Hey! So, I wanted to officially introduce myself! My name is Meg Pugh, aka “SaltyMeg” and I will be your official Salty Southern Route tour guide! I grew up in Isle of Wight County and have a great appreciation for what this county, as well as the surrounding Surry, Southampton/Franklin, Suffolk and Sussex counties have to offer. There are a ton of things to do here! We have everything from historical landmarks, locally owned and operated shops, restaurants, breweries, wineries, festivals and events for every time of year. As I hope you have been reading, the five counties that The Salty Southern Route covers not only make up a beautiful area rich in agriculture and deep rooted in the pork and peanut industry, but they all have their own special and individual charm! Whether you are having a local brew at Brick and Mortar Brewery in Suffolk, eating peanut pie at The Virginia Diner in Sussex, learning about Bacon’s Rebellion at the Historic Bacon’s Castle in Surry, shopping Main Street in Downtown Smithfield/Isle of Wight or taking a kayak excursion down the waterways of Southampton/Franklin with Blackwater Outfitters, your ride along The Salty Southern Route will leave you with great memories and wanting to know what is next!
So what is it that you can expect from me? Let me tell you. As your tour guide on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, I will be giving you weekly event updates and special features on businesses and places of interest along The Salty Southern Route! The idea is to keep you informed on upcoming festivals, community runs and bike tours, farmers markets, restaurant weeks, parades and every happening in between! I look forward to spotlighting local businesses and landmarks once a week so you can discover a new place to shop, visit or dine and experience what makes these communities so special. And last but not least, I will be encouraging all of you to check out saltysouthernroute.com, where you will find awesome suggested driving itineraries put together by some amazing women in these different tourism departments! Then, once a month, a few of my friends and I are going to hit the road and drive one of these suggested routes! So, I’m excited and even more thrilled to share all the selfies and images we take!
So buckle up everyone and ride with me, “SaltyMeg”, along The Salty Southern Route!
Up next…. I want to remind you about all the Farmers Markets this region has to offer! Did you know that all five of these counties feature a weekly farmers market and that you still have till the end of October to check the majority of them out? We will talk about it tomorrow! So, until then, nice to meet you and thanks!
If you see me around town say “hi!” Oh! And let’s take a selfie! LOL
Meet Isle of Wight County
The flourishing county of Isle of Wight Virginia had its beginnings as the English settlement we think of today in 1608. This is when Captain John Smith, looking to obtain bushels of corn for the struggling Jamestown settlement, took the journey across the James River to the adjacent shores that were then occupied by the Native American tribe called Worrosquoyackes. As several plantations were then established along the shore in this area south of the James, by 1634, the Virginia Colony consisted of eight shires or counties with a population of approximately 5,000 inhabitants.
Today the county is home to the towns of Smithfield and Windsor and a 2017 census of over 36,000. With charming main streets and picturesque fields of peanuts, cotton and soy beans, Isle of Wight offers everything from the rural agricultural to the small town experience! Isle of Wight has an extensive history that includes its beginnings with the Native Americans, some of the first English history in our country and of course the area’s rich relationship with the pork and peanut industry, home to Smithfield Foods and the world’s oldest ham! As the county has and continues to grow, this small town community invites those who are looking for a permanent residence as well as those looking for the perfect day trip or long weekend!
As you ride The Salty Southern Route through Isle of Wight county you will come across long time businesses like Darden’s Country Store, where they have been smoking hams since the 1950s, and The Smithfield Inn, which has stood as a meeting and lodging place since the 1700s! Then, as you cruise down the roads of Isle of Wight, The Salty Southern Route will take you to lovely downtown Smithfield to browse the many eclectic and locally owned shops that line its beautiful Main Street! If it’s history you are into, historic landmarks like St. Luke’s Church, North America’s oldest Anglican church building, and The Isle of Wight County Museum are also stops on The SSR! When you are planning your long weekend to this delightful county, make sure you plan it around one of its many events, like Smithfield’s BOB (Bloody Mary, Oysters, Brunswick Stew & BBQ) or Wine & Brew Fest and/or the Isle of Wight County Fair!
Last but not least, The Salty Southern Route hasn’t forgotten to find you a delicious meal and local beverage! Whether you stop at one of Isle of Wight’s mouthwatering restaurants like The Taste of Smithfield, The Smithfield Station (also a beautiful hotel), Captain Chuck-A-Muck’s Sandbar and Grill, Q Daddy’s or Bubba-N-Frank’s BBQ, Wharf Hill Brewery for some local suds or SummerWInd Vineyard for a local wine, your palette will not be disappointed! Do you have a sweet tooth? Sojourn at Isle of Wight’s Ringo’s Donuts, The Smithfield Bakery, The Smithfield Ice Cream Parlor, or Yummaries Bakery to satisfy your taste buds!
And this is just the beginning! All this and more awaits when you ride The Salty Southern Route!
The next stop on your Salty Southern Adventure is the enchanting Sussex County!
Situated in the beautiful rolling terrain between Richmond, Hampton Roads and Southern VA, Sussex is 317,400 acres of alluring country fields that melt into picturesque sunsets and lush landscapes for as far as the eye can see! It was formed in 1754 and named after its English counterpart, eventually to include the charming towns of Jarrett, Stony Creek, Wakefield and Waverly. With over 130 farms in Sussex, 25% of the county’s land is devoted to agricultural production including peanuts, one of its principal crops!
On your relaxing ride through this Salty Southern Route featured-county, this leg of your journey will allow you to escape the hustle and bustle of daily routine and visit local peanut shops like Wakefield and Plantation Peanuts and stop by The First Peanut Museum in the USA. You will be able to browse the shelves of local country stores like Adam’s Peanut and Country Store and when the gang is ready for lunch, sojourn at Cowlings BBQ and top it all off with a slice of Peanut Pie at the famous Virginia Diner!
All of this and more awaits when you ride The Salty Southern Route!
From an English settlement known as Constant’s Wharf to its present day status as Virginia’s largest city, Suffolk Virginia is 430 square miles of rich woodlands, beautiful waters, rolling country fields and downtown streets filled with locally owned restaurants and shops.
As a prime destination for leisure travelers, Suffolk provides visitors with everything from
the charming southern city environment of its downtown to the joy of county living at a bed and breakfast or browsing the shelves at a locally owned farm market!
When you follow The Salty Southern Route through Suffolk the possibilities are endless! First stop, a selfie with Mr. Peanut, Suffolk’s official mascot courtesy of Planters Peanuts Company and Amedeo Obici, then, after you get a cute pic, The SSR will take you to Brick & Mortar Brewing Company to get a local brew! After wetting your whistle with local spirits stop by The Suffolk Seaboard Station Railroad Museum and The Planters Peanut Center to get a glimpse into Suffolk’s captivating past! Following your dive into local history the route takes you to Holland House and/or Bennett’s Creek Farm Market to purchase a few specialty locally grown products and finishes the day off with a delicious meal from one of Suffolk’s numerous restaurants!
Experience all of this and more when you ride The Salty Southern Route!
Official Launch September 13th at the Isle of Wight County Fair!
Now That you know about the Salty Southern Route... Let's talk about the counties! Meet Southampton COunty Virginia!
Hey there! The second county featured on The Salty Southern Route, your local pork and peanut thematic driving tour in Western Tidewater, that I want to let you know a little bit more about is Southampton County!
Originally part of “Warrasquouoke,” one of the eight shires making up the Colony of Virginia, Southampton County Virginia was most likely named for the borough of Southampton in England. Nestled between the Blackwater and Meherrin River, with the Nottoway River running through it, Southampton is a beautiful and tranquil county with a rich history that includes it’s Native American Beginnings, the railroad and a long relationship with pork and peanuts!
As you cruise down the long country roads of Southampton, windows down and the sweet country air whistling around you, the peace of your surroundings envelopes you while the excitement of what charming shop, farm, restaurant or historical landmark you are about to come across rises within.
While you follow The Salty Southern Route through Southampton County you will be taken to local restaurants, like Fred’s in the town of Franklin, places to purchase locally produced peanuts, like The Peanut Patch in the town of Courtland and local pork producers such as Felt’s, where you can peruse the retail shop and take home authentic Southampton ham. For the adventurous, follow The SSR to Blackwater Outfitters, where you can kayak and canoe through the waterways that form the county’s picturesque terrain.
All of this and more awaits you when you ride The Salty Southern Route!
Official launch September 13th, 2018 at the Isle of Wight County Fair!
Now That you know What The Salty southern route is... let's talk about our counties! meet Surry County Virginia!
Hi again! I'm so glad you are checking out The Salty Southern Route! Like I talked about last week, The Salty Southern Route is a thematic driving tour that takes you and your friends/family to all of the really neat places our counties in Western Tidewater have to offer!
What makes our route "Salty" is it's focus on what contributed to much of the growth and prosperity of this region, Pork and Peanuts! While you explore some of the history and, of course, tasty products of Surry, Suffolk, Southampton, Isle of Wight and Sussex counties, you will be guided to an array of festivals, farmers markets, historical landmarks, local farms, restaurants, wineries, breweries and local shops along the way!
That being said, I want to introduce you to one of the counties being featured! Surry County Virginia!
The Jamestown Settlers affectionately called the opposite shore of the James River the “Surry Side” to honor their homeland! Originally occupied by the Indigenous Native American tribes under the Powhatan Confederation and once being home to the largest population of freemen in the country, Surry County was chartered in 1652 and retains the unspoiled rural beauty of it's beginnings. As you follow the SSR through Surry's abundance of rolling farmlands and wetlands, you will discover impressive and inspiring sites like Bacon's Castle and Smith's Fort Plantation, allowing you to explore the region's incredible beginnings. After learning about the county's history, the route will swing you by places like Edwards Ham Shoppe and Bacon's Castle Peanuts where you can pick up some of the pork and peanut local cuisine. Then on to Chippokes State Park and Forestry Museum to explore the local terrain and discover how Surry's local crops were harvested and produced! And by the time you are done with all of that, The Salty Southern Route knows you are probably ready for a glass of vino from it's local Hampton Roads Winery or a bite to eat while you gaze over picturesque Gray's Creek at The Surry Seafood Company!
And that's just the tip of the iceberg! The Salty Southern Route will take you to all of those places in Surry and a great deal more!
The adventure begins... September 13th 2018!
So, what is The Salty Southern Route?!
Have you ever woken up in the morning and said “Hey, I have the day off and I want to do stuff,” not just the same old laundry, dishes, yardwork or another Netflix binge session! You want to see something new! You want to discover a shop or a restaurant you didn’t know about. You and your friends want to visit a park, enjoy an outdoor concert, buy fresh produce from a local farmers market, discover more about local history and of course wrap up the day by whetting your palate with a local brew or glass of wine! But then you think, “But what is there to do around here or even nearby?” Well, if you live in or near the southeastern region of Virginia, or have a couple of days to come visit, The Salty Southern Route is here to help!
As a newly created thematic driving tour, The Salty Southern Route (SSR for short) is here to inform you about all the awesome things there are to do in Isle of Wight, Suffolk, Surry, Southampton and Sussex County Virginia, while highlighting the region’s long and rich history with pork and peanuts (that’s why we’re “Salty”!) There is a ton to do and as an all online platform comprised of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and saltysouthernroute.com, we aim to make planning your day trip or weekend adventure a breeze! Find a suggested driving tour by hopping on our website, get weekly updates on upcoming events and get to know a little bit more about local businesses and landmarks by following us on social media. Whether you’re living local, crushing Fridays or visiting someplace new, these counties in Southeastern Virginia have everything you’re looking for, and The Salty Southern Route is where to find it!
By Jennifer Williams, Director of the Isle of Wight County Museum
Facts & Figures
• The U.S. is the largest producer and consumer of peanut butter in the world.
• The average peanut farm in the U.S. is 100 acres.
• There are enough peanuts in one acre to make 30,000 peanut butter sandwiches.
• It takes about 540 peanuts to make a 12-ounce jar of peanut butter.
• Peanuts aren’t nuts; they’re legumes. It’s technically inaccurate to call it a nut, but it's usually refered to as one anyway.
• Peanuts have more protein, niacin, folate and phytosterols than any other nut.
• Peanuts and peanut butter contain over 30 essential nutrients and phytonutrients.
• Peanuts are cholesterol-free and an ideal source of protein.
• The average American consumes around 6 or 7 pounds of peanut butter every year.
• The average child will eat 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before graduating from high school.
• Two peanut farmers have been elected president – Thomas Jefferson and Jimmy Carter.
• Astronaut Alan Shepard brought a peanut with him to the moon.
The Language of Peanuts
Goober—a nickname for peanuts—comes from nguba, the Congo language name for peanut.
The Peanut Gallery - This term became popular in the late 19th century and referred to the rear or uppermost seats in a theater, which were also the cheapest seats. People seated in such a gallery were able to throw peanuts, a common food at theaters, at those seated below them. It also applied to the first row of seats in a movie theater, for the occupants of those seats could throw peanuts at the stage, stating their displeasure with the performance.
More peanut facts can be found on the Virginia Carolina’s Peanut Promotions website.
By Jennifer Williams, Director of the Isle of Wight County Museum
For survival, every culture develops methods of curing food to prevent deterioration. From the bounty supplied by the Chesapeake Bay and eastern woodlands, the Virginia Indians smoked and stored game and fish for the winter months. Fish was smoked where it was caught and transported back to villages while venison, bear and other game hung in the tops of houses so that smoke from the fires preserved the meat. These techniques were observed by some of the first English settlers to arrive in Virginia.
Swine, brought to the New World by Europeans, flourished in North America. Practically the perfect colonist, pigs are a relatively easy animal to raise, and they became a staple for most farmers by the 17th century. For the colonists, however, ham was the perfect food for export.
In the New World, counties and towns grew as a result of the trade and commerce that sailed to and from its shores. Wharves and warehouses were built, and vessels sailed to and from foreign and domestic ports bringing with them news and various imports such as sugar, spices, chocolate, coffee, tea and liquor. Merchants, who maintained close ties with other seaports, sold these items in their stores and helped facilitate the export of goods such as tobacco, tar, pitch, turpentine, wood, shingles and, of course, ham. This trading system fueled the New World’s economic engine.
Throughout the years, the business of ham became quite large. Industrial smokehouses replaced smaller farm and business fixtures, and numerous companies – some with names still recognizable today - gave their names to ham. Today along the Salty Southern Route, we can see and taste the influence of this history in salt and hardwood-smoked dry-cured hams, which keep indefinitely and without refrigeration.
We are so happy you have found yourself exploring the route and all that there is do along this foodie, historic, local, thematic trail. You may be wondering what’s with the name “Salty Southern Route?” Thanks in part to definitions from Webster’s Dictionary understanding the background of the name is quite simple:
Salty: tasting of, containing, or preserved with salt
Southern: situated in the south or directed toward or facing the south
Route: a way or course taken in getting from a starting point to a destination
Now put those definitions together starting from the bottom up and voila! “A way or course taken in getting from a starting point to a destination, situated in the south, tasting of, containing or preserved with salt” – this is the perfect explanation of the Salty Southern Route. Featuring all things pork and peanuts (which typically feature an abundance of salt) this trail meanders through eight charming towns, cities and counties along Coastal Virginia. Perfect for a girl’s getaway, a family trip, a couple’s mini vacation or a day trip, the Salty Southern Route offers something for everyone. Check out the itinerary section of the website to plan your trip or create your own custom adventure of all of the local shops, events, food & drinks and lodging.
The route is still "under construction" as they say, but if you have questions or need assistance planning your visit to the Salty Southern Route please feel free to give us a call at 757353.5521 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Y’all come back!
-The Salty Southern Trail Crew-