Saturday, May 20, 2017


It’s official, Goochland is the Richmond region’s playground. Our county was recently recognized as a “2017 Playful City USA Community” by KaBOOM!, a national non-profit organization dedicated to bringing balanced and active play into the daily lives of all kids. The Playful City USA program honors cities and towns across the country for putting the needs of families first so kids can learn, grow and develop important life skills.

The press release about the recognition is available in its entirety on the county homepage It explains that communities selected make a concerted effort to provide active play environments for children and the community at large. Active play, the group contends, is a good way to build social networks and create connections whose benefits extend far beyond physical well-being.

The Playful City designation concentrates on the county’s efforts to expand parks and playgrounds and collaborate with local non-profits like the Goochland YMCA, GYAA, GUSA, and others, to leverage resources for the betterment of all. The county Parks and Rec department is continually expanding its offering of programs and activities for all ages. Offerings for adults, for instance, include programs on both kick boxing and salads.

A good example of this collaboration is Tucker Park by the Maidens bridge. A few years ago, the county brought the property, one of the few places in the county with access to the James River that does not involve crossing CSX railroad tracks.

Interested citizens soon formed “Friends of Tucker Park” that worked with the county to transform a wild spot on the river into a recreational mecca. Walking trails with benches perfect for watching the river roll by; a rain garden; a simple performance stage; a Sycamore grove to honor the late Don Charles, who first glimpsed the possibilities in the site; and the latest addition, a canoe launch on the eastern side that is home to an LL Bean Discovery School.

Other parks and walking trails are spouting around the county. The long neglected former middle school is blossoming into the Central High School Cultural and Educational Center, complete with athletic facilities and walking tracks. Hiking trails in the east end of the county are in the works.

There is lots more to do in Goochland.

We have the Goochland Drive-In Theater in Hadensville. As Goochland is horse country, there are several equestrian venues. Orapax Hunting Preserve has been named the number one hunting destination in Virginia. We have wineries, breweries, and a cidery continually creating imaginative and award-winning, potent potables.

Annual events like Rassawek (coming up June 3 and 4; Field Day of the Past ( for a trip back to simpler times; Bethlehem Walk, which gives special meaning to Christmas; and Fourth of July fireworks are local life savors.

Our history can be recreation. Walk on the courthouse green (come this Sunday, May 21 at 3 p.m. for the dedication of interpretive markers there) and see the old stone jail. Our Circuit Court House, has been dispensing justice for nearly two centuries.

Tuckahoe Plantation, where Thomas Jefferson may have learned to read, often hosts events and is a movie and TV star. The AMC series Turn was partially filmed there, with each of its distinctive entrances playing different homes in different cities.

Cyclists love to pedal our winding narrow roads, and tubers, unable to read maps, often fail to realize that the James River does not parallel Route 6 and it can take twelve hours to float from West View on the James to Maidens, a half hour trip by car. Signs have been placed along the river to make this clear, let’s see how many have to be rescued this summer.

Events put on by local groups, fire-rescue companies; churches, civic organizations like the American Legion are other way to weave the distinctive thread of every individual into a strong and colorful tapestry of community.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of recreational opportunities in Goochland. Kudos to the county for its efforts to bring folks together while having fun. See the Parks and Rec section of the county website for more information.

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