NSLM Announces New Executive Director

The National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) in Middleburg has appointed Elizabeth von Hassell as executive director. She will join NSLM this month.

“We are thrilled to welcome Elizabeth as NSLM’s Executive Director,” said Manuel H. Johnson, chairman of the NSLM Board of Directors. “She brings a wide range of experience to our organization. We are excited to begin working with her to grow NSLM.”

The National Sporting Library & Museum is in the heart of beautiful hunt country. Founded in 1954, the renowned research library, and fine art museum highlights the rich heritage and tradition of country pursuits. It offers a wide variety of educational programs, exhibitions, and family activities throughout the year, and is open to researchers and the general public. Visitors can explore many subjects including angling, horsemanship, shooting, steeplechasing, foxhunting, flat racing, polo, coaching, and wildlife in the organization’s general stacks, rare book holdings, archives, and art collection.

Von Hassell previously served as the director of development at James Madison’s Montpelier. In that capacity, she worked closely with Montpelier’s leadership on conservation and preservation projects.

“The Montpelier Foundation, stewards of the home and legacy of James Madison, with great regret announced the departure of Elizabeth von Hassell who has been recruited to take over leadership of the National Sporting Library & Museum,” said Kat Imhoff, president and CEO of James Madison’s Montpelier. “During her tenure, Montpelier has raised over $45 million but as important has seen an increase in membership and engagement due to her drive and dedication. Elizabeth will always be considered a member of the Montpelier family but her energy, enthusiasm and plain out-right fun spirit will be missed on a daily basis by all. We look forward however to partnering with the NSLM to promote conservation and other opportunities to support their and our work in the Piedmont.”

Before joining Montpelier in 2014, von Hassell worked at Shenandoah University and spent 25 years living and working between New York City and Clarke County, Virginia as a vice president of marketing in the pharmaceutical industry. Born in Winchester, Virginia, she is a graduate of Hollins University. An avid outdoor person, she enjoys riding, hiking, canoeing, fishing, shooting, and tennis.

Von Hassell is currently on the board of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground, Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, and has served on the boards of the Preservation Alliance of Virginia, Millwood Country Club, Long Branch Historic Plantation, Old Chatham Hunt Club, and the Lost Brigade Wounded Warrior Foundation.

This article first appeared in the December 2018 issue of Middleburg Life. 

Meet Middleburg: Punkin Lee, Leather Goods Designer

Story and photo by Kerry Phelps Dale

She’s as Middleburg as they come. Punkin Lee has lived all but a few years of her life in the Middleburg community. After graduating Hill School, she lived away from her hometown only to attend high school at St. Catherine’s in Richmond followed by two years at Centenary University in New Jersey, then graduating college at Florida State University.

As a child she always had horses of her own. “I had two ponies to take care of before I went to school. I would ride one before school and when I’d come home I’d ride the other one.”

“We would ride all weekend, riding wherever,” says Punkin about the way she and her friends spent their spare time. “We would ride over to somebody’s house, pick up somebody else, ride into town. You didn’t come down the road, you would just cut through farms.”

“When I was home from high school and college, I’d ride a horse during my lunch break and jump in with the hunt and then drop out and go back to work,” recalls Punkin who also fox hunted and showed horses. Clearly, the town has changed over the years, “It’s gotten bigger and busier.” But the reason Punkin has made Middleburg her lifelong home is the one thing that’s remained the same. “Community. It’s a great place to live if you get involved in things.”

Punkin’s involvement in Middleburg has centered around keeping it healthy for businesses and residents while preserving the history and heritage that make Middleburg so unique. Volunteering as the Middleburg Business and Professional Association president, serving on town landscape and Historic District Review committees, and whatever else comes up in the community, keeps her busy when she’s not at Journeymen Saddlers on Madison Street.

While most people have jumped around from one job to another throughout their careers, Punkin leaves the jumping to her customers. She has owned and operated her shop that specializes in custom riding chaps and belts with finished needlepoint, and repairs to saddles, boots, tack and strap goods for 41 years. Her staying power is matched closely by the majority of her colleagues, most of whom have been with Journeymen Saddlers since the beginning years.

In her shop, there are leather goods everywhere—bridles and halters lie in heaps on the floor, rolled hides stand at the ready in different departments, saddles rest on stands, chaps hang on hooks, boots set on the floor, dog collars are displayed on a board. The intoxicating smell of leather hangs in the air and its soft feel is always within reach.

Leather is organic, artistic, practical and magical in its possibilities. “You take half a hide and you create. You cut it, you strip it,” says Punkin. “And then it’s something,” At Journeymen, that something is beautiful, functional and of the highest quality. The store’s reputation draws people from afar and keeps customers coming back year after year. The professionals, the really good horsemen and women, make up the bulk of Punkin’s business, but the weekend horse riders appreciate the craftsmanship of her workshop, too.

A customer came in the shop and wanted to order custom chaps for her very tall boyfriend who was to stop by later to be measured last month. She handled a chain of leather samples of every color and finish imaginable, her fingers ran over the smoothness of the squares. “These are so cool,” she said as she flipped through the selection over and over again.

Leather repair and custom repair work require a pair of human hands. Little of the work can be accomplished by a machine alone, though the treadle sewing machine in the corner is an indispensable tool. Like many trades, there aren’t many young people interested in learning leather work. “We’d like to continue as long as we’re healthy,” says Punkin of herself and her employees. “What else are you going to do? I’m not a sitter.”

Not a sitter at all, Punkin runs regularly. “We run on Landmark (School Road) a lot, eight miles to the Y and back, 17 hills,” she added. “But, who’s counting, right?” She and her group of women friends have been running together for more than 20 years and have completed an Ultra Marathon, a marathon, several half marathons and countless shorter races. She said they always run as a group and have picked out a marathon to run next fall in Nags Head, North Carolina. “If we’re going to do one, go flat. If you train on the hills here, you ought to be able to crank that out on the flat.”

Committed, consistent and hard-working, Punkin is a stayer. A get up and go person who is happy to stay put in Middleburg, a life choice our community is all the better for.


This article first appeared in the December 2018 issue of Middleburg Life. 

3rd annual Middleburg Music Fest International features Pianists Katerina Zaitseva and Nikita Fitenko

Pianists Katerina Zaitseva and Nikita Fitenko performed their favorite piano compositions On December 2, 2018  in the Greenhill Winery Barrel Room. The program took the audience through selected compositions by Schubert, Chopin, Grieg, Debussy, Tchaikovsky, and Rachmaninov.

This event was part of the Middleburg Music Fest International, now in it’s third year, which has become a beloved yearly tradition for those who love the piano world.
After the concert guests enjoyed a reception to meet the artists and accompanied by wine and delicacies produced at the beautiful facilities at Greenhill Winery.

Dr. Zaitseva (Right) and Dr. Fitenko (Left) performing in the Barrel Room at Greenhill Winery.

About the Performers:

Internationally acclaimed pianist and Yamaha Artist Nikita Fitenko has performed recitals and with orchestras at important venues throughout Europe, Asia, South and North America. He holds degrees from the Saint Petersburg Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory (BM) and from the University of North Texas (MM & DMA). He has also recorded seven commercial CDs for Altarus and Classical Records labels.

Dr. Fitenko has been invited to serve on numerous international piano competition juries. He currently holds the position of Chair of The Department of Music Performance at the Rome School of Music, Drama and, Art and at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.; and he is also the Artistic Director and Co-founder of the Middleburg Music Fest International. Praised by Fanfare magazine as a pianist with an “imaginative and colorful approach”, Katerina Zaitseva has performed at major venues in the United States, Europe and Asia. Her six CD recordings released by the Classical Records label have garnered international acclaim. She is a winner of national competitions and awards including the MTNA Competition, SMU Concerto Competition, Von Mickwitz Prize in Piano as well as the University of North Texas Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award among others.

Dr. Zaitseva holds her DMA degree from the University of Maryland, Master of Music from the Southern Methodist University, Bachelor of Music from the University of North Texas, and Diploma from the Music School under the Moscow State Conservatory in Russia. She is also faculty and the Levine School of Music.

Guests enjoying wine and talking to the pianist after the event. 

This event is made possible thanks to the patronage of Greenhill Winery and the support of the
Town of Middleburg. For tickets information please check the announcement on Eventbrite.com, as well as on
middleburgmfi.org and our Facebook page.
Read about last years event here. 

“Lucky 7” Charity Gala Celebrating Seven Years of Serving Individuals with Special Needs

November 19, 2018 | Courtesy of Sprout Therapeutic Riding and Education Center

Therapeutic Riding and Education Center’s “Lucky 7” Charity Gala and Gaming benefit kicked off the celebration of their “lucky” seventh year of serving individuals with special needs with fun, food, drinks, and a little “gambling”.

The gala was held in the organizations’ barn, complete with twinkling string lights, professional gaming tables with dealers and a farm to table dinner, courtesy of Fields of Athenry Farm and RSVP Catering.A cocktail hour eased guests into the night, featuring beer from Solace Brewing Company and wines by Slater Run Vineyards, both of whom partnered with Sprout on this special anniversary event. A “Big Board”, a fresh take on a silent auction, entertained guests by featuring items to anonymously bid upon. This “interactive” auction added to the excitement and theme of the night as guests could take their pick from any auction item listed on The Big Board, ranging from designer silk scarves, spa treatments, personal chef dinners, weekend getaways and more.Executive Director, Brooke Waldron, delivered an inspiring speech about the importance of serving others through the power of horses. With not a dry eye in the house, Sprout students arrived in the arena, accompanied by their trust four-legged friends and Sprout instructors for the “Sponsor a Horse” portion of the evening. With warmth and love in their hearts, guests generously bid to sponsor a therapy horse for an entire room – resulting in ALL seventeen of the horses being sponsored!With the generous support of the event sponsors of Sue Fitzgerald and Associates, Newstead Farm, Alison Robitaille and Family, TriSept Corporation Northwest Credit Union and many others, the “Lucky 7” gala was a huge success.Event Chair, Kristin Quinn, and her committee worked to make the gala a night to remember, and their efforts did not go unnoticed, as Founder and Executive Director Brooke Waldron revealed following the charity gala that support from all those who attended raised over $300,000. Save the date for next year as it’s sure to be a “don’t want to miss event!”



The field following the hounds.

Opening day for Snickersville Hounds

Photos by Joanne Maisano

The chilly weather arrived right on time for the kick off of the formal hunt season. On Sunday, Oct 21, Snickersville Hounds had their Opening Meet from Creekside, home of MFH Gregg Ryan.

The field following the hounds.

The field following the hounds.

Katrina Balding Bills leads the junior field with daughter Keara (r-l), son Kenny and John Ryan.

Katrina Balding Bills leads the junior field with daughter Keara (r-l), son Kenny and John Ryan.

Jt-MFH Gregg Ryan and his son, John.

Jt-MFH Gregg Ryan and his son, John.

Blackwater Beef of Middleburg catered a delicious breakfast after the meet. It was the perfect way to end a very cold morning.


This article first appeared in the November 2018 issue of Middleburg Life. 



One of the many tailgates.

Virginia Fall Races

Photos by Joanne Maisano

The National Steeplechase Association’s 64th running year of the Virginia Fall Races on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018 at Glenwood park in Middleburg.

Le Chevalier owned by Mike and Wendy Smith won the $40,000 NSLM timber stakes ridden by Jack Doyle.

Le Chevalier owned by Mike and Wendy Smith won the $40,000 NSLM timber stakes ridden by Jack Doyle.

Undisclosed owned by Sharon Sheppard and ridden by Barry Foley won the Theodora A. Randolph Cup.

Undisclosed owned by Sharon Sheppard and ridden by Barry Foley won the Theodora A. Randolph Cup.

Stormy Alex won the Bon Nouvel hurdle race ridden by Graham Watters owned by Irvin Naylor 1st race.

Stormy Alex won the Bon Nouvel hurdle race ridden by Graham Watters owned by Irvin Naylor 1st race.

The finish line.

The finish line.

One of the many tailgates.

One of the many tailgates.


These photos first appeared in the November 2018 issue of Middleburg Life. 

70 Years of Giving: Christmas Shop Returns to the Middleburg Community Center

By Erin Bozdan | Photos Courtesy of Linda Wine

Christmas is a joyous time of year where love, kindness and the spirit of giving fills our hearts. The Christmas Shop, launched in 1948 by the ladies of Emmanuel Church in Middleburg, has embodied that spirit for 70 years.

The Christmas Shop has been a beloved staple of the holiday season and an important fundraiser for the community. In the beginning, the ladies would set up shop for a few hours on a Friday night, cook roast beef dinners for their husbands, and encourage them to shop. Now, the magical event encompasses several days and takes in enough funds to help support the church, donate to local charities and assist with the upkeep on the Parish House.

The shop returned to the Middleburg Community Center for the first time in 25 years on Nov. 1. The event is open from 9:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Nov. 2 and Nov. 3. On Nov. 4, the Christmas Shop will be open from noon until 5 p.m. More than 25 exhibitors from across the country were invited to showcase their goods. Visitors can find jewelry, fashions, home décor, gourmet foods, toys, and soaps along with other wares and art. Artists Kerry Waters and Barbara Sharp will showcase their studio work.

A look back at the past. The Christmas Shop is open at the Middleburg Community Center until Nov. 4.

A look back at the past. The Christmas Shop is open at the Middleburg Community Center until Nov. 4.

It takes a village to organize the annual endeavor. The Steering Committee for this Christmas village included Linda Wine, John Denegre, Kevin Daly. Mary Anne Gibbons, one of the shops oldest volunteers, heads up sponsorships and outside decorations. Through them and a great many others, the Christmas Shop lives on and the spirit of the original mission which is simply to give back. “It’s all about giving” says Wine. “Most people come the first day and shop for themselves, then they come back the next day to buy for other people. We are raising money so we can give it back out to the community.” Emmanuel’s Treasures, one of the people’s favorites, returns. Each year parishioners go in to their basements, attics, and barns to rediscover fun items to donate. “Everyone loves it because they are finding great things for a steal of a price,” says Wine. “Who doesn’t love a bargain!”

A very unique and special exhibit this year is that of artist Dana Westring’s Neapolitan Nativity scene. For Westring, this has been a 12 year labor of love. The background is that of an Italian village on a hillside with apartments above and shops, bridges and alleyways. Westring adds new figures each year to make an entire an entire village come to life. The crèche can be seen throughout the Christmas season at the Grace Episcopal Church in The Plains.

In addition to fabulous finds, the daily activities include raffles running every two hours, lunch by The Aldie Country Store and a photo op with a Christmas fox. We are in Middleburg after all!


This article first appeared in the November 2018 issue of Middleburg Life.

2018 Middleburg Annual Arts Celebration 

2018 Middleburg Annual Arts Celebration

Featuring over 20 Local and Regional Artists offering their artwork for purchase, and live music from Blue Mountain Songbird.

Happening Sept. 22, 2018 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Madison Street, Middleburg Virginia


Sponsored by the Town of Middleburg and the Middleburg Arts Council

Atoka Properties announces the addition of REALTOR® Sherri Williams

Atoka Properties announces the addition of REALTOR® Sherri Williams to their Middleburg office location, proudly serving home buyers and sellers.

Sherri Williams

Sherri Williams

Sherri Williams loves sports and everyone loves a winner. If you’re looking for a win while navigating your real estate transaction, then consider Sherri your real estate CHAMPION. She is a consummate professional who has loved living and serving the Loudoun and Fairfax communities for over 20 years. She has witnessed the explosive growth of Loudoun County and is excited to share her knowledge and passion of homebuying, downsizing, and rentals in Loudoun.

Sherri offers a broad set of skills to her clientele. She has a background in law and education and taught Law and Criminal Justice on the college level. She has also served in every educational arena, directing and operating after-school enrichment programs in art, STEM and drama.

Sherri’s philosophy is to provide support, knowledge and resources to all clients. She offers the willingness and experience to educate and inform clients to best prepare them for a low-stress process. She is enthusiastic about finding the right space for individuals and families, which she believes is ultimately about comfort in community. Her heart is to identify with each client’s place in the process of buying, selling and renting to work toward a satisfactory outcome.

Sherri resides in Leesburg with two of her four grandchildren. When she is not working diligently to better serve her clients by research and learning, you’ll find her at one of her grandchildren’s sporting events.


Contact [email protected]

Office: 703.777.1170 x 421 

The Artists in Middleburg invites you to the 2018 Fall Benefit

The Artists in Middleburg (AiM) invites you to its Fall Fundraiser

 Enjoy a tapas buffet, bubbly to sip, art to purchase, and raffles galore!

When: Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018 from 3-6 PM

Where: Wendy Lind Andrew’s, Fox Meadow Farm, 22330, Sam Fred Road, Middleburg, VA, 20117

Attire: Business Casual

Ticket Cost: $75 per person

Tickets available through ticketleap.com, by phone (540) 687-6600, or via mail. Visit our website, theartistsinmiddleburg.org for more information.

RSVP: with ticket purchase by Friday, September 7