After a two-year hiatus, the Lake Anne Cardboard Regatta will return to Reston on Aug. 13.
The race, which is organized by the Reston Museum, will feature more than 50 life-size boats created by different teams from cardboard and duct tape.
Teams of all ages will take part in heats by rowing out to bouys and back to the docks. This year, organizers expect more than double the number of boats that first hit the water at its inaugural event.
Museum Director Alexandra Campbell said the organization looks forward to adding more boats to the race this year.
“We appreciated everyone who came out in 2019 to either participate in the race or spectate but I think the pandemic has given us a new sense of what it means to provide community events. We are looking forward to being able to have this event after a two-year hiatus,” Campbell wrote.
Prizes will be given to the fastest boat in each categories and winners of a design contest. The “Titanic” award is given to the boat that sinks in the “most epic fashion,” according to event organizers.
Registration for the event is open online.
The boats can be as thick as participants desire but must be entirely made out of cardboard and can’t be bigger than six by 12 feet.
Proceeds from the event will benefit the museum, which Campbell says has maneuvered by seeking out new funding and more programming than in the past.
This year, the museum is kicking off a new guided historic walking tour that explores Reston’s founding.
The 30-minute tour is free and advanced registration is required. The initiative is supported by the Virginia Tourism Corporation Grant in partnership with George Mason University and Reston Association.
Just in time for the summer tourist season, Fairfax County is stepping up its efforts to promote the amenities in its southeastern area, providing a discount pass for admissions and more.
County and tourism officials, along with staff of George Washington’s Mount Vernon, touted a new digital pass yesterday (Wednesday) that gives visitors at historic sites and other destinations 20% off admissions and other deals.
Launched last December, the branding campaign is called “Potomac Banks: Explore Fairfax South” and was developed by the digital marketing agency Streetsense. It was showcased during a media event outside the first president’s mansion overlooking the Potomac River.
“Fairfax South is the place to be,” said Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck, who started the Mount Vernon Tourism Task Force in 2019 that led to the branding.
Storck, who was a President Abe Lincoln re-enactor for 25 years, said his love of history was a driving force in showcasing the region’s amenities.
An original marketing push rolled out in February 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic soon took hold in the U.S., particularly damaging the hotel and restaurant industries, Storck said.
The effort also includes one year of marketing with a business development campaign, said Barry Biggar, president and CEO of Visit Fairfax, the area’s official tourism organization.
“Now the real work begins,” he said.
Savings pass launched to promote region
The pandemic-induced delay meant the marketing effort could include a new feature: the Potomac Banks Savings Pass, a $46 pass that gives discounted admission to partnering sites, including George Washington’s Mount Vernon, George Mason’s Gunston Hall and Woodlawn & Pope-Leighey House.
The pass, which has a $25 version for kids ages 6 through 11, also provides deals on tours, gifts and activities at sites such as the National Museum of the U.S. Army, the Workhouse Arts Center, G34.3 Brewing Co., Woodlawn Press Winery and Historic Huntley.
The pass is valid for 90 days, but once it’s first redeemed at a site, it lasts for seven days.
While Washington’s historic property has weathered the pandemic and had buses of visitors there yesterday, other sites will be able to cross-promote.
— Mount Vernon (@MountVernon) May 18, 2022
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said teachers and textbooks are amazing, but nothing can replace experiencing history in person, and there are historic assets right in people’s backyards to enjoy that people from across the world come to visit.
Biggar said there are plans to create the county’s first tourism improvement district in southern Fairfax County. He said it could be a model for the rest of the region.
According to Biggar, Fairfax County’s tourism dollars generate the most revenue for the Commonwealth of any jurisdiction. The county’s tourism industry generated more than $3 billion in 2019, and he projects it will reach $4.5 billion in five years.
A heating plant abandoned when the Lorton prison closed in 2001 could eventually host Fairfax County’s vast collection of artifacts and museum objects.
Located in the Workhouse Arts Center area, the building at 8941 Workhouse Road could be transformed with a second-level addition and upgrades to meet curation standards, allowing the county to hold over 3 million artifacts in a central location.
The project will go before the county’s Planning Commission at a 7:30 p.m. meeting today (Wednesday) as part of a public facilities review process. At this time, the locations housing archaeological and museum collections are at capacity, according to the county.
Currently, the artifacts and museum objects are on display at historic sites in the county and exhibits at the James Lee Community Center in West Falls Church, the Fairfax County Government Center, and other locations.
Some objects are also housed at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park facilities near Manassas, or on temporary display for events and festivals, such as Celebrate Fairfax.
The area where the former heating plant now sits was once used as a cattle shed and hay barn for inmates at the Occoquan Workhouse, which opened in 1910 with a farm operated by prisoners serving short sentences for non-violent offenses.
“Layers of fencing and other security features (most of which have recently been removed) came only later as higher security was required in the last quarter of the twentieth century,” a report says on the workhouse, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
A Fairfax County archaeological report from Sept. 21, 2020, by senior archaeologist Aimee Wells says the workhouse’s shift to more of a medium-security prison changed the property’s use.
“The building that currently stands on the property was built in the mid-1990s as a heating plant on a concrete slab and was in use for less than a decade,” the report said.
The heating plant was decommissioned around 1998 as part of a gradual shutdown of the prison, according to the report.
The 31-foot-tall structure includes a 13,355-square-foot building. The plan currently being considered by the county calls for adding a 1,405-square-foot bump-out addition that’s nearly 21 feet tall.
“The building would include labs, storage, research rooms, offices, collections isolation rooms and the loading dock area, and a records room would be located in the bump-out addition,” a March 2022 staff report said about the project. “Site improvements include dumpster pad with screen, parking area, sidewalk/ADA accessible path, chain link fence along the site perimeter, and an access road connecting to the Workhouse Campus.”
Permits are expected to be sought in coming months through spring 2023, and construction would start, but it would rely on the next public bond cycle to finance it.
Mount Vernon, the primary home of George Washington before and after his presidency, has begun a new permanent collection nearly as notable as the first president.
Opened on Saturday (March 26), the newly acquired items represent the “largest reunion of original Mount Vernon objects since the dispersal of George and Martha Washington’s estates in 1802,” according to an announcement for the exhibit, “Mount Vernon: The Story of an American Icon.”
“Many objects — Martha Washington’s diamond-studded pocket watch, her ruffled cotton robe, a French porcelain ice cream cooler — are new to Mount Vernon’s collection, treasured by Martha’s descendants for generations before the [Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association] acquired them in 2020,” said the association, which has preserved the historic site since 1860.
The artifacts also include the earliest-known portrait of Washington, which is on loan from Washington and Lee University. Created by painter Charles Willson Peale, it shows Washington in his 40s in 1772 before he would later lead the 13 colonies’ Continental Army against Great Britain in the Revolutionary War.
The news release notes that the collection acknowledges the stories of people who were enslaved on the plantation, along with the Washingtons:
These paintings and decorative arts are paired with never-before-exhibited artifacts from Mount Vernon’s architectural and archaeological collections. These objects reveal the layers of Mount Vernon’s complex history, which includes Native settlements, other Washington family members, enslaved and hired laborers, and the determined women of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association who raised $200,000 to purchase the property in 1860 and still operate the site today.
The historic site also features the entombed remains of the country’s original president and first lady. Admission to the grounds is $28 for those age 12 and up, with reduced prices and free entry for younger kids.
Photo via Google Maps