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River Creek and Lansdowne Blog: Bluegrass and barbecue festival
The Potomac Club in Lansdowne will be going all out on Sept. 24 with a bluegrass and barbecue festival. It so happens that it precedes a community yard sale on Oct. 1. Is there some kind of connection between yards and bluegrass? Well, first things first. The festival will start at 2 p.m. and conclude at 6 p.m., assuming everyone will get their fill of music from the Jack’s Flat, billed as “Bluegrass Champs and Partygrass.” No weeds intended.

The menu of barbecue pork, pulled chicken supplemented by baked beans, potato salad and a host of other goodies would be enough to draw a crowd. Beer and wine will be on hand as well. The barbecue will be catered by Dixie Bones, which uses hickory wood fuel and meat that's smoked for 12 to 24 hours.

Not to be ignored, the club will have a kids zone that will include a “rock climbing wall, turbo tub, spider climber, moon bounce, and of all things, a “boot camp obstacle course” and “airbrush tattoos.”

This could prove to be the highlight of the year. The costs for attending the event range from $5 to $25, depending on age. Tickets are available at the Potomac Club or call 571-333-1212
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Bluegrass music originated in Appalachia, derived from settlers of Irish, Scottish, Welsh and English migrants in the 18th century. Through the years it has mutated into jazz-like presentations. In the past, it's been known as hillbilly, vocals accompanied by a fiddler and dancing jigs and reels, flat footing or clogging. The name bluegrass can be traced to Kentucky and a certain species of grass.

Tidbits From River Creek

–The member-member golf tournament held last week yielded an overall winner among nine different flights. Tom Moran and Tom Quinly – the two Toms – ousted Harry Faust and Brent Barber in one hole shoot out.

–Author and River Creek resident Engin Inel Holmstrom, a native of Turkey, is fashioning another book in the wake of one entitled “Loveswept,” the story of a Turkish girl, an English merchant marine, a sympathetic American and a not so nice husband.

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River Creek and Lansdowne Blog: Count Dracula comes to Belmont
“Count Dracula, the Musical,” will be performed at Belmont Ridge Middle School, by River Hawk Productions at 7 p.m. Aug. 18 and 19 and 2 and 7 p.m. Aug. 20.

A cast of some 70 middle school students will be circulating on the stage in the show about the notorious Count Dracula. It’s based on the novel by Bram Stoker that was published in 1897 and has since been the subject of stage plays and movies. Irish author Bram Stoker had extracted the character from European mythology in particular and tales from the Carpathian Mountains that form a 1,000-mile arc that juts into Romania. It’s the habitat of many types of wild animals that can feed into the creation of vampires. The name Dracula comes from Vlad Dracul, a 15th-century member of Romanian royalty.

Executive director Jason Augustowski and vocal director Jill Kerr have high hopes after “two-and-a-half-weeks of intensive rehearsals.” Mr. A, as he's known, says, “I’m just so impressed with this incredible cast and crew – so many of whom are rising sixth-graders. In less than three weeks, we’ve crafted a full Broadway production of a very intricate play. They have brought to life complex characters that will shock and wow audiences. I couldn’t be more proud of their hard work and dedication.”

According to River Hawk Productions, “The streets of London in the 1890s were a dangerous and sometimes a messy place.” Actors will be recreating this during the performance with some possible effects on the audience, but they said not to worry – no lasting effects.

With vampires and the like, you can expect some spookiness and the crew recommend that there be parental discretion for children age 10 or younger.

River Hawk Productions came into being in 2012. Since then, they have produced five shows: “Seussical,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Back to the 80s,” “Shrek,” “Tarzan” and “The Little Mermaid.” Having been to some of these, I can testify to the professional nature of the performances, not just in the acting but the staging, the props and sound effects.

Tickets are $10 for reserved seating and can be obtained in advance by visiting lcps.org/tickets. Tickets also can be purchased at the door.

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River Creek and Lansdowne Blog: Jack Kent Cooke Foundation continues its support for education
The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation national headquarters is located inconspicuously in a heavily wooded area in Lansdowne. All of this setting belies its mission in life: to provide financial, counseling and other assistance to “high achieving, low income students.” The program is nationwide and students must submit applications that the foundation reviews and acts on.

I recently had the privilege of meeting Mr. Harold Levy the executive director. Mr. Levy says, “We support 950 students (with a portion of these graduating yearly) and add 235 each year.” He told me that they take their scholars as early as the seventh grade and can successively give them aid through high school; at 12th grade level through undergraduate school and on to graduate school. Their program includes putting students through community colleges as well. The foundation can allocate up to $40,000 a year per student and will accommodate changes in schools and curriculum.

He went on to say that they recently began a new program, Good Neighbor Grants, that awarded $150,000 for “programs in Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C involving more than 3,600 students.” And as Levy describes: “These grants will benefit bright young people, including many from low-income and moderate income families, who live in the metropolitan area where the Cook Foundation is headquartered.”

The recipients of the grants include: 826DC for a young author’s book project; Audubon Naturalist Society for an enrichment program in stream science; The Bluemont Concert Series for cultural and environmental enrichment; Five Star Inc. for introducing college level classes; KIPP DC with college level English classes; Loudoun Youth for leadership training and Traveling Players Ensemble for classical theater.

His explains that, “Programs we are funding will provide high-quality learning experiences to students from elementary school through high school, helping them to reach a new level of academic and artistic excellence and better preparing them for college.”

One of these students, Mr. Dashell Laryea from Sterling, who is now graduated from Yale and working in San Francisco said, “The Foundation has changed my life. Growing up without a father, with a single mother tremendously poor, under the backdrop of an urban environment I had been told that I could only succeed by spitting out four letter words. The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation picked me up, placed me on their shoulders and inspired me to reach for the stars.”

Mr. Levy likened it to having poor kids become “Rhodes Scholars.”
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