Garrett Ruth, mid-20th century , Courtesy Chad Horney
When Queen Anne’s County Watermen’s Association President Troy Wilkins and I asked the officers of our local VFW Post 7464 if they’d be willing to host our 2017 storytelling event, they didn’t hesitate. I think we all saw how an event like ours might provide an opportunity for the general public to gain insight into a local industry that is an important component of our history and cultural heritage.
The Story Swap format has been presented successfully in the past – the Kent Island Heritage Society hosted an event a few years ago, and I led a well-received panel at the Chesapeake Storytelling Festival in April 2016.
This time, however, we’re adding a few components to the great panel of Queen Anne’s watermen lined up to participate in the Story Swap.
Jay Fleming, the acclaimed bay photographer and author of the recently published Working on the Water, is going to be part of the program, and Harry Davidson, an all-the-way homegrown octogenarian Kent Islander, along with his partner Shea Springer, is going to perform songs he’s written about the waterman’s life.
Karen Oertel from W. H. Harris Seafood, celebrating its 70th year of business this coming December, will be participating.
We’re going to have displays of vintage photos and ‘Found Artifacts’, and Tom Willey of Wye River Models will be displaying his Chesapeake-centic wooden boat models. Authors who will have tables set up include myself, Nick Hoxter, and Mark Lidinsky. Since the VFW is so graciously giving us access to the pavilion from 6-9 pm, we plan about an hour and a half program, with time before and after for people to mingle, talk to the watermen, and check out the displays. Light snacks and a cash bar will be available.
Doors open at 6pm and the program should start by 6:30. Admission is free.
There is still space available for any group or person interested in participating by setting up a display table of memorial relevant to the seafood business and local history. Just drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re also still looking for vintage photographs.
From oystering and crabbing to clamming, eeling, running charter fishing boats, and helping to promote and propagate Maryland seafood, the speakers at the Watermen’s Story Swap will be sharing stories that exemplify the highs and lows of the challenging independence that is the life of the Chesapeake Bay waterman. Funny stories, poignant stories; stories of scary weather, bad days and great successes, the Waterman’s Story Swap should be fun and enlightening for all attendees.