A long winter's nap may sound tempting, but the Far West End has many winter and early-spring activities that you may want to risk the chill to attend. From holiday festivities to gardeners' lessons, we've picked promising bets to keep your social calendar full for the next few months.
History and the Holidays
From Dec. 2-6, experience life in the ancient holy city of Bethlehem at the sixth annual Bethlehem Walk presented by Salem Baptist Church of Crozier. Their Goochland campus at 465 Broad Street Road will be transformed into a busy first-century marketplace of spice and tunic merchants, basket weavers and bread makers at this open-air interactive "Gospel drama" about the birth of Christ. Admission is free. (784-4171 or salembaptistchurch.info )
Travel in time to rural Virginia circa-1800 and beyond at the Mountain Road Corridor Holiday Celebration on Dec 5. From noon to 2 p.m., tour the Courtney Road Service Station, and from noon to 6 p.m., visit historic Walkerton Tavern. See the grand tree lighting and cozy up to a bonfire while carolers perform at the Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen from 4:30 to 5:45 p.m. End the evening with a lantern tour at Meadow Farm from 6 to 8 p.m. All events are free. (501-5121 or co.henrico.va.us/rec )
The homespun charm of a Colonial-style Christmas will be on display at the Christmas Candlelight Tour at Tuckahoe Plantation ( 12601 River Road, Goochland ) Dec. 10-13 from 4 to 8 p.m. See the boyhood home of Thomas Jefferson bedecked in boxwood, magnolia leaves, Osage oranges, pine cones and a giant Christmas tree all cut and gathered from the 600-acre property. Take the self-guided tour of the candlelit paths on the grounds after dusk or purchase refreshments and holiday decorations made on the plantation at the Jefferson Schoolhouse gift shop and Old Stable. Tickets are $12 and sold at the door. (784-5736 or tuckahoeplantation.com )
Hitting the Food and Wine Trail
On Dec. 5-6, follow the Jingle Bell Wine Trail for seasonal snacks and holiday gifts, in addition to the usual tastings. Try the recently released Red Red wine at James River Cellars or Noche Chocolate, an ice wine infused with chocolate essence at Cooper Vineyards. Check out Lake Anna Winery's new Totally White Wine, or sample wines made from unusual grape varieties such as Pinotage and Frontenac at Grayhaven Winery.
Four wineries — James River Cellars in Glen Allen, Lake Anna Winery in Spotsylvania, Cooper Vineyards in Louisa, and Grayhaven Winery in Gum Spring — make up the Heart of Virginia Wine Trail. A $10 passport ticket buys you tours and tastings at the four wineries, a souvenir wineglass, and a gift when you've completed the trail. Passports never expire, so you can visit all four in a day or at your leisure on any weekend. The wineries are open throughout the year and feature special events:
Jan. 30-31 is Chili Cook-Off Weekend on the trail. If you manage to make it to all four wineries this weekend, you'll earn the right to cast your ballot for your favorite chili and bestow bragging rights on the lucky winner.
At the April Fools Wine Festival on April 10-11 from noon to 5 p.m., representatives from the four wineries will gather at James River Cellars for a weekend of tasting, live music, crafts and food. Picnics are welcome. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door. Call 550-7516 or visit hovawine trail.com for information about purchasing passports and all wine trail events.
The Rural Life
The Center for Rural Culture (CRC) in Goochland, known for its farmers' market (May to October), is serving up a smorgasbord of programs starting with the new Goochland Farmers' Market Winter Season Co-Op Program . This is good news for fans of fresh eggs, meat, cheese and veggies delivered straight from local farms. The inaugural season of the co-op runs through April 30. Orders are delivered Tuesdays at Goochland Courthouse and Family Services offices in the western part of the county and the former Edible Garden restaurant ( 12506 River Road ). Register for $45 ($35 for Center for Rural Culture members) and order online at gfm.luluslocalfood.com .
CRC will screen Fresh , a movie by Ana Sophia Joanes, on Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. at Java Jodi's Coffee Café ( 2918 River Road West, Goochland) . The film features farmers and concerned citizens across the country exploring more sustainable alternatives to our current food system. $10 suggested donation. (332-3144, centerforrural culture.org or discovergoochland.com )
The Fifth Annual Growers School on Jan. 30 at the JSRCC Western Campus ( 1851 Dickenson Road, Goochland ) will again offer small group sessions and panel discussions on topics like biodynamic gardening and farming, wholesale marketing, and four-season growing for new and experienced growers looking for information about the business of growing for market. Register early. Cost is $45. (314-9141 or centerforruralculture.org )
Two short footraces that benefit good causes take place in December. The fifth-annual Jake's Reindeer Race (Dec. 6, 2 p.m.) helps the Maynard Childhood Cancer Foundation; the 5K is named for a 10-year-old cancer survivor and starts at the Innsbrook Picnic Area. Registration is $20 for adults and $10 for kids under 16. ( 4600 Cox Road, jakesreindeerrace.com/race )
The following weekend brings the Toys for Tots 5K , which starts at The Shoppes at Innsbrook on Dec. 13 at noon. If you bring a toy worth $10, there's no entry fee (otherwise, it's $10); they go to the U.S. Marines' Toys for Tots charity, which delivers the playthings to deserving children. Besides the 5K, there are two children's races — a quarter-mile and a half-mile in distance. ( rrrc.org/events )
Just the kids get to boogie, but the 27-hour Deep Run High School Marathon Dance , a fundraising sensation, needs community volunteers to help with the March 19-20 celebration. The Central Virginia chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals honored the high school with its 2009 Youth Philanthropist of the Year award. ( mddrhs.org )
To complement its Center Season repertoire, the Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen launched its new 2nd Stage Series in July featuring local and regional talent strutting their stuff in the Cardinal Ballroom, a small cabaret-style venue adjacent to the Center complex. General-admission seating and a light-fare menu are available. See Richmond's own Comedy Sportz Improv on Jan. 22 at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Teams vie for laughs in a melee of song, stand-up and sport, while audiences get to vote for a winner. $10 in advance, $12 at the door. Watch for more 2nd Stage performances by area musicians, including the Richmond-based American Youth Harp Ensemble . (261-2787 or artsglenallen.com )
The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen will participate in Minds Wide Open: Virginia Celebrates Women in the Arts ( vamindswideopen.org ), a statewide series of special events and programs from March through June recognizing women's contributions to art and culture by hosting a performance of the Richmond Divas — Debra Wagoner, Cathy Motley-Fitch and Desiree Roots — April 28 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25. The Gumenick Family Gallery at the Center will be home to an exhibit, " P. Buckley Moss: A Progression Through the Years, " a series of images of the internationally famous Virginia artist known for her paintings of nature and farm life. Admission to the gallery is free. (261-2787 or artsglenallen.com )
Looking Ahead to Spring
One of the best-kept secrets in the West End may be the Daffodil Bloom at Tuckahoe Plantation ( 12601 River Road, Goochland ) from March 27-April 3, when at least 1,000 of these early spring beauties are at their peak. Lining the nearly mile-long lane leading to the main house, the heirloom daffodil rows are a historic part of the landscape at the 276-year-old plantation. Dogwoods, redbuds, saucer magnolias and tulips will also be in full bloom. Self-guided tours of the early spring garden are available daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. House tours by appointment. $5 suggested donation. (784-5736 or tuckahoeplantation.com )
Ever wonder how your favorite wool sweater was made? Find out April 17 from noon to 4 p.m. at the annual Sheep to Shawl festival at Meadow Farm ( 3400 Mountain Road, Glen Allen ). See the farm's flock of sheep get their hair cut the old-fashioned way with hand shears, and then watch as volunteers from Richmond-based Clotho's Children Handspinners use traditional spinning wheels to spin raw wool into thread. Weavers make shawls and scarves while visitors learn about the processes of washing, dyeing, carding and spinning raw wool. Tours of the farmhouse, which celebrates its 200th anniversary next year, are available Tuesday-Sunday from noon to 3:30 p.m. Admission is free, and picnics are encouraged. (501-2130 or co.henrico.va.us/rec ).