoah Valley Art Center and Virginia Metalcrafters in Waynesboro, visit the Staunton-Augusta Art Center, or discover unique works of art at over fourteen galleries during Staunton's Art Walk Fridays Walkers will also enjoy any number of walking tours of Staunton's five historic districts, which contain over 1,000 buildings listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Public libraries in Staunton, Waynesboro and Fishersville and Augusta County conduct programs for children, lectures, exhibits from local artists, and musical events.
SOME OF THE FINEST CULTURAL OPPORTUNITIES available anywhere are offered within short driving time to everyone living within Augusta County, Staunton, Waynesboro and Fishersville. Options include community and professional theatre, musical performing arts groups, historic sites, museums, libraries, art galleries and artisans' centers.
A relatively new player on the scene is the Blackfriars Playhouse, located in Staunton. The theatre is a replica of one of William Shakespeare's theatres, built in 1620, and contains backless oak benches, balconies, and Tudor-style woodwork. The Playhouse is home to Shenandoah Shakespeare Express, a highly respected touring troupe that has now established permanent residence in Staunton.
Shenandoah Shakespeare specializes in performing Shakespeare and Renaissance drama in original staging conditions. Its fast-paced performances use natural light, double-casing, and simple staging, reflecting their commitment to authenticity while keeping the plays fresh, accessible, and fun for modern audiences.
Queen City Acoustic regularly brings the best in contemporary folk music to the stage at the Blackfriars Playhouse. Local favorites John McCutcheon, Jimmy Fortune and Robin and Linda Williams appear at least once annually, as do artists from around the nation.
The Waynesboro Players perform three times yearly. Schola Cantorum (school for singers) of Waynesboro is a local ensemble of musicians from the area. They perform twice a year--spring and fall--usually in the High School auditorium. The Waynesboro Community Orchestra provides professional, student and community players with an opportunity to practice and perform in a professional orchestra environment. The orchestra performs several free concerts each year. The Stonewall Brigade Band performs in Gypsy Hill Park on Monday nights during the summer.
ShenanArts, based at Pennyroyal Farm north of Staunton, is not-for-profit professionally directed community service organization. Under the banner of Growing Stages, ShenanArts offers a wide variety of character-building activities in theatre by and for youth. ShenanArts' entertainment offerings include Cabaret Nights, Adult Faire, and Family Theatre events. Plays selected often address contemporary issues. At Shenandoah Playwrights International, playwrights from different regions of the world come to live and work with a multicultural company of theatre artists.
The Staunton Community Concert Association sponsors a series of music, dance and theatre artists. The Shenandoah Civic Dance Company teaches ballet to students from throughout the region, and presents the Nutcracker during the holiday season. Valley Symphonic Concerts bring three concerts to the valley each year. The Staunton Choral Society presents two concerts per year; participation is open to anyone with a fine voice and a desire to sing with a group of talented musicians. The Ovation Singers are also an open-entry singing group. They were organized to meet the multi-purpose performance needs of the community. The second and fourth Saturday night of each month is Apollo Night at Booker T. Washington Resource Center.
The Museum of American Frontier Culture in Staunton is another "destination attraction." The Museum offers a unique collection of furnishings, crops, animals and foods from 17th and 18th and 19th century Europe and America. Costumed interpreters help create a living illustration of life in Europe before immigration to America, and the culture they built on one of America's first frontiers. Also on the premises are a reconstructed German farm, Ulster (Scotch Irish) farm, and an English yeoman's farm. An American Frontier farm from the Shenandoah Valley provides example of the daily life of the families that settled in the valley in the middle of the nineteenth century.
The Woodrow Wilson Birthplace and Museum is located in a historic residential neighborhood in Staunton. This "presidential home/library" explores the life and legacy of Woodrow Wilson, 28th president of the United States who was born and raised in Staunton. The house includes period furnishings and many Wilson family heirlooms. The Museum depicts Wilson's life through eight galleries and a research library. Guided tours are available.
The Augusta Military Academy Museum is located in the AMA Alumni House in Fort Defiance, Virginia, on the grounds of the now closed military academy eight miles north of Staunton on U. S. Route 11. It is set in an area of old trees and expansive lawns with the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance. The Alumni House is completely renovated, 1870's home originally built by the founder of the academy for his family.
The P. Buckley Moss Museum (a private, for-profit museum) in Waynesboro is a tribute to the life, art and philosophy of one of our nation's most popular contemporary artists. In addition to retail displays of prints and paintings, the museum follows Ms. Moss' life and the factors that influenced it.
The Artisans Center of Virginia was established to create and maintain a statewide center dedicated to the work of Virginia artisans to raise awareness of the craft and its contribution to the culture of Virginia. It is the official Virginia center for the works of over 1000 artisans juried in a wide range of mediums including clay, wood, metal, glass, fiber, textiles and others. ACV is housed in a 3,500 square foot retail and exhibition gallery at the Waynesboro Village. Art lovers can also visit the Shenandoah Valley Art Center in Waynesboro. SVAC is a non-profit community arts organization established for the support, education, enjoyment, and participation in the arts. SVAC is home to several studio artists whose studios are open to the public.
Virginia Metalcrafters is located near downtown Waynesboro. This more than a century old company manufactures a broad line of gift and decorative accessories. All of the products are hand cast in brass, iron, aluminum, bronze, "white bronze" and pewter using the same methods that have been employed since the company was founded over 100 years ago. Tours are available.
The Historic Staunton Foundation has created two exceptional brochures (walking tours) promoting Staunton's rich architectural heritage. The brochures feature detailed maps, photos and descriptions of dozens of historic homes and structures in all five of Staunton's historic districts.
The R. R. Smith Center for History & Art in downtown Staunton, once a luxury railroad hotel, is restored to its 19th century glory. Now, the renovated Smith Center will house the Historic Staunton Foundation, Augusta County Historical Society and Staunton Augusta Art Center?with state-of-the art galleries, a library, classrooms and a conservation lab.
Staunton, Waynesboro and Fishersville and Augusta County are situated amid some of the most spectacular scenery and natural beauty in the nation.
Shenandoah National Park, encompassing the renowned Skyline Drive, merges with the awesome Blue Ridge Parkway right in the heart of our region. Stop at the intersection of U.S. 250 and I-64, and visit the Rockfish Gap Tourist Information Center, to obtain assistance and information. Spectacular views, interpretive ranger-led programs, camping, swimming, hiking, fishing , lodging, dining and exploration of historic, charming towns can keep you stimulated for weeks.
State and regional parks offer similar outdoor recreational opportunities. The George Washington National Forest, in Augusta County, offers camping, hiking, hunting, bike riding, fishing, bird watching, and fabulous places to relax, picnic and enjoy the great American outdoors. Grand Caverns Regional Park features underground caverns, biking and hiking trails, picnic facilities, a swimming pool, tennis courts and miniature golf. Sherando Lake just south of Waynesboro, offers fishing, hunting, boating, swimming and camping. Ice-skating, skiing, snowboarding, tubing and other winter sports are available at parks and local ski resorts.
Parks and recreational programs and facilities are operated by Staunton, Waynesboro and Fishersville and Augusta County with playgrounds, ball fields and basketball and tennis courts available to residents. Sports fans of all ages can participate in baseball, softball, soccer, basketball and football throughout the region. Two summer collegiate teams play in the region, including the Staunton Braves. Civic and social groups, schools, churches, YMCAs, and public and private fitness centers give everyone an opportunity to keep in shape.
Golfing is very popular in our region. The valley's location with its abundance of natural resources provide lush, rolling greens, challenging but not insurmountable holes, and breathtaking scenery. Golf resorts offer complete packages including lodging, meals and greens fees. Public courses, private courses and two semi-private country clubs--Country Club of Staunton, Waynesboro and Fishersville Country Club--offer great experiences for both the novice and seasoned golfer.
Festivals and community celebrations take place throughout the year, beginning with First Night Waynesboro, held on New Year's Eve. This event provides a family-oriented alcohol-free celebration of the arts. America's Birthday Celebration, held in Staunton for several days surrounding July 4th, includes food, entertainment, arts and crafts, rides, a parade and fireworks and more. The annual Daylily and Wine Festival, held each year in July at Andre Viette Farm and Nursery, showcases area wineries, crafters, horticulturists and food vendors.
The Augusta County Fair, held for five days in August, includes agricultural exhibits, entertainment, and a rodeo. An African American Heritage Festival, a 10-week summer concert series, Jazz in the Park, a Victorian Festival, a Summer Extravaganza, the Great South River Duck Race, Riverfest, and a Fall Foliage Festival are some of the other events that draw thousands of visitors throughout the year.
The Staunton, Waynesboro and Fishersville and Augusta County region is a destination for Civil War enthusiast. Dozens of battle fields, interpretive centers and cemeteries depict the small battle that took place in the valley as well as the role the region played as a confederate supply depot.
THE FIRST THING YOU MAY NOTICE when entering the Shenandoah Valley is the scenery--it is magnificent! With the famous Blue Ridge Mountains at its eastern border and theAllegheny Mountains, including the Great North Mountain, at its western border, the valley is one of the most scenic in the United States.
The most famous of all the natural features here isShenandoah National Park, less than ten minutes drive from downtown Waynesboro. Be sure to stop at the Rockfish Gap Tourist Information Center to obtain assistance and information and then choose your direction--north or south--and begin to explore this special natural wonderland.
For most visitors, the primary and best-known feature of the park is the Skyline Drive. Drivers will pass rock cliffs, deer and other wildlife, tunnels of trees, wildflowers and ferns, and (in late spring) banks of blooming mountain laurel. Seventy-five overlooks offer a place to stop and enjoy spectacular vistas.
If you are a fly fisherman, the mountain streams of Shenandoah National Park are inhabited by a variety of species of fish, and these pristine waters provide some of the best-protected strongholds for native eastern brook trout. Closer to home, the South River through downtown Waynesboro is a fine trout stream.
Shenandoah National Park has over 500 miles of hiking trails, including 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Many trails are accessed from Skyline Drive. Some short trails lead to a waterfall or viewpoint; longer and more difficult trails penetrate deep into the forest and wilderness. There are also more than 150 miles of horse trails.
Augusta County, Staunton, Waynesboro and Fishersville also offer recreational programs and operate parks, playgrounds, soccer and football fields, and basketball and tennis courts are available for personal and group use.
The Valley League--collegiate baseball at its finest (including the Staunton Braves and the Waynesboro Generals) plays a 40-game schedule each summer. Each of the eight communities that supports the league lend assistance by housing players, providing jobs, and financially supporting the team, as well as buying tickets for games.
Because of the climate, the golf season is exceptionally long and pleasant, even during the winter. Within an hour's drive of the center of Augusta County, an avid player can find half a dozen absolutely first rate, competitively priced golf resorts and daily fee facilities. The City of Staunton operates a golf course within the city at Gypsy Hill Park. Staunton, Waynesboro and Fishersville also feature private country clubs.
Residents of the valley have four world-class ski resorts within a ninety-minute drive--Massanutten, Wintergreen, The Homestead and Bryce Mountain.