Tangier Island, Virginia — This Tiny Island In The Stream Hits The Big Time On ESPN !

by: Marlene email

Most people have heard about Tangier Island,  Virginia  at some point  ( the  Island has  been the subject of  various  articles now and again) but who could have guessed that  Tangier would be the forcus of  a national marketing campaign by ESPN ? ?    Until now  the biggest thing I knew about Tangier is this—it is sooooo small !   Only about a mile wide and two and a half miles long,   Tangier Island  stands literally in the middle of the stream,  the mighty Chesapeake Bay stream,  a mere speck  on the horizon as you approach it.  The approach being  strictly by air or by boat  because unless you are Johnny Weissmuller  redux  ( or Michael Phelps ),  ain’t no other way to get there since there is no bridge and the nearest  land is the Eastern Shore of Virginia,  nearly fourteen miles away.  This isolation is reflected in the Tangier “dialect”  which is a bit of a throwback to Elizabethan English and  sometimes can be a little  hard to understand,  especially the old-timers.  ( True story— when we first moved to the Eastern Shore,  my husband was having lunch at Paul’s Restaurant ,  gone now but not forgotten and  people still reminisce about Ron and Gerry Crumb’s  chocolate cream pies.   A  group of six older fellows  were seated at the table next to him,  talking animatedly.  The  conversation was floating  around  him and my husband,  who is not particularly a language buff,  was trying to figure out what language they were speaking.   Curiosity finally got him,  he leaned over and said  ” Excuse me,  but what country are you fellows  from ? ”   They all stared  at him and one guy finally said  ” Well,  matey,  what the heck country are YOU from ? ”   And that was his introduction to Tangier- style pronunciation of  our  native tongue. )

Originally settled in the late 1700’s,   the Island’s population has shrunk from about 1500 in the early 1900’s to  under 600 today and that’s counting every man, woman, child and parakeet.   Golf carts,  bicycles and feet  ( yes,  actual walking from place to place on shank’s mare )  are the main forms of  island transportation.  One place visitors always want  to stop at  on Tangier Island is the Chesapeake House,  a quaint B&B and excellent restaurant  serving veritable feasts of crab cakes,  crab soup, crab fritters, fried soft shell crabs,  Virginia country ham,  the best hot yeast rolls ever and other delicious  home cooked,  mouth-watering foods.   Homemade pound cake with strawberries in season,  yes, yes, yes.   ( www.chesapeakehouse/tangier.com).  And,  of course,  everything crab is so fresh it was probably still swimming around the night before because the seafood business is the main business  on Tangier.   So,  if it’s crab and it’s from Tangier,  it has got to be good.

It stands to reason that a person would definitely be ready for a little  fun and entertainment  after a busy day out on the boat,  hauling crab pots in and out of the water,  busheling up the catch  or a long day in one of the myriad crab houses dotting the harbor,  watching for the hard shell crabs  to get ready to moult  ( the  “peelers” )  and then quickly scooping the  just  “busted-out soft shells”  from  the water before the new shell can harden, which is a fairly  narrow window of time so paying attention is important.  After work,  it seems that a big part of  that fun and entertainment is sports.   According to the ESPN3 web page,  Tangier has been named the   “The Biggest* Sports Town In America” .  *Per capita, of course !   Having fun themselves with that theme,  ESPN3   just  filmed a series of  eight commercial spots on Tangier,  each  featuring various Island residents talking about and cheering for their favorite college football teams.  ESPN’s ads,  two  of  which are attached to this blog post , were  filmed on Tangier  over the course of a week .   They  are  pretty funny  ( just watch the crab races )  and down-home authentic,  and are scheduled to  be streamed  on Monday Night Football.   Great for ESPN,   great for Tangier,  a tiny island in the stream which has finally hit the big ESPN time !   Go, Tangier,  go !    (And if you love the videos of  Tangier and want information on buying real estate on Tangier Island,  give Blue Heron Realty Co. a call– we can help you.)

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