Win tickets to see the smash hit musical Mamma Mia at the Roanoke Civic Center. Two winners will each receive four tickets!
From: The United Nations
To: Our operatives in Western Virginia
Subject: Our plan to take over Roanoke County, Va., hits a snag
It’s come to our attention that some members of the Roanoke Tea Party have sniffed out the secret plot to establish a beachhead for one-world government in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Recently, they successfully persuaded the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors to vote down “urban development areas,” a planning concept called for by Virginia’s GOP-sponsored 2007 omnibus transportation act.
Somehow the Tea Party figured out it was part of Agenda 21, our sneaky “UN sponsored effort to destroy property rights.” That’s what their Web site says.
As you know, this scheme has been the United Nations’ highest priority for years. We had thought Roanoke County was the perfect dupe from which to launch a nationwide takeover.
Before you shout, “Curses! Foiled again!” we want you to know that many of our other operations in the Roanoke region remain intact. This memo briefly outlines those and sets forth how we intend to strike back against those Tea Party Dudley-Do-Rights. Read more »
A few years back I invited a well-heeled friend and his children to join me and my kids at the Salem Fair. His face twisted into a scowl.
“Have you seen the people there?” he asked hesitantly.
Such elitist attitudes toward the 24-year-old Roanoke Valley institution are unfortunate but not uncommon, and have been spreading in recent years.
The basic complaint goes like this: It seems as if every strange-looking bumpkin within 150 miles shows up at the Salem Fair.
Mostly they come out at night, like vampires, except many are missing incisors (or other teeth).
They sport beastly tattoos, bizarre piercings and brightly dyed mohawks. Some men wear camouflage garb, even though hunting season is long past. Some women are clothed in tube tops or halters about eight sizes too small.
They are so unusual looking they might even kicked out of the world-famous Texas Tavern, which serves everybody.
Mind you, this is what snobs like my friend say. Not me.
I believe the elitists are missing out on the best people-watching experience the Roanoke Valley has to offer.
Because — let’s face it — the fair is a wonderful and wacky menagerie of humanity, more eye-popping than the paintings in the Taubman Museum of Art, and far more interesting than the slumbering animals at the Mill Mountain Zoo. Read more »
Congratulations are in order today to the Roanoke Valley Harley Owners Group.
They make some killer chili. It’s hot stuff in more ways than one.
You wouldn’t know this if you weren’t one of the 5,000 or so folks Saturday who made it down to Salem Avenue in downtown Roanoke for the 32nd annual Virginia State Championship Chili Cook-Off.
The popular event is a fundraiser for Greenvale School, a nonprofit daycare center in Northwest Roanoke that serves working families. Jenny Lee, the school’s development director, estimated Greenvale raised at least $30,000 through the event.
Among 27 cook teams who chopped, browned, seasoned and stirred up hundreds of gallons of spicy meat stew and salsa, the HOG’s White Knuckle Chili took top honors in the blind-judging competition for the red chili category.
The HOGs also claimed the People’s Choice Award (they’ve won that 11 years running), which means they got the most votes by folks who attended the event.
The coveted judged title carries a $1,000 prize and entry into the World’s Championship Chili Cookoff, which is kind of like the Academy Awards of one-pot cooking
Chuckle at that redneck-chef notion if you like. But this is a serious business, overseen by the International Chili Society, which dates back to the late 1960s and claims to be the world’s largest food competition/festival sanctioning organization.
Its members’ passion for spicy meat stew is as blistering hot as the infamous “ghost chili,” reputedly the most fiery pepper on Earth.
The cooks who showed up at the Railside Plaza early Saturday morning do not take their chili lightly. The HOG group, for example, invested hundreds of hours of labor by 40 to 50 people (they started prepping the night before) and $500 in ingredients and supplies to turn out 40 gallons of chili. Read more »
The 32nd Annual Virgina State Championship Chili Cook-off is Saturday morning at the Railside Plaza on Salem Avenue. Gates open at 11.
It’s a fundraiser for Greenvale School, and the top prize is a cool $1,000 and entry into the World’s Championship Chili Cookoff in Manchester, N.H. in October.
Yours truly, who in recent years has waxed poetic about that other “chile” they serve at the Texas Tavern, will be one of the judges.
It’s a great event that’s a lot of fun and indeed has some awesome chili.
See you there!
Damned if they aren’t taking all kinds of pot shots at you. It all started when you trashed the TT!! However, you more than redeemed yourself and are now welcome again at the TT.
I have taken alot of people in the back room to protect them from thugs and the police (sometimes they were the same). But these religious nuts that are after you are the ones that scare me. There is nothing in this world any more dangerous than a radical Muslim or a “born again” Baptist.
So, I got yer back. Let me know if you need backup. Personally, I am enjoying all of your columns. Never thought I would admit that, did you??
Think of the columns as a tryout for the future position of marketing director for the Texas Tavern International Corp. — after I get run out of the news biz!
Gotta run. I’m planning the 82nd anniversary column now.
Dear Graham Smith in Massachusetts,
In my effort to help you with your fourth grade project on the state of Virginia, my column on Tuesday ended by noting there is lots that’s “weird” and “wonderful” about this commonwealth.
Regrettably, I ran out of space after I got done listing the weird, (except for the landmark Texas Tavern restaurant in Roanoke, which of course is wonderful).
So here is a postscript about lots of good stuff.
We will start with the Blue Ridge Parkway, a gorgeous ribbon of asphalt that grazes the beautiful mountaintops of the southern Appalachians. It’s the most wonderful road I’ve ever bicycled on. Alas, it’s open to flatfooted drivers in cars and RVs, too.
The parkway has scores of scenic views and overlooks, and it’s only five miles from downtown Roanoke. It’s also a national park that draws 20 million visitors a year; of those 3 million are schoolchildren. Read more »
Tuesday night I wrote a respectful email to Graham Smith’s teacher at Upham Elementary School in Wellesley, Mass. in which I asked her to look at Tuesday’s column online and advise me on whether it would be appropriate to include in the package of materials about Virginia that I’m sending to Graham.
I had told Scott Leamon from WSLS Channel 10 that I intended to send Graham the column. But upon further reflection, and because of some emails I received and some comment here, I decided to check with his teacher first.
Here is teacher Carolyn Collins’ response:
Thank you for contacting me; it would be better if you did not include the article from the paper. I am sure he will appreciate the other items.
Carolyn S. Collins
For that reason I’ve changed my mind on that. I’ll take Tuesday’s newspaper out of the package I send Graham. The package to Graham will include: Read more »
Hi! My name is Graham Smith and I need help with my state report. I am in fourth grade and my school is in Massachusetts. I’ve been so lucky to get the wonderful state of Virginia. I am so excited to learn more about the Old Dominion state so please help me!
Most of the stuff we use to learn about the state is kind of lame so I want some really cool stuff to learn about your amazing state. Some of the things that would be nice to get is, this newspaper article, little souvenirs, post cards, maps, pictures, general information, or any other items would be useful. Nothing alive or that can rot. Thank you for all your help.
Ms. Collins’ Class
Wellesley, Mass. 02481
Thank you for asking. You are right to be thrilled with your assignment, because the Old Dominion is indeed an amazing state.
I’ve lived here almost 17 years, and it still amazes me every day. I promise that none of what follows will be lame. Or rotting. Read more »
This time, Jack McGuire/Tony/Jimbob/Bobby/Imaslave and all the other names he’s been trying to post nasty messages under recently will NOT be a contender because he’s been banned for repeatedly violating the rule against racist terms and 4-letter words.
The prize, of course, is a volume from Dan’s Bookshelf, but I’ve updated it recently so that it’s not all books there.
The booty now includes a genuine (and very nice) Texas Tavern apron — perfect for barbecues. And a 1-liter stainless steel water bottle from RoanokeOutside.com. And some more stuff — not a lot, but the list will grow over time.
Check it out if you get the chance.