Sunday, July 21, 2013
The church of the week is a guest church, not from Durham, but from Wilton, NC. I just couldn't resist it, so white and red and graphic against the side of a small country highway in a town with just one intersection. I have no idea if it still in business, but there it sits.
Turns out that the town of Ridgeway, in Warren County, just a smidge before Norlina and the Virginia border, used to be a major producer of cantaloupes. The Waldorf-Astoria used to serve Ridgeway cantaloupes in its dining room. Well, I think Florida may have outpaced us--all the farm fields that I saw were growing tobacco and soybeans--but the Cantaloupe Festival lives on.
Parking in a hayfield was only a dollar, but I guess we didn't have to pay because we got there about an hour before the festival was over. The first thing we saw was a rock band (well, four guys with electric guitars and a fifth guy singing) on a stage playing Lynyrd Skynyrd songs. The singer used a music stand to sing from a book of "classic rock" songs. A sparse crowd under an awning fanned themselves and relaxed in the 95 degree weather. At the firehouse next door they served Brunswick stew, and the field was full of tables and tents and foodtrucks (mostly shaved ice and funnel cakes). Some inflated kids games were on one side, and a stoic teenager drove kids around the entire thing in a sort of train.
At the opposite end of the small fair, a bluegrass band played, with a wider variety of instruments and talent. And next to them was the most wonderful part of the whole fair--the homemade cantaloupe sherbet! For only $3 it was heaven and a brain freeze. But such a delicious one! I would go back next year just for that.
The most interesting table was manned by a wizened old man whose self-proclaimed "hobby" is to study rare and unique apple varieties. I was just mesmerized by the way he displayed them, beautifully organized on a white board with their names written below each.
After we left the Cantaloupe Festival, C and I wandered around Warren County. We saw the county seat of Warrenton, full of abandoned old mansions with historical markers and none to keep them up. Some were so haunted looking. The courthouse was very beautiful. The town was so sleepy, but we did run into a local who advised us to drive out toward Inez, where some old plantation houses still exist. We did so, and saw Cherry Hill, and others, in passing.
And that is why we love to explore. Because you never know what you are going to find down the blue highways, the two-lane little byroads of North Carolina.