EC on 'Southern Living' most-loved list

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An American flag flies over Elizabeth City's picturesque historical waterfront. "Southern Living's" website recently listed the city among the 15 affordable small towns and cities loved by the magazine's editors.

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By William F. West
Staff Writer

Monday, August 21, 2017

“Southern Living” — the go-to guide on Southern culture, food and travel — has featured Elizabeth City on its website as one of 15 affordable small communities across the South loved by the magazine’s editors

"Any city that has wine and cheese parties on the regular is a place after our hearts," the Birmingham, Alabama-based publication said about Elizabeth City on its website.

The reference is to the Rose Buddy parties community volunteers have been holding for arriving boaters at Mariners’ Wharf for more than three decades.

The website posting on “Southern Living” in fact lists Elizabeth City as seventh on the magazine’s top 15 list of best small communities that are also affordable.

Topping the list is Fayetteville, Arkansas, home of the University of Arkansas. Others on the list include Cape Charles on Virginia's Eastern Shore.

Elizabeth City Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Christina Rehklau mentioned the magazine’s posting about the city at last week’s monthly meeting of the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank County Economic Development Commission. 

EDC Director Wayne Harris said he was unaware of “Southern Living’s” mention of Elizabeth City until Rehklau mentioned it on Wednesday.

"That's huge," he said.

Fred Fearing and Joe Kramer are usually credited with starting the Rose Buddies in 1983, after the city began offering two nights’ free dockage at Mariners’ Wharf. Whenever four or five boats dock at Mariners’ Wharf, the Rose Buddies would show up to greet them with a wine and cheese party. Fearing provided the wine and cheese donated by local businesses, while Kramer provided roses from his garden to the ladies.

Rehklau noted that the Rose Buddies has become such a tradition throughout the boating community that even the closing of the Dismal Swamp Canal last fall hasn’t stopped boaters from wanting to experience one.

"It's amazing what wine and cheese will do with boaters, because last year when the canal was closed, we actually had 22 boaters who specifically came to Elizabeth City” for a Rose Buddy party, she said.

Rehklau noted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently announced plans to reopen the canal by the end of September. The canal has been closed to vessel traffic due to extensive damage caused by Hurricane Matthew.

Rehklau also noted that the CVB is currently working with Museum of the Albemarle officials on plans to celebrate the Rose Buddies’ 35th anniversary in 2018.


In its posting, “Southern Living” noted the two days’ free dockage at Mariners' Wharf. It also noted that free movies and concerts are offered Tuesday nights at the adjacent Mariners’ Wharf Park.

The website posting also notes other sights for visitors, including Elizabeth City State University's Khan Planetarium.