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 sherri@atokaproperties.com

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

Tamara Harrison

Atoka Properties announces the addition of REALTOR® Tamara Harrison to their Middleburg office location

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

Tamara Harrison

Tamara Harrison

Tamara grew up on a ranch in Northwest New Mexico where she learned to rope and ride. After attending university and receiving a BS in Psychology with a minor Neuroscience, Tamara began her career in real estate and practiced for over 10 years in New Mexico. In 2004, her husband was recruited to work for the Pentagon, bringing them to the East Coast. After relocating to the Northern Virginia area, she returned to riding and real estate and has been successfully performing in both ever since.

Constantly striving for perfection, Tamara gives 110% to all of her clientele throughout the buying and selling process. That’s the way it should be – “Everything Matters, Always”.

During her downtime, you’ll find Tamara spending quality time with her mini herd of rescues, horse showing on the hunter circuit with her stunning chestnut mare, and often mowing.

Contact Information: Tamara Harrison, REALTOR® tamara@atokaproperties.com Office: 540.687.6321 x 216 


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On the Hunt… the Equestrian Marries the Gypsy

By Summer Stanley

The Equestrian Marries the Gypsy… That’s the tagline for the new fashion brand, sigAshop, which just made its debut this year. Juxtaposing country girl style with indie-rock and beach bohemian, co-founders/designers and Virginia hunt country natives, Jennifer Gray Calcagno and Brittany Hartz are bringing an edge to tradition right in our backyards – and we’re enchanted.

Earlier this summer, sigAshop celebrated the launch of their clothing label with a shopping event at Three Fox Vineyards in Delaplane on June 11. On this fiercely hot afternoon, they showcased their new collection, appropriately named “Never Ending Summer.” Customers sipped, browsed and tried on the line consisting of brightly colored, light and breezy dresses. The pieces are flowing, loose-fitted, some risky with low backs and plunging necklines, yet all with a signature image uniquely repeated in each of the patterns: horses.

“Travel inspiration is big for the brand,” Calcagno said. The name sigAshop comes from the Spanish word “siga” meaning “follow,” and both Jennifer and Brittany use this word to express a feeling of joy while following their dreams. They believe that wherever you travel, you bring a piece of that place back with you – you look back on it in a new light, and others see you differently as well. Certainly many of us can relate to wanderlust driven life experiences shaping who we are, and shaping our style.

So who’s wearing the designs? “She is a well-traveled woman in body and spirit, and ready to adorn her inner wild child. She’s looking for that standout dress she can wear to special events, like the races,” Calcagno explained.

Also true to resort-wear style, they’re versatile enough to be worn year-round. A gypsetter moves through life with an exotic, sophisticated and down-to- earth ease. This approach to wardrobe, exquisitely captured on the distant beaches of Bali, where the line is produced, translates just as carefree back home on the farm.

“The Never Ending Summer collection brings the perfect balance of our bohemian style mixed with our love of horses. It was a dream come true for us to bring these two separate worlds together into one,” Hartz said. 

In addition to the dresses are varieties of printed tunics, fringe tanks, head wraps, and other free-spirited accessories. Festival-ready jewelry and purses, handmade in Bali, are embellished with beads, feathers and tribal turquoise. Natural and beautiful, an effortless statement is created with each wear. Keep your eyes open for an expansion into home decor. Think dream catchers.

Currently, the clothing is available for purchase online, though be sure to look for sigAshop pop-up shops as they plan for select events here in Virginia’s horse country, as well as in Florida during the winter months. Visit shopsigashop.com for more boho chic redefined.

The National Sporting Library & Museum Sixth Annual Polo Classic Fundraiser

The first four fabulous polo players have been named for the National Sporting Library & Museum’s sixth annual Polo Classic fundraiser on Sunday, Sept. 11 at Great Meadow in The Plains. This year, Ignacio “Nacho” Figueras, John Gobin, Bill Ballhaus and David Greenhill will compete and additional polo players are being secured.

Born in Argentina in 1977, Nacho Figueras developed a love of horses and the game of polo by the age of nine. When he was 17, he began his professional polo career playing for the very successful White Birch high-goal team in the U.S. From there he has played in Spain, England, Argentina, Brazil, Singapore and the Philippines.

Figueras, who has appeared in many Polo Black advertisements for Ralph Lauren, plays for the Black Watch Polo Team in Bridgehampton, New York and Palm Beach. In the U.S. offseason, he returns to his Argentine ranch in spring and fall, where he has Cria Yatay, a polo pony breeding business.

Many in Middleburg are familiar with John S. Gobin who grew up in Rehoboth, Massachusetts. He began playing arena polo in interscholastic competitions at the age of 15. From the age of 17-19, he trained to become a polo player in Argentina.

Gobin began by playing with polo patron Geoffrey Kent, the founder of Abercrombie & Kent, and later played on the Budweiser Polo Team. He won the Westchester Cup alongside Adam Snow, Owen Rinehart and Robert E. Walton at the Guards Polo Club in England in 1992. He won the Camacho Cup on the American team against Mexico in 2009 and has competed on Team USA in the 2011 Polo World Championships (World Cup) against Argentina.

Gobin has also played on the Duck Hill Polo Team at the Aiken Polo Club in Aiken, South Carolina, and has won the U.S. Arena Championships four times. He has been the manager of the Great Meadow Polo Club in The Plains since 2007.

Bill Ballhaus is a third-generation aerospace engineer, and has spent the last 15 years leading both publicly-traded and privately-owned technology-oriented businesses. In 2008, Forbes named him as one of America’s 21 most powerful CEOs age 40 and under.

Ballhaus began playing polo in 2011 and has since played year round in Virginia, Aiken, Wellington, and Argentina. He competed in the 2015 Sentebale Royal Salute Polo Cup, the Veuve Cliquot Polo Classic in 2014 and 2015, and the National Sporting Library & Museum’s Polo Classic fundraiser in 2012 and 2013. Ballhaus and his wife, Darrin own and operate Beverly Equestrian, a full-service multi-disciplinary equestrian facility near The Plains.

David Greenhill is the co-owner and president of SD (Satcom Direct), serving business aviation and military government markets worldwide. Greenhill attended the United States Air Force Academy, earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a master’s in philosophy and theology from Yale University.

Originally from North Carolina, Greenhill has called Virginia home for over 15 years. An entrepreneur, he owns Greenhill Winery & Vineyards in Middleburg, home to internationally acclaimed wines, as well as Middleburg Life. Greenhill is a member of Great Meadow, Banbury Cross, and Palm City Polo Clubs, and has trained all over the world including Dubai, Geneva, Paris, and London.

According to NSLM Executive Director Melanie Mathewes, “our polo fundraiser is a celebration of sporting culture and an opportunity for sporting enthusiasts to experience a very exciting part of the NSLM mission.”

Proceeds from the Polo Classic support the NSLM’s mission of preserving, promoting, and sharing the literature, art, and culture of equestrian, angling, and field sports.

(Tickets for the NSLM’s sixth annual Polo Classic are available at NationalSporting.org, or by calling the NSLM at 540-687-6542 ext. 24.)

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Charlotte Davis: Running on Empty For A Place To Be

by Leonard Shapiro

It was an unseasonably warm April day when Charlotte Davis set off to run the Boston Marathon this past spring. About halfway through the 26.2-mile race, her body was screaming for her to stop, but her head had other ideas, especially after she spotted some familiar faces in the crowd.

One of them was Forrest Allen, her Middleburg neighbor and long-time friend from the days when both attended The Hill School. Allen had suffered a traumatic brain injury in a snowboarding accident in 2011 but had made great progress after numerous surgeries and grueling rehabilitations, including the innovative music therapy program offered at Middleburg’s “A Place to Be” that allowed him to regain his voice.

And now, with more than 13 miles to go, one of the main reasons she was running that day—Forrest Allen—was waving at her from a group that also included his mother, Rae, his service dog, Tolliver, and Charlotte’s parents, Jim and Shannon Davis.

“I was definitely hurting,” Charlotte said. “But after seeing Forrest and everyone else, I guess I fell out of my body and the training started to kick in. The fact that they had all come up to see me came into my head. That really pushed me, and they were there at the finish line, too. I got a big hug from Forrest.”

Davis is a 25-year-old Princeton graduate who played four years of varsity lacrosse for the Tigers. She now lives in Boston and works as an analyst for BlackRock, an American global investment management corporation that is the world’s largest asset manager, with over $4.5 trillion in assets under management.

She joined the firm in 2014 and soon learned that the infamous Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 had hit very close to her workplace. Joseph Craven, who ran Boston’s BlackRock office, had a son, J.P., who was 12 feet away from the first of two terrorist bombs that went off near the Boylston Street finish line. J.P. was there to watch his father finish the race and suffered burns and a severe head injury that day.

Transported to the Boston Medical Center (BMC), he underwent three surgeries, but miraculously recovered well enough to run in the 2014 Boston Marathon himself to help raise funds for the hospital. A year later, a dozen runners in BlackRock’s Boston office, including Charlotte Davis, decided to enter the 2015 Boston Marathon in order to continue those donations. And Charlotte had an equally altruistic goal: she wanted to do the same for A Place to Be.

Using various social media tools as well as informing her vast network of friends and family about what she had in mind, Davis raised $13,000 for BMC that year, and she and her family matched it with the same amount for A Place to Be. This year, she did it again, raising $18,000, with another family match for Middleburg’s APTB.

In mid-June, Charlotte came home for a Middleburg visit and, along with Forrest and Tolliver, stopped by at APTB’s summer theater camp at Hill School. She wore the medal she got for finishing the Boston race, and Forrest had the 2015 medal draped around his neck as well. When she was introduced by director Tom Sweitzer, she got a spirited ovation “that just blew me away.”

“I was very humbled when I walked through the door,” she said. “The impact of what I did was really palpable to me. You don’t realize it until it happens. It was pretty overwhelming.”

And so was that weekend before the marathon. Forrest and his mother came up on Friday evening and on Sunday, they all went to an Episcopal church service where the minister asked anyone who was running in the marathon the next day to stand up.

“Forrest stood up with me,” she said. “It was great.”

Davis said she always ran to stay in shape for lacrosse but had never even thought about doing a marathon until the 2015 race. She trained for this year’s event by running about 40 miles a week starting last January and finished in a more-than-respectable four hours and six minutes. That was 18 minutes faster than her time the previous year, despite the less than ideal 75-degree temperatures.

And next year?

“Ask me in a couple more weeks,” she said, smiling. “I really don’t consider myself a runner. I consider myself a survivor.”

Just like J.P. Craven and Forrest Allen. 

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On the Hunt… for Everything Mint Julep!

By Summer Stanley

At long last, springtime in Virginia comes breezing in through open windows, riding on the scent of azaleas, magnolias, peonies and honeysuckle, and I find myself craving the kind of southern comfort that most would associate with derby fever. However, for me, Mint Juleps are warm weather refreshments to be enjoyed long after the “run for the roses” is over.

The Mint Julep has been the traditional beverage of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby since 1938 when they started selling the cocktail in signature glasses for 75 cents each. Not surprisingly, it’s also the official cocktail of the Virginia Gold Cup. Virginia, after all, gets some credit for the earliest printed references of Mint Juleps. In his book, Travels of Four Years and a Half in the United States of America, British traveler John Davis mentions drinking them at a Northern Virginia plantation in the early 19th century.

Originally, a Julep was known for being any sweet and syrupy drink, often used as a vehicle for medicine. In the early days, it was likely made with rye whiskey or rum, and it wasn’t until the 20th century that Kentucky, proud of its bourbon, popularized it in the traditional recipe we know today: sugar, water, bourbon, fresh mint leaves and crushed ice.

Though sometimes served in a highball glass or even a pewter stirrup cup, you’ll most often find the drink served in a sterling silver julep cup, which in itself is a symbol of southern hospitality and makes for an appropriate gift on many occasions. The cups can be engraved with monograms or special sentiments, used for floral arrangements and centerpieces, and add instant class to a vanity or desk.

If you’re like me and can’t get enough of all things mint julep, there are plenty of ways to get your fix. I’ll bet on it! 

Where to hunt in Middleburg this weekend:

  •  Goodstone Inn & Restaurant in Middleburg has won many awards for its Virginia fine dining. The Restaurant at Goodstone features state-of-the-art, seasonally inspired cuisine with a farm-to-table emphasis. One of their specialty drinks happens to be the Mint Julep, and they have shared that recipe on their web site so you can create this refreshing cocktail at home, too. (Recipe below)
  • Join Salamander Resort & Spa on the terrace on May 7th from 3-7 pm as they celebrate with a Kentucky Derby event. You can sip Mint Juleps, delight in derby bite size fair, listen to live music, and experience “the most exciting two minutes in sports.” ($20/pp, Mint Julep bar and service bar are a la carte)

Where to hunt for julep cups:

Goodstone’s Mint Julep Specialty Cocktail


2 cups water

2 cups white sugar

1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh mint leaves

32 fluid ounces Kentucky bourbon

8 sprigs fresh mint leaves for garnish


1. Combine water, sugar and chopped mint leaves in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Allow syrup to cool approximately 1 hour. Pour syrup through a strainer to remove mint leaves.

2. Fill eight cups or frozen goblets with crushed ice and pour 4 ounces of bourbon and 1/4 cup mint syrup in each. (Proportions can be adjusted depending on each person’s sweet tooth). Top each cup with a mint sprig and a straw. Trim straws to just barely protrude from the top of the cups. Serve juleps on a silver platter.

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Katherine Hooker London Trunk Show

Katherine Hooker is a Chelsea-based womenswear designer specializing in exquisite ready-to-wear and custom-made coats and jackets, dresses, shirts, skirts, and accessories. Katherine Hooker is well established in the UK and continues to grow in the US. Loyal customers include Meryl Streep, the Duchess of Cambridge, Pippa Middleton, Zoe Saldana, Kelly Rutherford, Taylor Swift, Yoko Ono, and Jerry Hall. In the US there is only one way to purchase the collection, and that is through private trunk shows.  Please join us on May 5th in the Middleburg area for a trunk show hosted by Janie Motion. Call 646-771-6725 for more information.