Family Fun at Cobbler Mountain in Delaplane

Written by Lia Hobel
Photos by Michael Butcher

Cobbler Mountain is especially beautiful in autumn with vibrant tree canopies dotting a family heirloom now in its third generation. It’s a majestic, peaceful getaway from the hustle and bustle of everyday life for visitors  and even the owners. “Every season on Cobbler Mountain is a gift of nature, wildlife, and changing plant life,” said owner Laura McCarthy Louden. 

The Louden Family.

A Celtic symbol is etched on the welcome sign and branded material. It’s a permanent marker designed by Louden, to emphasize the family connectedness that stemmed from her father’s heart when he purchased the mountain in 1959. Louden remembers her father, Lawrence Daniel McCarthy’s, dream to make it into a family working farm. His Irish heritage gave him a strong work ethic and love for nature. He taught in the countryside at a school in nearby Marshall. “He was a forward-thinker in the early 60s, inviting families with children in wheelchairs, walkers, and limited by sight or sound to explore Cobbler Mountain on hikes and camp-outs,” Louden shares.

Shortly after meeting the future Mrs. McCarthy, he was recruited to direct a facility in South Carolina in 1967, where Louden and her sibling would grow up. Her father passed at the age of 42, but her mother held onto the Cobbler Mountain farmland to save for her grown children.

In 2011, Louden and her husband, Jeff, made her father’s aspiration for the land a reality. They opened Cobbler Mountain Cidery out of their basement with a couple of ciders and a few wines and became Fauquier’s first cidery. Her husband’srecipes started in their South Carolina home where his craft hobby first developed. In 2006, they took the leap to move close to the Virginia farm to start researching the opportunity. After three years of planning and paperwork, a new infrastructure of road, electricity and wells began in 2008 followed by their hilltop house construction in 2009. By 2015, with the growing popularity of their ciders,  the Loudens chose to focus on them exclusively and constructed a separate building for larger operational use and visitor space. 

Today, guests who come to the mountain can sip on a hot toddy or choose from one of the two dozen handcrafted ciders on the seasonal menu. Currently, autumn flavors are bountiful with the Harvest Pumpkin, Kickin’ Cinnamon, Ginger Snap, Cinnamon Pumpkin, Cider Donut, and Maple Stout. Other in season ciders include the Jammin’ Cranberry Ginger, Cranberry Hard Tea, Cranberry Hard Seltzer and the Red Sangria. These are in addition to other ciders including the Pomegranate Black Currant, Wild BlackBerry Hop, Original Honey, Traditional Jeffersonian, Mountain Top Hop, Golden Pineapple Sunset, and Razzle Dazzle Raspberry.

Daniel Louden shows off what’s on tap.

On the drive  to the cidery, visitors will travel across Thumb Run Creek. The creek runs to the Shenandoah mountains and finally to the Chesapeake Watershed but originates from a neighboring spring dating to the 1700s, explains Louden. There is a second spring on the mountain above their residence that offers spring water used in the hard seltzer and hard cider production. “Many say it is the best water ever tasted,” she shares. Around the creek, guests can spot n year-round wildlife visitors, including resident families of black bear, deer, fox, raccoon, skunk, wild turkey, heron, and many birds including the pileated woodpecker all of which are featured on the cider bottle labels.

With over 90 wildlife-protected acres, the cidery is much more than a place to stop through for a crisp beverage. All guests, including children and pets, are welcome to hike the 45-acres of wooded trails with scenic vistas, as well as picnic on the sprawling grounds. For precautions, Louden notes that  hikers are required to sign-in to the guest log, as well as leave their ID and sign out upon return. They are also  encouraged to hike with a partner or group.

Thumb Run Creek.

To enhance the outdoor seasonal experience, warm campfires await guests and are scattered about the hillside. Louden recommends walk-ins come early to grab a spot, but they are available to reserve for larger groups or special occasions. “Throughout November, December, and January, many regular customers bring family and friends to celebrate the holidays,” she says.  Children are welcome to visit the “little bear cub playhouse,” which is hidden under the staircase of the cidery. There are also table games, like checkers, and options for coloring at the tables in the back game rooms. As an added treat for little ones, every September, a fresh batch of non-alcoholic cider juice is pressed and served on tap until sellout (usually by March). Year-round, youngsters may also order root beer on tap or the non-alcoholic sparkling fruit spring waters which have flavors changing each season. 

As their award-winning cidery continues to grow, the Loudens’ twin son and daughter, Daniel and Olivia, have also joined the cidery business, making it the family operation their grandfather had hoped for. ML

Cobbler Mountain Cidery

5909 Long Fall Lane, Delaplane, Va 20144

The cidery is open year-round for walk-ins on Saturdays 11:00-5:00pm, Sundays 12:00-5:00pm and weekdays by appointment. Groups of all sizes are welcome with advance planning.

Local dog groups meet monthly; the Fauquier Scottish Heritage Society hosts Game Outings; plus many special occasions are celebrated throughout the year.

Great Meadow International —Something for Everyone: Equestrians, Spectators, even the Family Dog

By Heidi Baumstark
Photography by Sienna Turecamo

Great Meadow International, a four-day equestrian event, will bring the hills fully alive August 22-25 at Great Meadow in The Plains. Now in its fifth season, this annual event offers three levels of international competition featuring Olympic-level riders and horses in what can be described as an equestrian triathlon (dressage, show jumping, and cross-country).

But this year, Great Meadow International (GMI) has broadened its vision from its first event in 2015. Five Rings Eventing (FRE), founded by Darrin Mollett of Beverly Equestrian and Olympian David O’Connor, is a high-performance event organizer and management company that has led the competition side of GMI since its inception; but this year, Five Rings is managing all aspects of the event. Mollett added, “Our vision for 2019 is to produce a festival atmosphere to enhance the spectator experience and the community flavor of our event. We’ll be a family-friendly, country festival with a special focus on everyone’s best friend—dogs.”

In honor of Mars Great Meadow International in August, the Middleburg Life July cover features Olympic-level athletes, the organizer of Mars GMI and Middleburg Humane Foundation’s K-9s in support of this year’s enhanced spectator and community experience at GMI.

Another change this year is increasing the GMI from a three-day to a four-day event, which will include a fall festival featuring Meadow Market, a charming vendor village with a beer garden, a tent where people can cool off, local food trucks, live music, and entertainment. Organizers are planning for dogs, too, including demonstrations, dog agility activities, and canine treats. There will be a large tent open to everyone overlooking the main arena. Guests can take their food there and get out of the sun. Nearby will be the Mars VIP Hospitality Pavilion for guests who prefer all-inclusive dining and a full-service bar in a private setting; tables and half-tables are on sale for this pavilion venue. For those who want to be close to the action, a variety of tailgates and ringside boxes are available with a cash bar and access to local food trucks.

Athletes on the cover include Karen O’Connor and Lynn Symansky, Mars GMI organizer Darrin Mollett, and adoptive pets from MHF.

Mars Equestrian™, a division of Mars, Incorporated, is this year’s title sponsor, which falls in line with the organization’s canine focus including dog food and treats. A statement from Dr. Bridgett McIntosh, Director of Mars Equestrian™, confirms their support, “Offering multiple levels of [equestrian] competition in a community-focused event, with pet-friendly activities for fans, creates the ideal intersection for Mars, Incorporated’s diverse portfolio of brands. Ultimately, the partnership with GMI is central to our purpose to improve the lives of horses, pets, and the people who love them.”

The equestrian competition portion of GMI has also expanded in scope. With an expected attendance of 200 horse/rider combinations across the three levels of international competition (dressage, show jumping, and cross-country), this number is up from 35-45 in previous years.

Mollett said the event includes the term “International” because it’s an international level of competition for all three levels, which includes dressage on Thursday and Friday, show jumping on Saturday, and cross-country on Sunday. “We moved the event from July to August so competitors could prepare for their fall championships; it’s meant to benefit the rider. And the racecourse has amazing footing and a new irrigation system. Plus, we’ll have so much more for the community,” Mollett explained. The rule of thumb is that competitors bring three to four connections. In past years, thousands have come. With over 200 horses/riders expected, scores of spectators will be attracted, plus owners, riders, trainers, and horse enthusiasts from across the country.

Clothing styled by Tully Rector.

FRE’s organizing committee is an all-volunteer group. One volunteer, Max Corcoran, has been on the committee since the beginning. She said, “In previous years, there was just the highest level of the competition; but this year, we’ll have the next level—the intermediate/preliminary level—which opens it up to more riders. There will be different countries represented; we’ll see Canadians, riders from Mexico, Ecuador, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, England, and Ireland. They’ve come to compete, to ride for their country. It’s such a beautiful facility and a great excuse to come out and enjoy time in the country—not just for riders but for everyone.”

Pet collars & leashes: Loyal Companion

Plans are on track for a portion of GMI’s proceeds to benefit non-profit partners, including the Pedigree Foundation (the non-profit leg of Mars) and the local Middleburg Humane Foundation, which operates a farm shelter in Marshall, Virginia for abused or neglected animals.

For over 30 years, literally millions have come to events at Great Meadow drawn by its natural splendor, a 380-acre field events center and steeplechase course among the backdrop of the rolling Bull Run Mountain range. It began with the Virginia Gold Cup held every May and grew from there. Today, it is home to a laundry list of greats including the International Gold Cup Races in October, Saturday night Twilight Polo from May through September, the Twilight Jumper series on select Friday summer nights, and home to the popular Fourth of July Celebration. It is also the site of public astronomy events hosted by the Northern Virginia Astronomy Club, Team America Rocketry Challenge, and is a favorite pick for seasonal trail rides, weddings, and other community events.

Dog food: Mars Petcare

But back in 1982, the property known as Fleming Farm was a failing dairy farm. The late Arthur W. “Nick” Arundel (1928-2011), news executive and philanthropist, spotted the property, which was slated for sale, ready to be turned into a large housing development. But Arundel purchased the property, envisioning a preservation of open space for the permanent home for the annual Virginia Gold Cup steeplechase, and to showcase one of Virginia’s most beautiful natural resources. He donated the farm that would become Great Meadow, stewarded by the Great Meadow Foundation, which was first established in 1984 as the Meadows Outdoor Foundation and renamed Great Meadow Foundation in 1996.

Hair and Makeup by Salon Emage Day Spa
Location: Beverly Equestrian

Thanks to the initial vision of Arundel—and since then many more—friends still meet at Great Meadow to celebrate the preservation of this sweeping space and the entertainment it brings. Mollett ended, “And GMI is live-streamed on multiple platforms.” So now even more people can catch the vision of this international event and the wonder of Great Meadow as its prized venue.

GMI tickets include general parking and admission to the venue and Meadow Market. For more information and to purchase tickets, tables, etc., visit Great Meadow in The Plains is located at 5089 Old Tavern Road; the phone number is 540-253-9845 and the website is

Photoshoot credits:

Pet collars & leashes: Loyal Companion @loyalcompanionpets; Clothing: Tully Rector @tullyrector; Dog food: Mars Petcare @mars_petcare; Hair and Makeup: Salon Emage Day Spa @salonemagedayspa;
Photography: Sienna Turecamo @siennaturecamophotography; Location: Beverly Equestrian @beverlyequestrian; Cover pets: @middleburghumanefoundation

This article first appeared in the July 2019 issue of Middleburg Life.

Wegmans Great Meadow 4th of July Celebration

Enjoy a day of fun, family & fireworks at the 2019 Wegmans Great Meadow 4th of July Celebration!

Gates open at 4 PM. There will be a huge variety of children’s activities included with your general admission purchase. To list a few: rock wall for climbing, pony rides ($5), moon bounces, slides, the famous rain machine, lasertag, and more!

Throughout the day enjoy the U.S. Polo Assn. Polo Exhibition, live music, derby cross demonstration, 92.5 WINC FM broadcasting live, rocketry demonstrations and so much more.

Old Bust Head Brewing Company will be on site pouring cold, craft brews. A row of food vendors will be on site serving up everything from BBQ to fried dough to gourmet tator tots.

The grand finale comes at dark with one of the metropolitan area’s biggest fireworks shows!