The Northern Neck got another taste of a return to normalcy last Saturday when Stratford Hall hosted its 10th Annual Wine & Oyster Festival. Having been on hiatus ever since the pandemic started, this year will see the event pop up not once but twice, as Stratford’s way of apologizing to the public and working to make up for lost time.
“We postponed due to COVID,” director of marketing Anne Wilson stated. “So we’re doing it twice this year to make up for lost time. We haven’t been able to have it since 2019. We sold almost 2,000 tickets this morning alone, and we have a lot of new stuff this year.”
People flocked in from all over to attend, itching to taste the potent potables that the various wineries and breweries, from Ingleside to the Montross Brewery and beyond, had brought for them to sample and enjoy. Others went for another Northern Neck staple: seafood; consuming plates of fried oysters. Food trucks and craft vendors were also to be found, providing everything from BBQ to hot dogs to popcorn and beyond. Those that passed by the gift shop and into the field also had a chance to buy raffle tickets for a rather large gift basket.
Kids, meanwhile, were entertained with a petting zoo and bouncy castles as well as horse and pony rides. In the middle of it all, the Hard-to-Tell Band kept folks entertained while at the Great House, Colonial Faire did much the same. The house itself was open to walk-in tours as well.
Those interested in cars got to enjoy a pair of car shows happening near the visitor center on the other side of the footbridge.
The whole thing ran like a well-oiled machine. The staff had not lost their touch even after not putting the event on for the last two years. With all hands on deck, overflow parking was ready before it was needed, and there were trolley buses from Colonial Beach ready to ferry customers from the parking areas to the visitor center. All through the field out in front of the Great House, it was clear that residents were itching to go out and about and have a day in the sun, and that is precisely what they got.
This year also marks Stratford unveiling new tours with several others to come. Back in February, a tour focused around the experiences of Blacks at Stratford Hall was released. Meanwhile, Judy Hynson, the director of research, is digging through material to aid in the creation of a tour focused on spirituality at the hall. Combined with a future kids’ tour, that will increase the plate of offerings for those wishing to go through Stratford Hall to a whopping six tours.
The fall Wine & Oyster Festival is set to take place in September.