Posts Tagged ‘Holiday events in Cape Charles Virginia’

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 Alpacas Stole The Show At The 11th Annual Thanksgiving Artisan’s Guild Open Studio And Vineyard Tour On The Eastern Shore Of Virginia

Friday, December 6th, 2013
Brochure for the 11th annual artisan open studio tour on Eastern Shore VA

The Tour Is A Great Way To Find Unique Gifts For Special People On Your Holiday Gift List

It’s that time of year again– splendid Thanksgiving repast over, excess turkey safely ensconced in a light cream- and- sherry tetrazzini sauce, friendly football bets all settled– and on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, time for something different, one of my favorite events of the year,  the annual Thanksgiving Artisan Open Studio and Vineyard  Tour.  Pleasant, low-key, the Tour is the Friday-Saturday-Sunday after Turkey Day opportunity to personally meet talented local artists and select unique and beautiful art for some of the special people on your holiday gift list.  One of the great things about this self-guided driving tour, for locals and visitors alike, is that it is spread over a  wide- ranging area. Since the event is held in the participating artists’ studios, which are quite often located at their personal residences, visitors often end up traveling down scenic by-ways and into little hamlets that they would not ordinarily be exploring  if not for the Tour.  Thankfully,  the Guild puts out an on-line brochure and map, plus plenty of  signs and arrows are placed strategically along roads, their red bows waving in the breeze, helping to  guide folks along the way.  This year’s  Open Studio sites were scattered  from Capeville to Onancock.  ( One of my favorite Tours took place a  few years ago when we visited Open Studios  located from south of Cape Charles up to the island of Chincoteague near the Shore’s northern border with Maryland,  a distance  just shy of  70 miles.  We got started early in Cape Charles and visited just about every venue.  In fact,  after touring the 2 of the 3 open studios on Chincoteague that year, we spent the remaining half hour + of daylight at the beautiful Chincoteague Wildlife Refuge, home of the famous Pony Round-up.  The vast flocks of snow geese were so  impressive, elegant white birds serenely floating on clear blue waters. )

Brown Alpaca Youngster

Am I Cute Or What ??

Because of another commitment, this year we were unfortunately unable to start until after lunch.  With two grandkids in tow, aged 8 and 11,  we set off for the By The Bay Alpaca Farm in Pungoteague.  The approach to the property is down a long farm road, through large fields blanketed with green winter cover crops,  when suddenly they appear, some of  the cutest farm animals you’ll ever see,  a  herd of 14 beautiful alpacas.  During the drive I had asked the boys what they knew about alpacas– the 8 year old piped up that he thought they were members of the camel family and the 11 year old commented that they are a lot like llamas.  But none of us had ever seen an alpaca up close and personal so we  were looking forward to reaching out and touching one of these adorable creatures.   Definitely not disappointed, they were the highlight of the entire Tour for the 4 of us, absolutely stole the show !  These graceful animals, with cloven hoofs like deer, in various shades of beige, white and brown, placidly chewed their cuds,  completely ignoring their many admiring visitors.

Alpaca on a leash ready to be petted

OK, I’m Ready For Some Petting

Awards and ribbons won by the By The Bay Alpaca farm

A Sea Of Awards and Ribbons Line The Walls At By The Bay Alpaca Farm

Andrew Leach, who with Tara King  runs the farm,  was kind enough to put a leash on one of the sweetest youngsters and let the 4 of us pet him.  I was quite surprised at how long and deep the fleece is, about  3 inches this time of year, although it will be at least 6 inches long by the time they get sheared in the spring. And soft, it was amazingly soft,  which is why it is so prized for sweaters, scarves, gloves, etc. , all of which Tara makes right there on the farm in her light-filled studio.  By The Bay has won numerous awards for its fleece.  The studio is a veritable sea of ribbons and awards, a real accomplishment for the owners, especially considering that they started with only a single pregnant female and have built their herd of 14 from there.  Aside from how incredibly soft the fleece is,  we were all surprised by how much alpacas vocalize as well as  by the fact that, unlike cows, horses, etc.,  they are essentially “potty trained”.  Though I hesitate to get so earthy in a blog post, we were all astonished to see three or four different animals walk up to what apparently is their selected potty area in the middle of the pasture and do their thing,  right on the exact same spot where a previous  animal had just finished.  I asked Andrew if I was just imagining this and he said that alpacas like to keep their pastures clean and that they do basically adhere to a central toilet area instinctively, no attempts at training from him !  Who would have guessed ….

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Reflections Glass On Display

From By The Bay we were off to Onancock, specifically the historic Onancock School which now houses the studios of  about 10 artisans.  We visited the studio of Elizabeth Hunt, a well-known potter who does beautifully decorative stoneware,  David Farlow, the Harbormaster at the Quinby, VA harbor, who is a 4th generation Eastern Shore decoy carver  and the  Reflections Glass Studio, owned by the Careys, a husband and wife glass blowing team.   There were more studios at the school to visit but because of our late start it was almost the witching hour and I still wanted to visit the studio of Vesna Zidovec,  a well-known potter, whose mirrors decorated by borders of  her hand-made glazed marine life tiles are legendary here on the Shore.  Vesna has a very cozy studio in her home in Onancock, toasty warm from a wood stove in the corner,  flanked by a chessboard table, soft classical music playing,  a great place to end the Tour. We selected a lovely glazed bowl decorated with, of course, a blue heron,  and then it was time to head for home, another Tour, albeit abbreviated, under our belts, a delightful time had by all plus a lot more info on alpacas.

 

 

 

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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)

“Echoes Of The Past”– The 16th Annual Holiday Progressive Dinner In Cape Charles, VA

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Every year for the last decade and a half, the Northampton County VA Chamber of Commerce has sponsored a wonderful holiday event– the Holiday Progressive Dinner in Cape Charles, VA  (although the 2010 Dinner was held in Eastville, VA ).   This delightful event features a “soup-to-nuts”  meal progressively served at about 10 historic  Victorian homes and sites throughout the town.   The Chamber outdid itself this year by including  even more entertainment — seven theatrical vignettes recreating a visit in 1886 to Cape Charles by US  President Grover Cleveland  were added to the normal fare of excellent food and musical entertainment. Eldest Daughter, Middle Daughter,  a friend and I had tickets for the earliest group, the “Santa Group”,  with a kick-off  time of 3:30 at  Art’s Enter’s Palace Theater.  There we received our red badges, programs and started off with the evening’s first appetizer, a chili-glazed beef  kabob with Virginia peanut dipping sauce.   Then, a quick and easy walk  to Site # 2, the Bay Creek Railway Car, a fully restored vintage car originally used between 1915 and 1940’s, where  Vignette # 1 began,  a  cordial conversation between Alexander Cassatt  ( brother to the famous painter, Mary Cassatt) and Wm. Scott, founder of Cape Charles, as they prepared  to board for a railroad  trip from Cape Charles to New York.   Then,  boarding the railway car ourselves, we sampled our second appetizer, a rich Scottish smoked salmon with tomato aioli and creme fraiche, served on dill focaccia,  prepared by Aqua Restaurant.  Although I am not a huge fan of smoked salmon, this was moist and melt-in-the-mouth luscious, a 4 star.

Next,  a walk to the fully restored vintage 1950’s ranch home on Monroe Avenue owned by Tom and Kathy Bonadeo for the pasta course. a pasta primevera in alfredo sauce, prepared by Little Italy Restaurant.  The pasta was accompanied by sparkling cider or nice local wines from Holly Grove Vineyards in Franktown,VA   and the very pleasant musical entertainment by Sarah Scott, flautist.

From there  we were off to another home on Monroe Avenue, the well-known Kellogg House, a Flemish bond brick Colonial Revival, definitely one of the finest homes ever built in Cape Charles. Vignette # 2, starring Blue Heron’s own David Kabler,  told the story of  the exciting news of President Cleveland’s impending visit. Afterwards, a broth-based vegetable crab soup prepared by Machipongo Clam Shack was served,  piping hot and very tasty, quite welcome after our little jaunts around town.

Off next to  the newly opened Fig Street Inn,  located at the corner of Tazewell Avenue and Fig Street.   Originally built by one of Cape Charles’ prominent families, the Wilson family, owners of the town’s first department store, this home is located on land purchased from the estate of Cape Charles founder, Wm. Scott. The house needed substantial renovation when purchased by the current owners and they have done a marvelous job, it looks just resplendent  dressed in its holiday finery.  The Vignette here starred  Trina Veber  ( AKA Mrs. Santa from the Grand Illumination presentation) and  Linda Spence,  society ladies getting ready to meet their husbands and hear more news about President Cleveland’s  Cape Charles visit.  Afterwards,  a salad course of mixed greens with almonds, feta and cranberries was served, tossed with a tangy apple cider dressing,  everything crisp and tasty, prepared by the Exmore Diner, an Eastern Shore landmark.

From the Inn, a quick walk  up Tazewell Avenue to the home of  Mr. and Mrs. Dan Dougherty, built on land purchased directly from  Wm. Scott in 1883.  This lovely home still retains one of the original hitching posts remaining in Cape Charles and lo and behold,  a real live horse, a miniature, was hitched there, quietly nibbling at the grass and in general ignoring all the fuss around it.  Wines from Chatham Vineyards, a fine local winery, were served with a trio of cheeses and apple  slices in a pretty presentation  from  Gull Hummock Gourmet Market, located in in downtown Cape Charles,  after the Vignette which featured  Thomas Dixon and Wm. Fitzhugh, both prominent in Cape Charles society, planning a hunting trip out to our Barrier Islands which would likely include President Cleveland.

And a zip-zip across the street brought us to the beautiful Tazewell Avenue 1920’s home of  Mr. and Mrs. John Schulz. Mr. Schulz , a former Navy pilot, employee of Voice of America and foreign correspondent has many unique art pieces from around the world which he was kind enough to expound upon for our group.  After a tour of the home we were treated to music of the season played by the dynamic duo of  Malcolm, on violin,  and Carol Russ, on accordion.  It’s always a treat to be nearby when Malcolm and Carol play.  ( In fact,  they added greatly to the ambiance of  Blue Heron’s period- attire party aboard the tall ship Kalmar Nychol this past June. )  The  entree’ was served here,  a succulent  presentation of braised duck in a port wine reduction accompanied by goat cheese mashers and asparagus spears,  expertly prepared by Kelly’s  Pub located on Mason Avenue in historic downtown Cape Charles.

And last but not least,  dessert at Heyward Hall,  individual apple rum cakes, expertly  prepared by Amy B. Catering,  served with aromatic coffee brewed by the Eastern Shore Coastal Roasting Co., both enjoyed while being entertained by the mellow harmony of  Eastern Shore’s own  Acclaim Barbershop Quartet.  And then who should stride out on the stage to deliver a strong  “thank-you for your hospitality” speech ??   You guessed it,  the final Vignette of the evening featured President Grover Cleveland  congratulating the gathered Cape Charles citizens on their vision and foresight in developing the railroad and planning for the new steamer which would carry passengers and rail cars across the Chesapeake Bay.   With that speech, the  2011 Progressive Dinner Tour concluded for the “Santa Group” although about 10 or so later groups, presumably named after his reindeer, were wending their way through.   It was a lovely night, the food was great, as was the entertainment– and we managed to work off  at least a few calories as we strolled from site to site on a beautiful December’s evening.

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

Candles And Carols, Lights And Smiles Highlighted The 1st Annual Grand Illumination In Cape Charles, Virginia

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Follow The Luminaries To Find The Gazebo

Newly dedicated this past September,   the Cape Charles, Virginia  Central Park was the site of  the  1st Annual Grand Illumination scheduled for  6:30 Saturday evening,  December 4th.  My granddaughter and I arrived  early after having had a nice afternoon on the Victorian Stroll,  touring three lovely Cape Charles Victorian B&B  historic homes.  ( If you are thinking about buying a Victorian home on the Eastern Shore of Virginia,  check out our website,  www.blueheronva.com . )  Volunteers,  like busy elves, were lighting the hundreds of  luminaries that had been placed on each side of the  Park’s long curved walkways and around the perimeters of the fountain, welcome  points of light gleaming in the falling darkness.   About 6:15  people started to arrive,  eager to participate in this very first Illumination event for the Park, young,  old,  teenagers,  toddlers,  everybody wearing  a smile,  ready with cheery  holiday hello,  heading over to the Gazebo,   following the curving path outlined by glowing  luminaries.

Chris Bannon, Master of Ceremonies, With The Choir

Chris Bannon  ( of  Seagate B&B,  part of the earlier Victorian Stroll ),  dressed in a bright red Santa jacket and hat,  acted as Master of Ceremonies.  Once everybody had gathered round the huge Park gazebo,  organizers passed out candles and a  choir sang a selection of carols,  audience joining in.  It was a pretty chilly night by  Eastern Shore Virginia standards and I hadn’t brought a coat,  just a blazer and scarf,  having not properly accounted for the strong breeze factor.  So  by the time everyone was singing  Jingle Bells,  I was stomping my feet to the beat of the music to keep warm.  Jingle bells,  stomp, stomp, stomp,  Jingle Bells,  stomp, stomp, stomp…  You get the picture.  Fortunately,  my granddaughter had come prepared —  jacket,  beanie,  mittens,  so at least she was toasty warm even as I was doing  jazzercise steps.   The candles were then lit,  in honor of  and in memory of loved ones,  by the  Town Manager, the Chief of Police and a representative of the Cape Charles Coast Guard Station who all came down into the audience to do the honors after being introduced by Chris.

Candles and Carols

Candles burned brightly,  another round of carols was sung,  more jazzercise for me.   Then the big moment was almost there,  time for the Countdown to Illumination,  time to turn on the thousands of lights that had been strung to decorate  Central Park by the Cape Charles Public Works Department.  Mayor Dora Sullivan did the honors ….  5, 4 ,3, 2, 1.  Simultaneously, as instructed,  the audience blew out their candles and as they did so,  Mayor Sullivan threw the light switch.  Voila,  lights shone brightly throughout the Park,  beautiful to behold,  a reward in sparkling  colors,  a gift to everyone there from  “Citizens for Central Park”,  a  group  which worked tirelessly over the years to help make the Park and moments like this possible  for the Town and its residents ! 

Straight From The North Pole, Santa And Mrs. Claus

 With  the dazzling blue lights  decorating the roof  of the  gazebo shining brilliantly above them,  Santa and Mrs. Claus made a  “surprise”  appearance,  even did a little  North Pole style do-se-do for the delighted crowd,  then settled down to visit  with some very excited kids.   Santa dispensed smiles and hugs,  kids shyly whispered their gift requests,  then said goodbye,  smiles on their faces,  candy canes in their hands,  no doubt visions of sugar plums dancing  in their heads.   Candles, carols and candy canes,  lights,  smiles and friendship —  highlights of  the very first of what we hope are many more Grand Illuminations to come at  the Cape Charles Central Park.

A Jam Packed Day — The Victorian Stroll And The 1st Annual Grand Illumination In Cape Charles, Virginia

Friday, December 10th, 2010

It’s that time again,  the celebrations of  the holidays  are upon us !   This year,  three of the  Bed and Breakfasts  located in the historic area of  Cape Charles, Virginia offered a new afternoon event,  the Victorian  Stroll.  Entirely fitting of course,  because Cape Charles is Virginia’s prettiest  Victorian coastal town, especially during the holidays.  ( See our listings  of  Victorian historic homes for sale in Cape Charles at  www.blueheronva.com )  Throughout town,  eves,  gables and front porches are aglow with thousands of twinkling lights in reds and greens, blues and yellows.  I especially love the strings of  white lights,  they glitter and burn with such intensity.  Also scheduled for early  evening that same day was the 1st Annual Grand Illumination in the newly dedicated Cape Charles Central Park.  So my six year old granddaughter and I decided to do the town pink and go to both events.

Seagate B&B

First off  on our tour was  Seagate B&B,  located just a stone’s throw from Cape Charles’ excellent sand beach. ( www.seagatebb.com ) Proprietor Chris Bannon gave us the grand tour of his lovely home which has the notable distinction of being the  longest continuously operating  B&B  in Cape Charles.  Chris had his entire home dressed to the T  for the holidays but our favorite room was the formal dining room.  Featuring  a library area and lots of antiques, the beautiful  dining room looked as it must have looked in yesteryear,  mantel decorated with pine roping and other greenery, elaborate stockings hung  for Santa to fill,  sideboard festive , classic table set with holiday candles,  plush oriental rug in deep reds gracing the hardwood floor.  And presiding over it all, lounging in her antique chair with soft  red velvet cushions, was Raggedy Ann,  large as life and awfully cute,  keeping a close eye on the nearby Christmas tree, watching for more presents to appear.  Then we said goodbye to Chris,  who was off  to Central Park to help get ready for  the 6:30 Grand  Illumination.

Cape Charles House B&B

Next stop,  Cape Charles House. ( www.capecharleshouse.com )  Walking into the wide foyer area, we were greeted by Carol Evans, who together with her husband Bruce, operates  this elegant  B&B,  a recipient of the coveted Governor’s Hospitality Award.  Carol said that Bruce had been a bit short of time and hadn’t finished all the planned decorating but the house looked lovely to us,  festive garland strung around the doors, stockings hung beneath the mantel.   The large dining room table featured a luxurious arrangement of magnolia cuttings, the deep green shiny leaves perfect for the season,  tastefully complementing the green wall color.   Upstairs, I especially loved the decor of the   “Thomas Dixon Room”, with its spinning wheel,  dressmaker’s form hung with a 1900’s silk dress  and  ladies’ old fashioned high boot hung from the mantel.   However, the hit of  Cape Charles House  for  my granddaughter was not the great decor or the festive Christmas greenery– no,  it was a huge,  fat and furry white cat asleep on the bed, completely undisturbed by the swirl of people  touring thorough.  When  she decided to pet it,  kitty  just raised his head,  stared at her,  then lay back down again,  completely bored by it all— until suddenly up he jumped,  making  a beeline for the back stairs to the kitchen,  leaving all his admirers behind !

Sterling House B&B

Final stop on the Victorian Stroll tour,  Sterling House  ( www.sterlinghousecapecharles.com ),  run by proprietor Steve Hairfield with  his rescued greyhound, Duelin,  as the second in command.  When we entered the long foyer with its gorgeous  hardwood floors,  Steve was kind enough to ask Duelin to come downstairs to greet my granddaughter.  Definitely it was love at first sight !   Child and dog settled on the sofa to discuss secrets of the season,  lights from the beautifully decorated tree glowing softly beside them.    Steve has a great deal of  Cape Charles artwork displayed and the paintings of scenes from the beach and marina really add to the flavor of  this home where the Chesapeake Bay can be seen from the front porch.  Like Seagate and Cape Charles House,  the dining room at Sterling House was dressed in its best,  decorated for the season and looking  picture perfect,  with greenery, candles, mantel pieces, striking  red tablecloth and poinsettias.  Dusk was well settled as we were leaving about 5:30.  Outside,  the long strings of  bright white lights  sparkled and glowed,  illuminating this striking home and the be-ribboned wreathes hanging from its windows,  a dazzling holiday sight.   And more festivities yet to come at the Grand Illumination later !