By Ken Wilson–
Taste of the Mountains Main Street Festival is what’s it’s called, but there are so many different tastes to try as you stroll down Main in the beautiful and historic town of Madison.
You could start with the barbeque from Pig ‘N Steak, real pit-cooked, hickory smoked pork and ham the locals have been loving for over 25 years. You could walk that sandwich over to the beer and wine tent and find it some company, then finish off with homemade ice cream and funnel cakes.
Skip breakfast, come hungry and call that first meal “brunch”—OK, maybe it’s early for beer, but you’ve had a Bloody Mary on a Sunday morning, right?—and by mid-afternoon you could fit in a slice of Pie in the Sky pizza or a cup of Bavarian Chef bisque.
What else are you in the mood for? Arts and crafts, antique autos, and pony rides and magic shows for the kids await, all to the strains of the Madison County High School Marching Band and the bluegrass, rock and country on the music stage.
Enjoy all this and some mighty nice people at the 26th Annual Taste of the Mountains Main Street Festival. This year’s celebration of Madison County heritage, sponsored as always by the Madison Chamber of Commerce, takes place from 10:00 a.m. till 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 1 (rain or shine).
“We are heading into a new era with this being the 26th festival,” says Tracey Gardner, Madison County Economic Development & Tourism Director. “Although we have crafters and attendees from all over, it is also still a big community gathering where you see friends and family you don’t normally see. It’s always just a grand celebration of Madison!”
What we now call Madison County was colonized in the 18th century by German, English and Scots/Irish families. When it was carved out of Culpeper County in 1792, Madison took its name from a family with land along the Rapidan River—the same family that produced James Madison, Jr., at the time a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and destined to be elected president in 1808.
In 1993 the Madison Chamber of Commerce established Taste of the Mountains as a “heritage festival” celebrating 18th and 19th century Blue Ridge Mountain culture.
Twenty-first century visitors to Madison County will admire historic structures like the County Library (1852), Inn at Meander (early 18th century), Eagle House (late 18th century) and Piedmont Episcopal Church (1832-1834). No less than 66 buildings are in the nationally listed historic district.
The Madison County Court House at 2 South Main Street is a handsome, two-story brick structure erected in 1828, with an open, ground floor arcade, Tuscan-style entablature, a gable roof, and an octagonal domed cupola. Its Federal brick work has been called some of the finest in America.
A few blocks north at 412 North Main Street is the former home of Governor James Kemper (1874-78), an imposing Greek Revival house restored and furnished with period furniture and exhibits. The Kemper Residence will be open for tours during the Festival.
The Madison County Historical Society, now located in the building, will conduct tours of the Mansion throughout the day. Madison walking tour guides will be available as well.
Food and Entertainment
On the Main Stage, Warrenton singer-songwriter Leon Rector will sing his songs at 9:00 a.m. Bernie Dodd will play the “classic rock n’ roll & country” he’s been perfecting for over 20 years at 11:00 a.m. Culpeper’s David Leckie Gilmore will bring the blues, rock and Americana at 12 noon.
Madison’s own Jessica Weaver and Silver Linings will take the stage at 1:00 p.m., and are sure to play “Letting Go,” the single she recorded after winning a singing contest on Katie Couric’s popular TV show. The boys in Madison County’s own Dark Hollow Bluegrass Band will play old-time mountain music and defend their boast of being “The Best Dressed Bluegrass Band In Town” at 2:30 p.m.
Near the Court House, pan piper Julio Cazon will play the ancient folk music of the Bolivian Andes.
Kids will enjoy pony rides and magic shows all day. Grown-ups will ooh and aah at the cool vintage cars brought by the Fredericksburg Antique Auto Club of America.
The Virginia Tourism Corporation’s LOVEwork will again be on display in front of the main stage on the Library Lawn. E.A. Clore and Sons furniture makers, specializing in handcrafted early American furniture since 1830, will be back on the Library Lawn launching their new name and logo and offering drawings.
The Madison County Animal Shelter will set up in Beasley Park next to the Visitor Center with dogs and cats in need of good homes. Also available in Beasley Park: chair massages!
Bavarian Chef will serve their award-winning bisque and more. Pig ‘N Steak, The Little Country Store, Jenny Lynd’s Pizza, Honey BBQ will sell food as well, as will local churches. The Wolftown Ruritans will have burgers and hot dogs.
In the Beer and Wine Tent, $15 will buy tastings for four wineries, and for Bald Top Brewing Company. All beverages will be available for purchase by the glass afterwards. The first 100 customers will get a free take home glass.
Admission is free, and so is the parking from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Madison County High School. Free shuttles will run from the parking lot to Main Street and back.