Outdoor events abound at Highlands Fest

Jessica Fischer • Aug 6, 2013 at 12:40 PM

The streets of picturesque downtown Abingdon, Va., will be bustling with arts and crafts, musical performances and other family-friendly activities this week as the 65th Annual Virginia Highlands Festival continues its 10-day run.

But there are also plenty of options for festival-goers looking to escape the crowds and spend a little time enjoying the region’s rich natural amenities.

• Take a stroll through the Abingdon Vineyard and Winery from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., today. The 1-mile stroll will acquaint participants with some of the vineyard’s different grape varietals, and will be followed by a tour of the winery production facilities and a wine sampling when the tasting room opens at noon. There is a $5 charge for the wine tasting. Visitors are encouraged to bring a picnic lunch. Pre-registration for the event is not needed. Email Judith Foster at jf@netscape.com for more information.

• Residents of Abingdon’s ElderSpirit Community will share stories about and the inspiration behind each of their gardens during “ElderSpirit: A Garden Stroll,” to be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 6 at the senior housing community. Homemade cookies and iced tea will be served on the plaza. Call Sally Hoover at (276) 492-0019 or email her at sallyhoov@gmail.com for more information.

• Bruce Wankel, a local fly fishing guide and owner of the Virginia Creeper Fly Shop, will present “Fly Fishing Opportunities — Essential Equipment & Tackle, Fly Tying Patterns,” an overview of the year-round fly fishing opportunities available in the region, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Tuesday Aug. 6 at the Washington County Virginia Public Library. Wankel will demonstrate fishing lines and knots used in fly fishing. He will tie knots and flys and discuss fly pattern selection. Participants may assist with tying a fly pattern. Attendees will learn to identify some of the area’s common aquatic and terrestrial insects in the trout’s diet and to recognize look-alike imitation trout flies. The program will conclude with a brief casting demonstration.

Advance registration is required by Tuesday, Aug. 6. Register by calling Jim Cowan at (276) 628-5905.

• Children are welcome at a fly fishing, aquatic entomology and fly casting methods demonstration, to be held from 8:30 a.m. to noon, Wednesday, Aug. 7. Participants will meet at the Virginia Creeper Fly Shop and from there carpool to a nearby trout stream to learn about aquatic entomology, the natural live insects that are on the trout’s menu. They will collect samples of aquatic insects and compare them to some popular artificial fly patterns. The program will conclude with a demonstration of some of the more useful fly casting methods used in a trout stream. Advance registration is required by Tuesday, Aug. 6, by calling Jim Cowan at (276) 628-5905.

• The Highlands Camera Club of Abingdon will lead a photography outing from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 8, to the Historic Crab Orchard Museum & Pioneeer Park near Tazewell, Va., to photograph exhibitions in the museum galleries and its reconstructed historical buildings. Camera club members will offer suggestions on taking indoor and outdoor photos.

The museum boasts geology, wildlife and Native American exhibits, and the Pioneer Park, an outdoor museum with 15 structures, is the only reconstruction of historical buildings in western Virginia that has been relocated from the immediate vicinity. The museum’s admission and photography fee is $10.

Participants should meet in the commuter parking lot at the U.S. 19/58A/Russell Road intersection to carpool. Advance registration is required by Wednesday, Aug. 7. To register, call Jim Cowan at (276) 628-5905.

• The Southwest Virginia 4-H Educational Center will host two presentations on birds of prey by Mitch Whitaker, a master falconer and wildlife rehabilitator from the Letcher County 4-H Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Whitesburg, Ky.

Whitaker’s interactive programs, which will be held from 10 to 11 a.m. and from 3 to 4 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 8 at the center, will introduce several regional raptors, such as the Great Horned Owl, Eastern Screech Owl, Barred Owl and Red-tailed Hawk. The audience will get to meet the raptors and have an opportunity to ask questions and take photos.Hot dog lunches — which include a hot dog, baked beans, slaw, chips, cookie and drink — can be purchased for $6 between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. in Burley Hall.

For more information, call the 4-H Center at (276) 676-6180 or email robynar@vt.edu.

• Meet at the Virginia Creeper trailhead on Green Springs Road at 7:30 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 10 for a two-mile walk up the Creeper Trail and back to observe birds in their natural habitat.

Handouts about attracting birds to your own home/backyard habitat will be provided.

Participation is free. For more information, call Merry Jennings at (276) 628-5960.

• Carrie Sparks will present an edible and medicinal plant walk from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 10. Participants should meet in the parking lot/picnic shelter area at Settlers Museum of Southwest Virginia in Atkins, Va., for the easy one-mile walk along the birding trail, where they will find more than 30 common plants that can be used for food, tea or medicine. Several “wild” food items and drinks will be prepared for hikers to sample, although they should plan on bringing their own snacks and drinks as well. Cameras are encouraged.

The hike is limited to 15 participants.

Advance registration is required by Wednesday, Aug. 7, by emailing Sparks at jim2carrie@embarqmail.com or calling her at (276) 783-2125.

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