Cinema Arts Gets New Chairs Thanks to Crowdfunding

20161223_205501890_iosCinema Arts Theatres in Fair City Mall (Fairfax, Va) has brand new chairs in its theatres. This is thanks to a creative crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. The “Save Our Butts The Seat-quel” campaign raised $112,536 from 1,260 supporters. Quite an achievement considering the family owned theatre was only asking for $100,000 at the start of the campaign.

How do you raise $12,500 more than you ask for? By having great pledge awards! This campaign had eighteen different pledge levels. As little as $5 gets your name on the big screen as a thank you. Thirty people gave for this award. The highest level ($1,000) earned you a … “Get an 8 second video/PowerPoint advertisement or message on the Big Screen before our movies play for 2 months.” Three people paid for this award.

20161223_205719520_iosMy wife and I donated at the $25 level. We received 2 tickets and a voucher for a “combo light” (a popcorn & 2 small sodas). We stopped by the theater yesterday to see the new chairs and watch Rogue One (good movie!) The staff have one of the new chairs on display in the lobby by the front entrance for people stopping by to check out the results of the campaign.

This demonstrates the power of crowdfunding as a new source of capital for small businesses and nonprofits. Come up with a creative campaign message. Add a smart or funny video. Attract supporters with interesting award levels. Back it up with savvy social media marketing. Before you know it, an old theater has new chairs, a small museum as a new exhibit or a small town has new tourism revenue. It’s worth exploring.

Congratulations on a successful campaign Cinema Arts Theatres!!!

Thank you for reading Maryland Travel Stories!

The Visitors Center at Frying Pan Farm Park (Herndon, VA)

Frying Pan Farm Park is one of the Fairfax County Park System‘s hidden gems. This 135-acre operation is a working farm and park located in Herndon, VA. I wrote post about Frying Pan Farm Park with a broader view back on December 9th. This is a closer look at the Visitors Center. As I said in my first post, The Visitors Center can get you started on your journal to explore Frying Pan. It has racks of information and a very friendly staff.

Exhibits at the Visitors Center

Indoor Meeting Rooms for Rental: The Auditorium and The Classroom

The auditorium is 1,800 square feet and can handle up to 200 people. The classroom is 600 square feet and can handle up to 50 people.

The Pavilion behind the Visitors Center

Ellmore Farmhouse & The Resident Curator Program

The Fairfax County Park Authority is always looking for help with preservation. The Resident Curator Program was created with this in mind. The program offers long-term leases to qualified tenants who agree to rehabilitate and maintain historic properties within the county. The Ellmore Farmhouse is located across from the Visitors Center and is available for lease by a resident curator.

The Visitors Center at Frying Pan Farm Park, 2709 West Ox Road, Herndon, Va (Fairfax County) | 703-437-9101 | | free admission | free parking | Call or visit the website for hours, event schedule and volunteer opportunities.

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A Visit to Great Falls Creamery

20161214_164847046_iosIf you’re on a visit to Great Falls Park or the Scott’s Run Nature Preserve in Fairfax County, you must stop by Great Falls Creamery in the Great Falls Village Centre. It’s a convenient break after exploring the trails or watching the waterfalls. I stopped by after scouting the Billy Goat Trail in the park.

Enjoy any of 22 different flavors of ice cream! They can turn any flavor into an ice cream sandwich, shake, float, sundae or banana split if you need something more interesting than your standard scoop on a cone. Turn your ice cream into a work of art with the 11 available toppings. Don’t forget to get your loyalty card stamped! Buy 10 cones, get 1 free.

It’s a creamery so they carry a small selection of dairy, baked products, drinks and snacks.

One note about finding this place. It’s located on the back end of the shopping center and has a small sign in front. You’ll miss it if you blink at the wrong time while driving by. Also, they’re happy to take your credit card as long as it’s not American Express.

Great Falls Creamery / 766 Walker Rd, Great Falls, VA 22066 / (703) 272-7609 / Facebook / Twitter / Yelp Reviews

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Frying Pan Farm Park – Family Fun in Herndon, VA

frying-pan-farm-park-signFrying Pan Farm Park is one of the Fairfax County Park Authority‘s hidden gems. This 135-acre operation is a working farm and park located in Herndon, VA.

Families are welcome to visit the animals at the Kidwell Farm or explore one of many historic buildings. Top of the list of buildings to visit is Floris Old Schoolhouse (1911) and Moffet Blacksmith Shop (1904). You can shop at the Country Store or take a wagon ride. Learn to ride a horse at the equestrian center or see a show at the indoor arena. Attend one of the many events scheduled throughout the year. Explore the woods and trails around the farm. There’s plenty to see and do.

frying-pan-farm-park-mapThe Visitors Center can get you started. It has racks of information and a very friendly staff. Take a few minutes to visit the small museum at the center. Learn about the Frying Pan’s history, local wildlife and Fairfax County’s conservation programs.

A program currently held at the Visitors Center is Bluegrass Barn. It’s a series of Sunday evening concerts held annually from September through April. There are 4 concerts remaining in the 2016/2017 season. The last concert is scheduled for April 9, 2017. Food & drink will be available for purchase. Check the website for performers, dates and tickets.

Tips for your visit:

  1. Dress for the farm – this is a working farm so wear shoes you don’t mind getting dirty (or muddy).
  2. Bring a little cash – it’s free to park and visit Frying Pan but there are fees to take a wagon ride, a ride on the antique carousel, a horseback riding lesson or buy snacks in the country store.
  3. Check the website for coming events – Find out about holiday events, concerts, festivals and a farmer’s stand that take place at Frying Pan. Some events require tickets purchased in advanced.
  4. Check the website for hours – The farm, park and trails are open from dawn to dusk. However; the Kidwell Farm, Visitor Center, Country Store, Indoor Arena and wagon rides have separate hours that change during the year.
  5. A few of the historic buildings are only open during special guided tours – Call 703-437-9101 for more information.
  6. Visit the Parktakes Online website to get a list of classes and programs available across all Fairfax County parks.
  7. Leashed pets are welcome.

Available Services:

  1. Birthday party packages
  2. Event ballroom for weddings and events
  3. Meeting rooms rentals
  4. Demonstration gardens
  5. Youth, scout, school and summer camp programs
  6. Exhibits in the Visitors Center
  7. Picnic tables
  8. Shelter rental
  9. Playgrounds

Support the park:

  1. Friends of Frying Pan Farm Park – Donate or become a member of a nonprofit dedicated to Frying Pan. This organization provides recreational opportunities, educational programs and preservation. Members are invited to special events. Follow their page on Facebook for updates!
  2. Fairfax County Park Foundation – The foundation supports all Fairfax County Parks by raising private funds and obtaining grants for the parks system.


I hope you enjoy the Frying Pan Farm Park. Thank you for reading Maryland Travel Stories!

A Visit to Lake Anne Brew House

img_1211I had three good reasons to visit the Lake Anne Brew House Sunday. First, the brew house is located in the historic Lake Anne Village Center in Reston, VA (Fairfax County). The shopping center sits at the end of Lake Anne. It makes a pleasant backdrop for shopping, eating and people watching. My wife and I like this area but we don’t get to visit much.

Second, to check out the award winning beer! Two of the beers at the Lake Anne Brew House earned the 2016 Virginia Craft Brewers Cup. Their “Lord Fairfax English Pale Ale” placed 2nd for a British Bitter. Their “Reston Red” placed 3rd for an American Amber Ale.

And third, to meet the business dynamo at the head of this female-owned nano-brewery. Melissa Romano and her husband started the brewery six months ago. I learned about this start-up when I contributed to their Kickstarter campaign back in September 2015. They raised $26,000 from 191 backers to help get the business off the ground. Congratulations to this hard working couple with their creative way to help finance a business.

img_1214There’s a couple things you should know for your visit. Get the correct address from their website before you drive there. You need a special address entered into GPS. You’ll get lost if you use their mailing address.

Next, they have snacks for sale but no food is served at the brew house. They have a great solution to this. The brew house has a menu with food items from the nearby Kalpso’s Sport Tavern. Order food from the tavern and a server will bring the food to your table at the brew house. More creative thinking and a good partnership with a nearby business.

Now you have three reasons to visit as well. Grab a few friends for some great beer and a great view!

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Adventure Walking: Walking for Fun and as a Sport

dreamstime_xs_33529235 - Walking WoodsImagine walking through dense woods. You’re surrounded by trees as far as the eye can see. You’re walking on a path perfectly carved in front of you. You’ve never been in these woods before but you know where you’re going. Someone has marked the trail to guide you along the way. You breathe fresh, clean air as you make your way and your in the company of other walkers. You’re taking a walking adventure through the woods.

Imagine walking through a picturesque small town. You pass small shops and restaurants along the main street. Any minute, you expect to see a sign welcoming you to Mayberry or a similar town from a TV show. You take a turn at the barbershop and there stands the Town Hall. A building built over a hundred years ago and still being used. You have all the details because you have directions with points of interest and fun facts. Someone gave it to you at the start of your walking adventure through a small town.

You can walk through a Civil War battlefield or along the shoreline in a state park. You can explore an antique row or view historic architecture. A world of adventure (and exercise) awaits you in volkssporting (or volksmarching).

What is volkssporting? There are clubs around the United States that plan walking, hiking and bicycling events. These events take place nearly every weekend. Find your local walking club for a list of events near you (or check here). There’s a small fee (usually $3.00 per person) to receive the map, directions and information for the event. Each event has a 3.1 mile (5 km) or 6.2 mile (10 km) option. It’s noncompetitive so you walk, run, hike or bike at your own pace. It’s family friendly so bring the kids.

Each event has a startpoint and an endpoint. Your local club will list the event and its startpoint. Drive to the startpoint. Pay the fee for the package of information and start walking. The instructions will guide you along the way. Long-time walkers are happy to answer questions at the startpoint and along the event.

The Maryland Volkssport Association has 7 clubs listed:

  1. ANNAPOLIS AMBLERS – Annapolis, MD

The Northern Virginia Volksmarchers Club is also very active.

Give is a try! Some events coming up are:

  1. 04/16/2016 – Port O’ Bladensburg Event – Bladensburg, MD
  2. 04/23/2016 – Washington Grove & Gaithersburg – Gaithersburg, MD
  3. 04/25/2016 – Night Walk Alexandria – Alexandria, VA
  4. 04/30/2016 – Montpelier 20th Annual Festival of Herbs, Tea & the Arts – Laurel, MD
  5. 05/07/2016 – Walk Around the World -Embassy’s Open Houses – Washington, DC

Enjoy the adventure. Get the exercise!

Thank you for reading Maryland Travel Stories!

Obscura Day 2016 is Coming. Are You Ready to Explore?

Obscrua Day

Atlas Obscura (a media organization) plans events all over the world on “Obscura Day”. The events are adventures, excursions and tours. There are over 150 events planned in 35 states and 25 countries for 2016. The ideas is to get people out exploring the world near them on this one day. Find an adventure near you! The events planned for Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Maryland are as follows:

  1. ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA – Taverns & Women & Chocolate (Oh My!) – Come learn about what it took to live the tavern life while enjoying an 18th century chocolate drink!
  2. BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – The Hunt for the Mummified Mole Paw – Stop by Bazaar this Obscura Day to try your luck at finding the paw!
  3. FAIRFAX, VIRGINIA – Behind the Scenes at the National Firearms Museum – Join us for a special tour of the NRA National Firearms Museum, where thousands of historic and unusual firearms are waiting.
  4. MT VERNON, VIRGINIA – The Famous Fakes, Forgeries & Frauds of George Washington – Prepare to enter the world of deception where fake, forged and fraudulent George Washington artifacts can elude even the experts’ eyes.
  5. SILVER SPRING, MARYLAND – Save Our Seminary – Join us as we explore long-forgotten National Park Seminary with the non-profit that’s saving it.
  6. WASHINGTON, D.C. – Protecting the Capitol – From legendary stones to a hidden fort, join us as we discover what protected the Capitol.
  7. WASHINGTON, D.C. – Twilight at Tudor Place – After a day full of exploring, join us at Georgetown’s Tudor Place for music, drinks, and merriment.
  8. WASHINGTON, D.C. – Get Your Bearings at Compass Coffee – Join us bright and early at Compass Coffee to get your Obscura Day 2016 started off in the right direction.
  9. WASHINGTON, D.C. – Houdini Escapes DC – Join us as we explore Houdini’s connection to Washington DC and create a little magic of our own.
  10. WASHINGTON, D.C. – Cut It Off! An Amputation Demonstration – Watch as a skilled medical historian amputates a (model) leg using Civil War-era surgical tools.
  11. WASHINGTON, D.C. – Legends of the Octagon House – Join us as we go behind-the-scenes after hours at the District’s most notorious house.

Don’t live in the DC metro area? Check the website for an adventure near you.

Thank you for reading Maryland Travel Stories!