Friday, September 8, 2017

10 fun facts about ‘Foamhenge’ at Cox Farms

The year 2017 marked the first of Foamhenge’s new home at Cox Farms in Northern Virginia. You might be asking yourself at this point, what in the world is Foamhenge? 

If you haven't heard of it and are wondering, it’s a unique piece of art which is a life-sized foam reproduction of the historic Stonehenge in England. 

Foamhenge in Natural Bridge Virginia

Where did it come from? Who created it? How did it end up at Cox Farms? If you're still wondering, read on.

10 fun facts about Foamhenge

1. Foamhenge was built in 2004 by Rockbridge County-based artist Mark Cline of Enchanted Castle Studios. For more than a decade he maintained the unmarked, yet very popular, site which was located in Natural Bridge, Virginia.

2. Cline originally designed and built Foamhenge as an April Fool’s Day stunt. Cline has told the media he never thought it would last more than a year. Instead, it lasted for 12. And it wasn’t dismantled out of lack of interest either (the attraction gained a sort of a cult following over the years), it was a forced removal which took place in late August 2016.

3. The pieces that makeup Foamhenge are made of beaded foam and weigh approximately 420 pounds.

facts about Foamhenge
Some pieces of Foamhenge

4. Foamhenge was built by a small group of men and took six weeks to build. Cline was meticulous to ensure Foamhenge was an exact replica of Stonehenge, doing research to see that it was astronomically correct. 

5. The foam was delivered from Winchester, Va. to Rockbridge County by tractor-trailer – it reportedly took four trips!

6. Over the years many people traveling through Virginia stopped at the Natural Bridge exit in search of seeing Foamhenge in person, myself included (I learned about it almost a decade into my Virginia residency. I made a stop to see it six months after I first heard about it. At the time, I didn't know it, but Foamhenge was literally in its last days at its original home).

7. Despite no advertising, signage or anything indicating the big foam pillars stood just off the roadside, up a hill and behind some trees, Foamhenge ended up being featured on The Discovery Channel, Smithsonian Channel, TBS and MSNBC (and the Zippy the Pinhead comic strip too). Not bad for something that was originally a gag! Turned out Foamhenge was really good for local tourism. 

At the old location, a short walk up the hill to Foamhenge

8. A Merlin statue stood at the original site watching over Foamhenge. 

9. Foamhenge was moved in late 2016 as the property it sat on was designated to become part of the new Natural Bridge State Park, which also had formerly been privately owned. Officials gave the reason that Foamhenge did not “fit” with Virginia’s state parks’ mission.

10. After many interested parties from various places in the United States expressed interest in acquiring the unique landmark, Cline ultimately decided to send it to Cox Farms. Cox has since moved it to its property in Northern Virginia.

Foamhenge and Merlin

There you have it – 10 fun facts about Foamhenge. If you want to see Foamhenge in person, you can see it at Cox Farms, which is located in western Fairfax County. Cox Farms is a popular destination for locals and tourists, especially known for its’ phenomenal fall festival and Fields of Fear. Foamhenge made its debut at its new home on September 16, 2017. It's available for visitors limited time frames during the winter, spring and summer (check the link above) but is included with admission to their fall festival.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

16 fun facts about the John F. Kennedy Center

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is a vast cultural center which is wholly dedicated to the performing arts. A highly visible building as you drive over the Potomac River on any one of the bridges from Virginia into the District, the center is one of D.C.’s top venues to see performing arts.

front view of the Kennedy Center
Partial view of the front exterior of the Kennedy Center

The Kennedy Center welcomes millions of people each year to enjoy a show, learn something new or to simply explore the building and what it has to offer. Want to know more?

16 facts about the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

1. The Kennedy Center is located on 17 acres and was designed by architect Edward Durell Stone.

One side of the rooftop terrace at the Kennedy Center

2. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation (the National Cultural Center Act) in 1958 to establish a building dedicated to the performing arts. A few months prior to his death, President John F. Kennedy had signed legislation to expand the newly designated cultural center which increased the number of trustees and extended the time for raising private funds. The Eisenhower Theater, which sits 1,164 people, is named in President Eisenhower’s honor.

3. The newly-designated center was renamed as a national living memorial to President John F. Kennedy following his 1963 assassination. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the bill on January 23, 1964. 

4. At the groundbreaking ceremony in December 1964, President Johnson used the same gold-plated shovel used for the groundbreaking ceremonies of the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials.

5. Opening night for the John F. Kennedy Center was on Sept. 8, 1971. The world premiere that evening was Leonard Bernstein’s “Mass: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers” and was performed at the Opera House.

6. The Hall of States showcases a bright display of 50 flags, each representing one of the states. They are hung along the ceiling in the order they entered the union. U.S. territories and District of Columbia flags are also displayed.

view of the Hall of States, Kennedy Center, Washington DC
Hall of States

7. The Hall of Nations also displays flags. In this grand hall, you can see flags from all of the countries with which the United States maintains diplomatic relations.

Inside of the Kennedy Center Washington DC
Hall of Nations

8. An impressive 630 feet long, 40 feet wide Grand Foyer showcases 16 Orrefors crystal chandeliers. Each chandelier weighs one ton.

9. President Kennedy is honored by a bust made by Robert Berks; it weighs a whopping 3,000 pounds.

10. The center’s Concert Hall has more than 2,400 seats.

11. The Opera House at the center, with its more than 2,300 seats, is illuminated by Lobmeyr chandelier, a gift from Austria. Its diameter is 50 feet and has almost 2,000 light bulbs!

12. Free performances can be found at the center’s Millennium Stage at 6 p.m. every day. A variety of art forms can be seen, including but not limited to dance, comedy, improv and various types of music.

13. Other performance spaces in the Kennedy Center include the Family Theater (324 seats), Terrace Theatre (490 seats), Theater Lab (388 seats), the North and South Plazas and the Terrace Gallery.
14. Visitors are able to roam the River and Roof Terraces and take in the views of the city and of Northern Virginia. Highlights include the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Washington Monument, Washington National Cathedral, the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery. Boats, kayakers and other water travelers can be watched going up and down the Potomac River.

View of NW DC and to the left is Virginia

15. Along the River Terrace’s marble walls, you can read engraved quotes by President Kennedy that was said with emphasis on the arts in American culture.

16. The Kennedy Center is currently undergoing a massive renovation. Its first renovation since its build, the Kennedy Center will see three pavilions: A Welcome Pavilion, Skylight Pavilion, and a River Pavillion. The new spaces will add studios, rehearsal rooms, classrooms, lecture hall and other spaces dedicated to education. There will also be a large outdoor wall for video presentations, along with a cafĂ©. 

Existing cafe inside of the Kennedy Center
As a long-established and highly acclaimed center for the performing arts, over 3 million people visit the John F. Kennedy Center each year. Visitors are welcome to the center to visit and free tours are offered daily.

Personal observation
Brochure and booklet picked up at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Kennedy Center website