The Mid-Atlantic Balloon Festival gives visitors a chance to get an up-close view of more than 20 hot-air balloon teams from across the country, and then observe them in their natural habitat: the sky. The weekend-long festival is held on the grassy expanse of Meadow Event Park. The main attractions are the morning and early-evening flights, when all 20 colorful vessels take to the air at once and gracefully interrupt the annual paper-plane migration.
On Saturday, a sweeping balloon-glow display will light up the night sky. Meanwhile, off-site rides instill wonder with dawn or near-dusk flights in one of the balloons—and include transportation back to the grounds in the chase car. And yet balloons aren't the festival's only draw: regional crafts vendors display their hand-made apparel and arts, while craft beer and wine tastings pair with food from local restaurants. Throughout each day, live bands play classic rock and new wave, old-school jazz and R&B, and folk-infused country.
Certified by the Alliance of Professional Tattooists, River City Tattoo inks and bedazzles the human apparatus with the help of a professional staff and a large selection of body jewelry. Display your love for your mother or incessant admiration for eggplant with a custom tattoo designed by one of the shop's skilled artists (starting at $50).
Ashwood Gardens & Nursery is a family-owned-and-operated business offering a vast array of annuals, perennials, shrubs, and trees. The majority of plants offered are raised and educated on Ashwood’s 2-acre, park-like land. Browse the greenhouse’s tropical plants, annuals, herbs, and beautiful hanging baskets, or stroll among 25,000 square feet of beds of shrubs and trees in the nursery section. Put your Groupon toward a flowering plant such as a 10-inch petunia basket ($15.99), a 3-gallon rhododendron ($32.99), or a 14-inch geranium tub ($34.99). Purchase an empty 14-inch ceramic pot to start your own planter or carnival beanbag toss game ($31.99). Ashwood Gardens & Nursery’s knowledgeable staff will help with questions about care, landscaping, and design.
Ashland Ace Hardware stocks its shelves with a wide variety of products to improve automobiles and abodes. A liquid rainbow of Benjamin Moore paints coats interiors, exteriors, and neighbor's cars with hues expertly blended in-store. Customers tidy up homes with eco-friendly Mrs. Meyers cleaning products, and accommodate extra dinner guests with Living Accents folding chairs ($12.99 each). The shop also stocks holiday accessories such as 100-count strings of LED, icicle, or heavy-duty lights in addition to thousands of other essentials.
Recently founded with the intention of stocking a gift for every occasion, taste, and temperament, The Freckled Frog outfits present presenters with dinnerware, furniture, home décor, and wine accessories. Garden and house flags ($10.50–$25.99) add flavor to front yards and politely ward off literate insects, while a wide array of candles ($10–$22.99) can freshen up the home's long-forgotten oubliette. Otherwise, prep for upcoming dinner parties with wine glasses ($14.99–$19.50), cocktail napkins ($5.50), and an aroma-wafting Reed diffuser ($21.50) that spares hostesses the expense of hiring a department store perfume sprayer to spritz guests every time they leave the table.