Cover Story

Virginia's Delightful Dozen


The votes are in and the word is out: Cooperative Living’s statewide readership has spoken in the magazine’s first “Virginia’s Delightful Dozen” contest.

At the beginning of this year, we asked you, our readers, to submit nominations for a “best of” contest covering 12 categories. Following are the winners, as well as other nominees receiving multiple votes, as identified by our statewide readership.

To all of our readers who submitted nominations for the Delightful Dozen contest, we offer thanks, and to those identified as Virginia’s Delightful Dozen, congratulations, and keep up the good work!

Best Non-Franchise Restaurant

Winner: Burger Boys, Manassas. In a little over a year, this restaurant has gained a reputation for made-to-order food and speedy service, “but not fast food,” according to Sandra Hardeman, managing partner. “Our distinction is that we offer meat either grilled or chargrilled over an open flame, and it’s always cooked to order. We don’t have heat lamps,” she says. The restaurant also has a 40-flavor ice cream parlor.

Runners-up include Tea Tyme & What Nots (Fredericksburg), Exmore Diner (Exmore), Virginia Diner (Wakefield), Sheldon’s Restaurant (Keysville), Evers Family Restaurant (Mt. Crawford), Brookside Restaurant (Millboro Springs), Perky’s (Altavista), Bavarian Chef (Madison), Lowery’s (Tappahannock), and Surf Rider (Norfolk).

Best Virginia Wine

Winner: Burnley Vineyards’ Rivanna Sunset. A semi-dry blush made with chambourcin grapes, Rivanna Sunset issues forth from Burnley Vineyards, established by the Reeder family in 1976 near the Central Virginia community of Barboursville. Lee and Dawn Reeder and Lee’s parents, C.J. and Patt Reeder, operate the vineyard, where nine different grape varieties are grown on 30 acres. The vineyard’s first planting was in 1977, and the first wine was produced at the vineyard in 1984.

Runner-up in this category is Barboursville Cabernet Sauvignon.

Best State Park

Winner: First Landing State Park, Virginia Beach. Established in 1936, First Landing is one of Virginia’s six original state parks. The park includes the site where Capt. John Smith and the first English settlers first set foot on the American continent. It is on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay, at its confluence with the Atlantic Ocean. It offers camping facilities, including 20 climate-controlled, overnight cabins, as well as 19 miles of hiking trails through a biologically rich environment featuring more than 600 species of plants.

Runners-up include Kiptopeke State Park, Breaks Interstate Park, Natural Tunnel State Park, Douthat State Park, and Jamestown State Park.

Best Family Destination

Winner: Colonial Williamsburg. One of the most popular historical destinations in the nation, Colonial Williamsburg is even more a favorite of traveling families because of its many nearby attractions, ranging from Busch Gardens to the Kingsmill Golf Course.

Runners-up include Busch Gardens, Paramount’s Kings Dominion, First Landing State Park, the Frontier Culture Museum (Staunton), and Shenandoah Caverns’ American Celebration on Parade.

Most Scenic View

Winner: Chesapeake Bay at Sunset. Besides being one of the most fertile estuaries in the world, Chesapeake Bay offers breathtaking sunset vistas and, for those on the bayside of the Eastern Shore, beautiful sunsets, as well!

Runners-up include Assateague Island Wildlife Refuge, the Star at Mill Mountain (Roanoke), and the Blue Ridge Mountains from the front lawn of Monticello.

Most Romantic Getaway

Winner: Mountain Lake Hotel, Pembroke. This scenic 2,600-acre Virginia mountaintop resort offers over 20 different types of accommodations, from single-bed hotel rooms to four-bedroom cottages. Surrounded by the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains and full of history, Mountain Lake Hotel has been redefining southern hospitality for over 150 years. It was the location for the Patrick Swayze movie, Dirty Dancing.

Runner-up — The Homestead (Hot Springs).

Best Local Festival

Winner: Craig County Fall Festival (New Castle). Started in 1983, this annual one-day event is held the second Saturday of each October and offers a slice of genuine down-home Americana with fun exhibits and activities ranging from home-cooked food booths to country music and dancing.

Runners-up include the Harborfest (Norfolk), The Highland County Maple Festival, the Heart of Virginia Festival (Farmville), the Rockingham County Fair, Lucketts Country Fair, the Eden Apple Butter Festival (Bath County), Nelson County Days, Taste of the Mountains (Madison), the Fiddlers Convention (Galax), the Bluemont Fair, and the Southampton Agriculture and Forestry Museum’s Heritage Day.

Best Flea Market

Winner: Tom Harp’s Flea Market, Virginia Beach. Started in 1986, Tom and Anne Harp’s flea market has evolved into Surfside Antiques and Collectibles, a twice-yearly (January and November) antiques and collectibles show held at the Virginia Beach Pavilion.

Runners-up are the Eastern Shore Flea Market and the Big Flea Market at the Showplace in Richmond.

Best Farmer’s Market

Winner: Virginia Beach Farmer’s Market.  In operation at 3640 Dam Neck Road since 1976, the Virginia Beach Farmer’s Market is open year-round and features a variety of agriculturally inspired shops and related businesses that offer seasonal, fresh vegetables and fruit in addition to many other products. An organic grocery, meat market, dairy store, flower shop, restaurant, and home and garden gift stores offer a unique and varied shopping experience. Homemade jams, jellies and cookie mixes; plants, herbs and flowers; homemade ice cream and baked goods; and farmer-to-you seasonal produce allow you to experience some of the best the agriculture community has to offer.

Runners-up are Charlottesville, Roanoke, and Richmond farmer’s markets.

Best Customer Service

Winner: Tea Tyme & What Nots, Fredericksburg. This tea room serves breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea and offers 85 varieties of loose tea. Owner Beverly Payne says customer service is foremost in the four-and-a-half-year-old family business’s operations. Her mother-in-law, Annie Payne, prepares the dishes; her niece, Dusty Martin, manages the business; and her best friend, Claire Ervine, is the server.

Runners-up in the best customer service category include Peeble’s Department Store at the Southern Shopping Center in Norfolk, First Landing State Park (Virginia Beach), Comfort Suites (Chincoteague), English’s Hardware (Altavista), Yoder’s Market (Madison), Home Depot in Hampton, and the Capitol Police on Capitol Square in Richmond.

Best Virginia Peanuts

Winner: Appomattox River Peanut Company. Headquartered in Hopewell, Appomattox River Peanuts come in 14 flavors, are always prepared with the highest-quality ingredients, and come with a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee.

Runners-up include Hubs Peanuts (Sudley), Virginia Diner (Wakefield), the Good Earth Peanut Co. (Skippers), Plantation Peanuts (Wakefield), and Blue Crab Bay Co. (Melfa).

Best Virginia Ham

Winner: Smithfield Ham, Smithfield. Available from a number of food producers, world-famous Smithfield hams are dry salt cured, then spiced and slowly smoked to perfection using oak, hickory and apple woods, then aged. Smithfield hams should be sliced “tissue thin” to properly capture their unique flavor.

Runners-up include Turner Country Ham (Fulks Run), Calhoun’s Country Ham (Culpeper), and Jimmy Kite/Kite’s Hams (Wolftown).


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