First you need to understand that the city of Virginia Beach isn’t just the largest city in Virginia by population it is also the largest by area. What makes it so large is a large amount of farmland that used to be part of Princess Anne County called Pungo. It is massive and it stretches from what would be the suburbs of Virginia Beach all the way to the North Carolina border, and across that line is Knotts Island.
Describing Knotts Island is difficult as today was the first and only time I have been there, and from what I can tell it is a place that the world has forgotten, misplaced, and not yet rediscovered. You see across the border in Virginia in Pungo the world has found it again and what you have are large homes. The large homes from people who want the world to forget they exist but still want to live in large homes.
Driving through Pungo is like driving through rural Maryland or Pennsylvania but never encountering a town. It is an endless stretch of farms, farm stands, and the homes of the wealthy who want to pretend they’re the working poor. The type that paint, “Stop the Steal,” on the side of an abandoned and dilapidated building.
Contrast that with Knotts Island which from what I saw is full of borderline mobile homes up on blocks scattered between a Dollar General and a single restaurant. But every year Knotts Island is home to the Knotts Island Peach Festival where hundreds of Virginia Beach residents come to look at the quaint little place that is part of North Carolina but tacked onto Virginia.
The Knotts Island Peach Festival was brought to you by The Eagle 97.3 home of Hampton Roads best country and while Hampton Roads does incorporate some of North Carolina it is never mentioned nor does the radio frequency extend that far, but they’re the sponsors of the Knotts Island Peach Festival.
Adding to this was the most of the cars parked at the Knotts Island Peach Festival had Virginia tags. As did the cars parked at the Dollar General. To get to Knotts Island from Virginia you pass through the largest city in the state. To get to Knotts Island from North Carolina you take a ferry from the Outer Banks.
To put it as succinct as possible Knotts Island is part of Virginia in all but name. It is even the only border crossing I have done back into Virginia that didn’t tell me radar detectors are illegal and if I’m not being told that then I must have already been in Virginia.
The Peach Festival itself was a small affair. It had a few carnival rides but no carnival food or games. The back of the festival was a bunch of vendors like you’d find at any weekend farmer’s market. Your standard collection of hot sauces, homemade crafts, and MLM hocks.
The real highlight of the affair was the center building which housed some delicious homemade ice cream, NC BBQ as good as any I’ve had, and fresh peaches. That was about it. It was a glorified farm stand that sold nothing but peaches, called itself a festival, and cost $8 to get in. I can’t say I’m disappointed to have gone. The ride down was lovely, the ice cream and BBQ were good, and I got myself some peaches. It was worth it to say I’ve done it and to know that it probably isn’t worth doing again. There are far cheaper ways to get fresh peaches, delicious ice cream, and good BBQ.