Captain Mike Richards of Chesapeake Lights knows the best way to get glimpses of the many lighthouses along the coast is from the deck of a boat. Every Friday evening, he steers his aquatic steed out into the waters of the Bay while passengers sip brought-along wine and beer. The two hour trip offers glimpses not only of the lighthouses, but also the sunset, before returning back to Tilghman Island after couples and families have stared into the sun for a sufficient length of time.
On July 23, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s 18 waterfront acres will host a smorgasbord of cultural events for a one-day celebration in honor of the region’s rich farming and maritime traditions. Apart from the museum’s permanent armada of historic watercraft and hands-on exhibits, the festival will feature a dizzying array of live music acts and regional craftspeople peddling knowledge of their esoteric coastal trades. After a morning of decoy-carving demonstrations and nippering for oysters, step into the white boots of a weather-beaten Chesapeake waterman and refuel with a crab pot filled with delectable sea candies or a husk of steamed corn from a local farm. With a focus on how harvesting, marketing, preparing, and sharing food have defined the area's cultural communities, the festival cooks up a profusion of culinary delights that will reintroduce guests of all ages to long-forgotten hunger remedies.
The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is a non-profit organization dedicated to sharing the stories of the Chesapeake Bay and the people who have shaped their lives around it. With 18 waterfront acres in the historic town of St. Michaels, the Museum offers exhibits, boat rides, festivals and more.
Since 1948, the Layton family has farmed a parcel of idyllic land that has managed to steadily grow in size over the years. As the farm changed hands through three generations, so did the agriculture—both literally, and figuratively. In 2007, Joe Layton and his clan re-evaluated the operation and decided to take a risk: they would plant wine grapes. Three years later, the winery opened its doors, and the fermented fruits of their labor were proof that the risk was worth it. Situated on 1,800 acres amid the lush rows of grapes, the winery is also home to a tasting room, and visitors are invited to explore the facility during daily tours or enjoy walking trails along the property.
When Pete and Kate Vonderheide moved from Hawaii to Annapolis to live closer to their family, they thought they'd have to give up a career of ocean kayaking to resume responsible office jobs. Soon they recognized the historic city harbor's lack of kayak tours and knew they couldn't stay inside forever. Their shared passion for history spurred them to research and interview the locals until they'd compiled enough historic material to start leading tours. Today, their tours can teach something new even to locals.
The Vonderheides continue to assemble a team of outdoor guides certified in CPR and first aid who all bear a well-researched knowledge of area wildlife and history. These experts lead two-hour scenic tours through the historic harbor. Starting each excursion with a brief paddling lesson, they put first-timers at ease with basic instruction and an amiable demeanor, unlike guides who rely only on their convincing Captain Ahab impressions. Excursions begin at the Spa Creek headwaters in Truxtun Park and lead participants into open-harbor waters to drift in full view of the state capitol building, the US Naval Academy, and historic Eastport. Trips peak at the City Dock, where participants receive a break to take photos and rest. On the return trip, guides field open-ended questions about city history such as presidential visits, the crabbing and oystering trade, and whether George Washington had to swim using floaties.
Despite its food-centric name, the Maryland Seafood Festival casts a wide net over Chesapeake Bay culture, capturing the essence of the area’s music, art, sports, and cuisine in an annual celebration that has endured since 1967. For 30 of those years, the festival has camped out on Sandy Point State Park’s seaside grounds, where, like the mattress of a giant, the event sprawls across a space the size of nearly three football fields. On Saturday, the festivities kick off with two of the event’s traditions: the Maryland Fishing Challenge and the Annual Crab Soup Cook-Off. After that, hungry patrons can sample local flavors at vendor booths by Jimmy's Famous Seafood and the Maryland Watermen's Association, or visit chef demos where pros impart tips on preparing dishes such as blackened snakehead and oyster shooters. Local artisans also fill festival tents, selling colorful wares that range from jewelry to furniture. A lineup of live music will soundtrack the event through most of the weekend, helping kids bop to the beat in bouncy houses while adults sample imported and craft beers from local brewers.