by Marianne Davis, Back Roads Century Event Planner
The @PotomacPedalers Back Roads Century is fast approaching! The ride itself will be better than ever with more marshals and SAGs, an additional short route, another rest stop, and an expanded after-party at beautiful Bellevue mansion. To make your weekend even more fun, there will be plenty of activities on Saturday and on Sunday to enjoy with non-riding family and friends.
Shepherdstown is a lively place throughout the year. This September, your #BackRoadsCent planning committee will be adding some activities to the town’s already rich calendar. Of course, Shepherdstown groups and businesses will also be adding events as we get closer to the ride weekend.
Here are some of the town’s offerings that we already know about:
The Cut to the Chase Film Festival – Running through the weekend, this festival features short films from across the world, all of which are loosely based on the theme of water. They are presented in blocks of several films, so if you don’t like one of them, just stick around a few minutes for another. The audience is encouraged to vote for the Viewer Favorite award. Ticket prices are TBA.
Pedal & Paddle – Shepherdstown’s renowned bike and boat shop offers a great package throughout the weekend. With a rented trail bike or hybrid, you’ll ride about five miles on the beautiful and fascinating C&O Canal Towpath. Then, Pedal & Paddle will swap out the bike for a kayak. You’ll enjoy a lovely trip downstream to Shepherdstown at your own pace. Reservations are required, and double kayaks are available; the cost is $80.
Football Game – Shepherds University’s Rams rose to the finals of the 2015 NCAA Div II national championship, and this year they promise to be at least that strong. Watch a real powerhouse college team meet UVA-Wise. $10 – $20 for adults, $5 for kids, and free for kids not yet in kindergarten.
Shepherdstown Mystery Walks – Dana Mitchell, of Ghosts of Shepherdstown TV fame, leads a 90-minute walk through this historic town, highlighting some of the many sites of both natural and supernatural mysteries. Reservations are required for this extremely popular Shepherdstown staple, which is also offered on Friday evening. Tickets are $12.
Wine Tasting – On Saturday from 1–7, head to Grapes & Grains Gourmet in the heart of German Street for a free tasting of fine wines. While you’re there, check out the prices; you’ll never see them in D.C. Bonus: they also offer case discounts.
Tiki Cocktail Pairing Dinner – Let Chef Joshua Freeman of Domestic take you to the tropics where the tradewinds blow, the food is succulent, and the cocktails are irresistible. Enjoy the four-course special dinner menu, choose the classic American fare Domestic is known for, or just belly up to the bar for anything from craft beers to zombies. Prix fixe pairing dinner price TBA.
Oktoberfest – On Sunday, non-riders can enjoy an event that has been cheering Shepherdstown for over thirty years. From noon to 6 PM, there will be German food, beer, sausages, music and dance, and more. Kids activities and arts and crafts will keep the whole family busy and happy while riders enjoy their own party. Price is TBA.
Little House – Shepherdstown’s leading attraction for children, the Little House is a fully furnished two-story stone house that’s just ten feet tall. Although children use it as a playhouse now, it was actually built almost 90 years ago as a learning laboratory for teaching students about childhood development. Together with the Little Barn, which is no longer open to the public, the Little House was a part of a tiny farming homestead.
Shepherdstown Visitors Center – Rated by Trip Advisor as the #2 must see in Shepherdstown (WOW!), this lively and informative place should be your first stop. Grab a map and orient yourself to the town, its history, and its shops and restaurants. Explore its attractions, and those in the surrounding countryside. See you there!
In addition to these great events, the BRC planners have added some special events just for Back Roads Century riders, family, and friends:
Star Gazing –
If you can look up at home and count the stars, you are a victim of light pollution. One of the many joys of country life is the canopy of lights. Dan Kaminsky of Tri-State Astronomers will help us all understand what we’re looking at! Registration is required. The price is $8 for adults, free for children 12 and under. *** This event will not be offered by the Tri-State Astronomers this weekend, we apologize for the inconvenience. ***
Historic Walking Tours of Shepherdstown – On both Saturday and Sunday, you will be able to enjoy one of several leisurely walks through lovely and historic Shepherdstown. First settled by Europeans around 1720 (there were no permanently settled American Indians here), this oldest town in West Virginia has seen the birth of the United States Army, the invention of a steam boat two decades before Robert Fulton, and was on the front lines of the Civil War. Learn about these things and so much more. Reservations required, tickets are $10 for adults, free for children 12 and under.
SkyTruth Presentation – Analyzing data from publicly available satellite images, Shepherdstown’s own SkyTruth is the Earth’s best friend. Since making their name by exposing the true breadth of the Gulf Oil Spill, SkyTruth has gone from strength to strength in revealing environmental hazards like chemical spills, fracking damage, and disused mine shafts; in exposing corporate negligence and malfeasance including the implications of mountaintop removal mining on flooding patterns; as well as in capturing the extent of the use of slave labor in Pacific fisheries. Ticket price is TBA.
Pottery Studio Tour – Meet Joy Bridy, well-known designer and potter. Learn how she designs her pieces, how she decorates them, why she selects the glazes she does for different pieces, and how she fires her work. See the finished pieces that she has designed in honor of the BRC 2016, which will be available for purchase at the BRC After Party. Because space is limited, reservations are required, and admission will be by time slots. Since a pottery studio can be a dangerous place, children under ten will not be admitted. Price $10.
Book Talk – Enter the world of a thriving, truly independent bookstore. Yes, such places exist! Four Season’s Books will host a reading by an as yet unannounced local author. Join other people who read for pleasure to hear this prose, then explore the book store. FREE
More events are added each week, too, to the busy Shepherdstown calendar. With apologies to Samuel Johnson, if you are tired of Shepherdstown, you are tired of life. The #BackRoadsCent Ride has always been special. Now, it is simply irresistible!