Food and History in Smithfield - Home of the World Famous Smithfield Ham!
Located on the banks of the Pagan River, and lying on the opposite shore of the James River, across from Jamestown, Isle of Wight was soon discovered by Captain John Smith and other early settlers. Smithfield was incorporated in 1752 by Arthur Smith IV but soon became a town of industry with four plants devoted to the art of curing the world famous Smithfield Ham. Today, Smithfield hosts one of the largest meat-processing industries - Smithfield Foods Inc. - a Fortune 500 company with its corporate headquarters in Smithfield.
Begin your visit in downtown Smithfield at the Visitor Center - also home to the Arts Center @ 319 - offering tourist information, a gallery/gift shop and the chance to chat with resident artists. Be sure to pick up a map and brochure on the town's Porcine Parade - eight life-size statues of market hogs, painted by local artists to reflect an aspect of the town's rich history, culture & recreation. Also ask for a Passport to Savings discount card for area merchants.
Further down Main Street is the Isle of Wight County Museum, with its overview of the county's history Smokehouse Exhibit and the world's oldest ham, an example of Smithfield's famous ham curing process. Just across the street is the Old Courthouse of 1750, modeled after the Capitol Building in Colonial Williamsburg. Stop by Taste of Smithfield, Smithfield Foods' flagship cafe and gourmet grocery, serving the finest of Smithfield Foods products for a culinary souvenir.
Also located on Main Street is the Schoolhouse Museum, an African-American History Museum built in 1932, featuring period desks and books and recorded oral histories. Follow your morning in Smithfield with lunch at the Ice Cream Parlor, the Gourmet Bakery, or the Historic Smithfield Inn for a delicious Smithfield ham dish. Then stroll along Main Street to browse the unique shops and art galleries.
After lunch head out of town to Darden's Country Store, a classic country store, where you can tour the family's smokehouse and farm. If time, visit one of our many historic attractions, including Boykin's Tavern, Historic Saint Luke's Church (c1632), Historic Fort Huger or Fort Boykin Historic Park. Finally, dine riverside at Smithfield Station followed by dessert Jeff's Sir Cakes-A-Lot on the boardwalk, where you can enjoy the sunset over the Pagan River.