Huge live and silent auctions, fresh-shucked oysters and clams, barbecue and home-made desserts, accompanied by imported wines, beer and blue grass music and a Halloween costume contest for children 12 and under, are features of this year’s Oct. 31st Unison Heritage Day.
The Saturday Fall Festival, from 1-5 p.m. in one of Loudoun County’s most scenic and historic villages, will take place on the Village Green and in the 19th Century Unison Store, the community center and home to the nonprofit Unison Preservation Society.
The village also is home to the historic Piedmont Hunt, the nation’s oldest fox hunting club. The hunt’s children-friendly hounds, who love to be petted, come and mingle with and annually delight the Heritage Day crowd.
The popular live/silent auctions will include a Shenandoah River canoe trip and picnic for 12, Hunt Country B&Bs and restaurants, the work of more than a dozen artists, an adventurous tree-top Zip Tour through the woods for two at the new Salamander Resort and Spa and a chauffeured champagne fall-foliage drive for two in an original 1957 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud, with lunch at the British-style Hunter’s Head Tavern in Upperville.
Other auction items, donated by more than 100 Western Loudoun and Fauquier firms and residents, include shotgun lessons from a nationally recognized expert, a landscape discovery visit to your home or farm by a historical ecologist, home window cleaning and garden tree work, classical music performances for parties, antiques and rugs, and the annually popular guided trout-fishing trip for two on Virginia’s Mossy Creek, with a gourmet stream-side lunch.
The multitude of gifts to this year’s auctions also includes massages, pedicures, manicures, jewelry, organic turkey and foods, gourmet wine baskets and winery tours, car service and Hermes scarves and clothing.
The live auction starts at 2:30 p.m. The silent auction starts at 1 p.m. and ends one-half hour after the live auction.
Perhaps the reason why Unison’s live and silent auctions have been so popular for almost a dozen years, as are similar auctions held by schools, museums and other nonprofit organizations, is that they invite local residents and businesses to make gifts, then people do good by buying and enjoying them. Money raised by the Unison Day festival will be used to improve the 1870s store and community center, with new windows and doors, a back porch and an easy access ramp.
Silent and live auctions like Unison’s are an American tradition, in a country where many schools, colleges, libraries, museums, parks and public places, even youth sports teams today, were created by gifts and donations and supported by citizen volunteers. The Unison Store was purchased two years ago by Middleburg-area philanthropist Dr. Betsee Parker, who donated it to the nonprofit to create a community center and a village green.
The Oct. 31st Unison festival this year will feature the Cobbler Mountain Grass Band and its Blue Ridge Mountain music. The barbecue and “fixin’s” will be by Middleburg’s Barbara Page Caterers and the annual multitude of homemade pies and deserts will be made by members of the historic Unison United Methodist Church. The 1832 brick church was used as a hospital by the Union army during the 1862 Battle of Unison. Wounded soldiers left names and messages on church walls, many of which have been preserved and are visible today.
Unison, originally a Quaker village, one of the first five settlements in what is now Loudoun County, today is one of the county’s most peaceful villages, with more than half the surrounding countryside under conservation easement, little traffic except tractors, horse trailers, horses and bicyclists, and no crime. It is the only place in Loudoun with three overlapping historic districts: the village historic district (2002/2003), the 8,000-acre Unison Battlefield Historic District (2011), both on the National Register of Historic Places, and the county’s Beaverdam Creek Historic Roadways District (2002), the only one of its kind in the nation.
The village is at the north end of Foxcroft Road (Rte. 626), a State Scenic Road that stretches about six miles from Middleburg’s Red Fox Inn to Unison. It is the only paved road into the village. Three other Unison roads, all also in the historic roadways district, are dirt and look almost exactly as they did in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Tickets to the fair are $30; Early Bird (advance) tickets are $25; children 12 and under free. Checks for Early Bird tickets, made out to UPS, must be received by Friday, Oct. 23 and sent to Unison Preservation Society, Box 606, Middleburg, VA, 20118. For further information, see the UPS website at www.unisonva.org.