Posts Tagged ‘Events in Cape Charles’

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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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 !

 

” A Victorian Winter Wedding” Was The Theme Of The 18th Annual Cape Charles VA Holiday Progressive Dinner

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

18th Annual Holiday Progressive Dinner Tour brochure Sponsored for the 18th year by the Northampton County Chamber of Commerce, and chaired this year by Blue Heron Realty Co. client, Tammy Holloway, owner of  the gorgeous Bay Haven B&B,  the annual Cape Charles  Holiday Progressive Dinner is always a fun event, homes dressed to the nines, holiday lights blazing, food, wine  and lots of good cheer. But what sets the Cape Charles event apart from progressive dinners all across the South (where they are very popular)  is its wonderful entertainment. Due largely to the influence of the Arts Enter ! theatre group sponsored by the historic Palace Theatre,  the Cape Charles Progressive Dinners always feature a special theme and offer entertainment, usually consisting of  numerous vignettes produced by the theatre group, with each home on the Tour playing  its part  in  the  theme. This year’s theme was ” A Victorian Winter Wedding“.  Like the town itself, it is set at the turn of the century,  and  revolves  around the elaborate preparations for the wedding ( fictional) of the Mayor of Cape Charles to the son of a well-liked local  businessman.  The wedding theme was embellished at every stop on the Tour, as each home offered a glimpse of a particular aspect of the extensive preparations for the wedding.  To better set the mood, at each stop the home’s owner,  host and greeters were elaborately costumed in elegant period fashion.  ( One  of the  really clever aspects was that the Mayor’s daughter was marrying the son of one of the town’s foremost businessmen, the builder W. H. Lambertson,  and two of the homes on this year’s Progressive Dinner were  actually built by W.H. Lambertson in the early 1900’s.)

 

DSC_0434The evening  kicked off  at the striking, art-deco style Palace Theatre, built-in 1941 and now fully refurbished, thanks to the fund-raising efforts of Art’s Enter.  We were in the early group, started at 3:20, ended about 6:00 pm.  In general, organizers have it  arranged so that  ticket holders consist of groups of about 25 and departures staggered about 20 minutes apart.  At the theatre, setting the evening’s theme, we were treated to a short play starring the irrepressible Trina Veber, veteran of many Progressive Dinner vignettes, in the key role of the Mayor’s wife, mother of the bride, anxious to uphold her position as a pillar of Cape Charles society.  Here we learn that although the Mayor is cheap, famous for pinching pennies, his wife has arranged to have the wedding dress purchased and fitted by the most prestigious dress shop in town, whose owner has recently made a buying trip to New York City to secure a variety of lovely but expensive dresses for this high society wedding.  We also learn that so many guests are expected that both the Cape Charles Inn ( in real life also an inn, the Chesapeake  B&B) and the famous ( in real life as well) Miss Mollie’s Boarding House, (where the portrait painter for the official wedding portrait will be staying ), both will be filled with VIP wedding guests.  As the little play ends,  the audience is  left wondering if Daddy isn’t  going to throw a conniption fit when he gets the bill for all the grand wedding preparations. But we shall find out before our evening ends.  While the action is proceeding on stage, Dinner ticket holders are enjoying a  High Tea–  tender tea sandwiches, cucumber dill and  liver mousse with red onion, prepared by Hook-U-Up restaurant’s  fine chef, Tim Brown,  as well as a fluffy, orange-iced cranberry orange scone baked by the Cape Charles Coffee House, served with sweet orange tea.

DSC_0527Off then to the second stop,  a  classic American four square home, one of the many examples in Cape Charles, which the playbill proclaims as home to the Lambertson family whose son is to marry the Mayor’s daughter.  From the owner’s speech before entering the house, we learn that when she purchased the property in 2009, this now-lovely house was in serious disrepair and served primarily as the abode for a large flock of pigeons !  As we walk through and see it now,  the house has been beautifully restored and is a real credit to the efforts of its new owners.  In the theme of the wedding, this house serves as  the elegant dress shop. In an upstairs bedroom several mannequins are dressed with beautiful bridal attire in various stages of being fitted.  ( Kudos to all the efforts of Arts Enter volunteers  in securing the gorgeous period costumes– it must have been a real labor of love.  In fact, it’s  the numerous participants, volunteers all, over 150 of them, that make the Dinner possible. Without them it just couldn’t be pulled off  ! )  Food here was prepared by The Shanty,  a fun new seafood restaurant located right on the Cape Charles Harbor, and featured Oysters Rockefeller and Roasted Butternut Squash Bisque.  Unfortunately, although I live in one of the finest oyster producing regions in the entire country, I’m not an oyster person so didn’t have any— but Hubby and Eldest Daughter assured me they were succulent.  However, I can personally attest that the bisque was absolutely delicious– smooth, creamy with a hint of  char at the finish.  Actually, it was my favorite dish of the entire dinner, especially as I am a devotee’ of butternut squash bisque. Wine accompaniment was  Church Creek Steel Chardonnay by Chatham Vineyard, a fine local vineyard and winery.

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Mayer home 2From there, we were off to the Inn, a walk of a few short blocks. In the Dinner’s theme, the Inn was to provide  accommodations and hospitality for many of the out-of-town guests expected for the wedding and is elaborately decorated for the occasion.. In real life,  the Inn really is an inn, the Chesapeake B&B.  Listed for sale by Blue  Heron Realty Co., it is a gorgeous 2 story historic brick Colonial Revival home which overlooks the Chesapeake Bay and Cape Charles’ soft sand beach.  One of its most stunning features is the arcaded 5 bay brick front porch. For the Dinner,  the owners  had decorated both porch and shrubbery with a stunning display of bright holiday lights, total eye candy.  ( For more information on the features of this extensively renovated property, visit http://www.blueheronva.com/property.php?propid=1516 . )  Our group arrived just as the sun was beginning to set, the sky was streaked with soft pinks and violets, absolutely stunning. Prepared by the historic Eastville Inn  in Eastville, VA, the offering here was a rich Rockfish Chowder.  Rockfish is probably the Eastern Shore’s most prized late season fish, mild and firm flesh, perfect for a chowder.  This particular dish is the signature fall-winter dish of the Eastville Inn and includes corn and asparagus, is seasoned with applewood smoked bacon and a touch of garlic and thyme,  served with sweet potato rolls spread with a brown-sugar cinnamon butter.  Yum !

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DSC_0511Next stop, in my opinion, one of the most charming homes in all of Cape Charles, with one of  the indisputably most beautiful front porches in town, curved, graceful  and full house length. Built in 1912 for Cape Charles’ first banker by W.H. Lambertson, whose son ( in the play) is to marry the Mayor’s daughter, this home continues the evening’s  theme as being the home of the bride’s best friend. It is at this gorgeous home  that the bridesmaids and friends will gather to make  decorations and guest favors for the wedding.  The tools and materials for same are seen as ticket holders tour the bedrooms at this house. Food served here was prepared by   Aqua Restaurant, offering fine and casual dining right on the shores of  Chesapeake Bay  at King’s Creek Marina .  A modern update of  a traditional Waldorf salad and a lightly curried chicken salad in a small brioche roll, very tasty, were served, complemented by Italian white wine selected for the occasion by the Gull Hummock Wine and Cheese shop in Cape Charles.

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DSC_0529The final home on the tour was Miss Mollie’s  boarding house which was, in real life, Miss Mollie’s Boarding House. Apparently Miss Mollie ran the boarding house for many years after her husband’s death and was known Shore-wide for her famous pound cake. At the house,  a video interview of Miss Mollie, done many years ago for a special Cape Charles history event,  was playing on the VCR– fascinating, a real highlight and I took a quick pic for this blog post.  Miss Mollie died at 101 and in the TV interview I’m guessing she was somewhere in her nineties but still sharp as a tack because when the interviewer, long-time local pharmacist, George Savage, apparently asked a particular question for a 2nd time, he received a  quick retort,  ” Why you already asked me that !”   When George inquired how many of her famous pound cakes she thought she had baked over her lifetime, she guessed she had baked plenty more than a thousand–  which is a heck of a lot of   home baking !  Food served here was prepared by Kelly’s Gingernut Pub, a fun place with  good food located on Mason Avenue in Cape Charles and included a delicious roast beef-Yorkshire pudding canape plus a roastedvegetable tort served in individual tart shells topped with a creamy, buttery sauce.  The piece de resistance’ was a little slice of Miss Mollie’s cake, a rich vanilla pound cake, prepared by Heritage Hall in Nassawadox, baked according to Miss Mollie’s very own recipe.  As party favors,  printed copies of Miss Mollie’s recipe were available for guests to take with them if desired– I took one and intend to try it out for myself.

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DSC_0543Leaving Miss Mollie’s,  it was just a short walk to the Cape Charles Town Library where the theme and the Dinner concluded,  with the penny-pinching Mayor was scheduled to see his daughter modeling her gorgeous, albeit expensive,  bridal gown for the very first time.  Suddenly he forgets the expense of the wedding and realizes that his baby girl is going to be gone, about to get married and move from his home, that it is family, not fortune,  he should be thinking about now.  Thus endeth  the play and also the Dinner,  after  the dessert course, naturally.  A  collaboration between Heritage Hall and Brown Dog Ice Cream in Cape Charles,  dessert was a delectable ginger snap cookie “sandwich” filled with Brown Dog’s heavenly ice cream,  Caramelized Fig and Mascarpone Cheese flavor, easy to hold, delicious to eat. It was the sweet end to a sweet day.  But one more treat to come– Pheiffer Stables, whose farm is  located on the outskirts of  Cape Charles, had brought a holiday-light decorated carriage into town, pulled by Rosie, a lovely patient horse. Horse and driver  stood ready outside the Library,  prepared to ferry  weary Tour members  back to the Theatre.  So aboard Hubby and I hopped,  not  spring chickens any more,  nice to get off our feet after several hours walking  town. So with sleighbells bells ringing,  off we rode to our car,  a perfect end to a  great evening.

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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.

6a Surfer golf cart  6c Bikers at Cape Charles Beach July 4th  6d harbor at sunset  6b Cape Charles 4th of July Sunset

 

 

 

TALL SHIPS AT CAPE CHARLES 2013 FESTIVAL ON THE EASTERN SHORE OF VIRGINIA

Thursday, June 27th, 2013
Runners in the Great Bay Run in Cape Charles VA registering to participate

Last Chance To Register To Compete In Cape Charles Tall Ship Festival’s Great Bay Run

Eagerly awaited with much anticipation, Saturday June 15, 2013 saw the little  Eastern Shore Virginia historic town of Cape Charles  abuzz with events from the town center to the outer reaches of the Harbor.  First off in the morning was The Great Bay Run, kick-off at 8:30. Organized by Blue Heron Realty Co. agent Eva Noonan and her friend Gary Hack, the Run was off to an early start by 7:30 am when participants could begin to sign in and receive their official PIB  badges for either the 1.25 mile fun walk/run or for the more serious folks, the 5k event.  Over 180 people registered, including kids of all ages, the young and young of heart, moms & dads pushing 3 wheel jogging strollers.  Up and down Mason Avenue, in the heart of  the Cape Charles historic area,  guys and gals of all shapes and sizes gathered in little groups, stretching ham strings, doing warm-up deep knee bends, trying to get ready for the Run, psyching up in anticipation of a hard final push needed to cross over “the Hump”, the steep  overpass above the railroad tracks near the finish line at the Marina.

 

Runners taking off from the  starting line for the Great Bay Run

Wooosh, They Are Off !

By 8:15 am, runners were lined up clear across the road at the corner of Harbor and Mason Avenues,  awaiting the starter’s gun to begin a course that would wind them down streets of Victorian and other historic homes, past views of sparkling sand dunes and shimmering blue Chesapeake Bay waters,  on out to the finish line at the new marina. Then wooosh, they were off and I slipped over to the Cape Charles Harbor  to await the first arrivals.   I’m proud to say that of the 7 Blue Heron agents and/or their family members who ran this event,  3 won first or second place in their age group– go Herons, go !   In line with being a carefully budgeted event, the donated trophies were  inscribed  antique bottles  and large shells– but  winners were  all proud smiles  as they accepted their unique prizes.  Everyone who finished the course got a colorful Great Bay Run T-Shirt as well as free after-the-race pizza and Coke to rebuild energy for the rest of the day’s fun. Race proceeds will be donated to the Leukemia Society and to Broadwater’s Track & Field Team.

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The sailing ship "Alliance" moored at the Cape Charles Harbor for the Tall Ships Festival

The “Alliance” berthed in Cape Charles for the 2013 Tall Ship Festival

Next up, a stroll through the marina to see the Tall Ships in the soft morning light– we had brought the grandkids down at sunset Friday evening to enjoy the music events scheduled for the Harbor stage  and view the ships, always interesting for young and old alike.  Although our old friend, the tall ship  Kalmar Nyckel, had earlier dropped in for an overnight anchorage, for the Festival weekend this year  Cape Charles was host to the 97 ft. Sultana, a replica of a 1768 British schooner whose job was to enforce the tea taxes prior  to the American Revolution, the 105 ft 3 masted schooner  Alliance and the 126 ft Virginia, a replica of a harbor  pilot boat used on the Bay in the early 1900’s.  No matter how many of  these replica ships I see I never cease to feel amazed that back in the day,   100 foot vessels like these routinely sailed  across stormy oceans with nothing between them and disaster but a skilled captain ( hopefully) and sheer luck– no auxiliary engine, no GPS mapping, no radar, no depth finder,  no marine weather service, no ship-to-shore radio and no rescue helicopters, just strong canvas sails, grit and determination. And a daily rum ration……  Each Festival ship offered deck tours as well as 2 hour day-sails out on the Chesapeake Bay, a great opportunity  for landlubbers and sailors alike to enjoy a taste of maritime history.  And the weather was so co-operative– cool temps, clear skies, steady breezes all weekend.

Brown Dog Ice Cream Shop in Cape Charles VA

A Crunchy Waffle Cone Filled With Brown Dog’s Lush Ice Cream Is Not To Be Missed

Good food and plenty of it, paired with lots of music, is part of the secret to a good festival and there was plenty of both in Cape Charles.  From BBQ ribs to Greek gyros,  deep dish pizza to “Aden’s Dawgs”,  washed down by everything from Kona ice to Bud Lite,  plenty of variety was available  to satisfy the ole taste buds.  The Shanty, a great new-as-of- last-year seafood restaurant right at the edge of the water at the marina,  was doing a landslide business. Huge platters of steamed hardshell crabs  accompanied by luscious grilled corn on the cob were zooming out of the kitchen at the speed of light,  I think the servers must have been wearing jet pacs they moved so fast !  Downtown, just a few minutes walk from the Harbor, Kelly’s Gingernut Pub was going full blast, the Cape  Charles Coffee House had extra tables outside for al fresco dining and the Hardware store was putting on a “bring your own hot dogs” BBQ bash  for friends and customers.  But the really, really big  smiles were coming from the folks leaving Brown Dog Ice Cream shop holding crunchy waffle cones stuffed full of the best ice cream I’ve had in a long time, made right on the premises. The only other thing I’ll say about Brown Dog  is that when you’re in town next, try a scoop of  their pina colada topped with a scoop of rum raisin.  Double yum !

A Colonial Village at Tall Ship Festival in Cape Charles VA

Colonial Village- Fun & Educational

But my favorite events were back at the Festival grounds where a very talented group from Raleigh, NC, Historic Interpretations, Inc. teamed up with a group  also from Raleigh, called the East Coast Pirate Crew, to set up a Colonial Village.  Dressed to “kill”, the  East Coast Pirates manned a ” pirate gear for sale” tent plus a tent featuring typical pirate weaponry as well as a display of the typical foodstuff found aboard a pirate ship, with members on hand interpreting same and offering samples of  the 17th century  on-board daily food staple called “hard tack”.  ( No grog offerings though, a true pirate wouldn ‘t stand for  that. )  Historic Interpretations program offerings were quite interesting, completely interactive, with all their members dressed in authentic period  costume, looking great.  The Village included a “typical Colonial kitchen” tent, complete with homemade strawberry and lemon cordials brewing, ( for which I got the recipe ), a games tent, herbs and medicines tent and 17th century “home ec” tent staffed by two very knowledgeable ladies who demonstrated weaving, embroidery , sewing and fashion tips of that era.

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A Pannier To Increase Hip Widith Appearance Under Colonial dresses

Just what every modern woman wants– a pannier to make her hips look wider !

Probably doesn’t sound that interesting but it was really fascinating. The ladies had a large hunk of what I thought was spun wool but which was actually flax ready to be spun, then woven into linen cloth, which they demonstrated on a tiny portable loom. Wow, no wonder most folks back in the day had only 2 sets of clothes– at the most.  Every woman had a ” housewife”, abbreviated to “hussif”, a cloth strip with multiple pockets on one side for important small implements such as scissors, pencil, glasses, etc., all expensive to replace. The hussif could then be rolled up tightly and stored in her sewing box which contained the rest of her sewing equipment. A typical box would hold lots of handmade sewing aids including a  wooden “egg” for darning, a lump of beeswax to stiffen thread, a thimble made of horn, soapstone to mark lines on cloth, a cloth tape measure wound up in a casing made of a large nut shell, hoops of various sizes,  and the list goes on and on.  And the fashion accessories were pretty interesting too. Corsets were laced up with a long metal instrument called a bodkin. And if you’ve ever wondered how Colonial ladies managed to have a slender waist but appear as if they were four feet wide from hip to hip, well it was thanks to a “pannier”, a very narrow belt with two short cloth barrelly things  hanging from each side to make the dress stand way out from the hips. Go figure !

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The Festival was all this and so much more.  Strolling musicians in town and at the Harbor, the Cape Charles Orchestra playing sea chanteys on Strawberry Street , sidewalk art,  a Golf Cart Scavenger Hunt, helicopter rides all day long,Coast Guard water safety program, artists and artisans galore with lovely items for sale, a great display by the Waterman’s Association,  an old time oyster “buy boat” at the marina. All capped off with the Pirates & Wenches Ball, everyone dressed in costume, dancing the night away, proceeds benefiting Cape Charles Central Park.   But  memories now–  but we do have Tall Ships Festival 2014 to look forward to.

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(Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134 Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA. )

The 17th Annual Holiday Progressive Dinner in Cape Charles VA Was One Of The Best Yet !

Saturday, December 22nd, 2012

A holiday tradition kicked off  17 years ago  by the Chamber of Commerce to help support various  Eastern Shore of Virginia worthy causes,  the annual  Holiday Sampler Tour Progressive Dinner was held last week in Cape Charles.   Entitled “Shake, Rattle and Stroll”,  the theme of the evening was to relax and take a step back in time to the Fabulous Fifties.  Not to dwell on my ever advancing age, but I was alive and be-bopping during the Fab 50’s so it was a nostalgic evening for me.  In fact, I’m guessing that some  of the other cute chicks and cool cats  in our group were also be-bop-boppers ! Who can forget the guys with the Everly Brothers style Brylcreemed  pompadours and  “Duck Tails” ?   Or  the big bouffant “beehives”  held in place with about a gallon of  hair spray containing who knows what chemicals that enabled it to hold  together for a  week !                                                                                                        Venue # 1, serving the  appetizer course,  was as always, the beautiful Palace Theatre on Mason Avenue. Built in the art deco style 1941, in its day the Palace  was considered absolutely splendid — it has now been restored to its former glory through the enormous efforts of  the Arts Enter  group, right down to the total refurbishing of the plush red velvet seats.  We were met at the door by The King  himself, attired in a white dinner jacket, slicked back long hair and quite possibly a pair of  blue, blue suede shoes.  Unless my eyes were fooling me…..    In the lobby we registered, got our group  badges and moved  down into the  house to  nosh  on some rather tasty appetizers.  From the Blue Bay Crab Co., a Parmesan crab dip on flatbread crackers and from Mallards-On-The-Wharf  Restaurant, a lovely display of  fresh veggies and  fruits served with warm spinach dip,  a savory  hummus and a tapenade of Greek style black olives. Yum !   While enjoying  these goodies we were treated  to a little play staring the ever lively Trina Veber.   In a dream sequence,  Elvis and Roy Orbison  sang and danced merrily around the stage with Trina,  fulfilling the “shake and rattle”  part of the evening’s theme and getting us ready to “stroll” off to Venue # 2.

Venue # 2, presenting the soup course,  was a darling little Victorian home on Peach Street, which has been extensively renovated and treated to brand new kitchen and bathrooms.  First, a tour of the house which was very nicely decorated,  then to enjoy a spicy chicken, shrimp and crawdaddy gumbo,  expertly prepared by Kelly’s Gingernut Pub.   Little Italy Restaurant had prepared the  tasty bruschetta, nicely seasoned, complementing the gumbo quite well.  Venue # 3, site of the salad course,  was the new  Bay Haven Inn on Tazewell Avenue.  Just renovated by our Blue Heron customers,  Tammy and Jim Holloway, this brand new B&B is  the  cat’s meow !   Decorated to the nines inside and out for the holidays,  from top to bottom  this 7 bedroom Colonial Revival  beauty is simply gorgeous and ready for the most discriminating of guests.  A  delicious and sophisticated salad of  roasted local sweet potatoes over roasted apples with arugula, garnished with  paper- thin country ham and aged Gouda was presented by Amy B. Catering.  Served along side was  a trio of imported cheeses from  Gull Hummock  Gourmet Market,  all paired with  a lush rose’  from local winery, Chatham Vineyards.

Venue #4, making a splash with the fish course,  was  an interesting  home on Monroe Avenue.  Built in 1906,  back in the day it  served as a boarding house for teachers from the then nearby Cape Charles School.  Currently a leisure home for its owners,  who plan to retire to Cape Charles in the future,  it too was all gussied up for the holidays.   From the  attractive new waterfront restaurant on the Cape Charles harbor, The Shanty, came  seasoned haddock nuggets  served with  rich and creamy 3 Cheese  Mac & Cheese from Hook-U-Up  restaurant on Mason Avenue, both very nicely done.

Venue # 5, offering the evening’s entree’, was a unique home  also on Monroe Avenue.  It  actually consists of two separate adjacent  homes, both built in the 1920’s, which were then combined  into a single home via a  breezeway which connects the two.  Painted  a sunny yellow, this home was outlined with  lots of cheerful outdoor lights and looked lovely. Lots of great decorations inside including a display cabinet  filled with a large collection of colorful wooden Nutcracker  figures, large and small,  from all over the world. I happen to love and have a much small collection of Nutcrackers myself which I pull out and tuck all over the house for  the holidays.  Here we were served  a chicken pot pie  with a side of poached apples from the Exmore Diner.   The apples were served hot and featured a hint of maple and cinnamon,  very pleasing, both chicken and apples pairing well with the Chardonnay from the local winery, Holly Grove Vineyards.

From there we were off for dessert and coffee to Venue # 6,  the Cape Charles Coffee House,  whose holiday display windows, complete with an antique train set,   are always among the finest in town.    The Coffee House is a fabulous place for breakfast and lunch and is home to some of the best cakes on the planet.  Let me just say that Roberta’s  coconut layer cake with lemon filling and  cream cheese coconut icing is simply heavenly, the best ever.  Alas, that was not to be our dessert.      But  the next best thing was being served– homemade ice cream ! For some unfathomable reason, I love ice cream more  in cold weather than in hot weather. But truth be told, I can enjoy  really excellent ice cream at virtually anytime and this was from Brown Dog Ice Cream, a new gourmet ice cream shop on Mason Avenue.  Brown Dog makes their ice cream  in small batches  so it’s always delightfully fresh.   Anyway, it was  ” make- your- own ice cream sundae, which was fun.   A  choice of  three  flavors of ice cream were set out and then each person helped  themselves  to toppings.  I chose the  chocolate and skipped the toppings, just savoring the deep chocolaty flavor, following  my sundae  with a chaser  of   Nicaraguan coffee,  piping hot, steam rising from the cup.   Perfect !   And then it was over,  another fine time had by all.  We had shaken,  rattled and strolled through this quaint little  town, admiring lights and decorations,  enjoying the  moveable feast,  having lots of fun  in a good cause at  2012  Holiday Sampler Progressive Dinner in Cape Charles, Virginia. (Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134  Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA)

A Dramatic Presentation of the Early History of the Eastern Shore of Virginia At The Palace Theatre In Cape Charles, VA

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Chief Debedeavon and his tribal warriors appeal to the heavens

Demonstrating the incredible strength of our volunteer spirit here on Virginia’s  Eastern Shore, members of our community, including myself,  came together this November, 2012, for the production of “Piece of Eden” in the historic Palace Theater in downtown Cape Charles, Virginia.Written by long-time resident of our town,  Jean Collins,  and adapted for the stage by our very talented Sheila Cardano, this epic musical drama reenacts the significant events and politics of the 17th and 18th centuries which  not only are the foundations of our country but also the basic principles of  American liberty and democracy. Few people realize the importance of the Eastern Shore of Virginia in not only providing sustenance for the early Jamestown Colony but also the Eastern Shore’s role in saving that colony from annihilation by the Powhatan Native American tribes in the massacre of 1622.  If truth be told, Jamestown would have been wiped off the face of the earth if the “Laughing King” of the Eastern Shore, Indian chief Debedeavon, had not warned the colonists of the western shore of Chief Powhatan’s plan to poison their wells and attack their settlement. The Eastern Shore’s Indian chief’s timely and courageous action prevented the massacre from achieving its objective of killing all 1100 settlers; as it was,  more than 350 were murdered during the massacre but Jamestown survived as the capital of Virginia. Who can begin to speculate about our nation’s history if the Jamestown settlement had been completely wiped out?

Stephen Charlton leads the settlers in the first protest against unfair taxation.

Piece of Eden” also portrays the peoples who made important contributions to our early history, especially the Native Americans. Living amongst us today in our community are the descendants of the Indians and the early colonists who shaped the foundation of our nation. Names like Opecancanough, Fox, Custis, Savage, and Charlton as well as the Indian tribes, Machipongo and Occohannock,  who inhabited the Eastern Shore before the arrival of the colonists, are threaded throughout the play. Authentic costumes worn by the actors and the lively portrayal of  the cultural life of early colonial times effectively bring to life the characters who made history here on the Shore.  Portrayed on stage is a portion of  the very first play acted on American soil in our town of Pungoteague titled “Ye Bear and Ye Cub”.   “Piece of Eden”  also incorporates scenes from  historic meetings of the colonists with the Indians including the spreading of the small pox disease,  the timely warning of the impending Jamestown massacre, the flight of  Virginia’s early governor from Jamestown to the Custis family estate of Arlington  during Bacon’s Rebellion, Northampton County’s letter of grievances which was the very first protest in the colonies against taxation without representation  and the reading of the Declaration of Independence from the courthouse steps in Eastville in 1776.  And lo, these many years later, Eastville is still the Northampton County seat.

The Declaration of Independence is read from the Northampton courthouse steps on August 13, 1776.

Over the week of November 15-20, 2012, our enthusiastic cast and crew played five performances of “Piece of Eden” to interested  and appreciative audiences. Our last performance was held at 9:30am to accommodate all of the  fourth grade students in the County as they   are now studying Virginia history in their classrooms. The actors were able to greet the audience members after each performance and I heard many wonderful comments, such as “I never realized how important the history of the Eastern Shore is to the founding of America.” When one considers the impacts of such an enormous production, it is astounding to think of the educational, social, economic and cultural benefits that accrue to our community. Who knows what impressionable children may gather from seeing this spectacular and educational play?  Or what decisions a new visitor to our area may make when they see such creativity and cohesiveness demonstrated by the members of our community?  The Palace Theater,  owned and operated by our own Arts Enter Cape Charles,  is undoubtedly a most important resource to our community and well deserves the  generous support it receives.

A proud and grateful cast takes their bow!

If you’ve never been involved in a little theatre group it is not easy to appreciate what goes into a production of this magnitude, especially for a non-profit entity as Arts Enter Cape Charles. Approximately 3600 hours were dedicated by more than sixty individuals to write this original play and it’s music,  perform original musical scores, design and build elaborate sets, operate audio and lighting programs and fixtures, design and sew dozens of the amazing period costumes and rehearse the many scenes performed by actors of all ages from five to seventy-five years.  And the support of family and friends in time, effort and funding was crucial as well. Such spirit of generosity and involvement really is a big part of what makes our small but vibrant community so special. Only in a small town like Cape Charles can  amateur actors  such as myself  realize their dream of acting on the live stage when their lack of  professional talent and experience would preclude such an opportunity in a large metropolitan area’s  drama groups.  I am enormously grateful to have that opportunity  and am especially appreciative of  being able to join the company of  fellow thespians,  enthusiastic individuals who hail from all over the country and who so generously give of their time and energy, enabling   productions  such as “Piece of Eden”  to become a reality.

Cape Charles’ Inaugural Clam Slam Festival

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

What do a Shriner’s Parade, a crab skiff race, a fishing boat docking contest,  paintings  of whimsical mermaids  and prancing horses have in common ?   Surprisingly, they were all a part of a new Eastern Shore Virginia festival, the 2012 Clam Slam in Cape Charles, an inaugural event held last Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  The Clam Slam  blasted off  Friday evening  at the harbor with a huge Harbor Party featuring live rock/blues music music from 6-10 pm performed by John Baldwin and the Original Sinners, a well-known Virginia Beach  band.  I’m still a Glenn Miller-Tommy Dorsey-Benny Goodman-Artie Shaw  fan myself but I’ve spoken to several people who went Friday night and commented that they really enjoyed the music.

 

10am Saturday morning brought a  complete change of pace as the Shriner’s Parade and Car Show.  led by the smartly stepping Color Guard from the  US Coast Guard’s  Cape Charles Station, began winding its way along Bay Avenue  and then down Mason Avenue.  Following was a colorful assortment of participants including the ever popular fire trucks from Cape Charles and nearby Cheriton throwing candies to the crowd and then what I think was  litttle Miss Chesapeake Bay.  Everyone loved the crab racing skiffs which would be struting their stuff  in the harbor later in the day, a colorful collection of oranges, greens and blues,  rolling past sidewalks crowded with on-lookers.

But of course it was the Shriners who  highlighted  the day, going all-out as usual in their efforts to raise money for their 22 hospital network where children are treated for free for a wide variety of very serious issues, including burns.  Dressed in costume, the Shriner contingent led off with marchers, then a good sized marching band attired in teal slacks, white shirts, gold cummberbunds and their traditional red fezes, playing with  plenty of volume and enthusiasm,  followed by their top attractions, horses,  clowns, mini-trucks and of course, the laugh-out-loud, crazy-driving  miniture cars, probably the Shriners most famous parade unit.

Envision exuberant drivers, stuffed into tiny cars   barely big enough to hold them, careening  around in apparently randomly wild configurations. Further imagine  what appears to be total mayhem, with these big guys in minuture cars, zipping every which way but Sunday, about 6 ways on this 2 way street,  all to huge laughs from an appreciative  audience and you’ve pretty much got the picture. The clowns were tons of fun too- dressed up like  Beverly Hillbillies, one of the fellows was doing his antics in  bare feet.  Given that hot, hot pavement, I’d say, Wow, that’s really dedication.  Following all of that fun, a string of sweet antique cars.  A  fellow standing beside me kept pointing to one yellow beauty, saying I had one just like that, exactly like that  just as the Kedive motorcycle group roared into view, first you hear them, then you see them.

Next up,  horses and riders from Triple M Ranch.  Located just outside Cape Charles  on 150 acres overlooking historic King’s Creek, a saltwater inlet from the Chesapeake Bay,  Triple M has a dedicated group of riders and they have consistantly added a lot of interest to local events by bringing their gorgeous mounts to participate.  Their  horses were so cute last Christmas at the Cape Charles Grand Illumination at Central Park.  Adorned in holiday bells, red bows, plush reindeer horns, red and green saddle blankets, etc., they certainly brought a lot of extra smiles to that special evening.  Following the horses, a cute golf cart sponsored by the Friends of the Cape Charles Library advertizing their book sale and then, last but definitely not least, a long string of antique Corvette’s,  buffed and shiny, clearly well treated by their proud owners.

I didn’t have time to stick around for the other festivities down at the harbor which included games for kids, a  horseshoe contest,  a crab pot cork race and the wildly popular  Smith Island crab skiff race.  I did however take a quick stroll down Mason Avenue to see what the sidewalk art booths had on display this year.  Looks of good stuff, paintings, crafts, political buttons, you-name-it,  for sale along the sidewalk.  And at the very end of the sidewalk appeared a little tent filled to the brim with the most adorable mermaid dolls and whimsical paintings, prints and original oils both,  all beckoning  me  in, singing sweetly  like the Sirens to Ulysses, come  in, come in, see me,  touch me, take me home with you……  Created by talented Shore artisit,  Katherine Kiss, who said she has been working in the fanciful genre for a long time,  the  mermaid dolls were so absolutely gorgeous,  I’d have loved to have bought every one !

P.S.  I didn’t attend any of the Sunday events but  the Boat Docking Contest was the clear favorite– over 800 tickets for the event were sold, the proceeds to be used for the prizes and to help off-set  fuel costs for the boat owners.  However, Jennifer Ingram from Blue Heron’s  Cape Charles office did attend, ( had a ticket in the VIP section no less )  and she was kind enough to supply me with the following pictures for this post.

(Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134  Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA)