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.
"Never, never, never give up," is the driving mantra for David Oreck, who flew combat missions with the US Army Air Forces in World War II and returned home to build a business empire from scratch. He set out to design a machine to lighten hotel employees' load, making a lightweight vacuum cleaner as opposed to the traditional bulky, burdensome commercial cleaners. Naturally, the domestic market began clamoring for his high-powered yet easy-to-handle devices, and soon Oreck vacuums could be found in homes throughout the country.
Today, the company continues its tradition of innovation, simplifying household tasks with Steam-Glide mops for hard floors, HEPA-filter upright vacuums, and stain-killing cleaning products. Oreck's commitment to clean sends it headlong into the future, with high-tech air filters that react to their environment with automatic sensory controls, filtering odors, allergens, and curse words.
The earthy aroma of premium tobacco billows from the humidor shelves at Cigar Realm, a shop with more than 450 hand-rolled stogies covering a wide spectrum of shapes, sizes, and manufacturers. After perusing boxes of cigars from brands such as Padron, Montecristo, Ashton, and one of the area's largest selections of Perdomo, visitors can settle in with their chosen smoke in the store lounge—a handsomely appointed area with leather chairs, flat-screen TVs, and plenty of space to practice proposing marriage with a blown smoke ring.