By Kip Tabb –
It has been an extraordinary two days in Manteo.
“First Friday” was a wonderful night to be out and just enjoy the evening. Anchored by the newly renovated Dare County Arts Council in the old Courthouse, the streets were teeming with people the music was spectacular—provided by the Manteo and First Flight High School Jazz bands—and friends and acquaintances I hadn’t seen for a while seemed to be everywhere.
Saturday was Dare Days, which has always seemed to be a marvelous combination of all that’s best about small town life, Dare County and the Outer Banks.
Lots of food, face painting for the kids, craft booths selling jewelry, clothes, leather goods. There was live music and perhaps most importantly—amazing weather.
I got there a little bit late, but even so, it was clear that this had been a great day. There were still a good sized crowd walking around, people were smiling, and vendors seemed happy (which is usually the best indicator of how the day went).
Where the Magnolia Grill used to be, the space has been opened up and it is now the Magnolia Stage. Angled toward Queen Elizabeth Street and the stores in the little shopping area surrounding the stage, the sound is really good. There are two posts in the front that are structural, so visually it’s not the best, but it is definitely an example of making lemons out of lemonade.
On a day like today (Saturday), when the weather is so wonderful, the Manteo waterfront seems magical—transforming a small town in to a bustling compact urban center. The boardwalk runs the length of the waterfront business district, offering a spectacular view across Shallowbag Bay and the shops and restaurants offer a wonderful variety of things to do.
I left before the street dance started to the sounds Etta James’ At Last performed by “Old Enough to Know Better”. They did a great job with the song (actually, they did a great job with everything they performed), and the thought crossed my mind as I walked to my car that maybe the song is a fitting tribute to the spirit of the town and Dare County.
It’s possible that someday we’ll look back on the devastation that Irene wreaked on Manteo and point to this first weekend in June of 2012 and say, “That’s when we knew the town—and the county—put Irene behind it.”