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Rappahannock Oysters Are Here!

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In the world of oysters, nothing reins king like the Chesapeake Bay Oyster!  For centuries, no region in the world could challenge the flavor of the Chesapeake Bay oyster.  But, since the 1970’s the formerly famed Chesapeake Bay oyster has struggled to maintain its title as king and many species all but disappeared.  At its very worst, stocks fell to 1% of what they were in their hay day.  Fortunately, the tide has turned.. “Using modern aquaculture techniques, Rappahannock [Oyster Company] has been able to lead the renaissance of the Bay region” boasts the Rappahannock Oyster Company.  “Our oysters are grown in open waters, right next to the wild oysters – the only difference being that we grow them in cages so that come harvest time there’s no destruction of the river bottom.  During their growth cycle, we monitor salt and temperature levels, guard against disease, cull out slow growers and misshapen shells, all to ensure that you get a consistently healthy, attractive, and succulent oyster.”

Smithfield Station has recently partnered with the Rappahannock Oyster Co. to provide our customers with what we feel is one of the very best oysters on the market.  Grown just 30 miles from our docks, the Rappahannock oyster has a major presence on our menu whether it be with our award-winning Oyster Rockefeller, our Spady Specials – a classic roasted oyster, garlic and parmesan cheese recipe that is worth its weight in gold or quite possibly our Smoked BBQ Bacon Chipotle Oysters – with the Rappahannock River’s finest smoked bivalve with a little bit of classic Smithfield bacon, vinegar-based BBQ sauce and a touch of heat.  The partnership we have formed provides Smithfield Station’s guest with oysters that are consistent in size, safely grown with an eye for the environment and delivered fresh to our docks three days a week.  Providing fresh, local ingredients in our menu is just one of the things that helps set Smithfield Station apart from the rest of the market and has been a major contributor in our 30 years of success.  If you really want to get down and enjoy some of the world’s best oysters and oyster dishes, come check out Smithfield Station soon and enjoy our new partnership with the Rappahannock Oyster Co.  We promise you will leave nothing less than delighted!

Celebrating 30 Years In Business

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Smithfield Station Celebrates 30 Years In Business

Family run business has staying power

Smithfield, VA: Smithfield Station just celebrated 30 years in business.  The award-winning restaurant, hotel, marina and conference center located on the Pagan River in downtown Smithfield, Virginia opened its doors November 24, 1986.  Ever since, they have been serving delicious meals, delighting overnight travelers by both land and sea and providing beautiful, first-class riverfront conference facilities.

In the lobby of The Restaurant at Smithfield Station hangs an article from Portfolio Magazine in 1987 that is a testament to Pack’s vision.  The article is the Golden Fork Awards and lists new restaurants worth watching.  Smithfield Station is the only restaurant on that list still in operation today.  Since opening in 1986 Smithfield Station has seen steady growth adding a Chesapeake Bay styled lighthouse in 1994, which serves as two luxury hotel suites, and five boardwalk cottages along the marina.  In 2007, Smithfield Station doubled in size when it opened twenty-two additional hotel rooms, a world class conference facility, retail shops and fifty additional marina slips.

While Ron and Tina are semi-retired, sons Randy and Brian carry on the business.  Ron Pack often jokes that he didn’t want to sell the business so he had to “grow his replacements.”  Randy Pack, now the President of Smithfield Station and Ron and Tina’s oldest son says, “The love and passion with which our parents have built Smithfield Station has left a huge role to fill for my brother and I.  For a restaurant to last 30 years is impressive and speaks to the quality of the facility, the quality and longevity of staff and the success of our parents ingrained motto to ‘allow no guest leave anything less than delighted.’”

Smithfield Station is in the historic district of charming Smithfield, VA.  With several major events going on throughout the year, the Town of Smithfield and Smithfield Station have proven they are the place to be in Coastal Virginia.  Shopping and dining opportunities abound and the boutique coastal style hotel is sure to please the most discerning traveler.

About Smithfield Station:  Smithfield Station is a restaurant, hotel, marina and conference center in Smithfield Station.  They boast a 144-seat restaurant, 44 beautifully appointed hotel rooms, 100 slip marina, beautiful conference and corporate retreat facilities as well as endless catering possibilities from an intimate cocktail party to a 400 person + seated dinner.   For more information please contact Randy Pack, President of Smithfield Station, at (757) 357-7700, randy.pack@smithfieldstation.flywheelsites.com or visit our website at www.smithfieldstation.com.

New Children’s PlayScape Now Open In Smithfield!

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Unlike a traditional playground in a box, the new Natural Children’s PlayScape project at Windsor Castle Park is integrated into the environment. Tunnels are part of the landscaping, slides are embedded into the hillside, and natural materials were used.  There are two main areas.  Towards the existing dog park is the “toddler area” with amenities that are reduced in size for young users.  Wrapped around the base of the picnic area is the main children’s area with slides, tunnels, log balance elements, climbing walls and sand pits. The BIG WOW Slide for those with a sense of adventure is located on the large incline on the far side of the picnic area.

This project was funded by the Windsor Castle Park Foundation and design & construction was done by the Natural Playground Company. The work is now complete and the PlayScape is open to the public!  All conveniently a short stroll across the boardwalk and through the park from Smithfield Station!  Plan a hotel stay, or just join us for lunch in the restaurant before or after you play.  This is such a great addition to our town and one we know many little kiddos and families will enjoy for years to come!

If you are interested in making a donation to assist the with cost of the project, please visit www.WCPFoundation.com.

The 2016 BOB Fest Is THIS Weekend!

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BOB Fest has Arrived!!

 

The 2016 BOB Fest Is THIS Weekend! January is usually a time of post-holiday slumber, but historic Smithfield Virginia has turned that slumber into a rockin’ party with the Smithfield BOB Fest – Bloody Mary’s, Oysters, Brunswick Stew, BBQ… and more!

Held annually on the Saturday of Martin Luther King weekend, BOB Fest is held on the Pagan River in Windsor Castle Park located directly across from Smithfield Station in a 30,000 sq ft HEATED tent, and features delicious drinks, food, and rocking live entertainment from Hampton Roads premiere 80’s cover band The Deloreans.

Plan to check-in to Smithfield Station a night early and enjoy the river views, spacious rooms with fireplaces, and make walking to the event a breeze without the hassle of parking or waiting in traffic. For those who want to start their fun earlier in the day, there is the 8K BOB Chilly Road Race at 9 am. (sold out for 2016) BOB Fest starts at noon (VIP ticket holders get early admission at 11:00), and goes until 4 pm. …Which is perfect timing, allowing visitors to head to The Restaurant at Smithfield Station for dinner.

Guests of the event will enjoy great regional food, live music, and friends in a 30,000 square foot heated tent. Take advantage of the wonderful selection of food, especially the fresh oysters from Johnson and Son Seafood in Eclipse (link to blog). There is just something about fresh oysters from the bay surrounded by good friends and great music. The Deloreans always put on quite a show, with music that can be heard throughout the event. There is even plenty of room to dance if the urge strikes you.

After the event, having your fill of oysters and beverages, we welcome you to keep the party rolling at the IBX Bar at Smithfield Station. The party inevitably leads to a great group gathering there to grab a great steak, some fresh seafood, or the very impressive baby back ribs.

Make no mistake about this first class event, it’s a ton of fun and one people look forward to all year!  This event also sells out the hotel, so call the front desk today to check availability by calling (757) 357-7700.

Boaters…

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Every once in a while there are things in this business that are just really make you love what you do. Don’t get me wrong, the hospitality business is a great one. You meet people from all over with all different stories.
However, I really relate and love the transient boaters that come to Smithfield Station. The past two years we have been voted by the readers of Chesapeake Bay Magazine as having the best dockmaster on the Lower Chesapeake Bay.  Well, that’s pretty easy to do when you love greeting your guests as they come in!  Our transient boaters are a different breed. They are almost always on leisure travel and in a totally relaxed mode.
They travel with friends and often other boaters so when they get here, they just soon sit down, have a beer and see what is going on with you. The guests are happy to be here for a night, a long weekend or even the whole week.  They want to know what new is happening in the town and who is playing music at the outdoor concert series on Friday night. I dig that. They get us and we get them. It doesn’t hurt that my family are avid boaters ourselves.  Its nice to see their boats and electronics and compare what is new or what is working different for them.
Its nice to see what fish they are catching and where and with what methods. Its great to see them bring along their granddaughter or grandson and teach them about marina life. I remember when my wife and I bought our first boat together and the salesman told us we were buying a lifestyle.  We both laughed because we felt that was the worst sales line you could use… after all, we already were boaters!  But as I reflect back on it, boating is a lifestyle.
Boaters wave every time they pass another boat on the water. They want to look at your boat and show you theirs. This is precisely why I love my boaters.
Until next time,
Randy

Windsor Castle Archaeology

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Dig to address many unknowns about the property.

Archaeology is a science which draws from many disciplines. Since 2010, the Wheatland Foundation, a non-profit organization, in Williamsburg, Va., has worked with the Town of Smithfield at Windsor Castle to conduct field investigations and preliminary laboratory processing and analyses. This ongoing work will help guide proposed improvements as the property has never been the subject of a systematic archaeological survey, and it will allow for continued planning and help extend our knowledge of Windsor Castle’s history.

Archaeology can address many unknowns about the Windsor Castle property such as the age of the existing house (thought to be the 1740s), the layout of the plantation, where kilns and other craft areas were located as well as the patterns of consumer behavior and diet. The Wheatland Foundation, working in conjunction with students enrolled in historical archaeology at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va., has mapped the site to proceed with excavation, screening, documenting and recovery. Artifacts found on site to date include prehistoric lithic flakes, handwrought iron nails, 18th century stemware fragments, wine bottle glass fragments, 18th century ceramics, animal bones and more. A cellar next to the house has recently been located.

Windsor Castle is a sensitive resource which requires professional care, and all artifacts on site belong to the Town of Smithfield. Please feel free to view the site and ask questions of the archaeological staff when they are on site.

Questions may also be referred to the Isle of Wight County Museum at 757-356-1223.

Coldest Winter On Record For Smithfield

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A new record is set.

So yeah, it was a cold winter here.  Coldest on record actually.  There are a couple of lessons that need to be learned from this.  For starters, Smithfield Station has seen its fair share of hurricanes over the year.  Nor’ Easters as well.  In fact, this is a place that insurance companies encourage boats to come during these events as we are considered a hurricane hole.

Never in 30 years have we lost a boat.  We walk the docks here during these events and make sure everything is taken care of as if the boats were our own.  Well, that changed this winter.  For the first time ever we had not one, but two boats sink.  The culprit – cold weather.  On this part of the bay we don’t get ice and temperatures in the single digits.

If we do its only for a couple hours so our boaters have never had to take the precautions that those on the northern bay do.  This year we had a record two inches of ice and too much time in the single digits.  In both sinkings a through hull valve was left open on the boats and the fittings were filled with water which froze splitting the pipe.  When the great thaw came, these pipes flooded the boat and they sank within 30 minutes.  Both boats are believed to be a total loss.  We lost a 30 ft Regal and a 45 ft Sea Ray.

There is a lesson to be learned here.  One that we have never preached before in Smithfield.  When the weather gets cold, close the through hull valves.  If this had happened in both situations we would be able to maintain our perfect record.  Mind you, both owners were meticulous about their boats and had recently checked on them so it was not a matter of neglect.  Be safe, next year and remember to close your valves.

For now though, its spring!  Lets remember the lessons of the winter over a margarita on the back of our boats!  Tight lines and fair winds, Randy