Vintage WW II planes are the stars at Virginia Beach's Military Aviation Museum
When Jim Coggin picked me up Monday morning at the airport for a couple of days of touring Virginia Beach, he nailed his colors to the wall early.
"We want to make sure that bank travel directors across America are aware of how diverse this area is," he told me. "Sure, people come here for the beach. That's understandable and we love that fact that we're well-known for it. Three of our beachfront properties are hosting your BankTravel delegates and you are staying at the Sheraton on the beach while you are here. But I'm also going to show you some things over the next couple of days that I'll bet you never associated with this area."
And then he did.
How about a spectacular event that combines vintage airplanes in flight against an evening sky accompanied by music performed by a symphony orchestra? If this sounds like a novel idea, it is--sort of. Actually, it originated in Shuttlesworth, England and when the owner of Virginia Beach's Military Aviation Museum saw it, he brought the idea home with him. Now in it's fourth year, the Flying Proms event takes place one evening a year in early summer and already draws more than 2,000 guests for dinner on the lawn and an evening of unbelievable entertainment.
Or, who knew that you could drive five minutes from the bustle of the beach here and wind your way through some of Virginia's most bucolic countryside for a tour of farmer's markets and family-owned farms? Coggin's bureau has developed a detailed program to promote this city's fresh produce and cuisine called "Coastal Harvest Feast". Tour operators are looking very closely at various elements of this five-day program that combines fresh seafood, fruits, vegetables and Virginia wines--and tastes as good as it sounds.
And for those of us who don't live near one of America's premier naval bases, the roar of fighter jets overhead can be heard intermittently throughout most days here-- urging you to look skyward as skilled aviators head out over the Atlantic to practice 'touch and goes" on massive aircraft carriers just a few miles offshore. As Coggin pointed out, the net effect of this daily encounter with our nation's armed forces is one of unabashed pride. It's a daily reminder for most of us of what it means to live in the greatest country in the world.
So, this blog ends without a lot of goings on about the beach. Except to say, that after dinner that evening, I changed my clothes and headed out for a walk on the boardwalk, sat down near a blues band that was playing outside, and relaxed. With the backdrop of the Atlantic setting the scene, and along with hundreds of beach goers who were mostly here for the sun and the surf and the sand, I got my ocean fix. After all, diversity or not, the pounding of the waves in a place like Virginia Beach is a hard call to resist.
Virginia Beach's Farmers Market is open year-round and is popular with groups
The Virginia Beach Convention Center will welcome delegates to BankTravel 2013
For fans of the paranormal, the A.R.E. in Virginia Beach was founded by eminent psychic Edgar Cayce
On a blustery day, fishermen at the pier on Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel still had high hopes for catching fish
Cullipher Farmers Market is one of many fresh produce operations showcased by the Virginia Beach CVB