Charlottesville Breaking News

Best o' the book fest: May we suggest...?

March means bibliophilia in Charlottesville. That's how much of an institution the Virginia Festival of the Book has become as it readies for its 18th annual book-athon.

Whether your interests are hoarding, after-life experiences, or serial bad relationships, the March 21-25 fest with 222 events and nearly 400 participants is likely to have the proverbial something for everyone.

Browsing the festival schedule to come up with 10 recommendations, the Hook somehow ended up with nearly 30 items in its book bag.

You can forget the mystery luncheon with Jeffrey Deaver—that one's already sold out. And tickets are pretty much guaranteed to be gone for the festival luncheon with University of Richmond president/History Guy Ed Ayers, which takes place on March 22.

Here's a smattering of events we'd like to see, but there are many, many more for you to tailor to your own taste.

Fighting for Civil Rights through Education and War
Stephanie Deutsch covers the educational route with her book, Booker T. Washington, Julius Rosenwald...

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Hotel death: What happened at the Red Roof Inn?

Six weeks after a woman was found dead in a Charlottesville hotel room with her companion barely clinging to life, details are finally emerging about the tragedy that claimed the life of "a beautiful person," in the words of the survivor lamenting the death of 46-year-old Laura Daly,

"I grieve her loss and miss her every day," says 62-year-old David Highfield, a former chemical company president, speaking via a statement emailed to a reporter.

Highfield and Daly, a California native who would have turned 47 on March 15, were in a "committed long term relationship," according to the attorney who transmitted the statement, William Hendricks. Exactly what transpired inside their room at the Red Roof, however, the lawyer declined to say.

On January 23, hotel staff– called to investigate after a room's occupants failed to check out– found the body of Daly and the still-breathing Highfield, who was transported to UVA hospital and placed in intensive care. Daly's cause of death has not yet been determined, according to Steve Murman in the Chief Medical Examiner's Office, who says test results are still pending.

Several weeks after the incident, Highfield was released from the hospital, and Charlottesville Police Lt. Ronnie Roberts declared the police investigation complete, referring further inquiries to the Commonwealth's Attorney's office. Since then, details have been scarce.

"That's a pending investigation," says the receptionist...

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FunStuff: Charlottesville events March 15 and beyond

Funny stuff
Times may be tough, and gas prices may be high, but that's no reason to stop laughing. This week, Bent Theatre Improv comedy troupe gives you plenty of opportunity to do just that with two performances. On Wednesday, they'll be yucking it up family-friendly-style (they rate it PG-13); on Friday, they'll do it again, but leave the kiddies home for this one cuz with a self-imposed R-rating, things could get bawdy.
March 14, Para Coffee, 7pm, free; March 16, The Bridge, 8pm, pay what you will

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flippin' out
Cirque du Soleil may be the best known acrobatic act around, but it doesn't have the lock on eye-popping feats of balance and flexibility. The Golden Dragon Acrobats have won praise from...

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Like a phoenix: AlbCo Fair rebuilds... at Ash Lawn

 

Plagued by heat, storms, and– most-recently– a season-quashing unavailability of land, the Albemarle County Fair has just revealed that it will be reborn this August at the home of James Monroe, a bold commitment to celebrating agricultural heritage and an ambitious announcement that comes just a day after the company operating the State Fair of Virginia announced that it has gone out of business.

A typically five-day event, the Fair will be reborn three-day August 2nd-4th as a fun and festive “old-time country fair," according to  release from organizers. The farm animals, exhibits, baked goods, crafts, and family entertainment will happen at the presidential home known as Ash Lawn-Highland, located less than two miles past Monticello.

"It's got great facilities, and it's going to be close to town," says Fair President Rob Harrison, noting that this is a transitional year with a smaller number of vendors, no night-time events, fewer days of operation, and no carnival rides.

"It will be primarily agriculturally focused," says Harrison, noting that 4-H events will be paramount along...

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Groupenomics II: Companies still profiting from deal craze

About this time last year, the buzz surrounding the group buying craze was frenetic: Half-off food at your favorite restaurant! Up to 75 percent off a spa visit!

For some businesses struggling through a recession, it may have seemed like manna from heaven. In Charlottesville, Groupon and Living Social deals began producing pre-paid customers, and soon the phenomenon gave birth to copycat local ventures like CvilleSaver, CatchMyFire, and the Hook's own Daily Deal.

The buzz was bound to cool as customers experienced "deal fatigue" and businesses tired of taking losses as a form of so-called advertising (as the deal sites take up to 50 percent of a deal's revenue). Yet, a year later, the business model is still a going concern.

The biggest player, Groupon, went public in November after just three years in business, raising $700 million, the most by a US Internet company since Google's eye-popping $1.7 billion IPO in 2004. And just recently, Forbes reported that Groupon co-founder Eric Lefkofsky's net worth has reached $2.9 billion.

But what about the local players? Are they still making a go of it?

"I think the deal offers will fizzle out over time," says restaurant group manager Stu Rifkin, who (with The Nook)...

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