Living Readers' Choice Awards
the winners are ...
Jeb Hockman, Contributing Writer
For the fifth
consecutive year, Cooperative Living readers have weighed in on their
favorites for our annual Best in
readers’ choice awards.
This year’s picks
include reader-recommended places around the Old Dominion to shop, eat,
play a round of golf, or hear some great live music. Our categories also
included three in which there were no clear winners. For Favorite Teacher,
Favorite Local Doctor, and Best Local Newspaper, we had several nominees
that received the same number of votes. Here are the top nominees, in
alphabetical order, in those categories, and our 2007 Best in
Ms. Lisa Cooper, Highland School,
Warrenton; Ms. Andrea Ferment, J.M. Gandy Elementary School, Ashland; Dr.
Gail Lee, Nandua High School, Onley; Dr. James I. “Bud” Robertson,
Virginia Tech, Blacksburg.
Dr. Ryan Anderson, Fredericksburg; Dr.
Jack Baumgartner, Rocky Mount; Dr. William Bridgforth, Victoria; Dr.
William Harper, Harrisonburg;
Dr. Marilyn Kellam, Nassawaddox; Dr. Eric Maybach, Warrenton;
Dr. Alexander McCausland, Roanoke; Dr. Staige Miller (retired), Mt.
Jackson; Dr. James Priest, Vernon Hill; Dr. James Redington, Hot Springs;
Dr. Stuart Solan, Richmond; Dr. Nicholas Tavani, Manassas; Dr. Leonard
Touchette, Woodbridge; Dr. Lawrence Varner, Farmville.
The Central Virginian, Louisa; The
Courier-Record, Blackstone; The Farmville Herald, Farmville; The Free
Lance-Star, Fredericksburg; The Free Press, Woodstock; The Potomac News,
Woodbridge; The Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond; The Rockbridge
Advocate, Lexington; The South Hill Enterprise, South Hill.
college campus: Mary Washington
is blessed with some of the most scenic college campuses in the
, so it is a real honor for the University of Mary Washington (UMW) to be
deemed prettiest by Cooperative Living readers.
campus is dotted with Jeffersonian architecture, brick pathways, and
several open grassy areas for studying, tossing a Frisbee, or
For many years, the university has
been committed to preserving the look and feel of the campus as new
buildings have been added. A dedicated landscape-and-grounds crew ensures
that plants flourish, lampposts and benches look like new, and that the
campus continues to live up to its beautiful reputation.
UMW is celebrating its 100th
anniversary during the 2007-’08 academic year. Founded as a State Normal
for Women, today the coeducational university enrolls about 4,000
undergraduates and 1,000 graduate students. For more information and
directions, visit www.umw.edu.
country store: laurel mills store
Laurel Mills Store in the tiny
is “way back in the boonies,” says co-owner Mary Frances Fannon.
It may be off the beaten path, but if
it wasn’t there, area residents would have to drive the 20 miles to
Culpeper to pick up a quart of milk, a loaf of bread or gas up their cars.
Mary Frances and her husband Bill joke that the store is “so far off the
beaten path that they have a captive audience.”
The original brick structure was built
in 1877 and has been operated as a country store for almost that long.
Bill and Mary Frances owned the farm across the
from the store. In 1988 they discovered the store was for sale. “They
were going to turn it into apartments,” Mary Frances says. “Bill and I
made an overnight decision to buy the store and keep it running.”
The Fannons are pleased that Laurel
Mills was voted “Best Country Store,”
but modestly say it’s really nothing extraordinary. What makes it
special is that it’s the center of this beautiful rural community and as
much a place to meet neighbors and swap gossip as to buy groceries.
store is on Route 618 (
Laurel Mills Road
) about five miles off Route 211 between Sperryville and Culpeper. The
Fannons invite you to stop by.
live music venue:
Coffee & Tea (
say their community is the “Center of the Universe.” Cooperative
Living readers have voted Ashland Coffee & Tea the “Center of the
Music Lover’s Universe” in
Partners Jim and Mary Leffler and Kay
Landry opened the gourmet coffee shop and restaurant in 1996 and began
featuring live performers a year later.
As Kay Landry says, “We wanted to provide really quality music in
a concert-like environment. Our music is diverse — lots of
and folk, blues, jazz and little bit of pop.”
Some of the better-known artists who
have performed at Ashland Coffee & Tea include Rodney Crowell, Tim
O’Brien, Janis Ian, and Marshall Crenshaw.
No more than 150 tickets are sold to
each performance in the intimate “listening room,” where no talking
and no smoking are allowed. “The performers love the energy of the
audience,” Landry says, “plus we’ve got one of the best sound
systems in the state. It’s perfectly tuned to the room.”
Located downtown on Railroad Avenue,
there is live music most every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening. For
a schedule of upcoming performers, visit www.ashlandcoffeeandtea.com or
virginia-born athlete: arthur ashe
Growing up in then-segregated
Richmond, he was “skinny as a straw.” But the first time he picked up
a tennis racket, it was obvious Arthur Ashe, Jr., had a talent for the
His youth was filled with hardship as
his beloved mother passed away
suddenly when he was only six years
old. But Arthur had an inner strength that would sustain him throughout
his tragically short life. He was taken under the tutelage of mentors on
Richmond’s public courts, where he honed his talents and earned a
scholarship to UCLA. Turning pro after graduation, Ashe won nearly every
major event in his 10-year career and was ranked #1 among the best players
in the world. He was admired not only for his tennis skills, but for his
quiet fight against segregation. His untimely death after contracting AIDS
from a contaminated blood transfusion was mourned by millions of admirers
Never one to ask for pity, Ashe said,
“If I were to say ‘God,
why me?’ about the bad things, then I should have said, ‘God, why
me?’ about the good things that have happened in my life.” Says
Johnnie Ashe of his late brother, “Arthur Ashe is a true Virginia hero.
He met the challenges of life with dignity, poise and grace.” The
readers of Cooperative Living agree.
golf course: The homestead (hot Springs)
The Homestead Resort, located in the
beautiful Allegheny Mountains in Bath County, is home to three
breathtaking championship golf courses.
Golf has been played at The Homestead
since 1892 when the The Old Course was opened. The Old Course boasts the
oldest first tee in continuous use in the United States.
The premier course at the Homestead is
the famed Cascades. Designed in 1923 and later restored to its original
layout, it consistently ranks among the world’s best. Playing a round at
The Cascades is an unforgettable experience for any golfer. The third and
newest course, Lower Cascades, was designed by Robert Trent Jones and
offers unique challenges to seasoned golfers.
Some say the spirit of legendary
golfer Sam Snead, who began his career there and called The Homestead
home, can still be felt looking over these renowned courses that have
challenged everyone from weekend hackers to top professionals to
The Homestead is truly one of
Virginia’s favorite destinations for golfers of all skill levels. For
more information, visit www.thehomestead.com or call 866-354-4655.
Fried Chicken: Tammy & Johnny’s (Melfa)
When Ronnie and Shirley Edwards
decided to open a restaurant in Melfa in 1967, they named it for their
young daughter and son, Tammy and Johnny.
Forty years later, Tammy & Johnny’s is an institution on
Virginia’s Eastern Shore and is still run by the Edwards family.
A beacon for locals and hungry
travelers alike, Tammy & Johnny’s offers a complete
menu of breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes. But their claim to fame is the
fried chicken, still served in the familiar orange-and-brown-striped
What makes Tammy & Johnny’s
fried chicken so special? Ronnie
Edwards says it’s “a combination of the things we do … and the
things we don’t do.” They do marinate fresh chicken overnight in a
secret blend of spices. They don’t cook at low temperatures. The chicken
is cooked in pure cottonseed oil, so “it’s never greasy,” Edwards
insists. If they run out of properly marinated poultry, they don’t fry
anymore until the next batch has been seasoned overnight.
It’s hard to miss the big Tammy
& Johnny’s sign at 27352 Langford Highway (U.S. Route 13), but if
you get lost, just call 757-787-1122; or better yet, just ask anyone you
see how to get there.
local Bakery: Knakal’s (culpeper)
To paraphrase a line from the movie
Field of Dreams, “Bake it and they will come.”
And the hungry folks do come — from
miles around — to enjoy the
sweet smells and wonderful array of cakes, pies, cookies, donuts, bread
and biscuits baked fresh every day at Knakal’s Bakery in downtown
An institution in the same location
since 1935, it was run by the Knakal family for 42 years. In 1977, Ken
Whitt bought the bakery. He and his staff of 10 full-time and two
part-time employees, including wife Linda, son Dwayne and daughter-in-law
Beth, have been keeping the mixing bowls full ever since.
Last June, the Knakal’s crew turned
out 230 graduation cakes, complete with photos of the graduates reproduced
in the icing, eight wedding cakes, plus the regular daily amount of
donuts, cookies and pastries, all in a 48-hour period. Around the
Christmas holidays, the pace really picks up as everyone wants Knakal’s
famous light-and-fluffy biscuits to serve with ham. It’s not unusual for
the bakery to sell over 120,000 of them.
Cooperative Living readers say it’s
worth the trip from wherever you live to visit Knakal’s at 146 East
Davis Street in downtown Culpeper.