29 July 2009

Culture Spot: Chincoteague Island Blueberry Festival and Craft Show

July is a beautiful month on tiny Chincoteague Island, which is cradled in the ocean just off the coast of Virginia. The temperatures are warm, as on the mainland, but cool Atlantic sea breezes soften the air, creating the perfect atmosphere for the annual Blueberry Festival and Craft Show.

The blueberry is the star of the day, with plump local specimens for sale alone or as part of wonderful pies, muffins, ice creams, and more. The festival, which benefits a local hospital fund, is truly a family day. There are plenty of games for the children and live entertainment throughout the afternoon. And when visitors have eaten their fill of tasty Virginia blueberries, there are countless craft booths to explore, featuring the work of local artisans, from the patient sculptors who carve the famous Chincoteague duck decoys to the painters who find inspiration on the island’s pristine beaches for their beautiful watercolors.

Finish the day with a leisurely walk around the island, a true gem for the summer traveler with a love of the ocean.

Visit the official website: http://www.chincoteagueblueberryfestival.com/

Fresh Blueberry Jam

Fresh-picked blueberries make the most wonderful jam, preserving the flavor of July all through the year. This recipe can be adapted for any amount of blueberries; simply use 1 cup of sugar for each cup of fresh blueberries.

Wash and measure blueberries. Place them in a heavy stainless steel pan and crush the bottom layer. Cook over moderate heat, adding a half cup of water. Simmer until the blueberries are almost tender. Add sugar (I cup for each cup of berries). Cook and stir over low heat until the jam consistency is reached. (Test by dropping a small spoonful on a plate. If it holds its shape, the jam is ready.) Pour jam into hot, sterilized jars.

The wild pony is a nationally recognized symbol of Chincoteague Island. The ponies are descendants of domestic stock left on the island by seventeenth-century settlers. These wild ponies, along with the thousands of migrating shorebirds who make a temporary home in Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, share the island with human inhabitants, whose charming island villages are a treasure for travelers seeking to get away from the rush of the mainland.




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