FunStuff: Charlottesville events August 16 and beyond

All aboard!
Okay, now this is a real fun thing to plan for. It's not until October, but according to organizers these tickets can go fast, especially since the Tom Mix Rangers, Cowboys, and Outlaws, a troupe of cowboy reenactors, will be along for the ride on the Buckingham Branch's Autumn Leaf Rambler for the first time. The train leaves from the main Dillwyn Station, hauling vintage passenger cars from the 1920s, and makes a nearly 4-hour round trip through the rolling hills of Central Virginia and offers up fantastic views of the James River. You might even witness a gun fight or a train robbery courtesy of the Tom Mix crew. Get your tickets online at courtesy of the Old Dominion Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.
October 6 &13, Dillwyn Station, 9:30am & 1:30pm, $14 & $28


Set, hike!
Time to start getting psyched for UVA football. What better way to do that than go to Meet the Team Day at John Paul Jones Arena. There will be plenty of activities for the kids, including inflatable bouncing slides and such, plus everyone gets a Cav football schedule poster, schedule cards and magnets, and the first 500 folks get a little UVA-Nike football. Of course, players and coaches will also be on hand for photos and autographs. Best part? It's all free.
August 19, John Paul Jones Arena, 2-3:30pm, free


Summer sounds
Every August, some of the most acclaimed chamber musicians in the world arrive in the Queen City for the annual Staunton Music Festival, which this year will include 18 concerts over nine days.  From the opening gala and concert held at the house of the Mary Baldwin College president on Kable Street to a French baroque music performance at the Blackfriars Playhouse, the small concerts are all staged at historic venues. There are also pre-concert talks and package tickets for the whole festival. And noon concerts are free.
August 17-25, Staunton Music Festival, $8-$20


Couple power
Has your relationship with your significant other lost its magic? Feeling like you need to liven things up and get that mojo back? Head on over to Barnes and Noble to hear local clinical psychologists Peter Sheras and his wife, Phyllis Koch-Sheras, discuss their new book, Lifelong Love: 4 Steps to Creating and Maintaining an Extraordinary Relationship. Married for almost 40 years, the couple will share their experiences, those of others, and their own research. It's all about coming up with a common vision instead of thinking about individual needs. At a time when the Sherases believe we live in an "individualist" culture, their idea that a renewed focus on the coupledom, rather than the individual happiness of each person, can actually make those in a relationship happier.
August 18, Barnes and Noble Bookstore, 1pm, free


Midsummer dreaming
What better setting for a play about forest fairies pulling the heartstrings of young lovers than the lovely landscape of a vineyard? At midsummer, the Hamner Theater presents a performance of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream down in Nelson County. It's the first of five performances of the play that will be held at area wineries through September 16, including Glass House Winery, Pollack Vineyards, Cardinal Point, and Mountain Cove. Guests are encouraged to bring a blanket and picnic (and bug spray!), while wine will be available.
August 19, Del Fosse Winery, 5pm, $5-$10


JPA street fair
Taking a page from last year's Mid-Town Street Fair (photo left), the folks over in the JPA neighborhood are hosting a Bike, Walk, Play JPA Open Streets event from the soon-to-be-completed JPA Bridge to the end of JPA Extended, with the Fry's Spring Beach Club serving as a mid-point. This is a free event and people are encouraged to bike, walk, run, jog, skate, and generally roam around in the streets. There will be collaborative street mural drawing, a water balloon gauntlet, live music, food, juggling, a historical walk, talk about the bridge, community organization booths, yoga, bike activities for kids, and more.
August 18, JPA neighborhood, 9am-Noon, free


Bridge bash
After nearly two years, the new JPA Bridge will finally open this Fall. As the Hook has detailed, the long closure has been a burden on corner business like Wayside Chicken, Hoos Brew, Dürty Nelly's, and the JPA Fast Mart, not to mention traffic getting re-routed in terrible ways and the neighborhood being cut off. Well, right after the open streets event, folks in the neighborhood are planning to party on the bridge with live music and food beginning around Noon. Should be fun, and great way to create some good karma on a project that has created so much bad.
August 18, JPA Bridge, Noon, free


Civil War weekend
What's summer in Virginia without a good Civil War reenactment? Head over to President James Madison's house Montpelier for Civil War Weekend, and you'll be able to enjoy some historic theater, such as a Civil War-era court martial, skirmishes, a dress parade, and General Samuel McGowan's South Carolinians occupying the property in the winter of 1864-1865 (Hmm…that should be challenging. A snow machine?). There will also be a tour of Gilmore Farm, home of George Gilmore, a slave at Montpelier who was freed after the war.
August 17-19, Montpelier, 2:30pm, $7-$18


Bluegrass festival
The music was born here, deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains, as early settlers brought their various musical traditions and fashioned something uniquely American with fiddles, banjos, bass, and guitar: bluegrass. For the 7th year in a row, Wintergreen Performing Arts will host the Blue Ridge Mountain Music Festival, featuring the award-winning, off-the-wall performances of Nothin' Fancy, cool cats Steel Wheels (pictured), and the classic Appalachian string band sounds of Kim and Jimbo Cary plus Pete and Ellen Vigour. Nelson County's own Virginia Ramblers will also be on hand. Should be a foot-stompin' good time.
August 18, Wintergreen Performing Arts, 12-7pm, $10-$25


Book bonanza
If you love books, and by that we mean the ones made of paper, you don't want to miss the Green Valley Book Fair.

Founded in 1971 just south of Harrisonburg, the fair is known to book lovers up and down the east coast. In a 25,000 square-foot store, there are over 500,000 books for sale for 60 to 90 percent off retail prices.Talk about a chance to re-stock your library. You'll find fiction, history, health and self-help, children's books, religion, science, sports, cooking, home and garden, crafts, art, reference, nature and outdoors, and a whole lot more. The fair goes on until September 3, but this weekend marks the beginning, which means you'll have the pick of the literary crop.
August 18-September 3, Green Valley Book Fair, 9am-7pm, free (til you buy)

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