Well we survived the jam packed weekend at the plantation! What a time we had! There is so much I don’t even know where to begin! All I do know is that I cannot wait to be there full time working towards this wonderful dream!
Saturday was so much fun! We worked all day with the film crew, first showing them around the plantation and giving them the history of Belle Grove. While we were at the church showing them around the cemetery, we met a very nice couple from King George who was there looking around the tombstones. I am glad to know that I am not the only one who enjoys seeing them. But in our conversation with them, I found out that they had not been to Belle Grove yet. So I invited them to come with the families from Port Royal on Sunday at 1pm. After they left and as we were leaving, I noticed another person standing in front of the church taking pictures. I decided to walk over and say “Hi” as I was leaving. She told me that she was in Fredericksburg for her daughter’s wedding and wanted to stop and see the church. She was interested in it age and history. She came to the right person on that account! It really warmed my heart to know that so many are interested in this beautiful place!
Because we were working with the film crew most of the day on Saturday and into the night, Brett and I were not able to go to Stratford Hall on Saturday for the 6th Annual Wine Fest. It was just so much fun working with them. I can’t wait to reveal who they are and what they were filming. (That is coming soon)
Belle Grove at night is something to see! The only time I have ever been there during the evening or when it was dark was at twilight and just after. And even then there was a full moon so it was almost like daytime. But this time, the moon was about a half so the light was not as bright. But the sky at night!! How can I put it into words? I have always lived in the city so seeing a night sky limits the view of the stars. But here where the cities lights are miles away and there is nothing to stop your view, except a few trees and a passing cloud. It was just breath taking! I stood in front of the manor house and just couldn’t take my eyes off of it. The stars formed a beautiful backdrop with the manor as a dark silhouette. I just tried to image what it had been like to see it through all those years when there was no electric power. Can you image pulling up to the house with only a lantern as your light?
Sunday morning, we decided to run to Stratford Hall to the Wine Fest for about one hour. I know that isn’t a lot, but we wanted to experience it so we knew what to expect next year. We arrived shortly after they opened at 11am. We came in through the Visitor Center, but didn’t stop to really look through. We were on a mission! We were first greeted by a tent for Wine Stomping. They had a barrel with grapes for kids to stomp the grapes! Then we caught sight of a classic car show. There were some really cool classic cars. But we didn’t spend much time looking at them either.
Our main focus was the vendors that had been stationed in the yard of the Great House. Most were wineries like Ingleside, Oakcrest, and even Trump Winery. Yes that would be Donald Trump’s winery in the Charlottesville area.
We also had a chance to meet a vendor from a local farm that specializes in cheese. Just what we were looking for! I really want to make sure that our guests have the full Virginia experience when visiting Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast! So when we serve our Virginia Wines and Mint Juleps for the Wine and Cheese Receptions each afternoon at 5pm, we want to serve local Virginia Cheese as well!
There were also several artists and craft vendors there. We are hoping to have artist retreats and arts and craft events at the plantation too.
One vendor that I was most excited about was the “George Washington’s Friends”. This organization is dedicated to preserving the times and places of Colonial Virginia. Through interpretations of actual historic persons in Virginia, they bring to life those that most just read about. We are excited to find that there is a “James Madison” and “Dolley Madison” we can contact! Who knows, maybe you will have a chance to meet the Madisons at Belle Grove some day!
Another vendor that I was excited about was the “Northern Neck Master Gardeners”. As we start planning our landscape and gardens, we want to make sure that we are using accurate plants for our plantation. We have decided not to go 100% colonial in our plantings, but to have plants that represent the many generations that have lived at Belle Grove. This organization has had experience in working with a colonial garden too! They have a kitchen herb garden that they manage at George Washington’s birthplace, just 15 miles from Belle Grove. So I will be consulting them on questions as we get that part of our plan started.
One and a half hours later (yes, I talk too much and we over stayed our time) we grabbed a quick lunch at one of the food vendors. It smelled so good! It was just like being at a carnival! You could smell the onions, peppers and Italian sausage cooking. So I grabbed a Philly Cheese Steak and Brett got two hot dogs.
We made it back to Belle Grove just in time to greet the couple from King George at 1pm. Shortly after they arrived, the families from Port Royal arrived. I had already started showing the property to the King George couple and Brett picked up the Port Royal families. Just as I was finishing the second floor, the reporter for the Fredericksburg Free Lance Star arrived at 2pm. So Brett combined the group and finished showing them the property while I met with the reporter.
I had met Cathy Dyson of the Fredericksburg Free Lance Star while I was at a King George Historic Society Picnic in June of this year. The picnic was the one at Cleydael that I wrote about in a past post. Today she was here to talk to us about Belle Grove and the bed and breakfast. I walked her and the photographer around the property while telling them about the history. As usual, my history lesson ran way over. Brett has told me many times that I get too long winded when talking about the history of Belle Grove. But I find it hard to decide what not to talk about. The way I see it, all the history is important because it is what made Belle Grove what it is today. Cathy was more than accommodating and listened as I talked about this beautiful plantation. When I apologized for being too long winded, she was very sweet and said that it showed how passionate I was about this plantation and its history. It really was a great first interview and I really look forward to reading her piece and having her do more in the future.
Before I left, our caretaker had a little surprise for me. He had pulled out a tray of artifacts that he has found through the years. I was so surprised and in awe of the items! I now have to make an appointment to visit Ferry Farm to id and date all these new finds!
See more of the artifacts given to us by the Caretaker on Facebook!
Brett and I arrived home on Sunday evening around 7:00pm. After unpacking and cleaning up, I was in bed asleep by 7:45pm. I slept until 7:30am this morning! I didn’t realize how tired I was because I had been so excited through each part of the weekend! Now I just can’t wait until the next time we head back to the plantation. What wonderful surprises lay in wait of us? And what new experiences or new friends will we meet? Friday’s just don’t come fast enough anymore!