The cream of the local culinary crop comes out in full force for the first-ever Taste of Historic Manassas, held at The Harris Pavilion. From the gourmet Italian cuisine of Carmello's to fresh-brewed coffee from Grounds Central Station, Manassas's most dedicated chefs put their best flavors and tallest chef hats on display for foodies. Meanwhile, the musicians of Harlen Simple break free of genre constraints and play a set list of rock, funk, and reggae covers throughout the day.
André Rieu enchants all tastes as he leads his Johann Strauss Orchestra through an evening of virtuosic swooning and dancing in the aisles. A violinist since the age of 5, after a biochemistry degree and two divorces, André radiates his lifelong love of classical music into the audience, tipping the scales of fancy and footloose. Like an omnipotent marionette artist, he maestros both the orchestra and spectators into enticing bouts of ballroom dancing, taking breaks between his Pied Pipering to excitedly play his Stradivarius violin. As Rieu interacts with the audience, the air fills with the kaleidoscopic balloons, lilting tenors and sopranos, and special surprises, which may include a John Philip Sousa séance or a tuba-hole marshmallow toss.
Music director Emil de Cou takes listeners on a sonic journey that sails the Virginia Chamber Orchestra's sound waves to baroque and neoclassical shores, then back through the romantic and contemporary coasts of jazz. The featured piece of the program, Grieg's Holberg Suite of 1884, takes the charming string movement to the late 17th century, when the playwright Ludvig Holberg lived and when flimsy top hats had to be filled with stale oatmeal so that they could stay upright. Maestro Cou mines more neoclassical splendor as violins, cello, and a four-part string orchestra resonate throughout the hall during Handel's concerti grossi from Twelve Grand Concertos, Opus 6. The orchestra breaks 20th-century ground with a composition by Washington native Duke Ellington. His “Solitude” gently exposes listeners to a heartbreakingly simple tune that has stood the test of time better than hand-whittled watches.
The festival masterminds of Across-The-Way Productions are experts in the art of fun. By pairing meticulous planning with celebrated vendors, delicious food, and lots and lots of music, the production company makes every one of their outdoor festivals an unforgettable event. For the past three decades, The Vintage Virginia Wine Festival has highlighted vintages from the state’s most acclaimed winemakers amid cooking demonstrations and other entertainment. The company also hosts the three-day FloydFest, a family-friendly music festival in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains that features folk musicians, bluegrass bands, DJs, performance art, and food.
There are drinking events, and there are music events. But for ticket-holders to On Tap Magazine's Can Jam Beer & Music Festival, there's no need to choose between the two. Festgoers can sip canned suds from breweries such as Flying Dog, Oskar Blues, Starr Hill, and Yuengling, as they boogie to the Latin-infused rock of Lloyd Dobler Effect, sway to reggae sounds, or channel their inner Grateful Dead as they jam to the sounds of Justin Trawick Group. There will also be games to play and food trucks to sample from the likes of Sol Mexican Grill, Willie's Po' Boy, and Top Dog. A portion of the event's proceeds benefits Southeast Tennis & Learning Center.
Attracting more than 170,000 art enthusiasts to its events in 2011, the Sugarloaf Crafts Festival showcases original work from hundreds of artisans showcasing everything from handcrafted pottery, sculpture, and metalwork to jewelry, fashion, décor, and photography. Audiences can witness art being made live during educational demonstrations as artisans sculpt clay, whittle wood, forge metals, and imbue baskets with the power of speech. Hungry crafters can also sniff out specialty food items to sample or purchase while dancing across the sprawling venue to live music.