Sights & Bites

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C O V E R F E AT U R I N G :

Virginia Dare Cruises Sightseeing cruises and events on Smith Mountain Lake va d a r e c r u i s e s . c o m | 5 4 0 -2 9 7-7 1 0 0

Welcome Drive-ins, daycations and drives through the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway are just a few hallmarks of beautiful Southern Virginia and Upstate North Carolina. Explore the quaint countryside between Raleigh and Richmond to find hidden wonders to satisfy the need for adventure even in the most inconvenient of times.

Whether it’s waterfront dining at Mango’s in Moneta or picking peanuts harvested here in Virginia, the “Womack Region” offers regional cuisine with abundant outside seating to beckon in the warm southern sun and the crisp fall breezes. Mountains, lakes, beaches and sprawling botanical gardens are never more than an afternoon’s drive away. Southern Virginia and North Carolina welcome you to a unique region of the East Coast where adventure and leisure is always one step around the corner.

E x p l o r e A l l T h at Virgini a & North C arolina h a s to Offer With

SIGHTS & BITES Interested in Advertising with Us?

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GRAPHIC DESIGN Jasmaine Motley, Susan Lambert, Amanda Meadows, Lizbeth Nauta SALES Tommie Jo Walker, Darian Liles, Emilie Bennett, Lisa Wells, Debra Ferrell, Randy Velvin EDITORIAL Lanie Davis, Jeremy Moser, Elias Weiss, William Seidel, C.E. Adams, Victoria Remley, Dale Edwards, Adam Powell, Debra Ferrell, Kellen Holtzman, Luci Weldon, Tammy Dunn, Christopher Finley 2020 SIGHTS & BITES 3

Race On Over To Aunt Millie’s For Your Favorite Pizza! 249 Broad St. MILTON, NC (336) 234-0240 Monday-Thursday 11am-8pm Friday & Saturday 11am-9pm Sunday 12:30pm-7:00pm WWW.AUNTMILLIESPIZZA.COM


Offer New Experiences By Lanie Davis

While long vacations might not be feasible for some, there are several opportunities in the area for day trips to experience new and exciting things not too far from home. Whether it’s a small town in the mountains of Virginia or a city on the North Carolina coast, there are destinations around the region for everyone.

For those who like... WINE AND MOUNTAINS. Floyd, Virginia. Floyd is home to Chateau Morrisette, a dog friendly winery that has a tasting room and tours available. Eat lunch at their restaurant on property or sit on the lawn and enjoy the scenery with a bottle of wine. While in Floyd, visit the Floyd Country Store or the Farmer’s Market. If traveling along the Blue Ridge Parkway, don’t forget to stop by Mabry Mill, a historic waterpowered grist mill, sawmill and nearby blacksmith shop built in 1910, for a photo. HISTORY AND THE OUTDOORS. Danville, Virginia. Danville is a city rich in history, from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement. Schedule a segway tour along the downtown areas to learn more about the city and its most historic places, including Lady Astor’s birthplace. If the outdoors is more your speed, visit Angler’s Park to walk or ride on one of their many trails or rent a kayak and go out on the Dan River. For lunch or dinner, try out one of the many restaurants in Danville’s recently revived River District, such as Mucho Taqueria, a taco and tequila bar, or The Garage, a BBQ joint. Danville’s Riverwalk Trail


Mucho Taqueria

Crooked Tail Cat Cafe

Smith Mountain Lake

A GOOD SCARE. Wilmington, North Carolina. In Wilmington’s waterfront district, there are several eclectic shops and dining experiences to take part in. Take a stroll down Front Street and observe the Battleship North Carolina. Grab tickets for a Ghost Walk or Haunted Pub Crawl of Old Wilmington, or opt for the less spooky Hollywood Location Walk that shows off the city’s cinema experience. While visiting, don’t forget to stop by Slice of Life Pizzeria and Pub for lunch and grab some doughnuts at Wake and Bake to take home with you. A CHILL DAY AWAY. Greensboro, North Carolina. Greensboro’s downtown area offers something for everyone, from animal to art lovers. Take a breather and play with precious felines at the Crooked Tail Cat Cafe or catch a show at the Carolina Theatre. If recreation is more your speed, visit LaBauer Park on North Davie Street to relax in the sun or play a game of ping pong. For dinner, try Crafted: The Art of the Taco on Elm Street or get “fine burgers and beer” at Hop’s Burger Bar on Spring Garden Street. 6 SIGHTS & BITES 2020

TO BE NEAR THE WATER. Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia. While beaches may be crowded currently, lakes nearby also offer water activities and entertainment. At Smith Mountain Lake, take a dip in the lake using a public access point. After fun in the sun, head to Bridgewater Plaza where there are several different restaurants to choose from, including a pizza pub and Mango’s Bar and Grill, a lakeside restaurant that offers a “tropical state of mind.” The Palace also has an arcade and mini golf to keep the children satisfied. On the way home, stop by the Homestead Creamery’s Farm Market and pick up some of their homemade ice cream.•••

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE By Christopher Finley

With more than 20,000 acres of pristine waters and 500 miles of picturesque shoreline, Smith Mountain Lake is an outdoor lover’s paradise located at the foot of the magnificent Blue Ridge Mountains. While many at The Lake enjoy serene boat excursions or time spent relaxing on the dock with family and friends, others favor the heart-pumping action of water sports such as wakeboarding and tubing. Virginia’s second largest freshwater body of water, Smith Mountain Lake is one of the Mid-Atlantic’s premier fishing des-

tinations, attracting both casual and competitive anglers. The prized catch here is striped bass, which can measure upwards of 37 inches. Equally engaging activities and attractions await off the water, including renowned golf courses, historic monuments, eclectic shopping venues, hiking and biking trails, wineries and craft breweries. Smith Mountain Lake hosts a variety of fun-filled events throughout the year, including its annual Wine Festival the last weekend in September. Enjoy tastings from nearly 30 Virginia wineries, peruse the unique wares of craft artisans and listen to a mix of sounds and styles from live bands – all along scenic shores. Log on to for more information or to request a FREE Visitor Guide filled with everything you need to plan the perfect Smith Mountain Lake vacation. ••• Photos by J Bohn Bishop

Wish you were here... With more than 500 miles of shoreline, Smith Mountain Lake is the perfect road trip destination with many on and off-water

experiences along the way. Visitors will find parks, hiking, biking, horseback riding, and picnicking in green open spaces. When the sun hits the shore, be the seeker.

Take a




Strives To Be A Vacation Destination By William Seidel One of the most popular locations at Smith Mountain Lake to enjoy a meal and drinks with live music is Mango’s Bar & Grill. Located at the Bridgewater Plaza at 16430 Booker T. Washington Highway in Moneta, the seasonal restaurant opens on the first of March and closes the week before Christmas. It is known for its locally popular American grilled food and live concerts every Friday and Saturday between Memorial Day and Labor Day. On any given weekend, Mango’s could easily fill up its outdoor dining patio with 300600 people, and there’s a reason for that. Mango’s General Manager Jason Hodnett stressed that customer service is a top priority at Mango’s and they are always finding ways to help make the customer experience at their restaurant an enjoyable one. “We want to make sure they have a positive experience, especially those that are on vacation, so they next time they come back for vacation, they’ll decide to eat at Mango’s again,” Hodnett said. One of the most notable live concerts held each year takes place in July during Pirate Days at the Pirate Ball. Even with COVID-19 pandemic restrictions of 50 percent capacity, the 2020 Pirate Ball was still a huge success. Mango’s was already at full capacity for the Pirate Ball in less than an hour, and many people had to stand on the decks above the restaurant to watch and enjoy the concert. Those who wanted to get in had to be over 21 and purchase tickets ahead of time. Regardless of protocols, concert-goers were not going to let the pandemic stop them from celebrating one of the most anticipated events of Smith Mountain Lake. Many visitors gathered at the Bar & Grill dressed in pirate outfits, enjoying live music from the band Out of Spite — all while being spaced out, in contrast to shoulder-to-shoulder gatherings at other concerts. Having to be seated at tables and practice social distancing, many visitors enjoyed ice-cold beverages, cheered on the band, and chatted it up with their friends as they took advantage of celebrating any way they can. While practicing social distancing, concert-goers seemed eager to chat with one another. That’s the type of environment that Mango’s brings every weekend — a weekend where anybody can escape the problems of the outside world. Once you walk down those steps to the restaurant, your problems almost seem nonexistent, as the fun atmo-

sphere overtakes any stress or worry that you may have been feeling prior. It’s not just weekends where you can have a stress-free evening, as Mango’s features karaoke on Thursday nights and hosts other local events. One such activity is the Lyrics on the Lake Open Mic Competition series that raises money for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in Roanoke and Lynchburg, through the Musicpreneur Storehouse Foundation. The Open Mic Competition had a different format in 2020 due to the pandemic. It normally starts in early May and goes through the middle of June, which leads up to the Lyrics on the Lake Songwriters Festival, but that festival was ultimately canceled. Mango’s still wanted to contribute to Children’s Miracle Network despite the setback, so the Open Mic Competition was held later in the year starting in June and extended. “What we decided to do to still help raise money for Children’s Miracle Network was that we extended it, so instead of doing one eight-week competition, we’re doing two sevenweek competitions and that will go into September this year,” Hodnett said during the competition. “The way that we do it is that there is a six-week individual competition and the winner from all six weeks compete in a finale.” Due to a weather cancelation, the first Lyrics on the Lake Open Mic Competition only had five finalists who competed Aug. 5 for the grand prize. Originally, the grand winner would be offered a trip to Nashville with some studio time and the option to work with some of the professional songwriters. Because of all the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, a $250 cash prize was awarded to each grand prize winner. The two winners from the competitions also have an

opportunity to play in next year’s Lyrics on the Lake Songwriters Festival and the Smith Mountain Lake Wine Festival. As for menu offerings, many restaurants had implemented limited menus due to the pandemic, but nothing on Mango’s menu has changed. Food choices include wraps, wings, tacos and burgers. The Mango’s Signature Burger is widely considered to be the most popular choice on the menu for the bar and grill. The signature burger features 1/3-pound ground sirloin, with American cheese, bacon, a fried egg, lettuce, tomato and red onion with chipotle mayo served on a brioche bun. Of its drink choices, Mango’s has a signature drink called the Mango Hurricane. This drink features New Amsterdam Mango Vodka, Melon Liqueur, Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, Grenadine, Pineapple and Sours. Once spring arrives and lasting through summer, Mango’s is a fun-filled place to be on weekend nights — with lots of laughter and good memories to be made with friends and family, to a wonderful staff that provides topnotch customer service and care, and quality food that will satisfy every appetizing needs.•••

Band Pictured: Out of Spite from the 2020 Pirate Ball at Mango’s Bar & Grill.

Visit Mango’s Bar & Grill: Bridgewater Plaza 16430 Booker T. Washington Hwy | Moneta, VA


Two Virginia Lakes Two Lake Lifestyles

Anderson at Long & Foster Caters To Both By William Seidel Finding the right home can be challenging in the Smith Mountain Lake (SML) area. Look no further than Reg Anderson, realtor for Long & Foster Real Estate. Having been in the realtor business for about 20 years, Anderson brings a lot of experience and credentials to the table. Some of Anderson’s specialties involve working with first-time homebuyers, vacation properties, country homes, senior living, house farms and much more. He has worked in seven counties and can assist homebuyers in localities such as Altavista, Boones Mill, Ferrum, Hardy, Roanoke, Rocky Mount, Salem, Vinton and others. The areas Anderson loves to serve and considers his main strength is at Smith Mountain Lake and Leesville Lake. “My tagline is two Virginia lakes, two lake lifestyles,” he said. “I’ve always loved the mountains, water, fishing, boating and everything that this area offers. It’s easy for me to sell it because I live it.” Anderson mentioned that the Leesville Lake area is a challenge in comparison to SML, but he loves a good challenge. Anderson said it’s every bit as pretty as SML but it’s much smaller in lake size. He also said that it’s a great alternative for people who like peace, quiet and the outdoor nature, while SML has boats, jet skis and much more. That’s why he says the two lakes represent different lifestyles. Which lake is ideal depends on what the clients are looking for. “It’s just two different clients. You have those that want golf courses, excitement, fast boats and all the things that Smith Mountain Lake offers. Then you have some that just want to hangout to canoe, kayak, fish and enjoy nature,” Anderson said. “It’s two lakes and two lifestyles.” Anderson wasn’t always a realtor his whole career, but he was always involved in sales in some fashion. In fact, he was an entrepreneur and a retail store owner at one point. While he had success doing that, it didn’t bring him happiness. It all 10 SIGHTS & BITES 2020

changed when Anderson and his wife moved to the area and his realtor told him that he should be a realtor himself. “I never really thought about it before until she said that,” he said. Anderson then decided that he was going to sell what he loved, and that was the SML area. It has paid dividends for him. Anderson has the reputation and status as one of the top producers in sales in the Long & Foster Hales Ford Bridge office at both lakes. If someone still needs more convincing, just look at the five-star reviews from clients who highly recommend him. “Reg was very helpful and went out of his way to help us – showed us several houses till we found the right one. Was also helpful after we bought the house with suggestions and contacts,” one comment read. Another comment read: “I can’t say enough good things about Reg. He was absolutely instrumental in helping us achieve our dream of owning a house on a lake. He was very professional. His knowledge of the area was very impressive. He took the time to listen to what we really wanted and to help us see all possibilities. And so very patient. Several times he went beyond the call of duty to help us. On a scale of 1-10, he is a 20.” Anderson said he works very hard on his marketing and enjoys helping people find their dream homes. One thing he always strives to be is honest, and he will always be a straight shooter with his clients. It’s one of his main strengths when talking to his clients. Anderson said that it takes a lot of strengths to be a realtor, but his personal strengths are patience, perseverance and integrity. His strengths lead to lots of happiness in this field for Anderson, because it allows him to help people to the best of his abilities.•••

Listing, Selling, and Assisting Buyers at Smith Mountain Lake and Leesville Lake. Integrity & Care are my Pledge, Call


540.580.6960 • 2020 SIGHTS & BITES 11


An in-depth interview on what it has to offer By C.E. Adams


he Blue Ridge Parkway is a massive scenic route that weaves through North Carolina and Virginia mountains and other natural landscapes. If you enjoy nature and are looking for a relaxing adventure, the Parkway has a lot to offer — not just the sightseeing aspect but also trails, campgrounds, events and more. Sights and Bites caught up with Caitlin Worth, volunteer coordinator and external affairs at Blue Ridge Parkway, to interview her about the Parkway, covering everything from its history, the best sights, lodging, events and volunteers. C.E. ADAMS, SIGHTS & BITES: So first of all, if you would, tell me about the Blue Ridge Parkway. WORTH: The Blue Ridge Parkway is a 469-mile long scenic motor road, built to connect Shenandoah National Park to the north to Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the south. The Parkway meanders its way across mountain ridges and through valleys and connects visitors to small towns and cities along this route. It’s a pretty neat experience. S&B: When was it constructed? W: It was authorized in 1933, and the construction began Sept. 11 of 1935, and that was really right at the state line at Cumberland (Knob), which is technically in North Carolina, but that’s right near the state line between North Carolina and Virginia. S&B: So why do you think somebody should visit Blue Ridge Parkway? W: The Blue Ridge Parkway offers an opportunity to get away from the hustle and bustle of life today. It’s unusual to find a 469-mile long motor road with no

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stoplights, no stop signs. The road was built with a 45-mileper-hour speed limit in mind. This gives people an opportunity to take a break and drive on a section of road that was built just for the joy of driving and to really experience the Appalachian Mountains and the Blue Ridge in a way that is hard to find on another stretch of road. S&B: For people thinking about visiting the Blue Ridge Parkway, is there anything that might be important for them to know about? W: One of the most important things is that it was built unlike highways and interstates, so it’s important that people come with the expectation that it’s about the journey. It’s meant to be experienced over several days if you intend to drive the whole thing, not a few hours. And it’s really important to take your time and let the road kind of soothe you. I think that people aren’t used to driving a road that’s all about the experience rather than just getting somewhere, so it’s important for people to understand that it’s meant to be a ride-a-while, stop-a-while sort of experience, and a lot of people make the mistake of being in a hurry while they’re on the Parkway. S&B: You mentioned that it should take several days. Are there any lodging on the route that people can stop at? W: So the Parkway has, for one thing, multiple campgrounds, so that’s an option if you’re looking for a more primitive experience at one of the eight campgrounds along the motor route. There are also two lodges that are currently in operation: One is at Peaks of Otter Lodge, which is near milepost 86 that’s closest to the town of Bedford in Virginia, and the other is the Pisgah Inn, which is down south of Asheville, North Carolina. A lot of folks who travel the Parkway — although some do camp and stay in these lodging facilities on the Parkway — plan trips and make stops in the communities that join the Parkway,

whereas, there are lots of opportunities for both lodging and food and attractions off of the motor road. S&B: So what’s the historical significance of the Parkway? W: Well, the Blue Ridge Parkway is the longest road planned as a single unit in the United States. And unlike most National Park areas, it’s a planned landscape — planned down to the smallest detail on ways that most visitors probably don’t even notice at first glance, which makes it unique. Beyond the design, which is historically significant, I think in its own right, it is also what we call a museum of the managed American countryside. It preserves everything from a rough-hewn log cabin in multiple places, historic cabin sites along the motor road, and the summer home of a textile magnate near Blowing Rock to even traces of early industry such as logging and railroads and even a lock-based canal system at the James River. So lots of historical significance along the Parkway, lots of interesting stops for history buffs. S&B: So the Parkway was intended from the start to be more of a scenic route instead of just for travel, right? W: Yes, absolutely. And that’s one of the things that’s certainly different about the Parkway as compared to just any other highway. It was created as a national rural roadway with limited access, so it was designed to never be crossed in multiple places by highways and have a bunch of accesses from roads in the surrounding area to maintain that recreational driving experience and keep it free of commercial traffic. S&B: Are there any other notable locations where visitors stop at that you want to mention? W: The most iconic historic resource that folks often stop at along a Blue Ridge Parkway journey is Mabry Mill. Mabry Mill is an overshot waterwheel gristmill that’s located in Virginia south of Roanoke at milepost 176. Mabry Mill is a neat

2020 SIGHTS & BITES 13

spot to stop and visit. There’s both a gristmill and a cabin and several other outbuildings that would have generally been associated with a mountain farm — all in one spot so visitors can get out and actually see the mill in operation and have lunch at the Mabry Mill Restaurant that’s also on site. S&B: Are there any programming plans for 2021? W: At this point, we don’t have any hard dates for 2021 special events. Typically in a given year, there are events across the Parkway — they vary in size and scale — and I can speak a little bit about what a typical event season would look like for those events that are typically recurring. I can’t speak to whether they will occur in 2021 at this point, because everything is such an unknown. But one of our most popular special events that’s been going on for many years now is the Overmountain Victory Celebration that typically happens in September. Overmountain is basically a celebration and a look back at the history of the Overmountain Men, which is a story that harkens back to the Revolutionary War. It’s an interesting piece of art history — it’s interesting to think about the Revolutionary War taking place at all in western North Carolina, but that’s an opportunity for visitors to learn about that piece of history. … Also, the James River Transportation Festival is an interesting one; it typically occurs in July. James River has a working lock system, a canal lock system that would have allowed easier travel by boat to bring goods across the James River. They do some demonstrations of the historic lock, but they also have examples of the many different ways that people traveled the Parkway throughout history, from prehistory of the Parkway to early vehicles and automobiles, and it’s a neat one if you’re interested in transportation history. S&B: Has the Parkway received any recognition? W: Beyond the fact that the Blue Ridge Parkway is most often one of the most visited National Park units in the system — which is not exactly an official recognition but it’s something to keep in mind — the Parkway is also dedicated as a National 14 SIGHTS & BITES 2020

Scenic Byway. S&B: You mentioned it as one of the most visited parks in the system, so how many people travel through? W: It varies each year based primarily on lengthy seasonal road closures if they do or do not occur based on weather, but the Parkway typically receives anywhere between 14 and 16 million visitors a year, and that pretty much puts us firmly in either the number one or number two most visited National Park unit in the country for years running at this point. S&B: Where are the main entry points? W: The busiest entry points on the Parkway are found near the largest towns or most popular tourist areas. So these are, starting from south to north: • Cherokee, North Carolina — that’s the end of the Parkway or the southern terminus where the Parkway meets Great Smoky Mountains National Park, so that’s a big entrance for us. • Asheville — all of the entrances in Asheville are very busy. • I would also include Blowing Rock and Boone area in that list of main entry points. • Then, of course, in Virginia, the entrance near Roanoke and near Peaks of Otter are probably the two busiest. • And the entrance there on the very north end where the Parkway joins Shenandoah. S&B: Where are some markers that visitors can stop at for good views? W: I think that’s a very personal question. The Parkway maintains almost 400 overlooks and 900-plus roadside vistas that you see as you’re driving — all part of that design landscape idea — and so there are lots of choices when it comes to vistas. I found that each person finds the Parkway view that fits their tastes. If you’re looking for that pastoral open meadow landscape, you’ll love Doughton Park, near milepost 240, or the area at Rocky Knob, which is close to Mabry Mill. But if you’re looking for mountain vistas — high mountain views from high passes — you’d probably prefer to get on the Parkway near

Blowing Rock and drive past Grandfather Mountain and some of the high peaks in North Carolina, or drive the section south of Asheville. At all of these places, you’re going to find dozens of overlooks to choose from. S&B: So you have people on staff or volunteers at visitor centers who can help guide people to where they may be interested in visiting, right? W: Absolutely. Visitor centers are an excellent resource for visitors as they come through the Parkway. They’re staffed traditionally with rangers or volunteers or members of our cooperating organizations who manage our park bookstores and things of that nature, and those folks are all a wealth of resources in terms of helping with trip planning and giving great tips for that next great hike. S&B: You mentioned hiking. How many locations are there? W: There are 369 miles of trail on the Parkway — about 136 trails. They start throughout the Parkway, although there are several developed areas along the Parkway where you’ll find maybe a picnic area or a campground associated with a trail system. These are often what we would call the pearls on the string. Some of the great examples are areas like Humpback Rocks, which is on the very far north end of the Parkway. It has a great historic area, hiking trails and a picnic area all located in the same location. These types of places are destinations where people could come and spend the majority of the day to check out one spot along the whole length of the Parkway. S&B: As far as upkeep, do volunteers play a big part?

W: It definitely does. We have a lot of volunteers on the Parkway. Over 1,000 in any given year contribute time to Blue Ridge Parkway. On the Parkway, which is kind of unusual for the Park Service, the vast majority of hours that our volunteers donate to us are in the maintenance category. We have a lot of volunteers who come in to do everything from overlook maintenance — picking up trash and doing light maintenance on overlooks — to putting in massive amounts of time reconstructing and rehabilitating sections of trail on the Parkway. So, yes, maintenance is just one of the places where volunteers play a role on the Parkway, but it’s the largest chunk for sure. They provide a tremendous service to Blue Ridge Parkway in the form of maintenance and many other facets. S&B: Why should someone volunteer? W: It’s a unique experience. It’s our goal to provide volunteers with roles that suit their interests and abilities while also meeting the needs of the park. Volunteers on the Parkway often find meaningful connections to the park through service, and through giving back we find that our volunteers often had a connection to the Parkway before they chose to serve. It just gives them a deeper appreciation and understanding of how much work it takes to keep this place beautiful. But I think it also gives people an opportunity to meet other folks in their area who have similar passions. S&B: Caitlin Worth, thank you very much. W: Thank you.•••

Good Earth Peanuts:

A Staple In Virginia By Victoria Remley

16 SIGHTS & BITES 2020

The Good Earth Peanut Company in Skippers works hard to make customers feel like family. Lindsey Vincent, the president of The Good Earth Peanut Company, and Scott Vincent, the vice president of The Good Earth Peanut Company, opened the company in 1989. When people visit The Good Earth Peanut Company, the Vincents want customers to feel special and be happy they came. Scott likes to provide an experience for people visiting the store. “We want all of our customers when they leave to think ‘Oh my goodness! You don’t see that in most places,’” Scott said. The Good Earth Peanut Company cooks their nuts in store using Lindsey’s grandmother’s recipe daily in small batches. Scott said people can go anywhere and buy nuts, but it is rare to find a store that cooks their nuts in shop.

Scott dedicates the store’s success in part to the freshness

Customers can also place orders online or over the phone.

of their products. They do not stockpile products, but instead

The Good Earth Peanut Company can be found online

cook orders as they are placed.

at Their toll-free telephone

Everything is done by hand, except for the cans which are

number is 1-800-643-1695. •••

sealed by machine. Cans are labeled by hand before they are filled with peanuts. The Good Earth Peanut Company’s Virginia Peanuts are cooked in many different ways. The original gourmet peanut recipe came with or without salt, but now the company makes many different varieties, including cajun, sea salt, sea salt & cracked pepper, dill pickle, Chesapeake Bay, butter toasted, honey roasted, single and double dipped chocolate. The company also sells pecans, cashews and almonds.

You would be nuts to pass us by! 5 miles South of Emporia

Come in to see us!

Monday - Friday 8:00 am - 6:00 pm Saturday 9:00 am - 5:00 pm Sunday 10:00 am - 5:00 pm

Get a free sample!

“One of our most famous products that we sell is our Chocolate Covered Peanut Brittle,” Scott said. Southern Living, a magazine highlighting the Southern U.S., sent a secret shopper to The Good Earth Peanut Company store in 2008 and wrote an article about Good Earth

“Home Grown. Home Made. Home Delivered.”

Peanuts. Southern Living featured The Good Earth Peanut Company’s Chocolate Covered Peanut Brittle in the article. Scott said it is their customers that keep the business thriving. “If it weren’t for our wonderful, loyal customers, we wouldn’t have been here for 31 years,” Scott said. The Good Earth Peanut Company is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Good Earth Peanut Company is located at 5334 Skippers Road, Skippers, Virginia 23879.

Gourmet Salted Peanuts “Our First Original Recipe” Chocolate Covered Peanut Brittle • Double Dipped Chocolate Butter Toasted Peanuts, Pecans, Cashews, and Almonds Boiled Peanuts (Salted and Cajun) • All Natural Peanut Butter Local Honey • Brazil Nuts • And SO MUCH MORE!

Shop our store located in Skippers, VA or visit our website for our huge selection of nut products. You will not be disappointed! 5334 Skippers Road • Skippers, VA 23879 • 1-800-643-1695

2020 SIGHTS & BITES 17

Tranquility Always Transpires Take in the sights & have a bite at the Airfield Conference Center By Victoria Remley

The Airfield Conference Center’s outdoor activities and numerous conference buildings offer peaceful getaways for families and companies. Pam Griffin, sales and marketing director of the Airfield Conference Center, said the Center sits on 218 acres of land. “It’s a beautiful rural setting. Very quiet and peaceful for retreats and family reunions,” Griffin said. The Center is a full-service conference center that lodges up to 208 people. Guests receive access to lodging, meals, and conference facilities. The facility is the southeast 4-H Center and hosts 4-H Summer Camps. Recreational facilities at the Center include horse arenas and stables, a full size outdoor swimming pool, the lawn game horseshoes, fishing, hiking trails, a full size gymnasium, volleyball and tennis courts, and campfire circles. A full-service kitchen is available for dining. The Center caters to everyone’s needs. Businesses, families, and churches use the facility. The Center opened in 1982 and is located at 15189 Airfield Road Wakefield, Virginia 23888. To book a stay at the Airfield Conference Center call (757) 899-4901. •••

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SERVICES WE PROVIDE: • Conferencing Facilities • Overnight Lodging • Full Service Dining • Weddings & Receptions • Recreational Facilities • Challenge Course • Anniversaries • Birthday Parties • Catering On and Off Site • Equestrian Events • 4-H Camping Programs AIRFIELD CONFERENCE CENTER SOUTHEAST 4-H EDUCATIONAL CENTER 15189 Airfield Rd., Wakefield VA 23888 Plan Your Next Event! Call 757-899-4901

Los Bandidos Restaurant 7331 Highway Fifty Eight Clarksville, VA 23927 (434) 374-2707

Mexican Restaurant Hours Monday - Saturday 11am to 10pm Sunday Open from 11am to 9pm

How Area Restauranteurs Are Innovating

in the Time of COVID-19 By Dale Edwards and Adam Powell

North Carolina and Virginia certainly has no shortage of good restaurants, offering varieties of flavors that touch on all areas of the country and the globe. But as the coronavirus pandemic has continued to punish local businesses, the tables have been flipped on experiencing all that the region’s eateries have to offer. Sadly, many restaurants have permanently closed, unable to adjust to limited dining areas or to account for customers not ready to venture out and spend money. Still other restaurants managed to keep their doors open. How did they do it? They got creative. For example, Antonia’s in downtown Hillsborough, from the day North Carolina mandated stay-at-home orders, upgraded its phone system and shifted to a take-out service. It began offering family meal packages. When the state moved to Phase 2 and allowed restaurants to open dining areas with limited capacities, Antonia’s added to its outside dining and spread out tables with signs indicating which tables could be used while observing social distancing guidelines. Initially, the restaurant provided diners with paper menus that were disposed after each use. This became expensive, so the owners bumped up their technology. Now, customers scan a QR code placed at each table with their smartphone. A link to Antonia’s menu will pop up on your phone for customers to read and choose their meals. Also in Hillsborough, Radius Pizzeria & Pub has seen its sales drop as much as 75 percent since the COVID crisis began. The popular destination has adjusted its hours to open four days per week, beefed up its website to improve online ordering options and opened its patio area for small groups of diners. Radius has also created a program called “Pie It Forward,” which encourages people and/or businesses to feed frontline workers by purchasing pizza packages to be delivered for 30 percent off regular price. Local Mexican restaurant La Fiesta came up with the concept of family-style fajita meals, while Junction on 70 adjusted to include a wide range of new offerings, including pizza and wing combos, family-style portions of popular dishes such as chicken fettuccine Alfredo and rigatoni, chicken parmesan, and lasagna with salad and bread in what they’ve called “Take and Bake” meals. When some of the wings and pasta began to run out in the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak, Junction on 70 began selling barbecue and ribs, which previously hadn’t been staples of the menu. For a time, owner Steve Krans was even offering rolls of much-desired toilet paper to those customers who dropped by for a meal. “We look forward to the challenge of being innovative and creative to offer solutions that we all need at this time,” Krans said.

20 SIGHTS & BITES 2020

out eck enu? h c m nt to ent Wa a’s curr ere! i de H n o o t C R An nQ Sca

Antonia’s | Hillsborough, NC

For the husband and wife team of Jessica Smith and Tyceson Mills of MealSmith, providers of locally-sourced meals based in Alamance, Orange, and Chatham Counties, the situation has required them, like most local food service professionals, to make numerous transitions. “We learned to pivot,” said Smith. “Starting in March we have been in nearly daily contact with our suppliers while making changes to our website and our business model. Happily, we are learning we can do it - one day, one week, or one month at a time. We also are continuing with a pick-up option both in Mebane and Hillsborough and have reverted back to our delivery model offering a contactless option.” Fortunately for MealSmith - as has been the case with many local restaurants and food-related businesses - they have managed to stay in good shape as far as supplies. MealSmith sources much of its food from local vendors, who have worked together in an effort to mutually sustain. “Even before this crisis, we passionately practiced sourcing locally, hence the majority of our ingredients are from local vendors,” Smith explained. “We purchase our meats, our farm fresh eggs, and our dairy products from Kenyon’s Market in Mebane. In addition, within the past year, we have become

guest vendors with the Eno River Farmer’s Market because many of the farmer-members are our vendors. We have come to know each of them as close associates and friends. They know we respect the care they put into their product and in turn, they respect us and our business.” The frustrating thing for a relatively new and growing business like MealSmith is that they were ready to take off, having been booked through the spring for the wide range of events that take place in normal times. But although things came to a brief halt, they have still found ways to service their customers by innovating and staying active. “Although referrals were – and still are – a mainstay, tough times call for pulling out all the stops,” Smith said. “Luckily, last fall we added catering, and in no time, we were fully booked through April and May with graduations, birthdays, receptions, and conferences, Then came Coronavirus-19 and we were back to pivoting.” Smith added that they have included Family Size Meals, which has been very well received. “We had excellent results with a special Easter Menu, serving up well over 150 dinners,” she said. “We are also onboard with social media – specifically Facebook and

2020 SIGHTS & BITES 21

Junction on 70 | Mebane, NC

Instagram, where our followers find plenty of appetizing information on a daily basis. We also just started publishing an online monthly newsletter which always contains a coupon code.” For Martinho’s Bakery and Deli of downtown Mebane, one of the biggest things during the pandemic has been keeping things as close to normal as possible. While their typical outthe-door weekday lunch service has been replaced with chairs on tables and socially-distanced waiting for takeout meals, the menu has stayed the same. “We’re trying to keep it the same. Keep it normal. Try and normalize it,” said owner Lou Martinho. “You figure if you change too much, they notice it’s a big change, right? But if you try to keep it normalized, I think it sends a message of stability. You can still go there and get the food I always get, and it won’t be changed.” Kenyon’s Meat Market, which has been serving the people of Mebane since 2008 at its location along N.C. Highway 119, experienced an explosion of visitors in the days and weeks following the onset of COVID-19. At times, they had to let people in one at a time, making sure to wipe down carts to hand to new customers as leaving ones depart. All the while, they managed to maintain their wide selection of fresh meats, which comes whole from its suppliers and is hand-butchered by the Kenyon’s staff. “All of our meat comes in whole loans or whole chickens. We cut our own meats and put them out there fresh - no preservatives or any of that yucky stuff - so we’re able to keep it supplied,” owner Renea Kenyon said.

MealSmith | Hillsborough, NC Photo by Fancy This Photography

22 SIGHTS & BITES 2020

Martinho’s | Mebane, NC

Supplies have also not been a problem for DiStefano’s Bakery, which has served the people of Mebane along Fieldale Road, adjacent to Mebane Oaks Road, going back to 2007. Although owner Tom DiStefano is prepared for the longterm possibility that local residents may eventually have to get eggs, milk, and other valuable supplies at cost from him, at the present time everything is still coming in as normal. “We’re still here. We will be open,” DiStefano said. “The supplies are still coming in - we’ve just seen a hike in prices. With the food purveyors, the price has been driven up on certain things because there’s a strain on the supply chain. Although much of the ambience of a place like DiStefano’s is the novelty of getting to sit inside and enjoying your coffee or pastry in person, the fact that they can still provide their food via drive-thru or takeout has been critical. The restauranteurs of the area are quick to thank the people of Mebane and surrounding communities for supporting them through this difficult period in history. “They’ve been awesome,” Martinho said of the people of Mebane. “They’ve been helping a lot. They’ve been very supportive. I couldn’t ask for more. Everybody is struggling. Everybody has got to do their part. Just one day at a time.” “The community, not only the kind words they’ve put on Facebook, but I can’t tell you the people that have brought us food, or told us they’re praying for us. We’ve had about us much provided for us each day, when we’re not buying it from our local restaurants to help them out. The outpouring that they’ve had for us has been amazing,” added Kenyon. •••

Radius Pizzeria & Pub | Hillsborough, NC “Pie It Forward” Program

Kenyon’s Meat Market | Mebane, NC Local Restaurants and Markets are taking all the precautions necessary


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DRIVE-INS MAKE A COMEBACK IN NORTH CAROLINA By Debra Ferrell Operating two long-time movie drive-in theatres in North Carolina is truly a labor of love for Tim Robertson and his wife, Nicole. This time of year is super-busy for Robertson as he operates his primary business, Southeastern Data Phones, and runs the Eden Drive In at night. Drive-in traffic has been booming this year, made even stronger by COVID-19 restrictions

24 SIGHTS & BITES 2020

making entertainment harder to come by. In addition to playing double features, the popular location is also hosting both prerecorded and live concerts plus other special events including dance recitals, family gettogethers, car clubs, and even weddings. “A couple rented the drive in and played their wedding up on the big screen while guests stayed in their car,” he explains.

The couple also own and operate the Badin Rd. Drive In (formerly Leaksville Drive In) in Albemarle not far from Charlotte. While Robertson is running the drive in located in Eden, his wife and her family run the Albemarle drive in. “It works out good because she gets to spend time with her family.”

The Eden drive in was built in the 1950s or possibly 1960s. It was shut down for about 20 years at one point and reopened in 1993. The Robertsons have been running both drive in theatres since the late 1990s. “The former owner moved to Texas so we bought and upgraded it. I think it was 1999 or 2000 when we opened,” he said. They generally operate from March until November, but were one month delayed opening this year due to COVID-19. Although new movies are only “opening” on live streaming services right now, many theatres are running classic movies. “It’s fun. People can sit in a truck bed or put their lawn chairs on the ground next to their car. Cars are 12-15 feet apart. The concession stand is open and there are a lot of restrictions we maintain such as facemasks, hand washing, and social distancing. We have a huge menu that people love. It’s a big part of our business,” said Robertson. The menu includes burgers, hot dogs,

Tim Robertson Owner of Eden & Baden Rd. Drive In

chicken tenders, wings, nachos, chili fries, chili cheese fries, popcorn, pizza and much more. “Handspun milkshakes made with Hershey ice cream are delicious. We also offer funnel cake strips.” Restrooms are cleaned every night and employees are wiping down doors and equipment every 15 minutes. “We want to keep everyone safe, ourselves as well as our customers. We take every precaution.” Concerts have been a big hit this year with superstars such as Garth Brooks, Blake Shelton, and Gwen Stefani showing pre-recorded concerts on the big screen. Many popular Christian Rock groups have held live concerts there including Toby Mac. He is pleased with how good attendance has been in the supportive community. “Everyone is safe and having a good time.” It’s easy to tell that he has a deep love for the drive in. “It really is a labor of love with instant gratification from our

customers. It is good family fun and safe. I get a kick out of seeing parents with their kids here knowing that I have worked with the parents as children themselves. It’s fun to see people grow up,” he fondly recalls. “If we didn’t love it, we wouldn’t be doing it. I would like to open more drive ins. They are making a huge comeback!” Although the closing date hasn’t been announced yet, they will probably shut down between Halloween and

Thanksgiving. The couple has a two-year-old son, Mason, and live in Eden. Find out more on www.edendrivein. or the Facebook page. Contacting Robertson through Facebook or leaving a message at 336-623-9669 on the answering machine is the best way to get hold of him. •••

2020 SIGHTS & BITES 25

DRIVE INTO THE PAST AT RALEIGH ROAD OUTDOOR THEATRE Movies, Concerts & Laser Light Shows...OH MY! By Kellen Holtzman

What do you get when you combine a nice car with a great film? If New Jersey car salesman Richard Hollingstead could answer, he might say, “The ultimate business venture!” In 1933, Hollingstead discovered the formula that would come to be known as the drive-in movie theater. The first ever of its kind was created in Camden, N.J., and by 1958, the number of drive-in movie theaters across the country reached 4,063. It wasn’t until the 1970s when drive-in theatres saw a deep decline. Today, less than 400 drive-ins currently operate in the U.S., and only six are open in North Carolina, according to Craig Askew has worked for 15 years at Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre in Henderson, which opened in 1949 as the Moon-Glo Outdoor Theatre where the first movie shown was “Ali Baba and the

26 SIGHTS & BITES 2020

Forty Thieves.” “It’s a great piece of local history that’s still going strong,” Askew said. “I’m very proud of it.” The original owner, a Mr. Stevenson, sold the theater to the Lyles family of Henderson in the 1970s. Stevenson’s only request was that the new owners change the name. The Lyles changed the theatre name to what it is today, but the neon “Moon-Glo” sign hung above the big screen until the 1980s.

The theatre is now owned and operated by Mark and Jennifer Frank, who bought the theatre from Jim and Megan Kopp in December of 2011. “I always loved going to the drive-in,” said Mark Frank, 43, an Air Force veteran who grew up near West Point, NY. While

running another theater located in Virginia 90 minutes from Henderson, he heard Raleigh Road was for sale and jumped at the chance to buy this local treasure. Now in its seventy-first year of operation, that makes it the oldest drive-in still operating in North Carolina. “We love it,” said Frank, who talks expertly about the business with humor and dedication. During these days of COVID-19 when few new movies are being made, save for “Unhinged” starring Russell Crow, John Carpenter’s “They Live,” and the new Bill and Ted adventure, which all showed at Raleigh Road in August, the theatre has also been showing classic films such as “The Wizard of Oz,” “Grease,” “Jaws,” “Star Wars,” “ET,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Purple Rain” and “St. Elmo’s Fire.” Double features are the norm, and triple features are often shown as well. Frank said he works with a “booker” who acquires the movies from the studios, and says he has around 200 on hand at the moment as COVID-19 continues to affect how items can be sent and returned. The cost of each depends on how much he takes in at the box office, where tickets are $8 per person 12 and over, $5 for kids ages 3-11 and free for kids under 3. Tickets can be purchased in advance through the theater website, With parking for about 260, people can watch from the comfort of their own vehicles or spread out with a couple of chairs and blankets. (Be sure to bring a good portable radio to pick up the sound if you’re sitting outside.) “We’re at capacity most Saturday nights,” Mark said. The ticket booth opens at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, and at 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Movies start at dusk, or about 8 p.m. this time of year. There is a playground for children and a concession building filled with a variety of entrees, sides, popcorn, drinks and sweet treats for guests to enjoy.

And from Yelp, “Great time, very old school and rustic. Tickets are cheap … Food and drinks are reasonably priced and tasty. Usually they show first-run movies (always a double header) but during the pandemic days they have a great line up of classics on tap.” This year, the theater started holding a Wednesday night concert series and laser light shows as well, depending on the weather. Raleigh Road has also done some needed upgrades. The concession stand was replaced by a building capable of serving up to four lines, along with a bigger kitchen and more restrooms. Customers can now order online as well from their cars and receive a text when their orders are ready. Hebert Davis, 67, a resident of Henderson, recalled his earliest memories of the drive-in. “In the beginning, the drive-in was the only form of entertainment. It was mostly westerns and cartoons. I remember falling asleep during the love movies and waking up in time for the cartoons. I was about six years old then,” he said. Warren Record Facebook follower Kendra Pierce of Vaughan discovered Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre last year thanks to pictures taken there by Amy Matthews. “I couldn’t believe we lived so close and had never heard of it. Now we’ve been well over 10 times,” Pierce said. “We prefer it to a regular theater. From their playground for the kids to the grill options for dinner, they have figured out the way to make adults and children happy!” No matter the age, Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre holds value in the community. Whether it’s remembered as the MoonGlo or Raleigh Road, this venue offers a unique experience for the whole family. Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre is at 3336 Raleigh Rd., Henderson. For more information, call 252-438-6959 or visit the website at •••

d or

arren Re c eW



20 i Readers’ Cho


From a recent moviegoer on Trip Advisor, “If you appreciate family, this is the place for you. Nobody was sitting staring at their phone. They were playing Frisbee and catch while waiting for the movie. There is a park for the kids. The food is really good and it’s only $8 for TWO MOVIES! Can’t beat the prices or amazing atmosphere here! Love the staff as well. It’s family-run and it shows!”


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2020 SIGHTS & BITES 27


Browsing through antique shops in Warren County has become a favorite leisure activity for visitors to the area and local residents alike as they search for the perfect furniture, artwork, glassware and other items to accent their homes. Enthusiasts who want to make a day of visiting local businesses specializing in the articles of yesteryear can take an antiques tour of the county to make sure that they don’t miss anything. The first name in the Warren County business is Depot Antiques, located just four miles north of town.


114 A.P. Rodwell Road, Warrenton, N.C. If Depot Antiques looks like an antique itself, that’s because it is. Located in the community of Warren Plains a few miles north of Warrenton, the structure hails from a time when Warren Plains was a thriving small town, thanks in large part to the railroad industry. The depot was constructed for the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad in 1863 of cypress wood, a building material “that will be with you as long as you keep it off the ground,” said Bill Frazier, a retired local teacher and coach who operates the antiques business. When you look around Depot Antiques, you will find reminders of its past ties to the railroad. The walls are decorated with railroad signs, and the structure contains its original lighting. A Raleigh and Gaston Railroad bench sitting in what was the office makes it easy to imagine people waiting for the train to arrive. There are no set hours at this time. Just call 252-432-5445, have a seat on the old Raleigh and Gaston Railroad bench, and Bill or his wife Betsy will be there to open the door in a few minutes.

Bill Frazier stands among his treasures in July 2020.

28 SIGHTS & BITES 2020


119 N. Main Street, Warrenton, N.C.

As the only true antique store in Warrenton at the time it opened, Oakley Hall and the local involvement of its owners started a trend. Don Arnold and Ernie Fleming, who opened the shop in 1994, are known in the community for their love of discussing antiques. Oakley Hall features primitives, pottery, glassware, jewelry, quilts, folk art and more. Original works of art, including those by area folk artists Marjorie Rose Powell and Janet Kaye Powell, are housed in an art gallery in the North Main Street location. Oakley Hall Too offers two floors of furniture, art and a larger variety of items. Oakley Hall also offers a number of framed historical documents, including Bute County papers dating back to 1870 and Warren County records dating back to 1790. Oakley Hall Antiques & Art


124 N. Main Street, Warrenton, N.C.

The shop sells antiques and collectables including linens, furniture, home décor, framed art, silk floral arrangements and wreaths, mirrors, lamps, jewelry, glassware and more. Owners Lorie Hundley Short and Roger St. Louis are also providing chair-caning services, although Roger admits that Lorie is the “master and teacher,” while he is just a student learning the ancient art. Lorie’s caning business draws customers from as far away as Richmond, Va., and Atlanta, Ga., who need their chairs to be repaired. A recent delivery that prompted curiosity was an antique wheelchair that will be returning to its owner’s home once repaired. Second Hand Rose Antiques and Collectibles


134 S. Main Street, Warrenton, N.C.

Second Hand Rose Antiques and Collectibles specializes in high-end Victorian, American Empire and Plantation furniture and numerous other items from estate sales. Owned by Kathleen Derring and Bob Shingler, the shop has been in business for nearly six years. Derring, who grew up in Detroit and moved to town from Florida in 2006, also makes jewelry

for sale at both Second Hand Rose and Riverside Mill in Weldon. Derring said she was taught to appreciate antiques by her late father, a master printer who attended numerous estate and basement sales and began taking his daughter along when she was five. Derring has now been dealing with antiques in one way or another for more than 50 years. 2020 SIGHTS & BITES 29


135 U.S. 1, Norlina, N.C.

Roost Crossroads is operated by Dwight Pearce, who describes the business as “six rooms chockablock full.” Articles that are available for purchase include glassware, furniture, costume jewelry, linens, kitchen items, dolls and more. Pearce estimates that the oldest item available for sale is a 1778 five dollar North Carolina note printed by J.A. Davis, the first person in the state authorized to print money. Other items include a Union bayonet, Confederate bullets, a solid pine hutch and an 1850s pine blanket chest.


U.S. 1, Wise, N.C.

After browsing through the Norlina antiques shops, drive north on U.S. 1 and travel through the small community of Wise to Perkinson’s Antiques, located behind the Perkinson family farm. Charles Perkinson operates the business out of a converted twostory white barn used on his parents’ dairy farm. The land on which Perkinson Antiques stands has been in the family since 1740. The business specializes in English and American wood furniture dating primarily from the 1800s to the 1820s. The business includes some North Carolina and Virginia pieces among its tables, chairs, desks, chests and more.

County Line Emporium in Littleton gets its name from the town being situated on the Warren and Halifax county lines.

ONCE UPON A COUNTY LINE EMPORIUM 110 E. South Main Street, Littleton, N.C. If you’re making your way to Littleton to visit Once Upon A County Line Emporium, make sure to ask if Tom Clark is in. If he is, chances are your time spent in the downtown shop will be made even more memorable. County Line Emporium, which gets its name from the town of Littleton straddling the Warren and Halifax county lines, also features a range of contemporary gifts, quilts, jewelry, candles and home furnishing and decor. But there’s a room near the back of the store containing Clark’s collection of antiques that, with the aid of Clark, helps bring history to life. “He’s the one who puts the character into it,” Wanda Clark, store owner and Tom’s daughter-in-law said. “And then he has 82 years of history here, so he can tell people, ‘This used to be where the train station was.’”


200 Mill Street, Weldon, N.C.

Martha Ray (L) and Shirley Pepper (R) are dealers on the vast antiques floor of Riverside Mill. 30 SIGHTS & BITES 2020

Riverside Mill’s John Carver was cautious about using the phrase “scavenger hunt” to describe part of the appeal of the antiques mall he manages on the banks of the Roanoke River in Weldon, N.C., about eight miles from the Virginia state line. But isn’t that part of the fun of sifting through vintage items, especially in a 20,000 square feet historic warehouse like Riverside Mill’s? You never know what you’re going to stumble on here at the site of the old Weldon Cotton Manufacturing Company, originally constructed in 1899. The range? “Oh, Lord,” Carver said. “Since we have 50 independent dealers, you may find anything. We’ve got sports collectibles and comics all the way to old tools. Of course, we have dealers who sell furniture.” •••

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The Ivy In celebration of a proper English Bed & Breakfast

By Luci Weldon

Karen and Mike Kelley welcome guests to The Ivy — An English Bed & Breakfast.

32 SIGHTS & BITES 2020

On Aug. 2, 2019, Mike and Karen Kelley took over The Ivy, a bed and breakfast in Warrenton’s historic district, transforming it into The Ivy: An English Bed and Breakfast. One year later, they are grateful that they moved to Warren County from Long Island, N.Y. On Monday, Aug. 3, the Kelleys held a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate their first year of operations and The Ivy’s reopening with expanded services. When the Kelleys took over operations of the 18th-century Queen Anne-style bed and breakfast from Jerry and Ellen Roth, the process began to transform the home into an English bed and breakfast, complete with afternoon tea. They drew inspiration from Karen’s background growing up in England and from their favorite places across the pond. The Kelleys renamed guest rooms to reflect favorite places and honor family members. They named the Joe Wright Lt. R.N. room after their nephew, a lieutenant in the Royal Navy, who performed a reading at the couple’s wedding. The Aveley was named in honor of Karen’s mother, after the small village in Essex, England, where the family moved when Karen was 8. The Chatsworth was named after the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire’s home in the Peak District of England, and the Kensington room was named by Mike because the couple honeymooned there after their wedding. The Kelleys wanted to provide a welcoming, relaxing atmosphere where their guests would feel at home. In one year, The Ivy saw a steady stream of guests, many of whom from New York, New Jersey and Florida. Then the COVID-19 pandemic arrived. The Kelleys closed their bed and breakfast for a little over two months to study health guidelines and implement additional precautionary measures to keep their guests safe.

From Left to Right: Guests receive the occasional treat of a proper afternoon English tea, The dining room at The Ivy is set for the arrival of guests for morning breakfast, The Kensington - One of the many featured bedrooms to choose for your stay..

The Kelleys did not know when they would reopen, but in May they received calls from people needing places to stay. One was an essential worker, and the other was someone who visited last fall and wanted to return to the area. Mike and Karen kept The Ivy open, placing hand sanitizer in all rooms and face masks in the kitchen. The Kelleys already washed bedding between guests, but they took extra precautions to clean used surfaces, such as tablecloths and placemats, every day. In addition, they left rooms to stand for two days between guests. More guests soon arrived, many from North Carolina. Others came from Virginia and South Carolina. Families returned to visit local relatives — and the Kelleys — and enjoy some time spent on the porch in conversation. “We have been very lucky,” Karen said. In addition to celebrating the Kelleys’ first year of operating The Ivy, the Aug. 3 ribbon cutting ceremony also marked a time of transformation at the bed and breakfast with changes in décor, upgraded amenities and expanded services. What has not changed, however, is the couple’s wish to make guests feel right at home as they sit on the large front porch or relax in the parlor. Throughout the home, artwork has been replaced by paintings and prints by British artists from the county where Karen grew up, or portraits of the Kelleys’ family members. There are photographs of Karen’s mother, a painting of Mike’s grandmother when she was 5, and a portrait of Mike’s great-great-grandfather, a vice admiral. Curtains and bedding have been replaced, and furniture has been rearranged. The Joe Wright room’s nautical theme is reflected in artwork showing the HM Steam Frigates Geyser and Cyclops, and a shadowbox featuring a display of types of knots. The Aveley room, with a more feminine feel, features a sitting area with wing chairs, and its old-fashioned bath includes a clawfooted tub. The Chatsworth room has a mahogany queen bed with elaborate canopy, and an original fireplace. The Kensington room features a queen bed and artwork that includes a scene in Hyde Park looking toward the area of Kensington Palace. All guest rooms are equipped with USB ports and upgraded internet. The rooms also have convenient access to a Keurig ma-

chine to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. Downstairs, fireplaces in the parlor and dining room have gas logs for a bit of extra warmth and coziness on wintry days. The Kelleys added a grandfather clock to the parlor, in addition to making changes to the artwork. Walking into the dining room, guests will find English bone china, teapots and glassware. They represent both heirlooms from Karen’s family as well as pieces the Kelleys have collected in their travels. Heirlooms from Mike’s family complement the rest of the décor. By the fall, Mike and Karen hope to offer intimate weddings and elopements at The Ivy. They are transforming the back into a formal English garden to be used as a potential site for the ceremony. Couples may also choose to be married on the front porch or in the parlor. The number of wedding guests will be limited to those who are staying at The Ivy, which can accommodate the couple and up to eight other people. The Kelleys will provide an officiant, photography by Mike, decorations and food, with additional services available based upon a couple’s needs. “It takes the stress and strain off getting married,” Karen said. Mike and Karen will bring an English theme to weddings at

2020 SIGHTS & BITES 33

The Ivy complete with tea following the ceremony and an English wedding cake. Couples may choose from afternoon tea or high tea. Afternoon tea will include light sandwiches, cakes, and scones with clotted cream or jam. The more meal-like high tea will feature pork pies, Cornish pasty, shepherd’s pie, cakes, trifle and scones. For high tea, guests will sit at the table in the dining room or on the porch. The Kelleys will also offer afternoon tea and high tea for their regular guests. When guests stay at The Ivy, Mike and Karen encourage them to explore downtown Warrenton and the other areas of Warren County. They hope that guests will participate in local events and visit sites such as Kerr Lake, Lake Gaston and Medoc Mountain State Park. In the future, the Kelleys will hold photography weekends to allow guests to explore features of the Warren County area that they may not be able to experience anywhere else, such as local architecture, wildlife and area birds. Over the course of the past year, Mike and Karen have grown to love Warren County and its people. “We have been welcomed with open arms,” Karen said. “We are both settled very well and have made a lot of friends.” •••

The Ivy An English Bed and Breakfast is located at 331 N. Main St., Warrenton, and can be reached at 252-257-9300 or Information is also available on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @theivybandb.

Tour North Carolina’s Newest Distillery Go “behind the barrel” at Weldon Mills Distillery and learn about the distilling process. Enjoy new and creative spirits on the banks of the Roanoke River including bourbon produced with North Carolina grown ingredients and America’s first rhubarb gin.


THE SPIRITS OF WELDON Kentucky isn’t the only place making high-quality bourbon By Kellen Holtzman


n a visit to the Weldon Mills Distillery in September, a rather innocuous question was posed to Mike Norman, the gray bearded 60-year-old resident master bourbon distiller who provided the most illuminating of answers. The question went, “How many years do you think you have been doing this?” Norman, in his Western North Carolina tongue, started to answer by asking, “Legally?” There is your first clue about the sort of rugged authenticity Weldon Mills owner Bruce Tyler and partner Michael Hinderliter sought when purchasing the buildings last year for the distillery and event center/bar and grill by the Roanoke River in Weldon, N.C. The distillery building, formerly a sewing factory that had been dormant for the last 20 years, is still in the construction process. But “rough around the edges” is exactly what Tyler, an ex-Army California native, is going for. If that wasn’t the case, he and Hinderliter might have purchased something new for their

operation, which centers on producing bourbon that is already receiving national acclaim. They want folks to know bourbon doesn’t have to be made in Kentucky for it to be the highest of quality. Big things are coming for Weldon Mills, which is now open for tours Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Saturday unless the mill building is rented out for weddings. When it is finished being refurbished, a trolley will take guests from one building to the other, traversing the expansive riverside public park in between. Weldon Mills aims for live music every Friday and is set to embark on an ad campaign that will push tour packages and group rates with local hotels. Weldon Mills also produces flavored and regular vodka and gin in its 34,000 squarefoot warehouse that features a quaint and modern tasting room. The products in the rotation include Soldier’s

Cut Bourbon Whiskey, Royal Rhubarb Gin, Weldon Orchards Caramel Green Apple, and Bombardier Cinnamon Vodka. Norman and Tyler say the humid, warmer weather in Weldon is one factor that is actually advantageous for Eastern North Carolina over parts of Kentucky. “Kentucky, yeah that’s where it started and they like to have a claim on it,” Norman said. “And I’ve even had people say, ‘Well it can’t be bourbon if it wasn’t made in Bourbon County, Kentucky.’ No, that ain’t true. Bourbon can be made anywhere in the United States.” It can be made right here in Weldon, where even the prevalence of summer storms can affect the aging of barrels through barometric pressure. “What does all that mean? It just means I feel like we can just age a little more faster here in North Carolina,” Tyler said. “At the end of the day, if you’re not making good bourbon, it doesn’t matter how much it ages.” •••


MOUNT AIRY By Jeremy Moser

Fans of the 60s classic sitcom “The Andy Griffith Show” may already know that the actor Andy Griffith grew up in a little town in North Carolina called Mount Airy. Mount Airy, North Carolina is located approximately two miles south of the Virginia border. State Route 52 passes right through the town. While not directly related to the show’s production, the town now hosts the largest collection of Andy Griffith memorabilia in its Andy Griffith museum, and parts of the town now have been styled after the iconic town of Mayberry, the show’s primary setting. Folks looking for a trip down to Mount Airy will find, among the several Mayberry-themed attractions, a wealth of restaurants, sights and activities to fill more than a whole day. The Mayberry Squad Car Tours are a one-stop shop for Andy Griffith fans. 36 SIGHTS & BITES 2020

It features a guided drive around the Mayberry-themed town with set stops along the way. Riding inside of Sheriff Taylor’s iconic squad car, a family of five will see Floyd’s Barber Shop, the TV Land Statue, the Andy Griffith Playhouse and Andy Griffith’s childhood home all while learning interesting facts about Andy Griffith, Mayberry and the town its said to be based on, Mount Airy. The tour also includes a stop at Snappy Lunch, a restaurant famous for its fried pork sandwich. The restaurant, which was referenced in the show, was built in 1920 to feed snappy lunches to the workers of Mount Airy. After seeing the signature sights of the town made famous by the show, there are many other places to visit in and around Mount Airy. For those with a sweet tooth, it would be worthwhile to check out Anchored, a bakery on Moore Avenue that serves

treats like cakes and cinnamon rolls as well as specialty items such as their Mayberry Coffee. Additionally, a few miles south of Mount Airy, in Dobson, is the Rockford General Store, which features all sorts of candies inside of classic, old-fashioned candy jars and glass bottled sodas. Built in 1890 and operational since, it’s on the national registry of historic places. The Mayberry Flea Market located on Andy Griffith Parkway and the several antique shops in the town are great opportunities to do some thrifty shopping. Located up the Blue Ridge Parkway in Floyd County, VA, just a few miles from Mount Airy, is Mabry Mill, a picturesque restored mill that’s over a hundred years old. The mill is open from the last weekend of April to October and features live demonstrations of old frontier living techniques. The Old North State Winery and Photos By Jeremy Moser & Elias Weiss

Brewery in downtown Mount Airy offers wine tasting inside a restored mercantile building built in the 1890s. It also serves as a venue for live music on the weekends and features a deli. For those interested in the history of the area, six miles from Mount Airy in Ararat, Virginia is the birthplace of J.E.B Stuart, a Civil War General who was born in 1833. The area offers self-guided tours. For those interested in the natural outdoors, there’s a state park down the highway from Mount Airy which features Pilot Mountain, which was the inspiration for the city of Mount Pilot in the “Andy Griffith Show.” Pilot Mountain State Park serves as a scenic area for hiking and biking and other outdoor activities. It’s known for its Big Pinnacle Peak, which is visible for several miles. For more information on each of these attractions, go to •••

Exhale... Life’s Different Beyond the Water

Pictured (Opposite Page- From Left to Right): A classic restored mural on the side of a building on Main St. in Mount Airy. One of the sheriff’s deputy cars restored to brand-new condition that serve as the taxi service for folks on the Mayberry Tours in Mount Airy.


Bill Hiatt shows the original barber seats in use at Floyd’s City Barber shop, the place that Andy Griffith would go to get a haircut.

Caswell County

A Great Place to Live, Work, & Play

Learn more about new and existing small businesses that call Caswell County home.

DELICIOUS DINING With dozens of delectable menu options including steak, chicken, seafood, pork chops and all you can eat soup and salad bar, we have something for everyone to enjoy!

Come in and join us! P.O Box 29 | Yanceyville, NC 27379 142 Main St | Yanceyville, NC 27379


Phone: (336) 694-6106 Email:

414 Becker Drive, Roanoke Rapids, NC 27870 252-541-3361 OPEN FOR LUNCH & DINNER

M-F 11:30-2:00pm, 4:30-9:00pm | Sat 4:30-9:00pm | Sun 11:30-8:00pm

Tanger Family Bicentennial Gardens A Picture Perfect Destination By Dale Edwards


epending on the time of the year, there’s something you can find while strolling through the Tanger Family Bicentennial Gardens that nearly outnumbers its variety of flowers: high school prom couples having their photos taken. With its easily accessible trails, picturesque bridges, and bounty of benches and low walls, this botanical beaut has become a destination for couples and families throughout the Triad seeking to immortalize special moments. “It’s a display garden, so you won’t find a lot of labels,” said Christina Larson, a volunteer with Greensboro Beautiful for six years. “It (the garden) provides respite and inspiration for

home gardeners.” “The artwork is ever-changing,” Larson said. “Certain areas of the park can be rented for private events.” The park covers 7.5 acres with thousands of varieties of flora, gorgeous sculptures — including works by nationally-known sculptor Jim Galucci, and a man-made re-circulating stream. The Wedding Garden & Chandler Wedding Gazebo provides a memorable backdrop for numerous weddings throughout the year. The garden provides many spaces to sit in the sun, most of the walking trails are shaded making for a relaxing retreat. The Tanger Family Bicentennial Gardens is home to the Parisian Promenade, an annual art show that seeks to recreate the feel of a summer stroll through the art markets of Paris. Dozens of local artists display and sell their artwork; some offer demonstrations for the enjoyment of the thousands of attendees.

38 SIGHTS & BITES 2020

The event also features live music, French cuisine and other foods, an accordion player, entertainers on stilts, a giant chess game and a Poodle Parade, which is open to all types of dogs. Camberly’s Garden was inspired by the memory of Camberly Holliday, the daughter of former Greensboro Mayor, Keith Holliday and Cindy Holliday, and honors the memory of children who have left us too soon. There is a sculpture of a dancer and two swings for visitors to enjoy. Greensboro Beautiful, the nonprofit that is responsible for the upkeep, volunteer staffing, fundraising and planning for many of Greensboro’s parks, first started developing the gardens in 1976 as part of the nation’s Bicentennial celebration. It was dedicated as the Bicentennial Garden. Over the next several years, the park was expanded and specialized areas were created. Paths were added, along with benches, picnic tables and sculptures. The park is nestled between the Bog Garden and the David Caldwell Historic Park, enabling visitors to experience a wide variety of flora, fauna and history. The trails and gardens of the Tanger Family Bicentennial Garden intertwine with the David Caldwell Historic Park,

which features an Interpretive Center. Caldwell was a Presbyterian minister, a self-trained physician, and an early educator in colonial North Carolina. His Log College, which educated many prominent men of the day, and his home was part of the portion of land on which the parks now exist. In 2017, Greensboro Beautiful constructed the Old Mill, a reproduction of a mill that Caldwell operated on this site in the 1780’s. It has a free-standing water wheel that works in conjunction with a re-circulating stream. In 2006, Stanley and Doris Tanger, who founded Tanger Outlets, made a significant financial commitment for ongoing support of Greensboro’s

public gardens. The Greensboro Parks & Recreation Commission approved the re-naming of Bicentennial Garden to the Tanger Family Bicentennial Garden. The park has a welcome center with restrooms and a meeting space at its entrance. Parking is available in a lot and on-street. Much of the Tanger Family Bicentennial Garden is handicap accessible. It is at 1105 Hobbs Road in Greensboro. The park is open daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. In light of COVID-19 guidelines, face masks should be worn on the premises where social distancing is not possible. •••

2020 SIGHTS & BITES 39

What are you doing tonight? 411 Mosby Avenue Littleton, NC 27850 FOR RESERVATIONS OR INFORMATION: CALL 252-586-3124 •

Lakeland Cultural Arts Center Lakeland Cultural Arts Center

30+ local artists Monthly themed shows Special exhibits Meet-the artist events Children’s art activities Family friendly

Margaret Lane Gallery Supporting the local arts community

121 West Margaret Lane, Hillsborough, NC



Leaving Troy heading north on NC Highway109, you don’t get far before the landscape begins to reveal the rise of the Uwharrie Mountains. The tall pines that reach toward the sky are a good indicator that you are in preserved land. As you approach what is known as Buck Mountain, about five miles from the city limit sign, there is a trailhead with ample parking for nature lovers to park their automobiles, get out some gear and head into the forest. This is a great place to walk the trail for a short way, say a mile or two, find a nice shady spot and have a picnic. If you are more interested in hiking some distance, if two vehicles are handy, you can park one near the trail crossing on Tower Road before beginning the five-to-six miles from the NC 109 Trailhead to the spot where the trail crosses. Once you are prepared and have both vehicles in place, much of the morning should have passed. Starting the hike at NC Highway 109, you’ll find the trail begins with an easy climb and then descends as you head for Spencer Creek. The creek isn’t too far in and the running water is relaxing to the ears. There you will encounter a wooden bridge (the only wooden bridge on the trail) that crosses over the creek to an open area perfect for a sandwich, a snack and a drink of water. The open area shows evidence of previous hikers and campers. A pile of rocks surrounds a fire pit, providing a barrier to keep the campfire from getting out of control. Around it are big rocks that are perfect for individual seating and logs placed distinctly for larger groups to enjoy the fire or just take a load off their feet. It’s wise to get some good rest here and prepare for the upcoming climb that will test even the experienced hiker. West Morris Mountain lies ahead and it must be conquered if you are to arrive at Panther Creek. Once you are back on the trail, you will see that the trailblazers did their best to wind the trail around the mountain in a serpentine fashion. This is surely to prevent the hikers from having to go straight up the mountain, which would be very difficult. Even so,

2020 SIGHTS & BITES 41

the climb gets the heart beating, the sweat rolling and the legs burning. If it proves to be too much of a task, there’s a four-wheeling road that crosses the trail. The four-wheeler road, if followed to the left, provides an easier route to the top of West Morris Mountain. But it’s not part of the Uwharrie Trail and if you came to walk the trail, well that’s like cheating. If you stick with the trail as it was originally blazed, the top of the mountain eventually comes within sight. A relief for weary legs, the canopy provided by the trees is the only solace, keeping you cooler than if the sun were glaring down unfiltered. The light that trickles through looks like fingers reaching far ahead, leading the way. Feeling as if you have overcome a major obstacle having reached the top, you might feel as if civilization is nowhere close. The serenity and the solitude serve notice of the sanctuary we have in our backyard. Then a jet soars overhead reminding you that civilization is not too far away. It’s also a reminder that the sun is making its way across the sky and afternoon is quickly approaching. The trail goes for some way, working the rolls of the landscape with slight ups and downs, but nothing too tiring. Then you start down a steeper slope. Without a map for guidance, you wonder as you contemplate the two possibilities: Is Panther Branch coming near or am I plummeting into another gorge only to have to climb back up once again? It is the former, though it can be misleading. You first cross a small portion of Panther Branch and when you’re on the other side, the ground is quite soft and marshy feeling. This is not your final destination. You must cross this small body of water twice. Continuing ahead, the trail turns sharply back left across the streaming water to a campsite. You will have covered about five miles at this point, and the distance to Tower Road is supposedly about one mile. It will be the longest mile of the day for sure. The actual distance the hiker will walk is uncertain, but another mountain must be dealt with. With some determination, grit and a little bit of crazy on the side, you begin the final leg of this portion of the trail. Horse Mountain is steep with some areas almost straight up. After about 45 minutes of steady climbing, you reach an area of Horse Mountain where you cut across the side facing toward West Morris Mountain. According to Marla Coulthard, whose knowledge of the trails is immense, in the fall of the year when the leaves are gone from the trees, the view is magnificent as you move across Horse Mountain near the top. The hike is deceiving at this point. The leaves on the forest floor often look like a gravel road in the distance. But maybe it is just the hope of seeing the gravel road where the second vehicle is parked. Exhaustion is surely causing anticipation for the end of the hike. Eventually, you do see the dusty road that marks the end of this day’s journey. If you’ve planned ahead, there should be some type of refreshment in the second vehicle. Whether it is Gatorade, water or something of your own liking, slurping down an ice cold whatever is a good way to drive back to the 109 Trailhead for the other vehicle. •••

Don Childrey wrote the original “Uwharrie Lakes Region Trail Guide” and a revised version that came out later. Childrey originally mapped the trails with a bicycle wheel, though by the time he wrote the second book he had GPS to assist him. His efforts have made all the trails of the Uwharries and surrounding area more accessible for all. Trail Guide available for purchase at

42 SIGHTS & BITES 2020


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US Highway State Route Forest Service Road

Shooting Range Boat Ramp (Non-FS)

Primary Highway, Multi-Lane Primary Highway

Canoe Launch (Non-FS) State Park (Non-FS) Zoological Park (Non-FS) Interstate Highway

Secondary Paved Road Improved Road, May Be Paved or Gravel National Recreation Trail