Rockin' The Vine Since '99

Putting a Bow Tie on Tarara Summer Concert Series

Article by Melinda Gipson

Photography by Alex Mangione Photography and Alimond Photography

Originally published in Leesburg Lifestyle

They’ve been “Rockin’ the Vine Since ‘99” at the Tarara Summer Concert Series (tararaconcerts.com), located at Tarara Winery, about 15 minutes north of Leesburg. But Rusty Foster, President, Bow Tie Strategies, and his team have made the production their baby since taking over management in 2016. The weekend concerts, which have drawn as many as 4,000 people each, had grown to the point that the Concert Series required professional event management. Rusty – who loves music, has a passion for community and is well-connected as a ninth-generation Loudouner – and his team seemed like the perfect people to produce the events and to leverage its popularity for local philanthropy.

Rusty’s boutique public relations and event management firm raises awareness for marquee clients like Loudoun United, Dunlap Bennett & Ludwig, the YMCA, ION International Training Center, FC Barcelona, Ms. Veteran America and Keane Enterprises, to name a few. The Bow Tie Fund, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, was created in 2014 as a fundraising vehicle focused on education and the arts with an emphasis on single-parent households. Because he says, “I grew up in a single-parent household and I know the struggle single-parents go through to make ends meet.” He became committed to philanthropic organizations that support such families, and to helping kids raised in single-parent households with scholarships to receive a quality education. His mother’s mantra: “never wonder what if and receiving an education is your key to advance in life.”

All a graduating high school senior needs to do to apply for a Bow Tie Fund scholarship is be from a single-parent household, send Rusty a letter explaining why they deserve assistance and what it’s for, whether a four-year, community college or technical school degree. At Loudoun County High School and through college, Rusty himself was active in concert band, marching band, and choir. So, as time went on, the Bow Tie Fund supported local band programs. One example, Park View High School in Sterling won his support for various worthy projects because of the high quality of education it provides and because 75 percent of students there receive free or reduced-price lunch assistance, so most Park View’s students fall on the less affluent end of the spectrum among county residents.

Last year alone, the concert series generated more than $30,000 for Loudoun non-profits: virtually every dollar that doesn’t pay the performers and the staff, manage the venue and save a little bit for the following year’s preparation, goes toward the Bow Tie Fund. This year, that means 19 separate events will kick off on Memorial Day Saturday and run through the last Saturday in September. Music ranges from 60s British Rock to 70s, 80s 90s and 2000-era hits, Disco, Country, Southern Rock, Soul and tribute bands for The Eagles and Bruce Springsteen – something, in other words, for everyone.

Individual tickets for over 21 are $20 plus fees online, $10 plus fees for guests under 21, or $25 and $10 at the gate the day of the concert. The most cost-effective way to create a great soundtrack for your summer is to buy a Concert Club Pass for the entire season at $175, which guarantees the attendee admission to each concert, offers early admission and a 10% discount on alcohol purchases. In addition, the Concert Series is the perfect opportunity to host a business gathering for clients or employees, a birthday or anniversary celebration. Private tents are available for reservations complete with tables with black linens, chairs, souvenir wine glasses, a custom sign and concert ticket for each guest at a cost of $45 each for a minimum of 16 guests. The Bow Tie team will even find you a great catering option. The offering is so popular, it is already sold out for five concert dates!

One unique benefit of the experience is access to exceptional Tarara wines – two reds, two whites and one Wine of the Week, which will be available for purchase on site. We say unique because in March 2021 Tarara, one of Virginia’s oldest wineries, announced that, after 32 years, it would close its tasting room. So, if you’re longing for Tarara’s exceptional “Long Bomb” red, you’ll need to buy a concert ticket.

For the beer lovers, Rusty partnered with Loudoun Brewing Co. to keep crowds refreshed with an American style IPA called Tie One On, a blonde ale with a tangerine twist called Fit to be Tied, a boysenberry-peach seltzer called Ends in a Tie, and new this season, a beer of the week, all of which were specifically created for the Tarara Summer Concert Series.

It would certainly be hard to replicate the magical Tarara setting, which has grown to be the largest outdoor concert venue in a 40-mile radius. “The lake backdrop is beautiful and makes for the perfect setting for a Saturday night during the summer.” As for what comes next, Rusty says, “[w]e'll cross that bridge when we get to it. We’re just enjoying each concert right now.”

Or as they sing to the stars in Tarara’s back meadow, It’s a Great Day to Be Alive, Don’t Stop Believing, and The Show Must Go On.

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