By Jonathan Carey
As the days extend further into the twilight and the songs of the cicadas echo throughout the night, here it can only mean the summer season is fast approaching. With the weather reaching well above 80 degrees, cialis Virginians who want to explore their more adventurous side this Memorial Day weekend should look no further than the number of parks located throughout the state, many right here in the Richmond/Tri-City area. From James River Park System in Richmond to Pocahontas State Park, all provide residents with a slice of tranquility and adventure.
Although the official start of the summer season doesn’t begin until June 21st the summer season for parks across Virginia begins Memorial Day weekend. Many of the parks located throughout the Commonwealth offer year-round self-guided, and limited ranger-led tours. Memorial Day weekend ushers in more regularly scheduled park activities and programs that will go throughout the entire summer. Some special events will be taking place on Memorial Day weekend to usher in the summer. One such event will take place at the Amphitheater at Pocahontas State Park in Chesterfield. They will be hosting a concert by the legendary Bill Deal’s Original Rhondels on the 24th of May.
Of course Memorial Day weekend would not be complete without the annual Delaplane Strawberry Festival at Sky Meadow State Park located in Delaplane, VA, May 25-26. This year will mark the 20th anniversary of the festival that unites friends, family, and nature in the cascading shadows of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
If you prefer to bring in the holiday weekend with live music and bands, look no further than the Gathering at the Gap, hosted by the Southwest Virginia Museum in Big Stone Gap, VA on May 25th. The concert is a celebration of Virginia’s deep, rich tradition of bluegrass, blues, and Americana music. Artists such as John Carter Cash and Dale Jett are all set to perform at this year’s festival.
Residents in the Richmond and Tri-Cities area looking for something a little more local have to look no further than the James River Park System sprawling throughout the heart of the city. Visitors can also expect to see a familiar face around the park, Nathan Burrell dawning a new position just in time for the holiday weekend and summer season.
The James River Park System has been under the consistent management and watchful eye of Ralph White for the past 32 years, but just as the sunset barrels over Belle Island, Ralph White has decided to close the chapter of his time as manager of the James River Park system as he announced his retirement. His successor, Nathan Burrell has been told he has some huge shoes to fill, but isn’t shying away from the task at hand, “I’m not trying to fill anyone’s shoes, and instead I’ve cobbled my own so to speak”. Burrell understands the huge undertaking he has taken on, but is more than ready to make James River Park the best it can be for the city of Richmond and its citizens.
“I kind of fell into this job”, stated Burrell who started off working as an intern at the park, which eventually grew into a department wide position as a trails manager. However, if not for a change in major at VCU, this position may have never come to fruition. Originally, while attending VCU Burrell majored in Sports Management, but decided to switch to something that encompassed his love for recreation and the outdoors. That major would be parks and recreation. What really brought Burrell to James River Park was Ralph White, who often would visit the department and give lectures. “I said to myself I want to know what he knows”, explained Burrell, a thought that led him to the rustic trails of James River Park, “I’ve chosen this path and I’m ready to run it, not walk it”.
Burrell has hit that path at full speed and stride. He explained two of the most important things he wants to focus on, as manager, are “protection of our resources and user safety”. Making certain that users of the park understand how to be safe and how to respect Richmond’s biggest natural resource. Through promotional campaigns and seminars Burrell hopes to achieve both goals. Burrell also wants to get more city residents, who lack the means of transportation, out to the park and use the park to navigate the city.
The James River Park system provides city residents with not just a slice of nature in the city, but activities one would have to venture to the outskirts of the Commonwealth to experience. “Adventure recreation is a major part of who we are as Richmonders”, explained Burrell when discussing the number of exciting activities the park has to offer. From snorkeling and exploring the depths of the river to challenging the mighty rapids, the park has a little bit of everything for Richmond residents to experience this Memorial Day weekend and the summer months to come.
One could choose a multitude of ways to spend their holiday weekend at any of Virginia’s state parks, many ways to manifest the “perfect day”. Nathan Burrell suggests a more traditional approach for Richmond residents to spend their Memorial Day weekend, “I say come down to the bike park at James River, eat a picnic lunch on Belle Island and play in the rapids, seems like the ideal day”. Of course you could choose many ways to enjoy Memorial Day weekend and the summer season, from listening to live music to exploring the secrets nature has tucked away undiscovered. Everyone should venture outdoors to enjoy the blissful weather and tranquility of nature with family and friends this weekend.