By Scott Sechman | Correspondent
One of the long-lasting weekly events available to visitors and residents of Corolla during the summer months is the weekly Corolla Cork & Craft event. Formerly known as Whalehead Wednesdays, featuring wine and beer tastings, the program happens every week from 3 to 7 p.m. at the historic Whalehead Club. It’s an excellent, relaxing way to augment a visit to the Outer Banks, free from reservations, long waits and traffic.
Currituck County’s Department of Travel and Tourism provides an afternoon of live music, fun, food, libations from regional vineyards and breweries, all surrounded by the natural beauty of the island’s northern reaches.
I was intrigued about this Whalehead Club I’d heard so much about. I dug a little deeper using the “Google Machine.”
What I found was quite intriguing. Apparently, Edward Collings Knight Jr., a Philadelphia railroad executive, and his hard-drinking wife Marie Louise, (who also had a penchant for using “colorful” language), shared a passion for hunting waterfowl. Given the misogyny of the era, Mrs. Knight wasn’t welcome in the all-male world of hunt clubs. Her husband’s solution was to build a 21,000-square-foot mansion by the sea just for his wife as their winter retreat. Knight bought the former Lighthouse Hunt Club, a property that came with 4.5-miles of land on the Currituck Sound. Their new acquisition included five stories of art nouveau luxury filled with modern conveniences, such as electricity, running hot and cold water, indoor bathrooms and even a refrigerator (all rarities at that time).
With construction completed in 1925, the Knights renamed the property Corolla Island. Today, the Whalehead Club is considered a champion of the nation’s art nouveau ornamentation, with its curved rooflines, vibrant yellow exterior, ornamental chimneys, Tiffany lighting and distinctive porches and friezes. Currituck County purchased the property in 1992 to ensure the public had access to the Currituck Sound. The county began restoring the property in 1999, and by 2002, the completed restoration was comparable to the home’s peak condition in the 1920s.
Corolla Cork and Craft, in the ever-so-lovely and Historic Corolla Village, began over 10 years ago as a wine tasting event in order to raise funding to continue restoring the mansion. It’s since developed into a weekly summer fundraiser that runs between Memorial Day and mid-September. As it evolved, it began to feature both wine and beer from local wineries and breweries and includes indie vendors selling handmade crafts.
Besides food trucks, beverages and live acoustic music, what else can visitors expect?
Well, you can expect a beautiful sunset over the Currituck Sound, for starters. The open space of Historic Corolla Park allows you to enjoy a family picnic, as you can also find food vendors selling charcuterie-style refreshments to complement your wine and beer tastings. Pop-up shops from local businesses rotate through the weekly events, so don’t miss the chance to browse the artisan products. Bottles of wine from regional vineyards and cases of beer are also available for purchase.
And if my eyes did not deceive me during my visit, they also have cornhole setups!
As for any kids in tow, lawn games are set up throughout the venue. Event organizers also encourage bringing fishing poles and crabbing nets, given the close access to the sound. There’s a plethora of wildlife in the boat basin, and crabbing is always a family favorite. If you don’t know how, this is a great place to learn.
And on occasion, there are times when a real live Corolla mustang will be there for visitors to get an up-close and personal look at these amazing animals.
Well-behaved dogs are welcome at this pet-friendly event as long as they’re on leashes.
This week’s Corolla Cork and Craft on Wednesday, August 11, brings tunes from Mercy Creek to the stage.