Archive for July, 2013

In Commemoration Of The Civil War Susquicentennial
To Sold Out Crowds


In October of 2011, Robert Ruffin productions presented “Kiss My Little Girls – 1861” by Robert Ruffin with Jeff Toalson as part of the Civil War Sesquicentennial Commemoration at Arts on Main in Gloucester. The play sold to overcapacity houses and received 6 standing ovations out of 8 performances.

The play was based on Jeff Toalson’s book “Send Me a Pair of Old Boots and Kiss My Little Girls” which documents the real- life letters written between husband and wife Richard and Mary Watkins of Prince Edward County, Virginia throughout the course of the Civil War.

“Kiss My Little Girls – 1861” is intended to be the first installment in a four part series following the lives of Richard and Mary Watkins.

Richard, a plantation owner and lawyer, enlisted in the 3rd Virginia Cavalry in 1861 as a private, eventually rose to the rank of Captain and served in almost every major campaign in the Eastern Theatre until he was disabled from a wound in 1864. He served in the Peninsula Campaign and fought in the Battles of Yorktown, Williamsburg and Seven Pines. He also served at the Battles of Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, and Petersburg; rode on Stuart’s “Great Ride” around the Union Army and rode over 600 miles during the Shenandoah Campaign.

Mary, thirteen years Richard’s junior, struggled to maintain a large plantation, three daughters and her extended family through famine, pestilence, plague and Yankee raids.

The play began in 1870 as Richard and Mary mourn the loss of their two youngest daughters to a diphtheria epidemic. In an attempt to assuage their grief, they read their past letters as they struggle with their current marital problems resulting from Richard’s Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). “Kiss My Little Girls-1861” was an epic Civil War Romance and a true-life, intimate view into Southern lives during one of our Nation’s greatest tragedies.

“Kiss My Little Girls – 1861” starred Robert Ruffin, a native of Mathews County, Virginia and great grandnephew of Edmund Ruffin, and Cynthia Janzen, a professional actress from Philadelphia. The play was directed by Mary Wadkins of Mathews, Virginia and featured the Set and Lighting Designs of Matthew Allar, Associate Professor of Theatre at The College of William and Mary and Costume Designs of Cynthia Janzen, owner of the museum theatre company History Firsthand. The production was stage managed by Allison Antonelli of Newport News.

The Play was funded by The Cook Foundation of Gloucester, Virginia, The Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.


Celebration of the Arts

July 29, 2013 @ 6:14 pm
posted by wdtp

The Cook Foundation held its first “Celebration of the Arts” reception on Wednesday, April 13th at the Main Street Event Center. The event welcomed guests who are supporters of the arts and the night’s entertainment was provided by the Cook Foundation 2010 scholarship winner, Noel Miller, who is attending Christopher Newport University as a vocal major. Jenny Crittenden, the Cook Foundation’s Executive Director, welcomed and gave a history of the Foundation and remarked on the many events and projects that the Cook Foundation has accomplished in the last 10 years including the overall support in excess of $500,000 that has been made in the community. Karen Flowe, the Cook Foundation’s secretary discussed the importance of arts education and how the Cook Foundation has been able to successfully bring additional arts enrichment to the Gloucester County schools. Rob Ruffin, of Rob Ruffin Productions, gave a moving speech regarding the impact that Theatre can have in a community and how socialization and the arts are important to everyday lives. Rob is a recipient of support from the Cook Foundation to write and produce a new theatrical production, “Boots and Kisses” that brings to life one of the last known intact sets of letters between a young husband and wife during the civil war. He expects the production to premier in the Fall of 2011.

celebration_of_arts3 celebration_of_arts2 celebration_of_arts1

Leslie Belvin, retired Gloucester school art teacher, discussed how arts are so important to the general community. Leslie coordinates all programs at the new Gloucester Arts on Main as well is a grant recipient from the Cook Foundation. She is developing educational workshops and exhibits for the community to engage in the arts firsthand. The evening was ended with remarks by Adrianne Ryder Cook Joseph, the Cook Foundation’s founder and President. She reiterated how the arts nurture the soul and thanked everyone for attending. The next Cook Foundation event is the Virginia Symphony under the Stars and it is scheduled for Saturday, June 4, 2011, 8PM. For those interested in donating to the symphony event, or to find out more about the Cook Foundation and its mission, please visit or call (804) 695-0700. The Cook Foundation is a private, c3 foundation and therefore all donations are tax deductible. The Cook Foundation Board members are the following:

President: Adrianne Ryder Cook Joseph
Vice President: Carolyn Dudley
Secretary: Karen Flowe
Treasurer: Rachel Burnette


Picture My World Winter 2010

@ 6:11 pm
posted by wdtp

The Cook Foundation concluded its first session of Picture My World for 2010. In addition to the disposable contest, participants could also enter the digital contest. The theme for this year’s contest is “My World Is Unique”. The winners for the disposable contest are: Kaleb Haman (first place), Trish Gurley (second & third place) and Joseph Pethick (fourth & fifth place). Winners for the digital contest are: Deanna Harris (first place), Kimberly George (second & third place), Samuel D. Burton (fourth place), and Amy Troxel (fifth place). The final contest for 2010 will be held in late summer / early fall. At the conclusion of the 2010 season, in addition to standard prizes, the Cook Foundation will also award one grand prize which will be dinner for two at Warner Hall. For more information visit or call 804-695-0700.

Disposable Camera

Digital Camera


Main Street Trick or Treat

@ 6:04 pm
posted by wdtp

The Cook Foundation and the Gloucester Main Street Association held their fourth annual Main Street Trick or Treat on Saturday, October 30th. Over 25 businesses hosted an estimated record number of 3300 children. As an added bonus, families who dined with costumed children on Main Street that evening received a 10% discount from Olivia’s in the Village, Wild Rabbit Café, Bangkok Noi, El Ranchito & The Sea Breeze. We would like to thank the Gloucester County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance in ensuring the safety of all the princesses and goblins during the event. For more information on upcoming events, please visit our websites at or or call 804-695-0700.


ChalkFest 2010

@ 5:59 pm
posted by wdtp

DSCN0373The Cook Foundation held its fourth annual Chalk Fest on Saturday, September 18, 2010 at Carriage Court. This year’s theme was “The Circle of Life” and the featured artist was Holly Winslow of Williamsburg, VA. Best in show was awarded to Michael Kirby. The event awarded a first and second place prize in each category. Best in show was awarded a prize amount of $500 and each first place winner received $250 and each second place winner received $100. The best in show will return next year as our featured artist!

The winners were: Elementary (group) First place: Achilles Elementary, Second place: Botetourt Elementary, Elementary (individual) First Place: Jeffrey Cho, Second place: Faith Ronquest, Middle School (individual) First place: Savannah Winslow, Second Place: Jenna Davis, High School (group) First place: Nancy Milroy & Gavin Stewart, High School (individual) First place: Casey Davis, Second place: Wendy Sparrer, College (individual) First Place: Soraya Teschner, Second place: Mason Muraski, Community (group) First place: Sheila Ernst, Nicole Ussia, Sarah Howland, Second Place: Tom & Melissa Gibson, Community (Individual) First Place: Michael Kirby, Second Place: John Swanlund.

For more information on upcoming events, please visit or call 804-695-0700. Chalk Fest was sponsored by the Cook Foundation, Gloucester Main Street Association, Alistair J. Ramsay L.S. P.C., Land Surveying Services, Gloucester Parks Recreation & Tourism, Gloucester County Sheriff’s Department & XTRA 99.1FM.


Lamppost Baskets

@ 5:55 pm
posted by wdtp

lamppost3It was through the vision of the Cook Foundation that the lamppost basket project began. The Cook Foundation wanted to make a visual impact to Gloucester Main Street that would make visitors feel welcome and residents feel proud. Mrs. Adrianne Joseph, President of the Cook Foundation, remembered as a child while visiting her grandmother in Victoria, British Colombia, seeing lamppost baskets filled with flowers bursting with color and the positive and warm feeling it invoked in her.

So, the Cook Foundation began the process of the preliminary planning and research for the lamppost basket project. After initial research and gaining approval from the County of Gloucester, the Cook Foundation approached the Main Street Preservation Trust with the idea of the first phase of the project.

lamppost2The Main Street Preservation Trust embraced the project by generously funding the first 32 baskets from the historic Court Circle towards the traffic light at Route 14/Main Street. Tidewater Tropicals, a local nursery and landscape operation, was contracted for the planting and maintenance of the baskets. The Main Street Preservation Trust funded the project from 2007-2010 and baskets were added to total 40 along the street. The Cook Foundation has taken management and funding of the project as of 2011. The project would not be possible without the continued sponsorships from the community and the following have been gracious in their donations: Dr. Timothy Leigh, DDS., Hogge Real Estate, Inc. in “Memory of E. Claiborne Hogge”, Marguerite Heyworth in “Memory of Aubrey J. Ellis”, Bangkok Noi Thai Restaurant, Friends of Kitty Wilson, “In Memory of Capt. William Masek, Jr. from his children”, Jeff & Barb Smigel, Courthouse Restaurant in Memory of their son, Ashby, Bob & Lynn Ripley, Robert Hatten, Mr. & Mrs. Steelman Ketchum in Memory of Everette & Louise Ketchum, Kearfott & Julie Stone in Memory of Polly Stone & Katherine Hunter, and Suzanne Hudson in Memory of Ann H. Tunner. If you are interested in sponsoring a lamppost basket, please contact Jenny Crittenden @ 695-0700 or click here to download a lamppost basket sponsorship form.



July 18, 2013 @ 6:27 pm
posted by wdtp
Beehive Poster

If you are interested in purchasing
the Beehives of Gloucester Poster for $20, please call
Jenny Crittenden, Director

The Beehive Project was the brain child of philanthropist, Edwin Joseph. The original shape was created by Carolyn Dudley, Adrianne Ryder-Cook and Philip Wagner from dryer venting and clay. It was painted with vivid pink, white, and red hearts, named “Bee My Valentine”, and placed in front of the BB&T building to arouse interest.

Proposed Designs for the sculptures were reviewed by three judges. Selected participants received a certificate in recognition of their support of the arts. Each Gloucester Public School received a beehive to paint and decorate. In all, 56 beehives were awarded.

Beehives began appearing all over. Completed beehives were assembled along residential Main Street for the public to see. After people walked and examined the statues, they voted on winners. After the vote, the beehives were auctioned to the public – with the exception of school beehives which remained with their creators.

Of the 56 beehives, many remain visible in the county, decorating both public and private spaces. Some have traveled out of state. At least one rests on the bottom of the York River, following Hurricane Isabel. This exciting art project is currently, therefore, both visible and invisible.
The original project was part of the Gloucester County 350th Celebration. The project roused public interest in art and boosted county pride. Participants ranged from elementary students to professional artists. The project directly supported the mission statement of the Cook Foundation and culminated with an auction and celebration which raised money for future art events.

The original Beehive Project launched the Foundation into many new projects and the Foundation now plans to extend efforts to include additional projects in music, dance, writing, and photography.