Yorktown events celebrate creativity, cuisine

sbirkenmeyer@vagazette.com

Whether you’re interested in fancy wine, hot chili or the kind of expression only possible through art, a trio of events combine for a diverse weekend of fun opportunities, with historic Yorktown serving as the stage.

Riverwalk Restaurant Wine Expo

Combining a whirlwind of wines and charitable cause, the Riverwalk Restaurant’s Wine Expo returns for its fourth iteration, featuring more than 50 varieties of wine paired with hors-d'oeuvre such as oysters, artisanal cheeses, desserts and more.

“We wanted to bring more awareness about awesome wine to the local area and pair that with a great fundraiser,” said Jamie Albertson, the restaurant’s operations manager. “It’s been very successful.”

Albertson said the event attracts 150-200 attendees eager to enjoy the reds and whites along the riverfront. Brand representatives will discuss the history behind the wines and offer bottles for purchase.

“I think wine is really fun,” Albertson said. “I think our culture has really grasped on to the food and beverage industry. The opportunity to taste a lot of different things in one place is definitely intriguing to people.”

Good Shot Judy will perform live music throughout the afternoon. The expo’s proceeds also benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Virginia Peninsula, and the restaurant is donating empty wine bottles for use with the organization’s craft projects.

“The Boys & Girls Clubs are always in need of support in our community,” Albertson said.

The expo coincides with wine harvest season, providing a worthy excuse to enjoy a few glasses against the backdrop of a worthy view.

“It’s kind of part of the fall tradition,” Albertson said. “It’s a great experience down at the waterfront.”

Watermen’s Museum Chili Cook-off

The nearby Watermen’s Museum is cooking up a more family-friendly affair as its competitive chili cook-off returns for the 13th year. The event brings together professional chefs from area restaurants, such as the Carrot Tree Kitchen and the Yorktown Pub, alongside amateurs eager to prove their culinary chops.

“We’ve had everything from vegetarian chili to chili that has chocolate in it,” said Steve Ormsby, the museum’s president. “It’s a wide range. Because we’ve got a military area, we get a lot of different variations.”

Ormsby said the event typically attracts several hundred hungry for chili, all of which is cooked on site. Offerings are influenced by different styles and different parts of the country, incorporating beef, seafood, beans and more in the quest to win over judges and earn the people’s choice award.

Because the event takes place on Veterans Day, the military influence is particularly profound.

“It’s a good way for the community to come together as a whole, both military and civilians, and get to know each other,” Ormsby said. “It brings people together. It gives them a family activity to enjoy.”

On the Hill Gallery Veterans Art Show

For a more thought-provoking endeavor, Yorktown’s On the Hill Gallery is hosting its first exhibit dedicated to American veterans, "The Spirit of American Military Art.”

“It was all created by veterans,” said gallery employee and artist Gail Eldred. “There’s photographs, there’s paintings, there’s three-dimensional art. There’s quite a variety of things.”

The artists hail from backgrounds in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. Some of the pieces depict their experiences serving the country, such as one painting of an airman praying next to his helmet. Others are more abstract or focus on scenic landscapes and animals. Paper mache depictions of a bull or a whale literally pop out at gallery guests.

All of the pieces are available for purchase. Eldred said there’s some beautiful works to behold throughout the exhibit.

“There’s a lot of talent in the group,” she said. “They did a really good job.”

Want to go?

The Riverwalk Restaurant Wine Expo runs 1-3 p.m. Saturday at 323 Water St., Yorktown. General admission is $45, VIP tickets with noon entry are $55, available at the restaurant or by calling 875-1525.

The Watermen’s Museum Chili Cook-off sizzles from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at 309 Water St. Tickets are $7.50 in advance or $10 Saturday. For more information or to purchase advance tickets, call 887-2641 or email admin@watermens.org.

“The Spirit of American Military Art” shows through Nov. 26 at On the Hill Gallery, 402 Main St., Yorktown. The gallery is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Free. A Veterans Day reception will be held 6-8 p.m. Saturday.

Birkenmeyer can be reached by phone at 757-790-3029.

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