In the last few weeks, as I’ve been waiting to go back to school for the last time, I’ve been getting to enjoy life in Charlottesville at a slower pace. With fall approaching, there seem to be lots of fairs and festivals gearing up in the ‘ville. UVA is already back in session and last Friday was “Paint the Town Orange” day, a homecoming pep rally of sorts, to celebrate the first UVA football game of the season. Though the game itself did not end up going so well for the ‘Hoos, who lost to William and Mary the next day, the Downtown Mall was the place to be the night before. I hadn’t seen it so packed in years, with crowds dining outdoors in the perfect weather, shoppers, families, students, and townies alike. The UVA marching band paraded down the mall, cheering, throwing goodies at the crowd and playing the fight song, and making me generally feel proud about being a Charlottesvillian, despite Virginia not being my alma mater.
The crowds also swarmed the mall for “First Fridays”: the open houses for new shows at all of the art galleries around the downtown mall, held on (you guessed it), the first Friday of each month. The McGuffey Art Center is my favorite, both for its variety of artists and of free food during the open houses (guacamole, sugar cookies, giant green olives, YUM).
I also visited the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection for the first time ever. As one of the most recommended free Cville sights, I figured it was probably about time. I took the free tour (Saturdays at 10:30am) through the small but fascinating museum. The vibrant, imposing, and exotic pieces contrast with the beautiful old mansion in which they’re housed. I found it interesting to learn how modern a lot of the pieces and developments in aboriginal art are due to large commissions by Americans like Kluge.
Other late summer activities? Peach-picking a few weeks ago at Chiles peach orchard in Crozet, and an afternoon at the Madison county “Taste of the Mountains” street festival, with all sorts of food and crafts for sale on Madison’s Main Street.