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14 Culpeper farmers invite public to visit this weekend during Harvest Days
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14 Culpeper farmers invite public to visit this weekend during Harvest Days

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As the days continue to cool and autumn nears, this weekend should be the perfect time to sample rural life hereabouts.

That’s what the hosts of 2021’s Culpeper Harvest Days Farm Tour hope. The 24th annual tour, from from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday, will offer fun for all ages and showcase traditional and unique farms in the county’s Blue Ridge foothills.

It should be the perfect introduction to Culpeper’s (and Virginia’s) largest industry—agriculture.

There’s a chance of a thunderstorm on Saturday, but skies Sunday should be sunny and clear, according to Weather Underground.

Providing lively, person-to-person educational experiences, the tour will include hands-on activities and demonstrations, the tour committee and Culpeper County Economic Development Office said.

“The 14 carefully selected farms and ag-related businesses on the tour reflect Culpeper’s agricultural heritage and the millions of dollars in production, wages and salaries generated by the agricultural industry in our county and state,” they said.

A self-guided driving experience, the tour can start at any of the participating farms. To guide you, download the tour’s PDF by visiting CulpeperFarmTour.com, grab a brochure from the Culpeper Visitors Center, one of the tour’s farms or download the new Farm Tour app from the Apple or Google Play stores. The app provides a map for easy navigation and planning calendar.

As in years past, many of the farms will offer lunch or snacks for purchase, along with plants, herbs and gift-shop items. The farms’ specific activities have designated times, so check and plan accordingly.

At Culpeper Agricultural Enterprises, the tour’s Welcome Center will exhibit the Piedmont Railroaders’ model-train layouts and a tractor display from Taye Griffin of Griffwood Farm—sure to be a big hit. Griffin will display a refinished 1952 Farmall Super C, the last year this model was made, and a refinished 1968 550 Oliver.

The Railroaders, a Bealeton-based group founded in 1995, will show their elaborate layouts in four different gauges. Synonymous with agriculture throughout American history, railroads are vital to moving grains, livestock, equipment, seed, supplies, fertilizer, wood and milk—virtually everything produced by or needed on the farm.

At the George Washington Carver Agriculture Research Center on U.S. 15 near Rapidan, the Minority & Veteran Farmers of the Piedmont and the Rapidan Master Gardeners will welcome visitors to see what crops, herbs and ornamental plants they’re growing in the site’s fields and hoophouses, as well as enjoy exhibits and hosts in the Four-County Museum inside the old high school that educated the region’s African American children.

Participants can pick up a Harvest Days passport, back by popular demand, at the start of their tour, have it stamped at each farm and enter to win the Farm Tour giveaway.

The hosts ask participants to like and follow the tour on its Facebook page, facebook.com/culpeperfarmtour, where you’ll find the most up-to-date news and information.

Harvest Days Welcome Center, Culpeper Agricultural Enterprises

Saturday & Sunday, gates close at 4 p.m. 10220 James Monroe Highway (U.S. 29) Culpeper, VA 22701.

Pick up Farm Tour brochures and passports, play yard games, and visit the Piedmont Railroaders. Free goodies available for kids; limited supply of Farm Tour T-shirts for sale.

Established in 1956 by stockholders for feeder cattle marketing and youth livestock shows, Culpeper Agricultural Enterprises is home to the Culpeper Madison Feeder Cattle Association sales, the Culpeper Madison Rappahannock Farm Show, the Culpeper Fireman’s Carnival, and agricultural events including tractor pulls, livestock shows, purebred cattle sales and dispersals, poultry and equipment auctions. It is home to the longest-running bull test sale in the United States.

Andora Farm and Stable

Saturday & Sunday, gates close at 4 p.m. 17275 Germanna Highway (State Route 3), Culpeper, Virginia 22701.

Andora Farm is celebrating “Daniel Boone Days” with colonial crafters on site such as soap makers, quilt makers, blacksmith and Dutch-oven cooking demonstrations. Watch team-penning demonstrations, take a hay ride or buy a pony ride ($5) and visit and take photos with famous TV horses that went on a Mexico-to-Canada ride and a Atlantic-to-Pacific ride.

A cattle, crop and horse farm, Andora offers team penning practices for local riders, teaches riders how to work and drive cattle by horseback and is home of Best of America by Horseback, a national TV series on RFD-TV about trail riding all over America.

Bees & Trees Farm

Saturday & Sunday, gates close at 4 p.m. 18028 Carrico Mills Road, Elkwood, VA 22718.

See the farm’s hives, learn how to extract honey (1 p.m.), and sample the bees’ product. Pet its goats and miniature donkeys, watch the chickens and enjoy a pony ride ($5). El Jefe Food Truck will offer tasty food. K&M Lawn and Garden Center will display lawn and gardening equipment. The Farm Store will have cold drinks, honey, jams, salsas, butters, local wines and hard cider, Bees & Trees’ Black Angus beef, tasty baked goods and gifts.

Set on 43 acres with a view of the Blue Ridge, Bees & Trees has eight acres of Christmas trees (fir, spruce and pine), honeybee hives, Black Angus beef, and more.

Belmont Farm Distillery

Saturday only. Farm Tour ends at 4 p.m. Distillery stays open to the public until 5 p.m. 13490 Cedar Run Road, Culpeper, VA 22701.

Steel Gray Band performs during the day. Distillery tours every 20 minutes. The Knights of Columbus will have barbeque, hamburgers and hot dogs for sale.

Farmer Chuck Miller remembered his grandfather had made whiskey in the 1920s, and decided to follow in his footsteps, legally. He resurrected the family recip and in 1989, unveiled Virginia Lightning Corn Whiskey—fondly known as moonshine.

The Farm at Cedar Mountain

Saturday & Sunday, gates close at 4 p.m. 23350 Cedar Mountain Drive, Rapidan, VA 22733.

At the base of Cedar Mountain, the farm was part of the Civil War battle fought there in August 1862. Today, it has been restored and is an agritourism destination, offering venue space and overnight stays.

11 a.m.: Discuss conservation methods and three planting through a partnership with Friends of the Rappahannock. 1 p.m.: Dan Davis, a historian and education manager at the American Battlefield Trust, will discuss the farm’s role during the Civil War. 3 p.m.: neighboring Cedar Mountain Apiary will demonstrate beehives. Humble Soul Food Truck and Two Sisters Coffee Truck will offer North Carolina barbecue, coffee and tea. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., a pop-up Farm Store will sell honey, baked goods, fresh eggs and more. Kids activities will be available.

Ironwood Farm

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Saturday & Sunday, gates close at 4 p.m. 10291 Homeland Road, Rixeyville, VA 22737.

Meet the Ice Princess and her Fjord friends! At 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., see a short performance of a well-known popular song and a comic skit about Fjord horses, followed by individual meet-and-greet photo sessions with the Ice Princess. See and touch Fjord horses, including foals, throughout the day. Printed materials on the breed, including coloring pages for children, will be available.

Since 1998, Ironwood Farm has specialized in breeding, training and selling Norwegian Fjord horses. On 132 acres of rolling hills, woods and streams, it is Virginia’s largest Norwegian Fjord horse farm.

Kildee Farms

Saturday & Sunday, gates close at 4 p.m. 19295 Batna Road, Culpeper, VA 22701.

Take a barn tour and see antique tractors, a combine, a thrashing machine, corn pickers and hand-crank corn shellers dating from the 1840s. Food and drink for sale.

Now worked by the fourth generation of the Brown family, Kildee Farms was named about 1920 for the Kildee birds that were everywhere.

Liberty Hall Plantation

Saturday & Sunday, gates close at 4 p.m. 18255 Plantation Loop, Rixeyville, VA 22737.

Watch a Civil War cavalry charge by the Black Horse Squadron. Haywagon tours of the farm. Mini polo clinic for all visitors, with foot mallets and a demonstration.

Created by the Red Greens of Culpeper in the early 18th century, the plantation is operated by their ninth-generation descendants, the Coleman family. A 220-acre equestrian facility, Liberty Hall offers stabling, horsemanship clinics, fox hunting and a U.S. Polo Association polo club and school.

George Washington Carver Agriculture Research Center

Saturday & Sunday, gates close at 4 p.m. 9432 James Madison Highway Rapidan, VA 2273.

Talk with members of the Minority & Veteran Farmers of the Piedmont. Rapidan River Master Gardeners Association will conduct tours of their demonstration garden. The Four-County Museum will be open during the tour hosted by the George Washington Carver Regional High School Alumni Association. The site’s Food Enterprise Center will show its new commercial kitchen space, and discuss plans for the facility.

On the campus of a historic regional high school, the Carver research and education center develops new knowledge and opportunities for agriculture.

Mountain Run Winery

Saturday & Sunday, Farm Tour event ends at 4 p.m.; winery remains open until 7 p.m. 10753 Mountain Run Lake Road, Culpeper, VA 22701.

Press apple cider from local apples. Sample award-winning wines and ciders. Outdoor games such as ladder ball, corn hole and giant Connect Four. Owner David Foster will give short walking tours. Live music Saturday & Sunday. Crabfest on Saturday; Food Truck on Sunday.

This 120-year-old rustic, family- and pet-friendly farm winery opened in 2016.

Moving Meadows

Saturday & Sunday, gates close at 4 p.m. 14151 Loyds Lane, Culpeper, VA 22701.

Lunch, with the farm’s own grilled meats and bread. Farm tours offered every half hour. Demos of paddock moves for beef, goat, chickens, turkeys. Kids’ petting area. Cooking classes. Sustainable land and water talks. Beef, goat, chicken and baked goods sold; farm store at 307 S. Main St. in downtown Culpeper is open Saturday, 8 a.m.–4 p.m.

Moving Meadows Farm produces grass-fed beef and goat, free-range chickens and turkeys and eggs using sustainable practices.

Old Trade Brewery & Cidery

Saturday & Sunday, event ends at 4 p.m., but regular brewery hours apply. 13270 Alanthus Road, Brandy Station, VA 22714.

The fall lineup include a pumpkin ale, spiced hard cider, and fresh-pressed non-alcoholic cider. Enjoy farm-fresh specials from the kitchen, and cellar chats with the brewer and cidermaker throughout the day. Playground has a sandbox, castle, pirate ship, swing set and a bounce house.

Set on a 20-acre former horse farm on the Brandy Station battlefield, Old Trade offers a brewhouse and tasting room in its oak-framed barn.

Seek Lavender

Saturday & Sunday, gates close at 4 p.m. 15528 Bradford Rd., Culpeper, VA 22701.

Wreath Raffle. Bath & Body Gift Set Door Prize. Distilling demonstrations. Ambrose Apiary demonstrations. Lavender & herbal walks & talks. Lunch available by Salsa Street Grill and Beer Hound Brewery. Melissa’s Makery will have a lavender macaron. On Sunday, O&A Coffee Car will feature a lavender iced tea.

Neil and Mary Seek began growing lavender in 20016 and now propagate more than 900 plants. They sell lavender and herbal treasures at the Little House there.

Virginia Bison Co. at Cibola Farms

Saturday & Sunday, gates close at 4 p.m. 10075 Stone Bridge Road, Culpeper, VA 22701.

Tours and discussions about bison throughout the day. Bison leather and artifacts on display. Fresh meat sold. Buffalo burgers and hot dog lunches.

Since 1999, Virginia Bison has supplied bison meat to the Washington area and Northern Virginia. Mike Sipes and Rob Ferguson operate the farm, with 300 bison on 500 acres.

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Clint Schemmer, a journalist since 1980, has worked at papers in California, North Carolina and Virginia. He’s been a bureau chief, editorial-page editor, copy desk chief and local news editor. Now a staff writer at the Culpeper Star-Exponent.

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