This is my tribe: ColorVibe Manassas 2014

For the past seven years, I’ve been volunteering with Neighborhood Services in Manassas on their community projects. Why? Because they’re fun. You get dirty hauling tires out of a creek, you work side by side to encourage residents to take responsibility for their hazardous waste and recycling and help clean up their neighborhood or you clear plots for a community garden and come back two months later and see people sitting in their lawn chairs among growing vegetables, sharing stories and showing off a stamp collection. It’s fun — 1 By Youth, Big Day of Serving, Neighborhood Conference, National Night Out Against Crime, road trips to the Virginia State Neighborhood Conference and the National NUSA Conferences.

The ONE TIME I’m too busy to volunteer and they have a gigantic free-for-all, spraying colored cornstarch all over each other on the streets, all in the name of raising money for summer learning.

Manassas Mayor Hal Parrish and School Board Member Pam Sebesky at the Manassas ColorVibe 5K - Photo by Linda Hughes.

Manassas Mayor Hal Parrish and School Board Member Pam Sebesky at the Manassas ColorVibe 5K – Photo by Linda Hughes.

It happened last Saturday, Sept. 13. More than 4,000 people of all ages and abilities lined up to walk, run and get sprayed with color. I heard later the City of Manassas ColorVibe 5K was a huge success, raising more than $4,000 for Manassas City Public Schools’ summer enrichment programs.

The photographs taken by professional photographer Linda Hughes were outstanding. They were all over Facebook, along with eerie, glowing shots of streets or streams colorized for a brief time by the cornstarch and biodegradable coloring. (Here’s a shot by Victor Rook)

ghostly blue street aftermath by Victor Rook

ghostly blue street aftermath by Victor Rook

There was a block party complete with music and dancing as racers crossed the finish line.

Who had fun in Manassas last Saturday? 4,000 colorful people did. Photo by Linda Hughes.

Who had fun in Manassas last Saturday? 4,000 colorful people did. Photo by Linda Hughes.

When people ask at these state or national neighborhood conferences, “what builds community?” The answer is, wonderful events like this that allow people to have fun and raise money for a good cause — summer learning for kids. Thanks, City of Manassas Neighborhood Services.

Books, Bites and Beer at the Hylton Center Sept 18

Scallop ceviche is featured in Claudia Lefeve's novel set in Texas.

Scallop ceviche is featured in Claudia Lefeve’s novel set in Texas.

The fancy title is “Haute Cuisine at the Hylton,” but for the local writers of Write by the Rails, the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club, who have been working over the past several months to promote the event and get the word out to other writer groups, local libraries and bookstores, coffee shops and poetry open mics and restaurant suppliers and chef programs in schools, we’re ready to get down for Books, Bites and Beer, the finale event of George Mason University’s fantastic eight-day, multi-location book festival, now in its 16th year. This is the second year they’ve had a Prince William event and Write by the Rails is proud that four of our members are part of it.

Read Manassas author Belinda Miller’s Winterfrost, part of the Phillip’s Quest Series, and you may find yourself whipping up a batch of Ivy’s Tater Dumplings (gnocchi) with Phillip’s Hazelnut Sauce (marinara with hazelnuts) in the kitchen. It’s her mother’s recipe, and it’s in the back of the book. You’ll find the recipe for her mother’s Pine Nut Cookies (Amaretti con Pignoli) in her newest book, Above the Stars.

Pignoli is featured in Belinda Miller's book, Above the Stars.

Pignoli is featured in Belinda Miller’s book, Above the Stars.

“Those are three recipes she always served at Christmas,” said Miller. “They mean ‘familia’ – family.”

Belinda Miller is one of the featured writers at Haute Cuisine at the Hylton, a Fall for the Book event this Thursday, Sept. 18 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Hylton Performing Arts Center, 10960 George Mason Circle, Manassas, on the Prince William Campus of George Mason University. The event is free.

While Miller talks with fans of Ragwort Chronicles, Chef Anthony, a friend and former chef at the Stanley Hotel in Estes, Colorado, will be handing out samples of her gnocchi with hazelnut sauce, prepared by Miller’s friends, Ciro D’Augustino, of Ciro’s Italian Pizzeria in Centreville and Andy Travers (100 pignoli). “They wouldn’t let me cook,” she said.

Novelist Claudia Lefeve will bring her new Texas-based crime novel, “Destined for Trouble, a Jules Cannon Mystery,” to the at the Hylton event, along with her husband, Dave Lefeve, a chef at The Cock and Bowl restaurant in Occoquan. Chef Dave will be serving samples of scallop ceviche, a dish featured in the fictional town of Trouble Island, where Lefeve’s main character comes to the rescue of a friend who is the prime suspect in the murder of a local restaurant owner. Haute Cuisine at the Hylton is all about mixing up food and fiction or, at least, flair.

The event starts at 6:15 p.m. with a food writing workshop led by Jason Shriner, the Aubergine Chef, familiar to many for his popular and affordable baking classes at the Manassas Park Community Center.

At 7 p.m., headlining novelist Laura Florand takes the stage to discuss her bestselling and award-winning Amour et Chocolat series, including The Chocolate Thief, The Chocolate Kiss, and more. Now a lecturer at Duke University, Florand is very dedicated to her research into French chocolate.

For patrons who with that sudden craving for chocolate, at 7:30 p.m., individual stations open for tastings, demonstrations, and discussions by a variety of chefs and food celebrities, including Robert Kingsbury of Kingsbury Chocolates and Confections, distributed throughout No.Va. and D.C.; Amy Riolo, author of The Mediterranean Diabetes Cookbook, and Joe Yonan, food and travel editor of The Washington Post and the author of Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook.

Miguel Pires, owner of Zandra’s Taqueria, and recognized as Top 40 Under 40 Rising Stars in Full Service Restaurants Magazine in March 2014, will be giving patrons a sneak peek at the fare available at his new restaurant opening in historic downtown Manassas.

Zadra's Taqueria in Historic downtown Manassas

Zandra’s Taqueria in Historic downtown Manassas

Representatives of Heritage Brewing Company will offer samples of their organic and locally sourced craft beers, direct from the tasting room of the veteran owned and operated microbrewery on the outskirts of Historic Manassas. They’ll be sharing news about their new “Freedom Isn’t Free” canning line.Heritage

Prince William Poet Laureate Robert Scott in Williamsburg - yes, his books are in the stacks.

Prince William Poet Laureate Robert Scott in Williamsburg – yes, his books are in the stacks.

Recently appointed Prince William County Poet Laureates Robert Scott and Alexandra “Zan” Hailey, also members of Write by the Rails, will be in the house, sharing original food poems and the latest news about their ongoing community outreach – Zan’s Ekphrasis program and Robert’s 10,000 Poems project.
Prince William Poet Laureate Zan Hailey in Williamsburg

Prince William Poet Laureate Zan Hailey in Williamsburg

Both just returned from making waves in Williamsburg as part of a Poetry Society of Virginia event.

The second annual Haute Cuisine at the Hylton is sponsored by Write by the Rails, the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club.

Admission is free and open to the public.

For more information on the complete schedule of Fall for the Book events—taking place Sept. 11-18 at George Mason University and at locations throughout VA, DC, and MD—visit www.fallforthebook.org.