What: Sprinting piggies, strawberry shortcake and a holy roller rink.
Where: Bluemont, Va.
How Far: About 50 miles, or 75 minutes from Falls Church.
Had enough of the same ol' horse races? Then check out Great Country Farms' unusual take on neck-and-neck action: For the next three weekends, the farm hosts the running of the swine. Three heats of two or three challengers (which, oddly, often bear the names of country singers) run around a small oval track every hour on the half-hour from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Race-pig trainer Debbie Schoeb says she employs the Pavlovian method to get the pigs in gear: a prize of Oreo cookies (double-stuffed, please!). The races are part of the farm's Strawberry Jubilee, which features -- in addition to much ado about the red berries -- hayrides, a catch-and-release fishing contest and a toddler tart toss.
Start your trip in Falls Church, where you'll see Richard S. Beyer's sculpture of a farmer feeding his hogs; some say the life-size, aluminum-dipped carving is a statement on feeding at the trough of government. Next, take a short detour to Thelma's Country Store. The premises are rustic -- it's not often that you see asphalt-shingle siding in this neighborhood -- but that doesn't affect the delicious ice cream you'll find inside.
Need some gadgets or garden supplies? Purcellville's Nichols Hardware is the place to go. The clerks will climb the rolling ladders and search the high shelves and drawers to find a shear pin for your leaf mulcher. Finally, if you feel like you need to work off a few Oreos yourself, take some laps around the Pville Skating Rink. The building, built in 1903, was once the site of the Loudoun County Prohibition and Evangelical Association's annual celebration of godliness and alcohol abstinence.
The Strawberry Jubilee runs May 22-23, 29-31 and June 5-6, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is $5 or a maximum of $20 per car. For complete details, see www.greatcountryfarms.com.
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