Art In The Burg: Middleburg’s Town-Wide Arts Celebration

What: On Saturday, May 13, the Middleburg Arts Council and the Town of Middleburg will host the spring installment of its biannual arts celebration, Art in the Burg: Celebrate the Arts. Artwork from local and regional artists of different styles, forms, and subject matter will be on display on South Madison Street and Federal Street from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. This year’s event will also feature live music, a fashion show, cooking demonstrations, art activities for kids, and a special Mother’s Day-themed Wine Garden.

Where: The Town of Middleburg
South Madison Street and Federal Street
Middleburg, VA 20117       

When: Art in the Burg on Saturday, May 13, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Additional Information: For additional information, please visit middleburgva.gov/art or email [email protected]. Follow Middleburg Arts Council on Facebook for updates.

Directions: Middleburg is located approximately 45 minutes from Washington, D.C., and is in close proximity to Dulles International Airport. To get there from metropolitan Washington, take I-66 West to Route 50 West (Exit 57B) toward Winchester. Drive approximately 25 miles to Middleburg.

Posted on: February 28, 2023

Sixteen Works by Foxcroft School Students Earn Prestigious Scholastic Art and Writing Awards

Four receive Gold Keys and advance to the national competition.

MIDDLEBURG, VA — Nine Foxcroft students created 16 outstanding works of art and writing that have been selected for special recognition in the 2023 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards regional competition.

Four works achieved the coveted Gold Key status — the highest regional designation. The “golden” artists are senior Helen Ventikos of Purcellville, VA, who earned two Gold Keys in the photography category; senior Vassiliki Margas, Washington, D.C. (ceramics); and sophomore Huston Sgro, Asheville, NC (photography).

A panel of noted visual and literary leaders in New York City will now judge the Gold Key works. The National Medalists they select will be invited to a ceremony at Carnegie Hall, and their works included in a national traveling exhibition. No stranger to this process, Ventikos earned a national Gold Medal for her photograph titled “Kafes” during last year’s competition and attended the Carnegie Hall ceremony with Fine Arts Department Chair and Photography teacher Julie Fisher to accept her medal.

“Through the creative process, our students share their unique voices and perspective on the world around them, gaining important skills in confidence and self-expression,” explains Head of School Cathy McGehee. “I am proud of their accomplishments and of our expert arts faculty who support them.”

Silver Keys were received by seniors London Hershey of Hagerstown, MD, and Ventikos for their works in the critical essay and photography categories, respectively. Sophomore Rowan Jones of Haymarket, VA, also received a Silver Key for her mixed media submission.

Senior Sophie Matthews of Ashburn, VA, earned four honorable mentions in the ceramics category, and junior Juliana Rose, Dayton, WY, acquired two in the photography category. Additional honorable mentions were earned by Ventikos (photography), junior Madison Burget, Philomont, VA (drawing), and sophomore Ella Johnson, Upperville, VA (ceramics). 

The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, established in 1923, are presented by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers in partnership with more than 100 visual arts and literary arts organizations across the country. It is the nation’s largest, longest-running, most prestigious visual and literary arts program recognizing the accomplishments of students in middle and high school.

Among the artistic luminaries who have served as judges are Langston Hughes, Robert Frost, Edwidge Danticat, David Sedaris, Nikki Giovanni, and Roz Chast. The list of past winners is equally impressive, with Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Richard Avedon, Sylvia Plath, and filmmaker Ken Burns — as well as Foxcroft Fine Arts teacher Karin Thorndike — among the honored.

Photo courtesy of Foxcroft School.

Posted on: February 21, 2023

Meet Your Neighbor: Hannah Lessard of The Willow

Written by Dulcy B. Hooper / Photos by Gracie Withers

At The Willow, Hannah Lessard can often be found bubbling over with enthusiasm about her shop, her clients, and her special affinity for weddings. “I never thought I would actually be able to open a shop here in Middleburg,” she says, “but it has all just come together so perfectly.” 

Lessard is delighted that word about The Willow — and her work with brides and wedding parties — is getting around. “I do weddings,” she notes, “but that’s only a part of what I do.” Since The Willow’s opening in June 2022, Lessard has built up nearly 500 clients. “Someone will put a photo or two of something I’ve done on social media, and right away, I will get all kinds of reactions. Or one of my clients will say, ‘Oh, my husband really needs a haircut,’ and next thing you know, I have a lot of men making appointments and coming into the shop, as well. It’s all been so rewarding and so much fun.”

Lessard credits Dwight Grant, owner of Salon Aubrey, for being so welcoming to her when she initially began to explore opportunities in the area several years ago. “I really got to grow there,” she explains. “Dwight was so wonderful. He was always saying to his male customers, ‘You ought to bring your wives in here to meet Hannah!’ That really meant a lot to me.” 

Lessard began doing weddings in Middleburg and the surrounding area in 2018, much of it through word of mouth. “I would get a call about a wedding from someone at Salamander,” she said. “And I have done a lot of weddings at Red Fox — they have so many rooms to help wedding parties prepare.” Lessard says that it’s better to do weddings on location “especially since weddings have gotten a lot bigger.” 

The largest wedding party Lessard worked with was a party of 12. “I did the hair, and a colleague working with me did the makeup. It was about six hours to get everyone ready,” she remembers. Lessard frequently traveled to clients’ houses during the pandemic. “I was really looking for a mobile van initially — I thought that if I had a van and could travel and do weddings, that would be ideal.” 

Lessard shares that she “moved around a lot in childhood as part of an Army family” before the family settled in Ashburn. “When it came time to decide what to do, I knew I just loved playing around with hair and makeup.” She was concerned about the business aspect, though, and knew that it would be an important component to master in order to be successful. She studied at Paul Mitchell, a nationally accredited hair and beauty school, in Maryland. Fortunately, one of her teachers was a wedding specialist, prompting Lessard to take extra classes on makeup and providing her with the opportunity to study the business side of what she wanted to do.

“The wedding business has just boomed,” Lessard says. “So many weddings were pushed back during [the pandemic] — some for two years or more — and it’s all really coming back now.” She anticipates that spring and summer will be “packed back-to-back with weddings.”

What Hannah Lessard loves most about weddings is “just being surrounded by all the energy. It is just so much fun! I feel so grateful for this business — for meeting brides and members of wedding parties and for being part of such a special day that they will always, always remember.”

One of Lessard’s favorite memories is that of working with a couple in Purcellville who eloped. Several months later, the couple flew her to Palm Beach to do hair and makeup for their more formal wedding. “I just felt so special,” Lessard recalls. “A driver met me at the airport. It was my first time in Palm Beach and it was so much fun. I remember thinking at the time, ‘I’m 23 years old. How fast this is all happening!’” ML

The Willow is open Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The Willow
7 East Federal Street
Middleburg, VA 2-117
[email protected]

Services and booking information can be found at the-willow.square.site

Published in the February 2023 issue of Middleburg Life.

Two Men Take a Stand By Taking a Seat: The Desegregation of Middleburg

Written by Heidi Baumstark 

Taking a stand sometimes means taking a seat. That’s what two brave Black men did by participating in peaceful sit-ins in 1961 at three Middleburg eating establishments. That was a start to end the racial divide in Middleburg, which became the first town in the Commonwealth of Virginia to successfully desegregate. 

Those two men are longtime Middleburg residents Rev. Dr. William F. Swann Sr. and James William “Smitty” Smith. “If we didn’t take action, I knew [desegregation] wouldn’t happen,” Swann says. “We needed to take a step forward to make the change.”

The Buildup

In the early 1960s, the civil rights movement was taking root in Washington, D.C. Soon, nearby Loudoun County followed suit with Middleburg taking the lead. Why Middleburg? Well, it had to do something with a new neighbor in town: the Kennedys.

President John F. Kennedy — a pro-civil rights advocate — was sworn into office on January 20, 1961. By the following month, he became a frequent visitor of Middleburg since he was renting Glen Ora, a prominent Upperville estate. His wife, Jackie, longed for a Hunt Country property to pursue her love of horseback riding.

At that time, Loudoun — along with the rest of the South — was racially divided. Eating establishments would only serve Black clients from a rear door or window. Swann remembers, “We had to stand on a spot on the floor if you wanted to be served, but we could never sit at the lunch counter.” With Kennedy nearby, the time had come to test the president’s pro-civil rights stance on his own turf.

In the spring of 1961, William McKinley Jackson, local builder and president of the Loudoun chapter of the NAACP, got involved. A meeting was held at Shiloh Baptist Church in Middleburg with both Swann and Smith in attendance. Jackson asked for volunteers to participate in peaceful sit-in demonstrations at three local restaurants on the same weekend Kennedy would be attending mass at Middleburg Community Center. “It was good advice coming from the NAACP; they asked for volunteers. It was a long time overdue, and we were willing to do it. I didn’t hesitate at all,” Swann adds.  

This peaceful sit-in took the place of a much larger demonstration that had initially been planned. 

Making History

On that monumental day — Saturday, April 8, 1961 — Swann and Smith sat at the counters of three Middleburg businesses: The Coach Stop (9 E. Washington Street, now Zest Clothing & Co.), Halle Flournoy’s Middleburg Pharmacy (11 S. Madison Street, now Aliloo and Son Rug Gallery), and Payne’s Drugstore (101 W. Washington Street, now Northwest Federal Credit Union). 

Smith recalls, “We didn’t want to cause trouble; we were told not to start anything, but to just do a peaceful sit-in. We walked in, went to the counter, and sat down. We ordered a Coke and stayed at each place for about 15 minutes. No one said anything, but we got looks. You could feel it. At the end, we were filled up with Coke! That was the start. And after that, we didn’t have to go to the back window to get food.”

Smith admitted it was scary at first since they heard about other sit-ins on the radio and television where people were getting thrown out of restaurants. “But this was peaceful — no fights, no verbal confrontations,” he added.

Swann remembers, “Since they were sort of expecting us with Kennedy in town, the sit-ins weren’t too awkward. Businesses didn’t want to get negative publicity. This slowly got the ball rolling for desegregation. It was a first for Virginia, right here in Middleburg.”

In his Sunday sermon on April 9, 1961, Reverend Albert F. Pereira of Leesburg who conducted Catholic services in Middleburg acknowledged that “President and Mrs. Kennedy were in the congregation,” a Loudoun Times Mirror article states, along with publishing part of Pereira’s message: “We are grateful to the ministers of this community, the mayor, the president of the chamber of commerce, the drugstore owners, and operators that the first phase of desegregation in Middleburg has been gracefully handled.”

The Aftermath

“We had smiles on our faces afterwards,” Smith says. “Jackson congratulated us since he knew we were taking a risk. My parents were afraid we’d get beat up or get into trouble. But then thanked us for doing a good thing.” 

Smith’s wife, Till, adds, “Mr. Jackson was really staunch about desegregating Middleburg. They picked the weekend when President Kennedy was going to be in town.”

Six decades later, Middleburg Mayor Bridge Littleton presented Swann and Smith with a “Mayor’s Proclamation” framed certificate for their civil rights efforts that began in Middleburg and then spread to the greater Loudoun area. Mayor Littleton noted it was the idea of Marcus Howard at Mt. Zion Baptist Church of St. Louis to recognize these two local men. On February 9, 2020, Mayor Littleton presented Swann with his certificate at a special service at Mt. Zion Baptist Church. About a week later, the mayor presented the certificate to Smith at his home.

Both proclamations honor their wives, stating, “…none of this would have been possible without the love and support of Reverend Swann’s wife of over 67 years, Sylvia,” and “Mr. Smith’s wife of over 63 years, Till.”

While others helped to open doors, Swann and Smith walked through them. Swann went to bed that night with a sense of satisfaction, believing it was the small beginning of a new era. “It was a deliberate, well-planned day. A day to integrate Middleburg,” he says.

Taking a stand, by taking a seat — these two men certainly made their mark on Middleburg’s history. ML

Posted on: February 10, 2023.

Bored Rebel: Graphic Undershirts with Something to Say

Written by Will Thompson / Photos by Michael Butcher

Boundaries are meant to be pushed. Rules are made to be broken. Expectations are set to be exceeded. So why can’t an undershirt be the most self-expressive article in a wardrobe?

Long the unsung, load-bearing heroes of a smart ensemble, a decent undershirt can soften the touch of stiff fabrics, extend the life of dress shirts, and, a friend in all seasons, wick sweat in the heat and provide a layer of extra warmth in the cold. Despite their comfort and utility, the undershirt has varied very little over collective couture memory from being a stark, plain white T-shirt. To call the undershirt downright boring would not be undeserved.

Bored Rebel, a Haymarket-based startup, is spinning a new thread in the garment game, turning the humble undershirt into an avenue for self-expression, humor, and empowerment.

In the rebel spirit, Bored Rebel is the first of its kind: a graphic undershirt company. Adorning the ultra-soft fabric of each shirt is a hidden message designed to sit behind the placket — the row of buttons on a dress shirt — which won’t show through even the whitest button-up. The slogans range from the inspirational (for example “Unleash Your Inner Superhero”), to the comedic (“Smartest Person in the Zoom”), to the downright irreverent (“My Boss Sucks”). By placing the words on an undergarment, these messages are for the wearer, their own personal postmodern mantra to help them laugh off workplace strife, get through a mountain of chores, or even to mark special occasions.

Bored Rebel’s founder, Stacy Flax, began the graphic undershirt company after spending time in the corporate world delving into executive strategy, marketing, business development, and strategic partnerships consulting. Suffering from severe burnout and searching for an endeavor that would feed her creative side, Flax’s stroke of genius came when her husband all-too-frequently left his undergarments on the bathroom floor. “The boxers all had fun designs on them. I looked at his undershirts and wondered why they were so boring,” says Flax. Like a true rebel, Stacy challenged that status quo, and Bored Rebel was born.

Since its earliest days, Bored Rebel has now grown to offer a wide range of personalized graphic undershirts. Shoppers can combine 54 messages with three different ink colors (“Not So Corporate Grey,” “Bcc: Blue,” and “Punt it Purple”) to create their unique garment. Shoppers in Middleburg can also find an exclusive design, “Get the Fox Out,” at Highcliffe Clothiers on West Washington Street. Along with our hometown fashion scene, Bored Rebel shirts will soon be gracing the red carpet, being part of the famous Oscars gift bag given to nominees at the upcoming 95th Academy Awards in March.

In early 2023, Bored Rebel also launched a wedding collection featuring more than 100 different wedding-themed slogans and a space on each shirt for customizable text to commemorate the event. The shirts, with slogans such as “Groom Squad,” “Happy AF For You Two,” and the perhaps inversely related “Here for the Open Bar” and “I’ll Behave” can make fun bonding experiences and keepsakes for wedding parties, and will add a celebratory personal touch to a wedding outfit.

The shirts themselves are an incredibly soft blend of cotton and moisture-wicking synthetic fibers. When designing the first prototypes, Flax sampled almost 300 different fabrics to find just the right material to make a shirt that is soft, comfortable, breathable, and durable. The longer cut of the shirts will ensure that they stay tucked and flatter every figure. “They’re very comfortable,” says Mark Metzger, owner of Highcliffe Clothiers. “You hardly know that you have them on. It’s a fun play on something that most men take for granted.” Bored Rebel tees are highly functional as an undershirt, yet of high enough quality and cut to be worn alone as outerwear T-shirts. 

“Printing on an undershirt instantly felt rebellious,” says Flax, explaining how the name Bored Rebel was created to reflect the company’s goal to disrupt the classic, boring undershirt. “Many people say to me, ‘I’m a bored rebel!’” she continues. “It’s a bit like art; people identify with the name, but they take from it what they want.”

In terms of Flax’s own journey, leaving the corporate world to create an entirely new fashion product in an entrepreneurial landscape where only 3% of venture capital goes to women-run businesses was an act of rebellion. “It’s incredibly hard,” she explains. “This is an unpaved road, and you’re building it as you’re going, and you’re constantly having to deal with issues and challenges. But that creative problem-solving is fun. It’s the best kind of hard.”

Bored Rebel and Flax’s entrepreneurial journey are reminders that with creativity — and perhaps a bit of rebellion — the seemingly mundane, expected, or overlooked can be transformed to something exciting, vibrant, and even treasured. “Every day is a leap of faith,” says Flax. “The risks are real and scary. But I’m more afraid of not doing this.”

Bored Rebel shirts, including the wedding line, are available at boredrebel.com. The company donates 10% of its profits through in-kind gifts of their “You’ve Got This” shirts to Washington, D.C.-area workforce development nonprofit organizations, including A Wider Circle and D.C. Central Kitchen. ML

Suits supplied by Highcliffe Clothiers
Cocktails supplied by Anna Adams at The Red Fox Inn & Tavern

Published in the February 2023 issue of Middleburg Life.

Seven Students and One Faculty Member Elected to Foxcroft School Chapter of Cum Laude Society

MIDDLEBURG, VA — Four Foxcroft School seniors, three juniors, and one faculty member were recently elected to the Foxcroft School Chapter of the Cum Laude Society. They join four members of the senior class who were named to national high school scholastic honor society a year ago as juniors.

Seniors Gabby Garrison (Morgantown, WV), Wilhelmina McQuarrie (London, UK), Cate Williams (Las Cruces, NM), and Sage Wolf (Warrenton, VA) were elected to the Foxcroft School Chapter of the Cum Laude Society (modeled on the collegiate Phi Beta Kappa). In addition, Grace Pumphrey (Goochland, VA), Katelyn Smith (Ashburn, VA), and Elizabeth Viney (South Riding, VA) received the impressive distinction of being selected during their junior year. Assistant Head of School Dr. Tanya Hyatt was also elected to the Society to honor her dedication to the scholarship, teaching, and love of learning fundamental to the ideals of the Society.

Seniors Molly Catlett (Middleburg, VA), London Hershey (Hagerstown, MD), Lucy Moan (Middleburg, VA), and Helen Ventikos (Purcellville, VA) were inducted last year as juniors. They, together with current faculty members of the Chapter (Head of School Cathy McGehee, Athletic Director Michelle Woodruff, Director of The Innovation Lab and History Department Chair Alex Northrup, and STEM teacher and Chapter President Dr. Meghen Tuttle) will officially welcome the new members into the Society during the Cum Laude induction ceremony held at Foxcroft’s annual Awards Assembly in May.

The presence of a Cum Laude chapter at a secondary school indicates a commitment to outstanding scholarly achievement. Students selected for induction must have superior academic records, as reflected in their course load, grade point average, and other factors. They must also demonstrate a serious interest in the pursuit of knowledge and academic integrity. National guidelines limit membership to 20 percent of a senior class; up to half of those students are eligible to be elected in the junior year.

The Cum Laude Society was founded in 1906 and has grown to include 382 chapters, with the vast majority located at independent schools in the United States. Foxcroft’s Chapter was established in 1958.

Photo courtesy of Christine McCrehin.

Posted on: February 7, 2023

Best of Hunt Country Weddings 2022

Hunt Country had no shortage of gorgeous weddings in 2022. From a traditional Hindu ceremony at Goodstone Inn to a classic Hunt Country celebration at Stoke Farm, here are some of our favorites that are easy to love.

Nikita & James

Goodstone Inn & Restaurant, Middleburg, VA
6.2.22 – 6.4.22

Nikita and James celebrated their nuptials across two days with both a traditional Hindu ceremony followed by a Cinderella-inspired celebration complete with a baby blue dress. The couple shares, “Our two-day fusion wedding was a dream come true in every way possible! We hosted a traditional Hindu ceremony on the first day that allowed James and I to fully embrace my Indian background, while sharing all the cultural significance with our loved ones. … We couldn’t have imagined a more magical time with our friends and family!”

Venue & Catering: Goodstone Inn & Restaurant 
Planning and Design: Cherry Blossom Weddings and Events
Photographer: Jordan Maunder Photography
Florist: Wild Fleurette Floral
Hair: Shannon Kappel and Maria Arsha
Makeup: Sara Mabrou
Officiant: Rakesh Pathak and Wedding Ceremonies by Jeff
Horse: Harmon’s Carriages
Cake: Market Salamander
Henna Artist: Maria Arshad
Indian Attire: Custom Shyamal & Bhumika

Morgan & Joseph

Red Fox Inn & Tavern, Middleburg, VA

Morgan and Joseph exchanged vows and hosted guests in the heart of Middleburg. Their ceremony was held at Emmanuel Episcopal Church and followed by a reception at the Red Fox Inn & Tavern. Morgan and Joseph share, “Our wedding perfectly married who we are as a couple and our love for Middleburg, the place where we grew most as a couple. So much credit is owed to our incredible planner, Kim Newton. We explained to Kim that we wanted the details to accentuate our incredibly beautiful venue, Red Fox, which to us is the epitome of Middleburg charm.”

Venue: Red Fox Inn & Tavern
Planner: Kim Newton Weddings
Photographer: Vicki Grafton Photography
Florist: Floral & Bloom
Cake: Market Salamander’s Jason Reeves
Rentals: Party Rental Ltd., White Glove Rentals, BBJ La Tavola
Tent: Sugarplum Tents
Band: Good Shot Judy

Emily & Micah

Rust Manor, Leesburg, VA

Emily and Micah’s late summer celebration could best be described as “marvelous,” with touches from the Marvel universe like the Infinity Gauntlet and Captain America socks, a glow stick send-off, and an abundance of love which is apparent just from the photos. Pops of dark green and pale gold added extra elegance to this stylish wedding weekend.

Venue: Rust Manor House
Wedding Coordinator: Meghan Farra
Photographer: Karis Marie Photography
Florist: Wander & Whimsy Floral
Hair & Makeup: Beauty by Aubrey
Cake: Honey Bee Pastries
DJ: Ian Lade

Kelly & Andrew

Stoke Farm, Middleburg, VA

Andrew and Kelly’s Stoke Farm wedding is classic Middleburg with Hunt Country touches around every corner. When asked about his wedding day, Andrew says, “Two moments stand out to me when I think back to our wedding in the fall. The first was seeing Kelly walk through a pergola of wisteria down to the garden where our ceremony took place while a string trio played our favorite song. It was the exact scene that we had dreamed about for over seven years since we first came to Stoke Farm together. 

And the second was when we were finishing up our dinner at the sweetheart table and looked out across the tables of guests. Not one person wasn’t engaged in conversation with someone else, a lot of them [just] meeting for the first time, and it filled us with so much joy seeing everyone else laughing and smiling with each other.”

Venue: Stoke Farm
Catering: Bluewater Kitchen
Planner: Joy Suits
Photographer: Danielle Towle
Florist: Mini Rose Farm

Ryann & Kevin

Mortgage Hall Estate and The Middleburg Barn, Middleburg, VA

Ryann and Kevin describe their wedding best, saying, “It was really important to us that our wedding was a true representation of the people that we are. We are proud to have showcased that in all of the details that we included on our big day. From our epic entrance, dancing on a cloud, a horse at cocktail hour, our late night speciality cocktail, a getaway car, and cold sparks, our wedding was a dream and we feel lucky that we were able to celebrate our special day at two of the best Middleburg venues, the Mortgage Hall Estate and The Middleburg Barn.”

Venue: Mortgage Hall Estate and The Middleburg Barn
Catering: Main Event
Planner: Alyssa Carl from B.Mingled
Photographer: Kir Tuben
Florist: Lisa from Rosy Posy
Desserts: Simply Dessert 
DJ & Special Effects: John Howard from A2Z Music Factory
Hair: Nam Nguyen
Makeup: Kaytee Spanoghe
Tap Truck: Bubbles & Brews
Videographer: Michael Lemley
Stationary: Designs by Allison Rene

Jessica & Brandon

Great Marsh Estate, Bealeton, VA

For Jessica and Brandon, the color orange took center stage at their Great Marsh Estate wedding. The groom’s suit, groomsmen’s ties, pops of orange in the table settings, and the venue’s fall foliage all added up to a very autumnal feel. The duo exchanged vows in front of friends and family on the sprawling lawn with the statuesque Manor House as the perfect backdrop to their big day.

Venue: Great Marsh Estate
Catering: Serendipity Catering & Design
Planner: Vida Events
Photographer: Jennifer Gray Calcagno Photography (Second Shot under Victoria Heer Photography)
Florist: Sarena Floral Designs 
Hair & Makeup: Evergreen Beauty Makeup & Hair Design 
Desserts: Signature Sweets by Amanda
DJ: Repeatable DJ

Middleburg’s 12th Annual Winter Weekend Sale

Annual Winter Sale Returns with Bargains for Everyone

MIDDLEBURG, Va., January 30, 2023 — Join the town of Middleburg on February 17, 18, 19 and 20 for the 12th annual Winter Weekend Sale. During the Winter Weekend Sale, visitors will be able to hunt for wonderful gifts for themselves and others while experiencing the small-town charm of Middleburg. The sale, sponsored by the Town of Middleburg and the Middleburg Business & Professional Association, will be held Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sunday–Monday as posted by shops.

Many of the unique shops in the village will have discounts on everything from shoes to children’s clothes to fall and winter fashions, as well as specials in some of the local restaurants. Bargain hunters can arrive early to get the best deals or stay over at one of the inns in town. The Red Fox Inn, 540-687-6301, Goodstone Inn, 540-687-3333, and Salamander Resort & Spa, 844-303-2723, are accepting reservations.

White and blue balloons will be located outside participating stores. Shops with fantastic bargains include Zest (clothing and accessories), Lou Lou (accessories), Crème de la Crème (pottery, ceramics, linens, etc.), English Country Classics (men’s and women’s clothing), Tully Rector (shoes, clothing, accessories and beauty products), Chloe’s of Middleburg (women’s clothing boutique), Loyal Companion (pet supplies), The Lucky Knot (clothing and accessories), The Christmas Sleigh — and many more one-of-a-kind stores you’ll never find in a mall.

At the west end, The Fun Shop (children’s clothing, party goods, decorative gifts), Middleburg’s answer to the department store, has several rooms full of wonderful things. Brick and Mortar Mercantile (unique gifts), J.Mclaughlin (clothing and accessories), Mystique Jewelers, PLAYroom (toy store), Highcliffe Clothiers (men’s and women’s clothing), The Artists in Middleburg Gallery, Gum Tree Farm (handmade wool clothing, accessories and home goods), and Stitch (needlepoint shop) are also located on the west end of town. Le Boudoir (lingerie) and the Community Store (consignment) are located on Madison Street. The Tack Box and the Middleburg Tack Exchange will be offering discounts on equestrian-related products such as riding gear and gifts.

The National Sporting Library & Museum on The Plains Road and Middleburg’s fine restaurants scattered along Washington Street and Federal Street offer a lovely respite from bargain hunting. Restaurants in town include The Red Fox Inn (contemporary American food), Cuppa Giddy Up (coffee and tea), King Street Oyster Bar (seafood-focused menu and fresh oysters), Side Saddle Café (breakfast and sandwiches), Knead Wine (wine shop and gourmet pizza take-out), Middleburg Common Grounds (coffee, tea and sandwiches), Thaiverse (authentic Thai cuisine), Red Horse Tavern, Market Salamander (gourmet market and café), Middleburg Deli (sandwiches), Wild Hare Cider Pub, Teddy’s Pizza (pizza and subs), Best Thai Kitchen (authentic Thai cuisine), Red Bar Sushi, Upper Crust Bakery (baked goods and sandwiches), The Bistro at Goodstone Inn, Harrimans Virginia Piedmont Grill (contemporary American steakhouse) and Gold Cup Wine Bar at Salamander Resort & Spa.

Visit visitmiddleburgva.com or facebook.com/MiddleburgBusiness for event updates. For additional information, please contact the Middleburg Town Office at 540-687-5152.

Posted on: February 2, 2023

Rubano’s: Culinary Ambition in Aldie

Written by Bill Kent | Photos by Michael Butcher.

All restaurants are no more than a dream before they open, when nothing is certain and big plans materialize as effortlessly as steam from a coffee cup.

But Carlos Miranda, owner of future Hunt Country restaurant Rubano’s, isn’t dreaming. “I know, right now, this restaurant [will be] a success,” he says with a right place, right time mentality. “I can feel it. I am completely certain.”

In the last six months, Miranda acquired the Aldie Country Store and a 20-acre farm on Sally Mill Road where Chef Brad Rubano is currently living. The farm will supply many of the fruits, vegetables, and spices for Rubano’s farm-to-table menu.

Miranda describes the video he plans to post online about the new Aldie restaurant in the months before he and Rubano open in May. “It will begin with a drone shot … with the Seaspice octopus logo on the outside of what was once a white building, now painted a bold matte black,” he says. “Then we go through the front door,” he continues. The footage would then rise up over the dark, rustic reclaimed wood tables, meander toward the bar, drift over the 10-seat tasting table, offer a glance through the pass-through into the persimmon-colored kitchen walls, then linger on a matte black, white-and-persimmon painting of horses that Miranda and his wife Maryam bought in the Dominican Republic. “That ties it all together, don’t you think?”

Miranda, a Florida native, has a design degree from Marymount University. It was there that he met Maryam, who was studying business. They went on to open restaurants in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, and to design restaurant and hotel interiors for Starwood and Mandarin Oriental. 

Since last summer, Carlos Miranda has been between Florida and Middleburg, having set up shop with his family at a Snickersville home the couple purchased two years ago when the family decided to send their daughters to Foxcroft School. “Of course we fell in love with Middleburg,” Maryam Miranda adds. “Who wouldn’t? It is one of the world’s most beautiful places.”

Of the new restaurant project, Maryam Miranda shares her aspirations. “When we open, we’re going to be the French Laundry, only [in] Middleburg,” she says.

With Carlos Miranda adding, “We’re going to be better. We’re going to be like the Inn at Little Washington. We’re going to bring in people from Washington, D.C. — everywhere.” 

The Rubano’s team is even considering the use of a helicopter to transport celebrities from D.C. and even further, who, he is sure, will come to his new Hunt Country restaurant after having dined at Seaspice Brasserie, his south Florida seafood restaurant on the Miami River.

Given the high level of Italian cuisine already represented in Washington, D.C., and Hunt Country, this could be a daunting task. Rubano, however, has no qualms about having his name on the restaurant.

“If this had happened to me twenty years ago, I’d be a little bit scared,” Rubano admits. “But I’m 45 now. I’m ready for this. This is [exciting].”

Born on Long Island, New York, Rubano is of Sicilian descent. “I have a dozen aunts and uncles and cousins from Taormina,” he shares. “Everybody cooks. As a baby I smelled the sauce on my grandmother’s braciola. She’d start it on Saturday so it would be perfect on Sunday.” After getting an associate degree from the New York Restaurant School, Rubano and his father Tony opened a fast-casual restaurant in Merrick, Long Island, called The Pit Stop. 

Experience Rubano gained at his father’s fine dining restaurant — the now-closed Wild Fish Raw Bar in Freeport, Long Island — set him on a path to the kitchen at a new restaurant called Seasalt and Pepper, carved out of a warehouse in a Miami River neighborhood better known for its auto body shops than its cuisine. Eventually rebranded as Seaspice, the 250-seat restaurant became a surprise hit. 

“Before they opened, everybody told them the location was wrong, that nobody would come,” Rubano remembers. “Carlos and Maryam [have] been in the business long enough to have an instinct for these things. So, last July, when I was in my office at Seaspice and Carlos came in and said, ‘I’ve found our next place,’ I didn’t have to ask where. I found out a half an hour later when a voucher for a plane ticket to Washington appeared on my phone. A few months later, I [saw] snow for the first time in ten years.”

Since then, “It’s been non-stop because there is so much going on, in terms of what is grown, and the variety of what is grown [in Virginia],” Rubano notes regarding his ingredient list. “I’m just amazed by the range of what’s here. I just had some incredible venison and wild berries. It’s like I’m discovering a new world.”

Part of that world will include local wines, spirits, and beer with Italian vintages and brews — some of which he expects to sample at the end of this month. To solidify their menu, Rubano and the Mirandas are traveling to Italy where they will sample both traditional and trendsetting Italian cuisine. 

So confident is Carlos Miranda of his restaurant’s success that he has already made plans to open a branch of Rubano’s in part of a Miami nightclub and hotel complex in 2024. In 2025, he plans to open a Rubano’s in Washington, D.C. For now, until the whirling rotors of helicopters can be heard overhead, every table is filled, and there is something Sicilian to savor from the kitchen, the lofty ambitions in mind for Rubano’s are just that. However, the restaurant is certainly worth keeping an eye on. ML

This article first appeared in the January 2023 issue.

Winter Skin Care Q&A with Middleburg Aestheticians

Written by Lia Hobel | Photos by Michael Butcher.

Unfortunately, winter air is not always kind to our skin. The cool, dry weather causes it to become dehydrated and cracked, provoking discomfort.

We spoke with two local skin care experts to find out their best skin-saving advice for cold weather. Kristin May is the owner of May Aesthetics Boutique, and Brittany Grabski owns Middleburg Skin Care. The two share a boutique space at 10 South Liberty Street in Middleburg. 

Continue reading to discover how you can survive the winter skin slump.

ML: How did you come to open your business? 

Grabski: I graduated from James Madison University with a B.S. in Health Sciences and then went on to get my basic and master esthetics licenses and laser certification, and then I started working in plastic surgery. I took over Middleburg Skin Care in 2019. I do completely customized facials depending on one’s personalized skin care needs. I also do lash [and] brow tinting, lip [and] brow waxing, electrolysis, and thermoclear (vessel removal, sunspot removal, skin tag removal, etc.).

May: I’m a nurse anesthetist. I got my doctorate in nurse anesthesia in 2015 and I’ve been in healthcare since 2006. I started getting Botox injections and I thought, “I love this more than anesthesia.” I trained for several months and started out on my friends and family, and then with the onset of COVID-19, I thought, “You know, I really love doing aesthetics. Why don’t I just go ahead and open a brick-and-mortar store?”

ML: What are your most important skin care tips during the winter months? 

Grabski: Top tips for taking care of your skin in the winter include sleeping with a humidifier in your room to help keep your skin from drying out too badly. Use a heavier moisturizer or layer a hydrating serum under your current moisturizer. Also, don’t take super hot showers or use really hot water when washing your face morning and night.

May: Switch up your cleanser to a more calm, gentle cleanser that’s not going to leave your skin feeling tight when you wash. Secondly, I would suggest a hyaluronic acid serum. Also add a good day cream. Switch from a regular cream [to a] more hydrating one because you know when you’re outside and even when you’re indoors a lot during the winter your skin can dry out, so all of those are really going to help. 

ML: Any specific products or services you would recommend?

Grabski: It all depends on the person’s skin. Facials should be a part of everyone’s skincare regime spaced four to six weeks apart.

May: I also suggest a monthly facial. Everybody can benefit from a deep exfoliation. The second step is an aesthetic ultrasound. We can customize serum and [create] more hydrating ones for the winter that goes very deep into your dermis, and then the third part is a LED light that we can customize to a customer’s needs. In the winter, there’s an anti-aging collagen stimulant light. That’s a really good idea as well. I think the biggest tip that I have is don’t skimp on the moisturizer for sure and you can even switch a regular body cream for a more nourishing body cream as well.

ML: Why is it important to see a professional? 

Grabski: It’s important to see a professional because everyone’s skin is so different and each person’s skin needs a personalized approach.

May: I think in this area the average consumer, or my average client or patient, does know a lot about taking care of themselves, but it’s important to get someone who has a medical background [and] has had extensive training. I have clients come in that think they really want this one treatment and [I say], “Well that might not be the best for you because the treatment might damage your skin.”

ML: How important is it to build a skin care regimen? 

May: I say it’s like you’re working out your skin. You need that foundation, and I tell everybody we can do every injectable in here. We can do any laser treatment. But if you’re not taking care of your skin on a regular basis, you’re not going to get those optimal results.

ML: What’s something that people may or may not realize about skin care?

Grabski: You need to wear sunscreen every day, whether you’re outside or just hanging around the house.

May: Even though it’s winter and we’re not thinking about the sun’s rays, the sun is the most damaging, so definitely do not neglect a good sunscreen.

ML: Any final thoughts for our readers? 

Grabski: The top three things everyone needs in their skin care regime is a form of vitamin C during the day, a form of vitamin A [retinol] at nighttime, and sunscreen!

May: We’re pretty much a one-stop shop. We always do a complimentary consultation. We set aside time and we really dive in deep to whatever the concern is, and we come up with a whole treatment plan based on a patient’s goals. We want to build relationships with people and make them feel valued. ML

May Aesthetics Boutique 

Middleburg Skin Care

10 South Liberty Street

Middleburg, VA 20117

This article first appeared in the January 2023 issue.