On typical Saturdays in the town of Millwood, Va., volunteers set the 18th-century Burwell-Morgan Mill to work grinding corn, wheat, rye or other grains. They demonstrate the centuries-old method of food production, weighing and bagging the flour, grits or cornmeal for sale, often enlisting visitors to help.
But for three weeks in the spring, and again in the fall, the stones grind to a halt, the water rushing to the water wheel is cut off, and it’s showtime of a different sort.
That’s when Art at the Mill opens.
The show will be open for three weekends, starting April 27 and running through May 12. (Here's the story in The Washington Post on Art at the Mill.)
For a lovely and relaxing way to spend a day or weekend, take a drive out to the Shenandoahs, wander through the show and picnic on the grass.
There's something special about buying real art and being in the surroundings that the artist captured.
But it doesn't always come cheap. The pieces range from a couple of hundred to more than a thousand.
Still, it's pleasant just to wander through the mill and sense the history of a town that feels like it hasn't changed all that much since Revolutionary War days.
I've been to Art at the Mill twice. And I few weeks ago I went to the mill before the show opened to experience the grinding process and so I could write a travel story. Volunteer millers staff it each Saturday from now until Thanksgiving.
In the fall, there's a Heritage Day at the Mill re-enacting a typical day in 1863. Volunteers prepare food using General Daniel Morgan's cookware and spin yarn and weave cloth on a spinning wheel and a loom that are centuries old.
For picnicking, you can bring your own food or indulge at the gourmet Locke "Modern Country" Store across the street.
The store provides top-of-the-line fresh sustenance. And it's worth browsing every inch of every shelf and refrigerator case to discover the local and imported offerings.
The tart raspberry-ale-infused cheese was amazing. There are varieties of olives, marmalades, imported chocolates and more.
Along with art and history, the area has several wineries and the pace is slow enough for biking the country roads and feeling safe. For Civil and Revolutionary War buffs, the area is a bonanza.
Tap the knowledge of the volunteers who staff the mill and you'll be good to go.
Photos: Ellen Perlman
1. Art in the Mill 2. The mill from the back.