Kent Island, established in 1631, is the third oldest permanent English settlement in our country, predated only by Jamestown, Virginia and Plymouth, Massachusetts. Kent Island is the largest island in the Chesapeake Bay, and with direct access to Annapolis, Washington, Baltimore, and all points west via the William Preston Lane, Jr. Memorial Bridge, the Bay Bridge to everybody but the Maryland Department of Transportation, Kent Island is considered by many to be the Gateway to Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and the first stop upon arrival in the Land of Pleasant Living.
Kent Island, like the Eastern Shore in general, is a place known for history, hard work, hospitality, and humor.
In 1977, Governor Marvin Mandel declared Kent Island’s historical and cultural importance would be officially acknowledged on the third weekend in May from that year forward.
This year, Kent Island Day, hosted as always by the Kent Island Heritage Society, is scheduled to be celebrated on Saturday, May 20. The day’s events begin at 10:30 with a parade featuring a number of civic groups, school bands, emergency response teams, and classic automobiles, to name just a few of the anticipated participants. Families with children, particularly children in costume, will also be welcome to join the parade.
Towns and Volunteer Fire Departments along the Eastern Shore used to stage parades all summer long in decades past, but recent years have seen these events decline to the point of disappearing into the past. The Kent Island Day Parade allows our community to be part of a traditional experience that is getting harder and harder to find. Kids, old folks, and everybody in-between love the Kent Island Day Parade, and the community festival which follows.
Throughout the rest of the day, until 4:30 pm, the quaint triangle of downtown Stevensville will be closed to vehicular traffic so that people can wander through the area, enjoying the atmosphere that KIHS President Jack Broderick calls the “food, fun, and friendship of a community fair.”
Food vendors will be offering all types of fare from barbecue to local seafood, while authors and artisans will be among those selling their wares in the public center. Entertainment, which runs throughout the day-long event, includes a student play, a number of musical performances, and a performance by longtime event mainstay, the Dashiell School of Dance.
Children’s attractions include pony rides, face painting, and an old-time flea circus.
All in-town historic sites like the post office, the bank, the Cray House, and the railroad station will be open to the public, and at each location visitors will be greeted by cordial and knowledgeable docents happy to tell a story or answer a question.
Kent Island Day visitors will also have a number of opportunities to interact with various historical reenactors, as well as practitioners of such folk skills as quilting and blacksmithing, whose dedication to the preservation of once general, but now fading knowledge, is a sort of living history.
The Kent Island Heritage Society was founded in 1975 for the purpose of discovering, identifying, restoring and preserving the heritage of Kent Island, Maryland.
I will be selling and signing my books at Kent Island Day, Saturday, May 20 until 3 pm. Stop, buy, and say hello.