Fall Foliage: Waynesboro's Prime Time
While it’s not quite time for chunky sweaters and jack-o-lanterns, the weather’s turning crisp and the sky is clear blue. What a beautiful background for the bright colors found in Waynesboro’s Fall Foliage Art Festival as well as in the Valley’s best natural display: the autumn leaves.
Fall Foliage Art Show: October 9 and 10
The Shenandoah Valley Art Center’s Waynesboro Fall Foliage Art Show brings together fine artists and fans of art for one of Waynesboro’s oldest and most favorite traditions, celebrating 50 years this year. Downtown streets will close for this outdoor art gallery where visitors can browse the works and chat with 150 local and regional artists. The festival is juried, which means that a panel of judges has evaluated the work and picked the strongest portfolios. Artwork at the show will include paintings, drawings, photography, collage, blown and stained glass, sculpture, and jewelry. You can also expect to see pottery, textile art, and hand-turned, tooled, or carved woodwork. Along with art, visitors can expect live music and food and craft beer vendors. The art show is held outside, rain or shine. Please leave your pets at home.
Some of the downtown merchants may have special offerings for Art Show attendees, or extend their hours to accommodate more guests. Alpha & Omega Antique Mall will be hosting Antiques on Arch, including a metal sculptor working out front, and a special antique sale outside. The Russell Museum will be offering free tours on the hour, every hour both Saturday and Sunday.
Double knot your running shoes for the annual Fall Foliage 5K and 10K races that wind through some of Waynesboro’s most picturesque neighborhoods. Runners and walkers can enjoy the fall landscaping and the leaves, especially along the South River Greenway as they approach the finish line.
Stop in at the P. Buckley Moss Barn Show and Gallery Open House to bring the colors of the Shenandoah Valley home with you. The artist will be signing and personalizing her work.
Leaf Peeping Along the Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway
The Fall Foliage Art Show only brightens Waynesboro for one weekend, but the leaves will be on display for the next several weeks. Many things like temperature and rainfall determine the intensity and exact timing of the change, but the Virginia Department of Forestry predicts that colors will be at their peak around October 15-25. The shift happens first at higher elevations. Since it’s still pretty green in the Valley, how about leaf peeping along the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park or along the Blue Ridge Parkway? The Skyline Drive stretches north for 105 miles toward Front Royal. Visitors can take advantage of a slow speed limit and 75 overlooks with places to park your car and stretch your legs. Want your 15 minutes of fame? Upload photos to SNP’s Fall 2021 Flickr Group. Your work might get selected for their weekly broadcast. If you’d rather watch the leaves change from the comfort of your couch, check out SNP’s fall color webcam.
The Blue Ridge Parkway meanders south along the ridge and features numerous overlooks with views to the west and east. Interestingly, leaves change first on cooler, wetter, northern slopes and later on warmer slopes, so you may experience a different view looking north and south. Humpback Rock is a short, steep hike that offers a wide view of the Shenandoah and Rockfish Valleys. Variations in elevation make for a multi-colored display.
Both Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway get busy on the weekends during the month of October, so consider a weekday visit, or come early on the weekends. The fall color often lasts through the early part of November, too, if you’re looking for a less crowded time.