After a wonderful May and June when it felt like we were bounding into a wide-open summer, here came that obnoxious Delta variant to move the goalposts on getting back to “normal.” At Smith Mountain Lake, we saw that play out last week over the SML Wine Festival.

The wine festival has been going on for over 30 years, a very popular event held annually on the last weekend of September. In 2019, it took place at Crazy Horse Marina and Jim and I got to enjoy the event with our friends the Marstons, chauffeured by boat by their son, Luke (thanks, Luke!). There were loads of wineries represented, a variety of food options, live music, some interesting artwork for sale, and a crowd of happy wine-sippers.

Also, excellent souvenir glassware

Last September, of course, it was cancelled for Covid.

This July, the local chamber of commerce made big waves by changing it up. No longer would it be at the Crazy Horse, but at a new venue, Mariners Landing, a golf community perched at the end of one of the lake’s creeks. But what really rocked the boat were the prices: individual tickets were now going to start at $65 per person (more than double the previous price), with VIP options and boat slips raised accordingly. The chamber explained that “the timing was right to elevate the experience,” and stressed that some popular musical acts would be playing in the new, “more intimate” setting.

This change did not go over well with my neighbors.

The residents’ Facebook page got so heated that the admin turned off the comments. An alternative event was set up for the same day, called the Knot-A-Festival, where individual tickets are $15 and everyone brings their own wine.

In the end, though, the festival announced last week that they would postpone for a year because of the Delta variant. Some in the residents’ page are surmising that it’s because they couldn’t sell those pricey tickets, but the Mariners Landing community is also very mindful of masking and distancing in the face of the new Covid threat.

While I wouldn’t think such measures would be controversial, a trip to the local Kroger (or any other lake-local business) proves that we mask wearers are very much in the minority. Sigh, here we go again (and without our Virginia wine).

4 thoughts on “Days of Wine and (Freedom) Noses

  1. Sad and infuriating about the many in our SML area that will not mask-up. We’re back to doing clickit for Kroger groceries. The Westlake store is a frightening example of the ignorance and willful selfishness of many who live here. gif forbid these christian-devoting types do anything that helps others.


    1. Kroger is a mess! I have been treating myself to getting groceries in Roanoke when time allows – Fresh Market and Earth Fare are both full of mask-wearing people. Hope you’re weathering all of this well, Denise!


  2. I was lucky to visit the Food Lion in Harrisonburg recently and I was the only one in the store wearing a mask! The manager stood in her open office and coughed up a lung- without a mask. Yuck. Compare that to Wegman’s in Fairfax where 99% are masked up. I’m so tired of wearing a mask but this selfishness (and ruining it for the rest of us) is out of control.


    1. It’s really a problem at our local stores — things are much better in Roanoke but yes, it is ridiculous. It’s a bitter debate on the lake’s social media pages.


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