If your trip to Bay Creek has sparked an interest in the Eastern Shore, we invite you to consider a visit to the Barrier Island Center (www.barrierislandcenter.org), the best place we know to learn about the region’s rich history and culture. It’s also easy to get to from Bay Creek, a short 20-minute drive up Highway 13 in Machipongo.

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The Center opened in 2002 on the site of the old Almshouse Farm, which served as the county home for the indigent, disabled and mentally ill from 1804 until it closed in 1952. It occupies three historic houses – the earliest built in 1725 – now filled to the rafters with exhibits, artifacts and treasures from a living past.

Story-telling lies at the heart of the Center’s mission, according to museum director Monika Bridgforth. “We want to capture the essence of the Eastern Shore through the stories of the families who settled here and built a unique way of life,” she said. “It’s a remarkable story that should not go untold.”

The Center has recently expanded its story-telling mission by collaborating with the noted independent filmmaker James Spione on four documentaries, including Our Island Home (2008), about the last surviving residents of a vanished settlement on the Eastern Shore.

You might want to mark your calendar for two major events at the Center next year. The first is the annual Oyster Roast on February 25, the Center’s biggest fund-raiser, also known as ‘The Best Party on the Eastern Shore’. Tickets go on sale in January, and usually sell out quickly, so place your order early at www.barrierislandcenter.org/oyster-roast.

The second is Art & Music on the Farm, scheduled for May 27, featuring fine art and hand-crafted treasures from local artists and artisans, along with traditional roots music performed by celebrated musicians from across Virginia. Bay Creek is a proud sponsor of this event.