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Live the Rivah Life in Irvington, VA

Updated: Apr 22, 2021

"Rivah" isn't simply a slang word for river. It is a lifestyle in Virginia's Northern Neck. It is Chesapeake Bay crabs and Rappahannock River oysters. It is boating, fishing, marinas, docks and piers. Quaint downtown shops, charming museums, award-winning farm-to-table and water-to-table restaurants, and boutique hotels and resorts. It is sunsets and beaches, nature and wildlife. Watersports and outdoor recreation. All at a leisurely river town pace.

Photos: The Tides Inn

Irvington, Virginia, embraces the rivah lifestyle year-round, celebrating it with signature events and activities that showcase the town's unique features.

Crustacean Celebration

Honoring Chesapeake Bay blue crabs, world-renowned resort The Tides Inn is hosting Crustacean Celebration, Friday, April 23 and Saturday, April 24. Tides' Executive Chef Truman Jones teams up with guest Chef and Live Fire Expert, Eric Gephart of Kamado Joe Grills, for a weekend of epicurean delights and cooking demonstrations, such as blue crabs and lobster tails, scallops, oysters, shrimp and more--even a Blue Crab Bloody Mary!

On April 17 & 24, The Tides Inn holds it Virginia Oyster Academy where guests can learn about Virginia's industry and history, oyster ecology and tools of the harvest. Accompany a traditional Virginia waterman by boat for a one-hour harvest excursion. After the voyage, a seasoned chef will teach you the art of oyster shucking before demonstrating how to expertly pair oysters with delicious sauces and a variety of wines.

Spring Oyster Celebration

The Spring Oyster Celebration, hosted by Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail, celebrates Virginia wine and oysters, Saturday, April 24 and Sunday, April 25. Irvington's The Dog and Oyster Vineyard, "where the terroir of the grape meets the merroir of the oyster", is one of eight participating Trail members who will feature oyster dishes paired with their wines. Participating members in nearby Kilmarnock, VA, include Ditchley Cider Works and Good Luck Cellars, featuring live music and educational sessions on growing oysters from Tidewater Oysters Gardener Association (TOGA).

Photos: The Dog and Oyster Vineyard

Learn the art of Wine Pairing with the Executive Chef and Wine Manager in the View Room of The Tides Inn. Selections vary seasonally.

Sidenote: After the oysters have all been eaten, the shells don't go to waste! Local artisans turn them into home decor, jewelry and holiday decorations.

Photos: (from left) The Fancy Oyster,, Cecil's C Shells

Museum Tours

Steamboat Era Museum officially opens Saturday, May 1 (also open select dates in April.) Throughout the season, the Museum hosts Docent-Led Tours, Oral Histories, Children’s Scavenger Hunts, Build a Steamboat activities, and special events such as the Irvington Crab Festival in September and the Holiday Marketplace starting in November.

Photos: Steamboat Era Museum

The jewel of the Museum is the Potomac pilothouse, a rare piece of Chesapeake Bay history: the largest remaining piece of a Bay steamboat. Other exhibits teach visitors about the life of Hansford Bayton, an African-American steamboat owner, and the original name of Weems, Virginia. Watch a play at the James Adams Floating Theatre and browse the gift shop, offering unique souvenirs commemorative of a visit to the rivah.

Irvington Farmers Market

Photo: Rivah Culture Bakery

Irvington Farmers Market is held downtown at Irvington Commons the first Saturday of each month beginning May 1 through November 6, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sponsored by the Village Improvement Association, the open-air market offers a variety of fresh, local produce; homemade bread and baked goods; artisan cheeses, meats and seafood; handmade crafts, jewelry, clothing, soap; furniture, glassware, baskets, artwork; plants, flowers, oyster gardens, water products and more!

Voted Best Farmers Market on Virginia's East Coast by Virginia Living Magazine from 2012-2020, Irvington Farmers Market features live music and frequent special events, such as education sessions from Northern Neck Master Gardeners, Audubon Society, local farms and others; as well as books from the Lancaster Community Library.

Photo: Irvington Farmers Market

Stroll the Streets

Also every first Saturday of the month, beginning at 10 a.m., is Lancaster By the Bay Chamber of Commerce's Stroll the Streets sidewalk sale. Held in conjunction with Virginia's River Realm, the county-wide event encourages local shops, boutiques and vendors to set up shop outside on the streets of Irvington, White Stone, Kilmarnock and other neighboring communities.

Photos (from left): The Dandelion, Irvington Home Goods (formerly Fore-And-Aft), Sewlovelee

Rivah Eats and Drinks

Crabs, oysters, rockfish, farm fresh produce, and water-to-table seafood are culinary staples on the rivah. Local chefs, like The Tides Inn's Truman Jones, Dredge's Bryan Byrd, and The Office Bistro, are committed to partnering with local farms, chefs and wineries, notably those that practice sustainable farming that deliver the freshest and highest-quality local ingredients, and help keep the Bay cleaner, as Byrd explains.

Photos: (top) The Tides Inn; (middle) Dredge; (bottom) The Office Bistro

Community coffee shop The Local even offers a custom brew Captain's Blend, made by Ironclad Coffee Roasters. Taste the flavors of the rivah at Northern Neck Popcorn Bag in neighboring Kilmarnock. Local favorites are included in the NNK Collection such as Old Bay Caramel, Ginger Ale, Crabby Corn, Rivah Mix, and Ginger Ale NNK Style.

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