Virginia State Captial

January 29, 2015

What a packed two days! Yesterday, I left Belle Grove Plantation and head south to Richmond for a very special day today. Tammy Anderson, our Wedding and Events Specialist and I volunteered for the Virginia Tourism and Virginia Film Company day at the Virginia State Capital. We spent most of the morning handing out coffee and talking to those who stopped by about Tourism in Virginia and about Belle Grove Plantation. You know I can’t go anywhere without talking about Belle Grove.

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Tammy and I in the Gallery at the Virginia General Assembly

We met some really great people from the Virginia Tourism Office and put a face on those we have been talking to. We also had the opportunity to talk with several members of the Virginia Film Company. One of the points I made sure to express is the desire of getting more filming here at Belle Grove. Rumor has it that there may be a Civil War movie to be shot here in Virginia. Wouldn’t Belle Grove make a wonderful backdrop for any Civil War movie?

Judy VA Tourism

Judy from the Virginia Tourism Office

Emily VA Film

Emily from the Virginia Film Company

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While at this event, I made appointments to meet with our local representatives. Being “new” to the area, I wanted a chance to see them face to face. And for them to see me face to face. I made up some packets of information about Belle Grove as well as some of the issues and challenges we are facing. You wouldn’t believe how tough it can be getting financial help when your primary business is a “for profit” business. Belle Grove is very unique in that we are not only a small business, but a historic site as well. Puts us in a strange place for lots of things. But we are in the works to remedy this soon.

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Senator McDougal

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Senator Stuart

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Jason, Legislative Ad to Senator McDougal

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Jordan, Legislative Ad to Senator McDougal

The most exciting part of our day came at noon. We were escorted to the General Assembly and seated in the Gallery. After the General Assembly opened. Senator Stuart took the floor. He introduced Tammy and I to the General Assembly and introduced Belle Grove Plantation, birthplace of James Madison! How wonderful to know that it is not on record in the Virginia General Assembly! We are asked to stand and be recognized. Tammy shot some video of the event, however the sound was that good. But no worries! We will be getting a DVD copy of the event to post later!

As we traveled by home, so many things ran through my head. I thought about the number of new people that know Belle Grove Plantation through our meet and greet and from the many brochures we handed out. What “seeds” we planted today! I can’t wait to see what “grows” from them!

Tomorrow we start a new “adventure”. This weekend (Saturday) is my 49 birthday. Yes, I said “49”. I am not ashamed of my age. I earned each and every one of those years. We have planned a wonderful weekend away. Yes, I said “away”. We have taken the weekend off to rest and relax. February is the beginning of our peak time. Things last year ramped up very quickly from February to October. So we wanted to be well rested and ready to work hard for the rest of the year.

So tomorrow start watching our Facebook for another game of “Where in the World is Michelle?” Round 2! The places we are going to see and the things we are going to do! You don’t want to miss this round!

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One more exciting thing we would like to let you know about. Yes, more excitement even after today! We have agreed to be one of the “Deal of the Day” vendors for two radio stations in Fredericksburg. Thunder 104.5 and Super Hits 95.9 will be offering our “Deal of the Day” on Thursday, February 5th. Our deal will be buy a $50 certificate for just $25! This certificate can be used towards a stay at Belle Grove OR towards any of our wonderful events such as the Titanic Tea or our Murder Mystery Game! There is going to be a limited number sold, so you want to be ready to dial in when the deal opens. Starting on Saturday, January 31st, Thunder 104.5 and Super Hits 95.9 will start running a spot to promote our “Deal of the Day”. Tune in to catch this spot and let us know you have heard it!

One more exciting thing about the “Deal of the Day”. On Tuesday, February 2nd at 8:40, I will be doing a live radio interview! I will send out which station soon! I am also checking to see if there is a live stream for those of you outside the listening area.

Well, after my day of excitement and knowing I have a fun filled weekend ahead, I am off to bed! I can’t wait to share all the great things this weekend!!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Diary | No Comments »

New Year

January 26, 2015

Well, how time has flown since our last blog post! And this is January! This is consider one of the slowest month for us! Well things have been jumping like Mexican Jumping Beans here!

OH BOY, WHERE TO BEGIN?

Our Event Calendar has been updated with most of our events for this year. There are still a few more we are working on and hope to add soon. There are some really great events coming up in the next few months that I know you don’t want to miss!

On February 28th, we can having our “Get a Clue” Murder Mystery Scavenger Hunt! We tried a Murder Mystery here for New Years and it was so successful, we wanted to bring it back quickly. We have for scheduled throughout the year. “Get a Clue” takes all the beloved character of the game Clue and brings them to life at Belle Grove Plantation. No board or dice in this game though! You have to solve the riddles to find the clues! We are looking for people to play roles in this Murder Mystery. So if you are a “character” we want you!

On March 7th, President and Mrs. Madison return for President Madison’s Birthday Dinner and Social. If you haven’t had a chance to meet John Douglas Hall and Dr. Lynn Uzzle from Montpelier, you are truly missing out. Their historic performances of James and Dolley makes you wonder if they really are James and Dolley! We start with a VIP Dinner for just 14, that’s right 14 people only! Three courses prepared by Denson Market, a gourmet market and restaurant in Colonial Beach. After dinner, we will retire to the Parlor and Library for a very special Social. This year, we are partnering with the local American Legion for their President James Madison Essay Contest. Local 6th, 7th and 8th graders winners will be invited to Belle Grove Plantation to present their winning essay to President and Mrs. Madison during our Social. This is the first year we are partnering with the American Legion and hoping it will become a long time tradition.

On March 13th to March 15th, Dr. Angela Holocker, Psychic Medium will be returning to Belle Grove Plantation. She will be scheduling Private Readings, one Group Session and one Nighttime Investigation at Belle Grove Plantation. Last October was her first visit with us and we have to say she was amazing! We have several guests who had scheduled readings with her early in the weekend that called and scheduled a second reading! This was a sell out and is one event you really don’t want to miss!

On April 11th, we will be conducting our 2nd Annual Titanic Tea with the Victorian Ladies of Fredericksburg. We will see the return of Molly Brown, Countess of Roth, Mrs. Astor and so many more of the First Class Passengers of the Titanic! Door Prizes will be awarded as well as a prize for Best Tea Hat and Best Period Dress. Our Silent Auction will be returning so don’t forget your pocketbooks!

On April 25th and April 26th, we will be remembering the 150th Anniversary of the Pursue and Capture of John Wilkes Booth during our Civil War Weekend. We will have an encampment of troops, demos, presentations and so much more! On the evening of Saturday, April 25th, we will have a Civil War Social with special guest, President Lincoln, General Robert E Lee and General Stonewall Jackson. More information on this event will come soon!

We are excited to inform you that Tammy Anderson, our Wedding Coordinator has expanded her consulting role here at Belle Grove Plantation. She will now be our Events and Wedding Specialist. She will handle all Private Events and Weddings for us. We couldn’t be more excited!
Weddings are really filling our calendar for 2015 and 2016! Can you believe that we have almost filled the month June 2015 weekends with weddings! We have just one weekend left that month! We have also schedule several Wedding Open Houses in 2015. Check our schedule on our wedding page for dates and times!

With February just days away, we can’t forget Valentine’s Day and the month of love! We will be having a very special Elopement and Vow Renewal Weekend on Valentine’s Day Weekend. Our “Seal the Deal” Weekend will be filled with intimate elopement ceremonies in your choice of space here at Belle Grove Plantation! Last year, our most popular space was the Riverside Balcony at sunset. It is such a magic time at sunset here!

We will be offering our special “Romance to Remember” package for the month of February. This all inclusive package gives you everything you need for a romantic get-away any time during the month of February! Roses, candies, In Room Dinner for Two and In Room Breakfast for Two set just the right tone for that intimate time together!

NOW FOR HOLLYWOOD!

As you might know, we were on national television last year on the SyFy Channel’s Ghost Hunters. What I bet you don’t know is, we are going to be on national television again this year in just a few months! We have filmed our second national television show for the National Geography Channel! I can’t tell you the show just yet, but it will be very exciting!
In the last day or so, we have had contacts from two production companies looking to film here at Belle Grove Plantation! Who knows, we might even see a movie here one day!!

YOUTUBE!

We have started uploading videos about the plantation and about the events that go on here. Check out our YouTube Channel and subscribe to catch all that is going on at the plantation! Check out our newest Belle Grove Plantation YouTube Commercial!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAsqm39FmSHlS0sYUSYZHHA

THIS WEEK IS THE WEEK TO WATCH!

We are very excited about this week! One huge hint! Watch our Facebook and other social media sites towards the end of the week! We have something really big to share! It is going to blow your mind!!

Well, I guess I will leave it there for now. This year is going to be an amazing year for Belle Grove Plantation!

Question is, will you be a part of it?

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Diary | No Comments »

New Years Eve Murder at Belle Grove Plantation

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January 2, 2015

View our video on YouTube – http://youtu.be/q30xl5P3DgY

KING GEORGE, VIRGINIA – New Year’s Eve started off as a peaceful day as we prepared for the coming the New Year. We had hoped 2014 would quietly slip away and 2015 would herald a great beginning. Sadly this wasn’t to be for us. By the time the ball dropped and 2015 arrived, we would experience a “murder” at Belle Grove Plantation.

At 7:00pm on Wednesday, December 31, 2014, Belle Grove Plantation turned into Devonshire Manor in the quiet town of Pinehorn. Like Belle Grove, Devonshire Manor is an 18th century mansion on the outskirts of town. It had been owned by the wealthy Devonshire family and is a legendary estate to the citizens of Pinehorn. In their day, the Devonshires were beloved, and treated as royalty, as they owned more than half of the businesses in town.

The Devonshire Manor, like Belle Grove’s mansion, has exquisite architectural features, albeit weathered throughout the years. Weeds and high grass have long since replaced the flowering shrubs and ornamental trees that adorned the property in its day. The remaining Devonshire lineage passed away in the early 1900’s, leaving their estate in the hands of the town of Pinehorn. The townspeople have neglected to keep up with the place, mostly due to the legend that the Devonshires still roam the corridors at night.

The mayor of Pinehorn has made it her quest to remodel and reinstate the Devonshire Manor as a historical bed and breakfast. She believes that the old estate can generate tourism and an income for the town of Pinehorn. Most of the townspeople stand behind her, although a few people are adamantly against her pursuit – stating that the place is haunted and should be left alone.

The mayor cleaned up the dusty cobwebs and hosted a fundraiser bash for the townspeople of Pinehorn. She had hoped to raise enough funds for her remodeling endeavors.

The list of guests saw many of the prominent people of Pinehorn. By the nights end, one of these guests would lay dead on the floor of the library and the rest of the townspeople would all fall under suspicion.

Dakota
Dakota Green, a college student arrived first along with Parker Tankus, a guitarist with the band, Armpit Anguish. Dakota is a nerdy math major at Pinehorn University. You can find Dakota spending most of her time at the library reading or tutoring students to earn a living.

Parker
Parker is a bit antisocial and has been known to have some severe anger management issues. He tends to be extremely judgmental of others and is somewhat of a germaphobe. Rumor also has it that he is considering a break with the band to start his own solo career.

AshtonReese
Ashton and Reese Harvery arrived next at the manor. Ashton is a web designer and Reese is a muscle bound personal training. Ashton has created many of the websites for the businesses in Pinehorn. He is a dedicated friend and is ready to lend a hand. Reese, on the other hand is a recovering school bully. She spent most of her time in school scaring the student body. But she has recently seen the error of her ways and has been working hard to change. Ashton and Reese live together and spend most of their time playing video games.

Peyton
While we aren’t sure when she arrived, Peyton Crownly must have split in behind our backs. Peyton is the peculiar receptionist at the Pinehorn Dental Office. The only way we knew she was here was her ear bending whistling. As a constant whistler, you always know she is around. And even if she isn’t whistling, you can still sense her being there by her uncomfortable stares. Though her periods of silence can make her seem unfriendly, she has surprised many of the townspeople with sculptures of her own making.

JackieDr Feathers
Last to arrive were Jackie Bean and Dr. Furen Feathers. Jackie is the Chief Financial Officer at the largest corporation in town, Greeto Lay Potato Chips, Inc. Jackie is a very friendly kind of fellow however you have to be a little concerned by his continuing rants about governmental conspiracies. Jackie believes the government is always watching and listening. He has discovered that putting tin foil on certain items will block the listening devices used by the government.

Dr. Feathers is the newest person in Pinehorn and certainly the most annoying. She has to always “one up” anyone else’s experiences. As the town’s new veterinarian, Dr. Feather has already made an enemy of Reese Harvey. Reese took her beloved sick snake to Dr. Feathers only hours later to have that snake die under the doctor’s care.

Just as the cocktail hour started, Officer Nelson of the Pinehorn Police Department arrived. This crabby, introverted police officer is the most highly decorated officer of the police department though most think he achieved this through intimidation. Lucky for us he was at the party this evening. Who knew that would need his services, for what they are worth, by the evenings end.

Officer Nelson

After cocktails, Officer Nelson took the townspeople around the manor to show off his knowledge of Devonshire. Moving room from room and deep into the explanation of the architectural features, little did he or others notice the coming and going of some of the townspeople. While upstairs with most of the group, Parker could be heard screaming down in the library for everyone.

As everyone came into the library, gasps could be heard as Peyton lay on the floor…. Dead.

Explanations started flying as each of the guest told of what they knew and where they were. None claimed to be anywhere near Peyton. Arriving on the scene were several detectives, who all started questioning the guests. While questioning went on, Officer Nelson received a preliminary forensic report from one of his officers. This report, while helpful in some ways, pointed the finger of suspense at several of the guests.

The group retired to the formal dining room for a break and time to question each other. Who knew that Peyton was spying on everyone in town? Who was sending out the blackmail notes? All the questions were interrupted by the appearance of Peyton’s ghost. Devonshire Manor really is haunted!

After much questioning, finally the guest list came clean. Each stood up and explained their reasoning for not liking Peyton as well as their regrets of actions they had committed.

Finally, the guilty party stood up and confessed to the crime.

The guilty party was …..

Now I can’t tell you the answer! Who knows we might want to play this murder mystery again!

Thank you to all who attended our first Murder Mystery. It was a lot of fun as each of our guests brought their great acting skills. And we can’t leave out of group of detectives! They would make any Law and Order detective look bad with their very detailed questions!
If you missed out on this Murder Mystery, don’t worry. With the success of this event, we have decided to have more throughout 2015! Watch our website and facebook page for coming Murder Mystery events!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Events | 1 Comment »
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Pictures provided by Chamberlin Photography, Rebekah Beasley Photographs & DG Photography