Traveling back in history to Smithfield, Virginia
SMITHFIELD, Va., July 17, 2016 – There is still plenty of summer left in Smithfield, Virginia. Located on the Isle of Wight, just over three hours south of the D.C. Metro area, Smithfield is one of those step-back-in-time places.
One of those places where you just want to turn off the cell phone.
The first land owner of the Isle of Wight was Arthur Smith, in 1637, who colonized it from Warascoyak Indians, patenting 1,450 acres described as “a neck of land running S.E. along a creek behind the Pagan Shore.”
Eventually becoming Smithfield, after the family of Arthur Smith, the town originally contained four streets and 72 lots. Those streets, as shown on the original plat, are now Main Street (to Institute Street), South Church Street, South Mason Street and Cedar Street (between Mason Street and Church Street).
And it’s all still there, perfect for a leisurely walk on one of the Smithfield Walking Tours offered every Saturday that explores the history of this area from the birth of the nation to the Revolution to the Cold War. If you are not there for the tours, self-directed walking tours are supported by informational materials available at the Main Street visitors center.
The town of Smithfield thrived as a British colony for 20 years prior to America’s independence.
The National Historic Register has designated Smithfield as a Virginia State Historic Landmark. In the old town district find Federal, Georgian and Victorian period houses and buildings that go back to the British merchants and ship captains who lived there.
The town boasts 15 houses that date to the 18th century, 10 of which predate the Revolutionary War. During the Federal period, the early 19th century, Smithfield enjoyed a building boom; however, it was post-Civil War when the town fully emerged.
Peanuts and steamboats traveling the rivers led to Smithfield’s boom and the many beautiful Victorian homes that still stand, complete with towers, stained glass windows and steamboat-style Gothic trimmings.
But Smithfield is not all about the past because there is plenty happening there right now.
For visitors who want to take advantage of the numerous free concerts, antique car shows, farmers markets and more, lodging ranges from the Hampton Inn to the numerous bed and breakfasts, including the multitasked Smithfield Inn, Restaurant & Tavern, Bed and Breakfast, where a night in a historic room is followed by made-to-order southern-style breakfast.
For corporate retreats to wedding parties Smithfield Station provides modern lodging with historic flair. First opened in November 1986 by Ron and Tina Pack, the Station debuted with a restaurant, hotel and marina. The restaurant’s mission was and is to showcase the Smithfield ham and fresh local seafood of the area.
(Captions: 1: Smithfield Station Lobby; 2: Pet friendly dock side dining; 3: Smithfield ham on fresh biscuits with honey mustard; 4: Smithfield ham and gruyere cheese quiche; 5: Smithfield Inn crab cake - All Images: Jacquie Kubin for CommDigiNews)
Smithfield is recognized for its intimate encore bride weddings, second weddings that seek a special experience where intimacy and memories outweigh the large event that often comes with first-time nuptials.
The Station’s 44 luxurious, large and extremely well designed rooms all look toward the Pagan River, which offers plenty of opportunities for water activities, from kayaking to commissioning a boat for deep sea fishing.
An extremely unique offering from Smithfield Station is the luxury suites built in 1997 into a replica Hooper Strait Light, the original now located at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Maryland.
The only lighthouse on the East Coast where you can spend the night, the Captain Sinclair Suite features one king bed, fireplace, LCD HD flat panel TV, built-in nautical dining table, kitchenette and a spiral staircase with access to a scenic lighthouse overlook with views of the Pagan River and surrounding marshlands.
The hotel amenities feature hand-crafted cherry wood furniture, upgraded bedding and linens, oversized bathrooms (some featuring Jacuzzi tubs), electric fireplaces, HD LCD Flat Panel TVs, granite accents, private walkout balconies and upgraded bath amenities.
Children are not permitted for overnight accommodations in the Captain Sinclair Suite; however, children and pets are welcome throughout Smithfield and Smithfield Station.
The Light at Smithfield is an exact replica of a working Chesapeake Bay Style Lighthouse and boasts two spacious suites that offer panoramic views of the river, plenty of room to entertain and a scenic overlook. Smithfield Station has been acclaimed for having the Best Dockmaster, Ron Pack, and the Best Dockside Bar, IBX Bar and Grille for 2016.
(Captions: 1: Randy, Ron and Brian Pack with the Lighthouse in the distance; 2: Smithfield Station slips on the Pagan River; 3: Smithfield Inn river boardwalk; 4: Smithfield Station room - All Images: Jacquie Kubin for CommDigiNews)
And Miss Paula is responsible for much of the down-home Southern cooking – pastries, biscuits and an incredible quiche cooked in a perfect flaky crust. Miss Paula is one treasure, amongst all the shopping, wine, and antiquing, you will find at Smithfield Station.
Smithfield ham is on the menu, of course – salty and thinly sliced perfect with a bit of honey mustard on a traditional Southern biscuit.
Along the Eastern shore, there are many claims of “Best Crabcake” unfortunately they all fall short next to the plump, large portioned, filled with top-grade meat, fried to perfect gold, thick crabcakes from Smithfield Station. The only one better was that of the late Chef Bobby Huber of Norfolk culinary fame.
The only possible complaint is that, stopping for lunch, we did not have enough time to enjoy multiple items from the menu. Which means a return trip, soon. Thankfully it seems that there are plenty of reasons to return.
The anticipation is that breakfast is most likely just short of perfection.
Luckily, Smithfield offers a series of events coming up this fall. Throughout the summer, there are numerous free musical and art events in the park and at the Smithfield Arts Center, Isle of Wight County Museum, historic parks and buildings and the Smithfield Winery.
Even on rainy days, Smithfield offers plenty of attractions to keep the curious entertained. Where Smithfield shines are their fall, winter and spring events, starting with the Smithfield Bacon, Bourbon & Beach Music Fest from 11 a.m. to 5 a.m. on Oct 1 at Windsor Castle Park, Riverfront Festival Site, Jericho Road in downtown Smithfield.
Attendees will enjoy tastings of small batch, hard-to-find and specialty bourbons and tastings from the hottest Virginia craft breweries around.
And of course bacon, lots of bacon. With each ticket comes ½ pound of Smithfield premium cut bacon to grill before taking it to the Bacon Condiment Tent, where you can create a BLT wrap, bacon nachos, or dip/shake a variety of great seasonings on it.
Keeping it lively will be music on three stages, unique retail vendors, additional food, wine and Virginia brews also for sale.
Proceeds from Smithfield events benefit local charitable organizations. To date, the organization has donated over $285,000 to community causes since 2012.
There is a limited number of tickets, and the fest was sold out weeks in advance last year, so plan on getting your tickets early!
For further information go to SmithfieldVABaconFest.com.
Later in the month, treat your family to a true home-town event, the Isle of Wight County’s award-winning fair Sept. 15-18.