Archive for the ‘Events In Cape Charles’ Category

4th ANNUAL “ART ROCKS THE INNS” IN CAPE CHARLES, VA WAS A BIG SUCCESS

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

Bay Haven 1This past weekend, art lovers on Virginia’s Eastern Shore were treated to the 4th Annual “Art Rocks” walking tour to discover the many creative treasures to be found on the gracious porches and grounds of the 5 Bed & Breakfast inns in Cape Charles. Part of the annual Cape Charles, VA “Harbor For The Arts” Festival, “Art Rocks The Inns” featured numerous local artists showcasing their work on the porches at Alyssa House B&B, Bay Haven Inn of Cape Charles, Cape Charles House B&B, Fig Street Inn and Sea Gate B&B. Attendees traveled between venues not just by car but by bike, golf cart and shank’s mare, and lots of oohs and aahs could be heard over the beautiful art pieces being shown at every Inn. Even Foster, the brown dog mascot of the famous Brown Dog Ice Cream, winner of many awards, came to support the arts.

Lots of art mediums were represented— from painters, potters and photographers to weavers, jewelers and Fig Street 4carvers, plus lots of other artisan types, including copper working and garden art. A myriad of beautiful original creations were on display and available for purchase at each venue. Food “art” was available from Parisian Sweets, which makes gorgeous and delicious handmade macaroons and Bay Haven’s famously colorful homemade chow-chows were on display, along with some juicy looking heirloom tomatoes. Thanks to innkeepers Kathy Glaser, Tammy and Jim Holloway, Bruce and Carole Evans, Donna and Greg Kohler and Chris Bannon for hosting this charming annual event and to the many accomplished artists who participated, it was definitely a delightful afternoon and many who attended when home with a new treasure!

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Clams, Carnivals, Chesapeake Cowboys And A Shriner’s Parade –The 3rd Annual “Shuck and Suck” Festival Weekend In Cape Charles, VA

Friday, August 11th, 2017

DSC_3807“Lots of fun” is how the town-wide 2017 “Shuck” Festival in Cape Charles, VA last weekend is being described. Headlined by the Shriner’s Parade, a favorite part of the weekend — their crazy mini-cars and mini-tractor trailers are such fun and Shriners is a great organization that helps so many sick children, hats off to them !! And of course “kids” of all ages loved the Fireman’s Carnival.

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Over on King’s Creek at the Oyster Farm, several very popular contests pitted numerous talented challengers against last year’s winners, including a clam eating competition, the much anticipated oyster eating contest, the daring Smith Island Skiff race, a cornhole championship, and, of course, the exciting “Chesapeake Cowboys” boat docking competition. New this year, a “Chesapeake Cowgirls” docking contest too. Way to go, ladies!! Lots of lively music out on C-Pier as well as under the main tent, some line dancing going on too. At the Town Harbor, the tall sailing ship Virginia was back in port offering Chesapeake Bay sunset cruises. To top it off, a lively fireworks display at the Oyster Farm. Definitely it was a jam-packed weekend!

 

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Second Season Underway For The Cape Charles, VA Farmer’s Market

Friday, July 7th, 2017

DSC_1671The long awaited second season for the brand-new-last-year Cape Charles Farmer’s Market finally rolled around in May and now the vendors are getting into high gear with loads of summer goodies. ( Hours this year will be from 3-6 pm, rain or shine, from now till October.)  So if it’s Tuesday afternoon, whether you’re a local or a visitor, it’s time for foodies and farm-to-table enthusiasts to break out the walking shoes, a wicker market basket and head out to the spacious, grassy Museum grounds on Stone Road in the little Eastern Shore of Virginia coastal town of Cape Charles to shop for the fine local farm produce… and much more.

 

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I found last year that the best way to tackle the cornucopia of goodies on offer was to take a stroll, making a circuit around the whole Market, to preview all the little vendor tents and the tempting items on offer, then circle back around again to make selections. This proved to be the right strategy again this year. Starting on the north end across from the handsome brick Museum building was Shore Beef and BBQ, where owner Ron was fielding multiple customers drawn by deep smoky aromas and intent on securing some of his delicious beef brisket and vinegar- dressing cole slaw.

 

Mattawoman Creek FarmMoving counter-clockwise, Mattawoman Farms CSA’s counter was heaped high with loads of fresh organic veggies including the most beautiful red and green lettuces, soft yet crisp, just gorgeous. And kohlrabi, which after some indecision I decided I would finally try this year, as well as some tatsoi, a deep green plant similar to bok choi. Mattawoman had tall racks of healthy looking plants, perfect to pop immediately into a home garden. Across the way, the honey guy’s wares were shining golden, the sun glinting off the jars, you could almost savor lush sticky sweetness on the tongue merely by looking at it. At our house, local honey is the go-to sweetener for tea, especially green teas, it just smooths out every cuppa.

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Moving down the line, waving to the Bread Lady from The Bakery at Riverside Farm who had sold out in the first hour. And no wonder, she has fab sour dough breads and at my house we are addicted to her cinnamon raisin bread (which we often buy on Thursdays year-round at the Gull Hummock gourmet shop on Mason Avenue.) Toasted, spread lightly with peanut butter, so divine with morning coffee ! Next door to Bread Lady, a new vendor this year, the cleverly named Kitchen Sync Catering, whose chef, Louise Oliver, is offering a scrumptious menu of prepared foods that can be ordered on-line and picked up at their kitchen at the Eastville Inn on Friday or purchased at the Farmer’s Market on Tuesday. Their samples looked delish, especially the colorful layered salad with a side of cilantro avocado dressing and the chopped broccoli salad with cranberries and almonds with a honey yogurt dressing. Just around the corner, Copper Cricket Farm’s table was piled high with totally gorgeous veggies including crispy fresh spring onions, arugula and Swiss chard.

DSC_1715Further down the line, another new vendor, Lauren Gardner of Parisian Sweets, was offering French style macaroons. Or rather, not offering, since, unfortunately for me, but nice for them, she was also sold out.  But lucky early birds to the Market were able to indulge in her lemon, raspberry cheesecake or mocha flavors. Going to go earlier next week ! Did manage to snag some of Pickett’s Harbor Farm’s just-picked-this-morning peaches though, a favorite of my husband’s, but do peaches compare to lemon or mocha French macaroons ?  A tough decision but one I didn’t have to make since there were no macaroons !  Too many other great vendors to mention here, offering everything from The Flying Pig’s traditionally fermented organic sauerkrauts to organic veggies, local seafood as well as organic eggs and meats from several different local farms. The Cape Charles Farmer’s Market will not disappoint, check it out, 3-6 pm, rain or shine, every Tuesday, May through October

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Celebrating the Fourth of July, 2017 In Cape Charles, Virginia

Thursday, July 6th, 2017

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On July 3, 1776, John Adams told his wife Abigail that when Independence Day came, it should be celebrated with ” pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports… and Illuminations.” Then, voila’, on July 4,1776, the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence and as a country, we’ve never looked back ! Now, in 2017, on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, the historic little coastal town of Cape Charles, VA celebrated America’s 241st Independence Day with the very same traditions John Adams wished for… and more ! This year, the festivities kicked off at 10am with the traditional Parade, the best ever in my book, led by the Color Guard from the US Coast Guard Station Cape Charles.

 

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The Cape Charles Parade is always a marvelous combination of local pageantry, floats, banners, fire company trucks with air horns blasting a loud ” howdy”, antique tractors and cars, horses, kids on bikes, motorcycles, decorated golf carts, etc., from local organizations, clubs and individuals. They march enthusiastically down Bay and Mason Avenues, tossing candy, beads and even a few yellow rubber duckies to the appreciative spectators lining the streets cheering them on ! This year, however, the parade within the parade, the Golf Cart Parade, was truly amazing ! Golf cart entries were dressed to the nines, red, whites and blues galore, flags, balloons, Pom-poms, streamers, banners, signs, Uncle Sam top hats, creativity shone everywhere. Since they are street-legal in Cape Charles, many residents own electric golf carts and a little friendly competition among neighbors resulted in dozens and dozens of fantastic cart entries this year, all the better to enjoy the Parade !

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After the Parade, it was on to the arts and crafts tents and food vendors out on Bay Avenue by the beach. Lots of fun stuff to see and buy. Business was brisk at the Italian Ice stand and yummy aromas wafted from the taco tent and the shrimp po boy tent, with nearby hot dog and burger venders ladling on mustard and ketchup at a fast pace too. Down at the Gazebo, Mistress of Ceremonies, perennial favorite Trina Veber, announced all the Parade winners, including best golf cart float which celebrated the now-extinct Cape Charles ferry and best Novelty entry, awarded to Reid Diggs, who drove his boat-into-a-car conversion in the Parade.

 

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Next up on the events schedule, the “Guppie Challenge”, a fishing tourney for kids, held out on the Cape Charles Fun Pier and sponsored by New Roots. Seemed to be lots of entries, excited kids milling around the LOVE sign, waiting for parents to finish the sign ups. And right next door, the medical assistance tent in case anyone got hooked by their hook… or whatever ! Teams were registering for beach volleyball and the corn hole contest. ( If you’ve never seen Corn Hole played, it’s a pretty simple set-up, a wide tilted board with round holes cut through it, hence the name corn hole ). The object of the game is to toss little bean bags through the not-much-bigger-than-the-bean-bag holes. One of those things that sounds easy but in practice is complicated, no doubt a metaphor for life in these days. ) Out on the Gazebo, live music all day and into the evening, keeping everybody rocking and rolling through sunset and last light.

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My young great-grandkids love the fireworks on the 4th of July best of all. As soon as darkness starts to fall, it’s like a road trip — but instead of “are we almost there ?”, it’s “are they going to start soon? ” Meantime, I’m still fooling with camera settings, hoping to get a few good shots of the fireworks, which seems always to be a challenge. Suddenly, the first loud booms and the crackly sizzles of lacy sparklers. Then oohs and ahhs, the squeals of sheer delight, wide young eyes staring at the sky with amazement as brilliant colors and shapes streak upwards, illuminating the darkness, then fading, softly falling back towards earth. Each seemingly more beautiful than the one before, going on and on and on, until the spectacular Grand Finale, the always perfect conclusion to a marvelous 4th, a Cape Charles 4th !!

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First Annual Live Auction At Lemon Tree Gallery And Studio

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

Crowds Looking at Art 2Another exciting  “First Of ” event in Cape Charles,VA  kicked off recently with the “1st Annual Live Art Auction” hosted by the Lemon Tree Gallery and Studio in Cape Charles to benefit Experimental Film Virginia.  At the door, attendees were greeted with a sparkling limoncello prosecco cocktail before moving on to the registration table (manned by Blue Heron’s own Luisa Gazzolo), then flowing into the main gallery to view the tables laid out with the myriad works on auction. Entitled the “Sail On Sale” and sponsored by GEAR ( Global Exchange Arts Roundtable, a 501 (c)3 non-profit led by Renata Sheppard, daughter of Clelia Sheppard ), the Silent Auction and the Live Auction proceeded simultaneously.

 

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Well-known names such as David Turner, Christine Harris,  Anne Bois and dozens of other talented local artists donated 100% of auction proceeds from the sale of their work to GEAR. Pieces ranged from embroidered wall hangings, oil paintings, prints and carvings to exquisite blown glass, jewelry and bronze sculpture. Gift baskets, a romantic weekend getaway, etc., even an eye procedure, were donated by local businesses for this event. Item # 4, a cocktail party at Lemon Tree Gallery for 20 guests including live music, beer, wine, mixed drinks plus cheese and antipasto platters resulted in some fast paced bidding action.

 

 

 

 

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Crowd and Stage

Several of the donating artists present were coaxed to take the stage while their works were being sold, including Melinda Blanchard, who paints amazing pet portraits. During her item’s bidding, Rosilina, Clelia’s super-soft, super-cuddly long haired dachshund, whose portrait is featured on Melinda’s brochure, made a surprise appearance on stage to the delight of the audience. Auctioneer William Summs kept the bidding lively throughout and by the end of the evening over $5000 had been raised to support this year’s crop of experimental filmmakers. Concluding with musical entertainment by Bruce Brinkley and Scott Wade, it was definitely a delightful evening. Much fun was had by all — especially by the successful bidders!

 

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P.S. A group of nearly 50 experimental filmmakers who will be accepted by GEAR for its 2017 program will arrive here in July and spend 2 weeks living in Cape Charles, creating unique 3-5 minute films centered on the Shore. And the public will be able to see the results when their films are premiered on July 15th at the Palace Theatre. So save the date on your calendar, it’s going to be an interesting evening.

The New Cape Charles Farmer’s Market– Fun And Delicious

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

Farmers Mkt. BBQ StandOn the Eastern Shore of Virginia this summer, Tuesday afternoons  from 4 to 6:30 pm are  a special time in the little coastal town of Cape Charles, Virginia — particularly for foodies and farm-to-table enthusiasts.  It’s a time slot  that lots of locals  ( and visitors too ) have set aside for a visit to the brand new Cape Charles Farmer’s Market.   Located on the spacious grounds of the Cape Charles Museum on Stone Road,  the Market takes good advantage of the Museum’s huge grassy front yard so there is plenty of room for venders to set up little tents to display their yummy wares.  Wicker basket in hand, I traipsed from the parking lot over to the vendor area, not exactly sure just what to expect in the way of  variety so I was  pleasantly surprised  to see so many beautiful fruits and veggies on display, some local artwork too, including some new designs from Mama Girl and tantalizing home baked goodies from Cape Charles Confectionery.  But my first stop was at Shore Beef and BBQ, where owner Ron had smoky good aromas wafting from a sizable portable smoker grill hitched to his pickup truck, folks already in line, buying sandwiches and BBQ by the quart, pulled pork, beef brisket plus cooked-to-perfection ribs.

Farmers market peopleMy plan was to make a big circle, check out all the vendors and circle back around again to make my purchases.   And that would have been a good plan if I had brought a bigger  basket and if I had not stopped to talk to a few friends along the way and ended up having a detailed conversation comparing southern style creamed corn recipes.   Who knew that “with or without bacon drippings” could be a major creamed corn issue– but trust me, it is !   ( And for those like myself, not originally from Virginia, south of the Mason-Dixon Line “creamed corn” does not contain a drop of cream, that is to say, dairy cream. Instead, creamed corn is made by cutting the kernels off the cob and then carefully scraping the corn’s own juices, the cream, from the cob with the dull edge of a sturdy table knife into a waiting bowl.  This can be a pretty messy job, best done with the bowl in the sink to avoid corn splatters all over the counter. Now comes the contentious part, cooking the creamy mixture.  Diehard Southerners almost always insist that sautéing in a generous amount of bacon dripping is the only true method. But transplants like myself often prefer olive oil with a bit of butter added at the end when seasoning with salt and pepper.  And so it goes, where it stops nobody knows, the new vs. the traditional.

 

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Farmers Mkt.ProduceContinuing on with my circle, I was captivated by a lovely display of cut flowers– nothing like a gorgeous bouquet to brighten any room, especially at the great farmer’s market prices, finally settled on the cheery sunny faces of a colorful bunch of long stemmed sunflowers.  Further down the line found some local honey, so great on my Mother’s excellent recipe for fresh buttermilk cornbread, eaten warm from the oven and slathered with butter, then honey.  Saunders Orchard cantaloupes looked great, and so low cal as well as delicious.  At Mattawoman Farms, a local CSA,  some vibrant and crisp Swiss chard caught my eye, a rainbow of colors ready to sauté with chopped onion in …..you guessed it,  a little bacon dripping, finished with a little cider vinegar. Yum.  They also had some good looking kolorabi. I have never actually cooked kolorabi, I’ve looked at it, considered it, but never taken the plunge.  This time was no exception, still haven’t worked up to it, next time maybe.  But their Zebra tomatoes were keepers, small red orbs with golden stripes and so were the really ripe small tomatoes from Copper Cricket Farm, displayed in a sizeable bin and priced at ” select a bunch of them  for $3.00″. By that time my little basket was about full but I headed back to the bread tent for a loaf of sour dough, hoping to try a recipe for an Italian tomato and bread salad, panzanella, that I had seen recently in the Washington Post. Doesn’t sound that great but I’m imagining that fresh artisan bread, lovely ripe tomatoes wedges combined with finely chopped garlic and fresh basil chiffonade, everything tossed in a delicate vinaigrette is going to be worth trying, we shall see.  At any rate, when I got there the cupboard was bare and so the poor cook got none.  But there is always next Tuesday and all the other Tuesday’s until October, so sooner or later a loaf of sour dough shall be available and a panzanella shall be made !

 

HGTV FILMS NEW SHOW IN CAPE CHARLES, VIRGINIA– Redux

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

HGTV 2016They say that good things often come in threes so I’m looking forward to a next time– but right now we are just enjoying the second time that  HGTV, the Home and Garden TV channel,  has chosen  Blue Heron Realty Co. and the charming little historic  town of Cape Charles to film another episode of its very popular home hunting series, Beachfront Bargain Hunt.   Thursday through Sunday a few weeks ago, Cape Charles was all abuzz as the HGTV crew followed Blue Heron’s agent Eva Noonan and her clients as they hunted Virginia’s Eastern Shore high and low in search of that perfect beachfront bargain !   Unfortunately,  the answer to which house they finally chose and why will just have to wait for this fall when the show airs– so, some pleasant suspense for a few months.

HGTV 2015In 2013 when HGTV first chose Blue Heron Realty and Eva Noonan to film an episode of Beachfront Bargain Hunt, the whole Shore was agog. Several newspapers interviewed Eva and ran multiple articles about the then upcoming show.  I got into the act too, following the HGTV crew as they followed Eva and her clients. It was a pretty interesting couple of days, being on the inside and watching the creation of a national TV show episode as it came together, piece by piece.  Just the technical elements are amazing, it’s truly surprising how much can be accomplished by a small crew.  More or less, a show that attracts millions of viewers is created by a couple of  camera operators, a sound person, a jack of all trades who helps manage equipment, run errands and handles miscellaneous details, plus the director– voila’, a show is born !  And it was interesting to watch Eva and her clients get miked up, just the tinest little clip-on mic is all it takes for the sound person to be able to manage everyone’s conversations from what looks like an accordion  strapped sideways around the waist. Of course, an airplane flying overhead brings everything to a swift halt during outdoor shots.  I was somewhat amused to see that, like an army, a film crew travels on its stomach.  Not sure how they did this time, but back in 2013, the first order of the day as the crew gathered in the morning to get started was steaming hot coffee, and lots of it, plus  donuts of course.  And the second order of the day, a couple hours later, was to pass around the menu from whatever restaurant had been selected for lunch that day and then a brief pause so the crew could order to-go lunches.  No two  hour, 3  martini cocktail lunch here– a half hour break and back to business for these guys and gals.

Cape Charles Beach Sunset.2So, now as then, I am really looking forward to the airing of the new Cape Charles episode, once again seeing the town and the Eastern Shore of Virginia on national TV in all its coastal glory. The whole town had its shiny, best self on display. In fact, the local paper put out a call for volunteers to spiff up the grounds around the Cape Charles museum because of its high visibility on the road into town.  Hopefully, once again this show will generate some great publicity for the town, its interesting blend of yesteryear architectural styles, charming coastal ambience, its sparkling soft sand beach and its spectacular sunsets over the broad waters of the Chesapeake Bay.  No doubt that’s why HGTV decided  that Cape Charles, Virginia was and is still a great place for a “Beachfront Bargain Hunt” !

The 21st Annual Eastern Shore of Virginia Harvest An Unqualified Success

Friday, October 18th, 2013
Harvest Fest on Virginia's Eastern Shore

Harvest Fest On The Eastern Shore of Virginia

When you live on  the Eastern Shore of Virginia, as the first week of October rolls around, you can look forward to a few traditional  pleasures– mums start to bloom gloriously, pumpkins appear in riotous hues of orange at roadside farm markets but, best of all, it’s time for the annual Virginia Eastern Shore Harvest Festival,  sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce.  Ticket sales are limited to about 2500 each year and there is no better hangout for an entire afternoon of food, fun, hospitality and some old-fashioned  “howdy-I’m-so-and-so-and-our-candidate-would-appreciate-your-vote”  state and local politics. Ground Zero is the Sunset Beach hotel’s spacious beachfront acreage at the beautiful southern tip of the Eastern Shore , right at the edge of  the mighty  Chesapeake Bay. 

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So Little Time, So Many Seafood Goodies

Although there is always lots of  great local art for sale, the seafood, of course,  is the big drawing card, a veritable cornucopia of Eastern Shore delicacies from the deep,  plus a few harmless veggies ( i.e., French fries and corn-on- the-cob, although this year there was also a salad station,  which mysteriously I somehow managed to miss ).  And for the landlubbers, fresh, local BBQ  and  the ever-popular Southern-style chicken wings do the honors.  First off, the trick is to start out by making a big circle around the entire venue, checking out exactly what’s on offer and then setting one’s eating strategy.  To dive enthusiastically into one’s favorites or to go with  the conventional appetizer/entrée’/dessert  strategy, that is the question.   Personally, I think most folks just dive into their favorite seafoods right off the bat in this all-you-can-eat heaven but almost everybody in our little group went with an “appetizer first” strategy, meaning that first up were the steamed little nicks,  everyone picking up baskets heaped with the ever- so- tender, half-dollar sized beauties, accompanied by melted butter.  And for those who love ice-cold oysters on the half shell,  an army of volunteers was kept busy popping opening these glistening beauties, enticingly  displayed on deep beds of crushed ice. 

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Harvest Fest Winery Tent

Snagging A Nice Cool Glass of Local Chardonnay Wine, Perfect To Accompany An Afternoon Of Munching On Luscious Local Seafood

But, heresy of heresies, here in the land of  prolific clam and oyster aquaculture, I don’t like either clams or oysters!  So, while others were busy smacking lips over the bi-valves, I was moseying on over to the other side of the grounds to scoff up on a nice cold glass of Chardonnay to enjoy with my seafood. On the Eastern Shore we are fortunate to have three great local wineries, Chatham Vineyard, Holly Grove Winery and Bloxom Vineyard.   We’re  not Napa Valley but still, it’s great to be able to brag about having our own wine appellation, the Eastern Virginia Appellation.  And from there I headed straight into the arms of the Shrimp Station tent.  Now I really love shrimp, they are my personal seafood favorite,  but I am very particular about shrimp preparation. Be they steamed, fried or scampied, what reader of  this blog has not suffered through  rubbery, what-the-heck-are-these, grossly over-cooked shrimp ?  I must congratulate the charge’ d’affaires  of  the Shrimp Station  for a job really, really done well.  It’s hard to even imagine the challenges of  on-site cooking for literally hundreds upon hundreds of people,  in an open air tent, with portable equipment,  grappling with the logistics of  assuring that  every single ingredient is on hand, in the correct amount, definitely no possibility of just stepping into the pantry for more.  But to do this with shrimp, which are so easy to ruin with a too-thick, greasy coating or by over-cooking, is even more of a challenge.  But these were excellent,  tender, succulent, crisp in a light, crunchy tempura style batter, congrats to the whole Team Shrimp !   And did I  mention the accompanying sauce, a smooth, mayo- based sauce, delicately seasoned with tangy horseradish, a few spices and a bit of mustard, offering just enough bite  to contrast with the sweetness of the shrimp, absolutely delightful.

Harvest Fest Toadfish Tent

Toads By Any Other Name Would Be More Delicious

After a couple of turns with the whole shrimp thing,  it was off to Toads–fried toads. Not the jumps-out-from-behind-the-flower-pot kind of toad but rather a toadfish toad.  When cooked, they’re just  tiny things, about three inches long and about an inch or a bit more across.  But despite the off-putting name, they are delicious, with a delicate white meat, not fishy at all,  This was the first time that I can recall toads being served at Harvest Fest but they seemed to be very popular and I certainly enjoyed them, several helpings worth.  From there, it was off to the Flounder Station. Flounder is a fav fish of mine,  I especially like it served a la Sting Ray Restaurant’s  style, topped with a  rich Crab Imperial and finished under the broiler until smoking hot and crispy brown.  Totally yum !   Sadly, but of course, the Fest Flounder wasn’t topped with crab,  but it was still very good, tender, with a crisp seasoned coating, very nice.  

 

Eastern Shore Harvest Fest Crabcake Tent

Waiting In Line For Some Savory Crabcakes

While strolling around, scooping up shrimp, toads and flounder, I had also been keeping my eye on the Crabcake Station which been sporting a pretty long  line all afternoon.  However, when you’ve got seafood on the brain and there are savory crabcakes to be had, well, trust me, like the Sirens tempting Ulysses,  those  crab cakes call out,  long line or not.  So, hey girl, better just get in line with the dozens of other folks looking for their crabcake fix.  Presented this year by the well-known Exmore Diner,  prepared on a sizzling grill instead of deep-fried, I did wonder at the outset if these would be worth the wait.  But reaching the end of the line and picking up my prize, a plate of two aromatic crabcakes, made from the famously flavorful Chesapeake Bay blue crab, subtly spiced, with a pinch of parsley added,  delectably rich,  melt-in-your-mouth, I had to say, oh yes, they were worth the wait !

Harvest Fest - Virginia Eastern Shore art tents

Surveying The Local Art Talent

By then, totally sated, I was ready to move on to the Arts and Crafts tents and check out all the  paintings, carvings, sculpture, etc.  Harvest Fest always has always included great variety of local artisans displaying their creative works.  Among this year’s group were  Billy Crockett, a well-respected local carver,  Mary Onley, known affectionately as “Mama Girl“, whose whimsical paper-mache’  figures have become quite famous locally and Copper Creations, well-known for their Nature based copper art figures as well as garden art.  It’s  always fun to browse through, taking in all the beautiful things on display, especially as I have no talent whatever along those lines . I’m  always amazed to see how many really gifted artists we have here on the Eastern Shore and  I love wrapping up the annual Harvest Fest with a stroll through the art tents, a real feast for the eyes after such a delightful feast for the tum-tum.

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A Rollicking Street Festival In Cape Charles For “Benefit by the Bay” 2013

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

DSC_0965Every year one of the Eastern Shore’s primary arts groups, Arts Enter Cape Charles,  holds a major  dinner-dance-auction benefit to raise  funds to pay the mortgage on the Palace Theatre for another year and float  many of its other expenses.  It’s the major fundraiser for this important community arts group and a lot of time and effort goes into planning this event so it will be not only  fun for guests but profitable for the organization. This year’s benefit was  a Street Festival, a Strawberry  Street in Cape Charles, VA festival to be exact.  And  festivals in general are so fun and colorful, the hum of  voices and music blending,  rising, floating above the street, surely they are  the perfect occasions  to get together with family and friends to hang out, let the vibes flow, just have a merry old time.

DSC_0959Guests entered through the front doors of the theatre, which was all decked out for the evening with fragrant  floral arrangements placed in eye-catching corners, then  slipped out the side doors, down a long red carpet and  into the street.  Voila’, overnight a magnificent  transformation of  the first block of Strawberry Street from the usual  blacktop pavement and concrete sidewalks busy with cars and pedestrians into a gorgeous plaza !  Decorated with  leafy  trees in huge,  beautiful pots bedecked with strands of  tiny burnished gold lights,  flower arrangements sporting  a thousand brilliant blossoms, gurgling fountains and dozens upon dozens of  circular tables covered with eye-catching deep rose and teal cloths, the street had become a virtual fairyland of colors, shapes, sounds, textures.

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We arrived about 7 pm, the sun already throwing long shadows and deliciously cool evening breezes were gently blowing off the Chesapeake Bay just 3 blocks away.  Before stepping through to the street, we took a quick whirl  through the Silent Auction site set up in the Stage Gallery, just checking on the  donated artwork there, lots of promising items to review in-depth later in the evening. But now, time to visit with friends over a glass of  chilled Chardonnay and sample from the appetizer table.  I had to check out some of my favorites more than once, including the ice-cold jumbo shrimp served with a very tangy red cocktail sauce.  The cheese tray was also very popular with wine drinkers and beer fans alike, being well stocked with a variety of both soft and hard cheeses and plenty of crunchy multigrain crackers. Dinner was served buffet style on the southern end of the plaza, with a number of grazing stations set up, offering a variety wide enough to satisfy even picky eaters. 

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My husband headed for the cold salmon station, the fish prepared by talented local chef  Tim Brown, beautifully decorated with wafer thin slices of cucumber,  served with a dill creme’ fraiche, and accompanied by a colorful cold pasta salad and skewers  of antipasto anchored by chilled asparagus, all very, very nice.  I, on the other hand, elected to head first to the Land & Sea station and the savory plump grilled  chicken breasts and succulent crabcakes awaiting there. One thing about grilled chicken– it’s so easy to end up with something dry and tough !  But this was really excellent,  very tender, great flavor and texture, done about as perfectly as any BBQ chicken I’ve had, with plenty of spicy sauce on the side.  Tossed green salad with a balsamic vinaigrette, roasted potatoes and an elaborate fruit tray were offered as sides,  all in all, a tasty summery meal.  For those looking for local seafood, a raw bar station offered  fresh tender little clams and salty oysters from the Broadwater Oyster Co. of Willis Wharf, both served  on the half shell atop deep beds of ice.  Raw seafood is not my thing but this was a very popular station, keeping several servers busy  just popping open the clam and oyster shells. for the ever-present line of aficionados.

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As twilight morphed into darkness, we headed inside for another view of the Silent Auction items in the Stage Door Gallery. Lots of good stuff to bid on– several original paintings including a dramatic oil by Clalia Sheppard, lots of original jewelry, some great autographed items, a number of very collectible records, some dramatic  framed photography including a very striking photo of a blue heron. ( And as it turned out, for which we were the successful bidder.)  As I  had an early meeting the following day,  it was about time for us to call it a night.  Too bad,  as we were leaving the band was starting to really get into its groove and the dance floor was filling up.  Another year, another great Benefit By The Bay. Keep ’em coming Arts Enter, time soon to start planning Benefit 2014 !

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A GLORIOUS FOURTH OF JULY 2013 IN CAPE CHARLES, VIRGINIA

Friday, July 19th, 2013
 Cape Charles Beach July 4, 2013

Sun And Fun On The Cape Charles Beach

We spent a few days over the 4th of July at   a charming Victorian home  overlooking  the  Chesapeake Bay and sparkling sand beach on Bay Avenue in the quaint  historic town of Cape Charles, VA.   The plan was to have a couple of grandkids for a sleepover on Wednesday night, then a big family  gathering to watch the fireworks on Thursday night and finally  for Hubby and I to grab a well-deserved day of peace and quiet on Friday.  For once, things went some what according to plan.  We rolled into town just after  a kid-friendly lunch at Mickey D’s,  intent on getting  all cold items unpacked and stuffed into the refrigerator at the house before heading out to the Wednesday Aftenoon Chess Club at the new public  library on Mason Avenue.  I say “new”  library not in the sense of the building, which is a grand bank building built in the early 1900’s, most lately inhabited by Bank of America, ( and now owned by the Town thanks to the very affordable terms offered by BOA ),  but in the sense that it just become the library.  Space to be able to offer chess for kids is just one of the perks of making the building a public building rather than just another retail business as some had hoped.  I personally think time will prove that this expenditure by the Town was a brilliant decision.

 Brown Dog Ice Cream Shop In Cape Charles VA

To Try It Is To Love It— Brown Dog Ice Cream !

But  what is located conveniently adjacent to the library, beloved by young and old alike, the perfect after-chess treat ?   The Brown Dog Ice Cream Shop, of course,  home of made-on-the-premises, good as Haagen Dazs,  6 or more  rotating flavors everyday, served in a cup, sugar cone or crunchy waffle cone, delightfully cold, deliciously creamy ice cream.  I tried the for- adults-only lemoncello which hit the spot on a warm summer’s day but I must say that Hubby’s coffee ice cream made with the Eastern Shore Roasting Company’s coffee was absolutely wonderful and I don’t even particularly like coffee ice cream !  The kids all had the Simply Berries, full of raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries, the yummy way to sneak in extra antioxidants.  From there it was off to the pool for a couple hours of pure splashing, jumping, laughing fun for the kids and a little relaxation  in the shade for us.

 Cape Charles Fishing Pier at Sunset 4th of July

Cape Charles Fishing Pier On A Soft Summer’s Eve

Back to the house  for a fast, kid- friendly dinner of grilled hamburgers, corn on the cob and salad plus plenty of  watermelon for dessert. I think that no fruit says summer better than sweet and juicy chunks of deep red, crisp,  ice cold watermelon — unless it’s a tree-ripened, dripping with juice, sweet-as-sugar peach, plucked at the peak of perfection from a tenderly cared for tree at the Nottingham Farms orchard just south of Cape Charles.  Anyway, we wanted to get in a walk at sunset and headed for  the lighted fishing pier just down from the house. It’s a wonderful facility, stretching out into the Chesapeake Bay quite a ways, protected by a jetty,  perfect for a relaxing after-dinner meander, no hurry,  enjoying the sights and sounds, watching folks still sitting on the beach or wading in tide pools,  just savoring the last few minutes of daylight, boats drifting back into the harbor, sated with a day of fishing, lights on the channel markers blinking red and green, a peaceful end to a busy day.  Once back at the house, early lights-out for all in anticipation of a busy morning on the 4th, grandparents definitely tuckered out, grandkids not so much, which I guess proves we’re not  spring chickens anymore.

 Vendor Tents Cape Charles Beach July 4th

Getting Ready For A Busy Day

Awoke on the 4th to stiffled giggles downstairs, where the kids were trying hard  (and almost succeeding) to keep the sound levels to a low roar.  A dash for the coffee pot,  zip-zip for a breakfast of yogurt and sausage & egg biscuits, then out the door for adventures down the street as the artist’s  tents and  the bouncy house folks were being set up for what they hoped would be a profitable day.   Food vendors were already bustling about, the Italian sausage guys busy slicing up mounds of onions and bell peppers to grill,  delicious aromas starting to waft across the sidewalk even at that early hour.  We poked our noses into everything, easy to do because we were more or less  the first visitors on the scene.  The kids got fixated on the possibility of a funnel cake later, I bought a  light-weight hat with an amazingly wide brim and the biggest flap down the neck I ever saw,  perfect for extra sunburn avoidance.  We took a moment to say hi to Billie Crocket, a terrific local carver,  and then back to the big front porch to settle down with a tall glass of  lemonade  awaiting  the parade.

Cape Charles fire truck  Golf cart parade  Shark car  Lady Liberty

 Cape Charles July 4th Parade 2013

And Where Are The Clowns ? Send In The Clowns…

What I have always loved best about the Cape Charles 4th of July Parade is the active participation of so many folks in the Parade itself as well as a great turnout of spectators to cheer them on.  Led by the Color Guard from the Cape Charles Coast Guard Station, followed by our first responders– fire truck after tanker truck after ladder truck after ambulance, full of  volunteers from Fire and EMT Stations all over Northampton County, giving we  the served a chance to cheer and wave to these folks who risk life and limb to help us everyday. And then the long procession,  a whole array of organizations from Veterans to the Girl Scouts to the ESO Clown Troupe, followed by the Golf Cart Parade, this year with at least 30 gaily decorated golf carts full of waving people throwing candy to the crowd,  followed by the Kid’s Bicycle Parade,  with the Horse Parade bringing up the rear.  So much participation, so much spirit, a joy to see, no apathy here, we love the Parade and the esprit de corps,  it beats slick commercial floats a ten times over.

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 Tall ship at sunset in the Cape Charles VA Harbor on July 4th, 2013

Cape Charles Harbor At Sunset

After the Parade, a stroll down Bay Avenue, flowing with the crowd, snagging some of those aromatic grilled sausage/onion/bell pepper sandwiches, just generally enjoying the day until time for more  splashing & laughing at the pool where one of the mothers took over kid supervision responsibilities and Hubby and I went back to the house for a well-deserved iced tea,  just chilling out in an overstuffed chair, newspaper in hand, silently singing the praises of  whatever brilliant person invented AC.  Evening brought a spectacular sunset and some great “people watching” as still-decorated golf carts cruised merrily up and down the avenue, folks arrived to watch the fireworks from the beach, bikes and joggers silhouetted against  a glowing  sky of deep pinks and reds. Down at the harbor, white masts contrasted with  the midnight blue sky. It was lovely, a truly wonderful day.  Yet to come,  the fireworks, this year a 30 minute display of grand explosions,  a profusion of  blazing flower patterns, brilliant petals glowing in bright  reds, greens, golds, white.  It was awesome !   The kids loved it, we loved it, the crowd loved it, a colorful and exciting end to another great 4th of July in Cape Charles, VA.

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