Welcome to Urbanna
by Mary Wakefield Buxton
Urbanna, Va.— Every year a certain madness arrives to Urbanna along with the vibrant changing colors and cool weather of autumn. We call this madness the Urbanna Oyster Festival.
The event attracts visitors from all over the state and nation. It would be fun one year to have a contest to see who came from the most distant part of the world.
The town celebrates its oysters, of course, along with crabs and fish caught in the Rappahannock River that have been the mainstay of our economy for many years. If this is your first visit to Urbanna, you are in for a treat if you do nothing other than sample the delicious seafood. I recommend the Middlesex Kiwanis booth for oysters on the half shell; the Middlesex Lions Club oyster fritters; crab bisque from the Middlesex Woman’s Club; and any crab cake sandwich offered by a local restaurant or civic organization.
The Urbanna Oyster Festival is important because it celebrates life in small-town America. Those who are fortunate enough to live in Urbanna count themselves the luckiest people on earth.
Imagine paradise . . . no stoplights, jammed traffic, fast food restaurants, big city rudeness and very little crime. Small-town folks are always pleasant, well mannered, and friendly. You will notice the natives’ wave when they pass by in a car. It’s an Urbanna custom.
There’s so much that I love about life in Urbanna:
. . . the little churches on the corner—Baptist, Lutheran and Methodist—where pastors think of themselves not as ministers of their own denomination but as ministers to the entire town. When I hear the chimes at noon and five o’clock every day from the Baptist church, I know the Baptists are close at hand and all is well.
. . . the lunch counter at Marshall’s Drug Store where one can still order a chocolate milkshake, cup of coffee, or homemade chicken salad sandwich, and where the same people meet every day to catch up on the news.
. . . that when things go wrong the whole town knows about it and suffers right along with you. And if you are ever sick, you’ll be “chicken-noodle-souped” to death because everyone knows everyone, but much more than that, everyone cares about everyone.
. . . hopping on my bike and riding to town or walking my two golden retrievers, Lord and Lady, through the village, which I do every day of the year, no matter what the weather.
. . . the rich history of the area and knowing many of the same native families still live here, our connection to the beginning of our great republic and that so much American history took place within this 100-mile radius surrounding Jamestown, Yorktown and Williamsburg.
. . . our small town newspaper and opinion page where citizens express heartfelt views, but remember to be tolerant and polite when others have differing views.
. . . the many small town events. Besides the Oyster Festival, the 4th of July boat parade, Christmas Parade, Music Under the Stars concerts in Taber Park, Farmers’ Market, Art on the Half Shell and other activities throughout the year.
. . . the dogs of Urbanna, and especially the fact we don’t have a leash law here because we’re not city folks. Oh, occasionally we have a complaint about a dog or a cat, but mainly we live our lives together in peace. In Urbanna we love not only our neighbors, but our neighbors’ pets.
. . . paddling down Urbanna Creek in a canoe, swimming off the sandy spit at the mouth of the creek, sailing to the White Stone Bridge and back, watching the moon rise over the river or the sunset in the evenings when Urbanna Creek turns a holy shade of pink.
. . . witnessing a storm come roaring down the river as white caps form and the blue river turns an angry grey; picking up pecans along Virginia Street and eating them right out of the shell; or stepping on a walnut still in its green case and taking in that wondrous pungent aroma.
. . . hearing the cry of gulls in summer, seeing osprey return each spring to build their nests, and hearing bird songs every day of the year.
. . . enjoying my cardinals, wrens, and blue jays that winter over at the “Pineapple Palace” and dine at the bird feeder outside my kitchen window, or seeing the golden maple tree aflame in autumn, holly tree bright with red berries at Christmas, and the pine trees laden in snow in winter.
Yes, I do love life in a small town with its freedom from human pretense, close proximity to nature and enjoyment of simple pleasures. We have our own universe, far away from horrors of the world, where one can find real small-town happiness. Welcome home.