A Visit to the African American Museum

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National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC. The building design was based on a traditional West African hat style.

Saturday, Feb. 17, 55 local residents traveled by bus to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, on a trip organized by Sumner Hall. It was a striking and memorable experience – a powerful reminder of the stark history of African Americans and of the enormous contributions they have made to our nation.

The bus pulled out of the parking lot in Chestertown a little after 8:30 a.m. The weather was good — cold but sunny with a blue sky– and we were at the museum in less than an hour and a half, arriving in Washington in plenty of time for our 11 a.m. appointment.  That gave the group  over five hours to explore the exhibits – and eat lunch – before the 4 p.m. return trip. While that may seem plenty of time, it was barely time to scratch the surface of this incredible rich institution.

The museum was packed – like all Smithsonian museums, admission is free, and the African American museum has been enormously popular ever since it opened not quite a year and a half ago in Sept, 2016. Going to the museum will give you a clear indication just how rich and complex the African-American contribution to our society has been. To draw on an area I happen to know a fair bit about, my first reaction in walking around the musical exhibit that occupies much of the top floor was astonishment at just how much the museum has packed in. Here’s Chuck Berry’s bright red Cadillac convertible, as well as one of his guitars; here’s footage of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie playing “Hot House” on a 1952 TV show; here’s the gown Marian Anderson wore at her historic concert at the Lincoln Memorial; here’s the Mothership that the funk bands Parliament and Funkadelic used in stage shows; here’s Leadbelly’s 12-string guitar; here’s a photo of Robert Johnson I didn’t know existed – and that’s just scratching the surface. The mind boggles!

Dizzy’s horn

Then I began to notice what wasn’t there – or at least what I didn’t find in the hour or so I walked through the musical exhibits. Was there anything about Lester Young or the Mills Brothers or James P. Johnson or Nina Simone – or did I miss it? And then I realized there just isn’t room for all that – they’d need a building bigger than the one they have, just dedicated to the music, and they’d still have to pick and choose to get in a representative sample of the subject matter – and there’d still be gaps in the coverage. That brought home even more powerfully the impact of black Americans on music. And if that’s true of one area, what does it say about the museum as a whole? The same has to be true of its coverage of writers, athletes, painters and sculptors, and all the other areas where African Americans have made an impact on our national culture. Ultimately, I came away even more impressed with what the museum has done.

That was especially true of the historical displays, which make up the bottom three floors of the museum, covering a range from the earliest days of slavery through the modern era. The exhibits present detailed, often intense, documentation of the African American experience in the New World – full of historical maps, documents, archaeological artifacts from Africa, Europe, and the Americas, with ample audio-visual material to put them all in context. An entire slave cabin from the Carolina coast sits in the middle of one floor; one of the Tuskegee Airmen’s planes hangs from the ceiling as you go up the ramps between floors; life-sized statues of historical figures are spread around the exhibit. Seeing it all in a single visit is literally impossible – even if you take in only the surface aspects. A good idea on your first visit – an opportunity we missed, but will probably take up next time we go – is to follow around one of the docents guiding tour groups. But again, to really appreciate it, you need to plan more than one visit. It’s well worth it.  There’s even a section on African Americans and the Chesapeake Bay with a display about the Eastern Shore of Maryland including black watermen and the seafood industry.

Upon our arrival at the museum, the group split up into smaller groups, each exploring on their own, at their own pace. A few who had been to the museum before were helpful with their recommendations of things to seek out. Many groups met up again around lunchtime in the museum cafe, where the menu features dishes from the various African American communities — catfish, fried chicken, grits, gumbo, the whole range of American soul food –an important aspect of the culture the museum documents. (Also note — outside food can’t be brought into the museum, so you might as well enjoy the cafe.)

Even in our five-hour visit, we saw far more than one article can possibly include (we plan to do several follow-up stories in the Spy to try to do the museum justice). But a few vignettes stuck out, A young man stood by the statue the  of the 1968 Black Power protest at the Mexico City Olympics, raising his fist in emulation; a group of Naval Academy cadets in uniform toured the museum, solemnly taking in the history; teenagers took in the exhibits, for once looking at something other than their cell phones. And at almost every turn people could be heard responding to what they were seeing.  It wasn’t a loud crowd. People were speaking quietly, respectfully.  And they were polite and considerate, moving aside for people, offering to take pictures for each other.  Neither was it a completely somber atmosphere.  The history exhibits were unflinching in their stark and honest portrayal of slavery, segregation, and oppression but they also showed how enslaved peoples managed to find love and joy in their lives, despite the constant hardships. The culture sections on music, arts, and sports literally had people dancing around, excited and laughing as they came across artists they remembered from their youth or saw some new, beautiful work of art.  Displays on African Americans in the military and as entrepreneurs were inspiring and enlightening.   A truly involving experience for everyone!

Airplane flown by the famous Tuskegee pilots in World War II

We noted above that the museum is crowded. This is good, in that people are making an effort to learn about and understand this vital element of our history and culture. But it makes for a challenging experience at times. For some displays, standing in front of the exhibit long enough to absorb all the information felt awkward when there were lots of other people waiting to get a look. When that happened, we just walked ahead or dropped back to find an uncrowded exhibit. Be aware that there’s a lot of walking to see everything but there were also frequent benches where you could take a quick break as well as escalators and an elevator. You’ll definitely want to go back several times to really get all this museum has to offer. Several people on our tour had been before and still were eager to go this time and commented on how much they enjoyed a repeat visit, seeing things they hadn’t before. The next time we go, we’ll try for a week day, when crowds are likely to be a bit smaller.

The weather had been very good in the morning when we left, but snow and sleet had been  predicted and it showed up right on time for the trip home.   Joe, our Jor-Lin bus driver, was an excellent driver and guide.  The trip back took over two hours and we saw several cars in the ditch on 301 on this side of the Bay Bridge.  But we made it back to Sumner Hall without incident – thank you, Joe! – where most of us trooped inside to feast off a sumptuous spread of hors d’ouvres, desserts, and some fabulous chicken salad with  wine and other drinks on  hand.   All this in honor not of the bus trip but for the reception before author and Patrick Henry Fellow Will Haygood’s speech at 7 p.m., which some of the more indefatigable members of the bus trip stayed to attend. (More to come on Haygood in future Spy articles.)

All in all, it was a wonderful day at the museum.

Tickets for the National Museum of African American History and Culture, though free, must be ordered in advance — go to the museum’s website. The museum is sold out until June, so plan ahead — and try for a weekday, if you can, to reduce the crowd pressure. It’s well worth waiting for.

Photo Gallery by Peter Heck and Jane Jewell

Chuck Berry’s Cadillac Eldorado – a favorite place to get your picture taken

The P-Funk Mothership AKA The Holy Mothership – a key feature of the stage act of the Funkadelic and Parliament bands’ concerts.

Statue of 1968 Olympic Protest

Henry Highland Garnet – born in Kent County – escaped slave, civil rights activist, and first Black minister to preach in congress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Chester River Bridge

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We often cross the Chester River Bridge several times a day, appreciating the view of the river as we go but not really thinking much about the bridge itself.  Yet this bridge is a lifeline, a vital link connecting Chestertown and Kent County to Queen Anne’s County and the rest of Maryland.

The bridge’s importance came into focus not so long ago when The State Highway Administration (SHA) announced that the bridge would be closed for inspection, maintenance, and painting for four to six weeks in the summer of 2016.  In the summer?  Tourist season?  Unthinkable!

The proposal met with opposition from the entire local community, which cited the disruption to businesses, access to the hospital and other facets of local life. Traffic between Queen Anne’s and Kent counties would have been required to cross either at Crumpton or Millington, a rather long detour for many who live just across the bridge from Chestertown, who can often see Chestertown from their own yards .  What was normally a quick, five-minute drive from Kingstown to the grocery store in Chestertown would suddenly be a 30-minute, 15-mile drive down to Crumpton, across the bridge there, then back up to Chestertown.  Then reverse it for another 30-minute, 15-mile drive back home.  Given that choice, Chester Harbor residents and others on the QA side of the river might decide it was easier to drive 20 minutes to Centreville for groceries. Chestertown might never regain their business.

However, those who live on one side of the Chester River but work on the other would have no alternative.  They in their cars would have to schlep through Crumpton and over that bridge every day.  Both ways.

Emergency workers worried about quick access to the hospital for residents on the other side of the bridge.  Could heart attack or accident victims get there in time?  And what about fires?  Could firetrucks get to the scene in time?  The Chester River Bridge was not just scenic; it was essential.

Eventually, a task force of residents, business owners and government officials from both counties hammered out a plan requiring closure of the bridge only at night for the necessary work and in the fall after the summer season. The agreement left the bridge open for the town’s Harry Potter festival and Downrigging weekend, both of which bring significant numbers of tourists – and revenue! – to town.

The maintenance work and painting was completed in the fall of 2016, and the SHA gave the bridge a clean bill of health, stating that the paint was expected to last another 20 to 25 years. And in fact, the older bridge it replaced had lasted more than a century.  (Bayly La Palme, in a presentation at the Historical Society of Kent County in November last year, gave a fascinating overview of the Chester River crossings – of which the current bridge is the third. Copies of her article “The Old Chester River Bridge” are available from the Historical Society.)

But that completion of the maintenance just over a year ago didn’t end the controversies about the span. As long ago as the 1960s, residents proposed the need for a second bridge to take heavy truck traffic around rather than through Chestertown.  A second bridge would also serve as a backup, an alternate route whenever there might be problems or closures of the other bridge. With an estimated 17,000 vehicles crossing the bridge daily, the congestion on local streets can be considerable, especially on Rt 213 – Maple and Washington Avenues.  The SHA now prefers the word “boulevard” to “bypass” but the function is the same.  Many residents blame the vibration of heavy trucks for damage to historic homes along the main routes through town. The Kent County Commissioners have regularly included a second Chester River bridge in their annual list of infrastructure priorities presented to the state for some 25 years.

The SHA, between 2007 and 2010, conducted a study for a second bridge over the Chester River at Chestertown. In the process, it looked at several options for the location, including a bridge entering Chestertown at the foot of High Street – an idea instantly rejected by residents as making the existing problems even worse. The route eventually identified as best ran east of town, running from the vicinity of Chester Harbor on the QA side to a route behind the property currently owned by KRM and being used for the new Dixon Valve warehouse. It would have connected to route 213 in the vicinity of Worton road.

That proposal met with strong opposition from Chester Harbor residents, who objected to a major road and bridge being built in close proximity to their quiet residential subdivision. Perhaps more important, from SHA’s point of view, was the multimillion-dollar cost of such a project, especially as it was in one of the less populous areas of the state. And while a second bridge across the Chester is high on Kent County’s priority list, Queen Anne’s is much more interested in the heavily-traveled Route 50 corridor between the Bay Bridge and Ocean City.

Recently, a Spy reader raised the question of the bridge’s condition in an email, writing, ” I understand that the Chester River Bridge was built in 1929 and was presumably sized for vehicles at that time. I was again startled driving across it on Friday to see a large semi-trailer loaded with pallets coming the other way.  God only knows how much it weighed.  I looked to see if there are any weight limits on the Chester River sign and there are none.  I do not know about you but I find that surprising because I frequently see less essential bridges with size limits.  Why is there no size limit on the Chester River Bridge? Why can’t the large trucks simply be routed up 544 to 301 and then down?”

The Spy checked and discovered that, in fact, according to the SHA website, there is no weight limit for the bridge – or, for that matter, on the other two state-maintained bridges in Kent County, one in Georgetown and the other in Crumpton.

Given the age of the bridge, it seems rather surprising that there is no weight limit. The question arises, has the bridge gone beyond its normal life expectancy?  The SHA’s 2010 study rated the bridge as “functionally obsolete,” though it also found that the bridge is “NOT structurally deficient.”

The study found that “The bridge across the Chester River has an ADT [Average Daily Traffic] of approximately 17,000 vehicles per day with about 10% of the vehicles being trucks or buses. Most of the trucks are classified as light or medium. The light and medium trucks are 7.5% of the total traffic. The average daily traffic volumes along High Street range from 2,000 vehicles per day south of Cross St. to approximately 11,600 vehicles per day between MD 291 and MD 514.”
The study continued by forecasting that if no second bridge is built by 2030 “…traffic volumes are anticipated to increase to approximately 9,000 to 28,600 vehicles per day along MD 213 with the highest volumes being south of the MD 291 intersection. The traffic volume across the Chester River Bridge is expected to grow to approximately 26,000 vehicles per day [by 2030].”

The complete 2010 SHA study is online here.

It has also been suggested that improvements on Route 301 now underway in Delaware may lead to much of the truck traffic now using Route 213 shifting to that route, which could potentially eliminate the need for the “boulevard.”

But that is only a possibility. There are still many questions about the current bridge and the need/prospects for a second bridge.  What does the state’s pronouncement of the bridge being “functionally obsolete” mean in practical terms?

The last study was completed in 2010; is a new study in order?

Hopefully, the various issues concerning the current “functionally obsolete” but “NOT structurally deficient” Chester River bridge will continue to be explored.  However, the towns and counties affected can argue and lobby all they want, but  the decision will ultimately be made at the state level. The state is not averse to spending money on local infrastructure — the roundabout at the top of High Street in Chestertown is a recent example. But realistically, the financial constraints and a lack of agreement on a location mean that a second Chestertown bridge with accompanying bypass, no matter how much they are needed, are unlikely to be in the cards in the foreseeable future.

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Chester River Bridge Work Monday, Dec 18, May Cause Delays or Brief Closures

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The Chester River Bridge at Chestertown on Rt 213. 

The Maryland  State Highway Administration, as part of the State’s Bridge Preservation Program, will have a contractor performing routine maintenance operations on the Route 213 drawbridge over the Chester River on Monday, December 18.

According to an email from Bob Rager, SHA District Community Liaison, work will be done from 9  a.m. to 3 p.m. and may include test openings of the draw section of the bridge that should last no longer than those needed for an average vessel’s passage. Travelers between Kent and Queen Anne’s counties should allow for possible delays or plan alternate routes.

Traffic should be able to cross during the maintenance work except for short intervals when the draw-bridge is being tested.  Closures of one lane are also possible.

  Work will be performed by Covington Machine and Welding, Inc. of Annapolis, Rager said.

“Project Protein” Completes First Year with St. Martin’s Food Pantry

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Sara McGill and Hunter Hague, employees at Harborview Farms, make a Project Protein delivery at Saint Martin’s. Since its inception last year, the program has provided more than18,000 pounds of bulk chicken from Mountaire Farms, thanks to the generosity of 12 business sponsors.

RIDGELY, MD –When you live in a rural community surrounded by farms that grow food, the idea that there are families right in your community who need food seems illogical. So when Trey Hill of Harborview Farms of Rock Hall learned that Saint Martin’s Ministries (SMM) of Ridgley was having a hard time keeping up with the demand for food in its pantry he brought together his team and people he knew in the agricultural community to create Project Protein, which is completing its first year.

Now Saint Martin’s Ministries says “thanks” to local volunteers and donors as the local agricultural community unites to complete the first year of Project Protein!

Project Protein is a monthly sponsorship program that has provided more than 250 Caroline County families with over 18,000 pounds of bulk chicken from Mountaire Farms. The way it works is that a business commits to a donation to SMM to cover the cost of purchasing the chicken. Hill and his team pick up the chicken from Mountaire Farms and deliver it to SMM food pantry for distribution to their clients.

For Hill, it is very much a united effort with the local agricultural community. “I am in a very fortunate position that I work with and do business with great people who were all alarmed by the fact that we live in an area that grows an abundance of food and yet we have people who are going hungry,” he says.

“When I mentioned this dilemma to my immediate Harborview team, I received a positive response and their support to use our agricultural connections to help these families in need. I then called twelve of the business partners that I work with and had each of them “sponsor” a month of chicken. Currently, the demand is just over 2,000 pounds per month and has been quite manageable given the great teamwork that exists within the community,” he adds.

In addition to Project Protein, the program has branched out to provide Thanksgiving dinner to 250 families with vegetables, fruit, bread and whole 6-pound roasters. Mountaire has agreed to provide Christmas dinner for 250 families as well.

For SMM the project is a great example of generous community response to a need. “Saint Martin’s is the place where the families who are struggling can go when they need help and hope,” says Deborah Hudson Vornbrock, executive director at SMM. “While we celebrate this season of giving, we want to say thank you to those who support Saint Martin’s 365 days of the year. Our volunteers, donors, and people like Trey Hill, his team at Harborview Farms, and the 12 businesses that committed to Project Protein are helping us make a difference in the community,” she adds.

Harborview Farms employee Gene Leonzio loads boxes of chicken into the Saint Martin’s freezer during a Project Protein delivery.

Project Protein has already received commitments for sponsors for 2018.  Hill is encouraged by the positive response. “The support from everyone has been overwhelming. I am very proud to be surrounded by such a compassionate and generous group of people,” he adds.

            The 2017 sponsors include Mid-Atlantic Farm Credit of Chestertown, Willard’s Argi-Service of Worton, Air-Ag, LLC of Laurel, DE, AET of North East, Binkley & Hurst of Seaford, DE, Joe Hickman Farm Management of Chestertown, FAM & M Insurance of Chestertown, Crop Production Services, Inc. of Centreville, William Loller Farm of Rock Hall, Atlantic Tractor with a combined effort for their stores in Cecilton, Queen Anne, Chestertown, and Clayton, DE, Pioneer Seed of Rock Hall and Hoober of Middletown, DE.

Saint Martin’s Ministries (SMM) of Ridgely, MD, is a non-profit organization that has provided a safety net for individuals and families living in poverty for more than three decades. SMM’s mission is to help meet basic human needs for impoverished people on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, to respect and affirm their dignity, and to address the root problems that perpetuate the cycle of poverty. SMM provides an array of services through a single point of entry, with a dignified case management approach, to address immediate and long-term needs. Its four assistance programs are its Food Pantry, Homelessness Prevention, Transitional Shelter and Thrift Store.

To learn more about Project Protein, please contact Deborah Hudson Vornbrock at (410) 634-2537 x 102 or by email at DHVornbrock@StMartinsMinistries.org. You can also visit StMartinsMinistries online or connect with them on Facebook (St. Martin’s Ministries).

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First Friday: Celebrate International Game Week at the Library

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In Celebration of International Games Week: Join Us for Game Night at the Library!

On First Friday, November 3rd, 5-7 pm, the Kent County Public Library and the Chestertown Recreation Commission are joining forces to celebrate International Games Week.

From familiar favorites to more modern games, there will be something for everyone! Try a round of “Bring Your Own Book” (don’t worry – we’ll have plenty of books on hand!), collaborate with a team of fearless adventures to see if you can survive the “Forbidden Island,” enjoy a familiar favorite family game, play life-sized chess, and more! 

If you’re curious about role-playing games, you’ll have the chance to learn about collaborative storytelling, character creation, and other elements that make narrative games engaging and fun to play.

Bring your friends, drop by, play games, and have fun!

For more information, visit the library’s website or call 410.778.3636.

First Friday, November 3  |  5-7 pm

Kent County Public Library  |  Chestertown Branch, 408 High St.

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Love Quilting! At Kent Center, Oct. 28-29

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Geese Among the Lilies is the Olde Kent Quilters Guild 2017 raffle quilt. Based on a pattern by Minick & Simpson, the quilt is a tribute to the beauty of the Chesapeake Bay region. Proceeds benefit the guild’s community outreach programs, Deborah’s Angels and Hands of Time. Tickets for the raffle will be on sale, six for $5 or $1 each, at the guild’s upcoming Shore Love Quilting! Show & Market at the Kent Center.

The Olde Kent Quilters Guild will present their bi-annual Shore Love Quilting! Show & Market on Saturday, October 28, and Sunday, October 29, at the Kent Center, 215 Scheeler Road, Chestertown. Show hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $8, children 12 and under free.

The guild’s members have spent the last two years lovingly and skillfully creating more than 80 quilts that exemplify both the art and the craft of quilting through a variety of styles and techniques, including work by each of the guild’s four “bees” or special interest groups. “We’re really looking forward to having our show at the Kent Center for the first time,” guild president Gail Newman noted. “Its light-filled banquet hall should really show off our quilts beautifully. Plus, there’s plenty of parking!”

Sisters Jean Anthony and Barbara “Bobbi” Pippin are this year’s featured quilters. Among their showcased quilts are several they both worked on as gifts to celebrate various family members’ milestones.

Community outreach is an important part of the guild’s programs throughout the year. Visitors to the show can learn more about both Deborah’s Angels, which has donated more than 2500 small quilts to sick and needy children since its inception in 2004, and Hands of Time, a partnership with the Kent County Detention Center begun in 2016. These programs are supported in large part by the proceeds from the guild’s annual raffle quilt. This year’s quilt, Geese Among the Lilies, is the guild’s interpretation of the Coastal Lilies pattern by Minick & Simpson. Tickets for the raffle will be on sale at the show, six for $5 or $1 each. There are second and third prizes as well, so each ticket has three chances to win. The winners’ names will be drawn at the guild’s final meeting of the year on November 8.

The Market is the perfect opportunity for the show’s visitors to start their holiday shopping, offering unique handcrafted items ranging from lap, throw and baby quilts to zip pouches, purses, table runners, and other small items. Visiting quilters will also find a rich assortment of books, patterns, fabrics and tools for sale.

On Sunday, Bob’s Sharpening Service will be on-site in the parking lot to provide on-the-spot sharpening for scissors, knives and pruners. The Smoke, Rattle & Roll food truck will also be there, offering a variety of delicious barbeque meals.

The Olde Kent Quilters Guild, founded in 1995, meets monthly from January through November at the Presbyterian Church of Chestertown. The guild’s activities include monthly programs and workshops with local, regional and nationally known speakers, special interest bees, community outreach programs, an annual exhibit of smaller quilts and a bi-annual show, road trips and shop hops, and two annual retreats. Quilters of all skill levels, including beginners, are welcome. For more information, contact Gail Newman at 410.490.7102.

 

Hogwarts for a Day!

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The 4th Annual Chestertown HP Festival kicked off Friday evening, Oct. 6 with a dance party in the Garfield Center, attended by more than 250 festival-goers. Based on the popular Harry Potter fantasy novels by J.K. Rowling, the festival drew attendees of all ages from the entire middle Atlantic region.

For the festival, High Street was closed from Queen to Spring streets, with various vendors and exhibits along the way. In Fountain Park, a number of vendors offered Harry Potter-related items — such as Meckley Brooms of Lancaster County, Pa., which brought a selection of authentic-looking witches’ brooms. Vicky Meckley, whose husband is among the fourth generation of broom makers, said the 120-year-old company has been to a number of Potter festivals over the last year and frequently sells out its stock. The company also produces brooms for everyday use. She and the other family members at the booth took turns walking around town and enjoying the historic district.

The park was the site of a number of festival events, including a “Defense Against the Dark Arts” display where participants created giant bubbles to represent their “patronus” or magical protector.   The costume contest was also held in the park.  At other points around the downtown area, events included a “Magical Hall of Talking Portraits” at Kidspot, a Charms Class at the Sultana Education Center and a showing of “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” at Kent County Public Library. Everywhere you went, there were people in Harry Potter-related  costumes, both young and old, dressed as wizards, goblins, and dozens of Harrys and Hermiones, .

Goblins and Galleons, The Goblin Bank

At Olivander’s Wand Shop, AKA Bob Ortiz Furniture Studio, wizards could purchase a variety of wands from five different vendors. Michael and Ramona Liles of Philadelphia, selling at the Vele Cruce table, said they were attending their first festival.

A popular feature was the scavenger hunt, in which participants visit businesses all over the downtown area searching for clues. Those who found all the clues and returned their form to the booth in front of the Garfield received a prize. Each of the participating businesses was renamed after an equivalent locale in the books — so that the former Chestertown Bank building, now the headquarters of KRM Development, became Goblins and Galleons, with a clue hidden in the old bank vault, and Book Plate became Flourish and Blotts Bookseller.

This year, there were enough successful participants that the festival had given out all its prizes by 3 p.m. — an hour before the official end of the hunt!

Wilmer Park was the setting for the Quidditch tournament — a team sport with similarities to soccer and basketball. There were several competing teams, from as far away as Philadelphia and Washington. The sport differs from the version in the Harry Potter books in that none of the players are flying on broomsticks — although they are required to carry a symbolic broomstick between their legs during play. There were a good number of spectators picnicking in shady spots around the park — with food provided by several vendor trucks, many of them local.

The Quidditch Goals – Three Rings

Stretching Before the Game

Quidditch

Hogwarts faculty members Professor Dumbledore (Jim Landskroener), Nearly Headless Nick (David Ryan) and Professor Lupin (Zac Ryan)

The Garfield also offered “The Hogwarts Experience,” a chance for young festival-goers ages 8-12 to take part in a re-enactment of one of the key elements of the Harry Potter world, the famous school of wizardry. In two different sessions, 40 participants entered the theater where they were greeted by Headmaster Dumbledore and a panel of wizards. Each came to the stage to be sorted by the traditional “sorting hat” into one of the four Hogwarts houses — Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin. They were then sent to tables where faculty members instructed them in magical arts, from the use of wands to cast spells to the detection of hidden properties of objects — such as the taste of different colors of jelly beans. The actors playing the faculty wizards gave enthusiastic performances, and the young students clearly enjoyed the experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In these “magic classes,” students get to take out their wands and practice repelling a “boggart,” a magical being who takes the form of your worst fear.  With courage and heart – and just the right magical words –  students learn to vanquish their own personal boggart, a handy skill to have.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The close of the festival was marked by another dance, the “Azkaban Prison Break Party.” named after the key event in the third of the Harry Potter novels.

All in all, it was another successful Festival.  This year the festival was re-titled The HP Festival because the organization had received complaints from Warner Brothers’ legal department. But that didn’t throw a blanket over the fun – the magic was definitely there for this year’s festival.

 

Dumbledore, Professor & Headmaster of Hogwarts (portrayed by Jim Landskroener)

Nearly Headless Nick (David Ryan)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Faculty of Hogwarts – Left to right: Professor Sprout- Madeline McSherry, Professor Trelawny – Amelia Markosian, Professor Dumbledore – Jim Landskroener, Nearly Headless Nick – David Ryan, Professor Lupin – Zac Ryan

A Goblin works at His Desk in the Bank

Merkley Brooms 

4th Annual HP Festival

Diagon Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diagon Alley is the Wizarding World’s Shopping District that is magically concealed from muggles’ eyes in London and  in Chestertown is located in the Old Mill alley just off Cross St near the old train station.

The Evergrain bakery and coffee shop became Wizardgrain for the day. A wonderful place for young witches and wizards to introduce their parents to butterbeer and everlasting gobstoppers.

Choosing a wand at Olivanders (Bob Ortiz Studio)

4th Annual HP Festival

Goblin

 

 

 

 

A Family Plan by Nancy Mugele

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My iPhone ringer has been on 24-7 on its loudest setting for nearly two months and I have no intention of turning it down anytime soon. I thought as an empty-nester I would not need to have my phone near me at all times of day and night but I have since changed my mind. Adult children living in places near and far, or travelling to places near and far, feel secure knowing that the red roof inn is monitoring their whereabouts.

On August 11, my youngest left on a trip out west on a quest to find the best trout fishing in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and now, British Columbia. You can read about his adventures with his black lab Boh on his blog at thefishwhistler.com. My temporarily jobless, homeless son, who says he has never been happier writing and fishing, has been communicating more than normal – which I love – but it is always in the midnight to 2 a.m. time frame when his day out west is winding down and I am in bed. He told me he has been “finding out how much you really need, versus what you think you need.” An idealist and a realist all in one.

Last week my oldest, who believes in the power of experiences, used some vacation time from her job at UnderArmour to travel to Paris for sightseeing, Munich for Oktoberfest and Iceland for a day at the Blue Lagoon. Texts started at 4 a.m. Chestertown time as she began each day’s new adventure. Don’t get me wrong, I loved receiving the photos and messages, but coupled with a few 7:45 a.m. Kent School meetings, I have been especially exhausted for the past two weeks. Luckily, my middle daughter in Nashville is only an hour behind us and since she works at a school like me, she cannot travel in September, although she did get back on Eastern Standard Time this summer for a trip to Florida and two friends’ weddings. But, seriously, I can’t keep track of all the time zones my children are in!

Turn off your phone, you may say, but raising children post-9/11 required a different set of parenting skills than pre-9/11. Communication became the name of the game. We bought our oldest, whose birthday is 9/11 (and who was celebrating her “golden” birthday, turning 11 on 9/11), a cell phone immediately. As parents of a 6th grader in 2001, my husband and I would not have even thought about giving her a cell phone until the day the world stopped and that changed everything for us as parents. Suddenly, I had this intense need to be able to be in communication with my children at all times – especially as they traveled to other schools, towns, playing fields and ice rinks for athletics, or social events.

Parents in constant communication with their children got a bad rap as helicopter parents but truly I think it was purely about the communication – not the control. Parents need to hear their children’s voices especially when they are away from home, and especially in the world we live in which, all too often, it seems, experiences tragedies like terrorist attacks, the Las Vegas shootings, and natural disasters like Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and the earthquake in Mexico. My heart aches for all those affected by all of the worst in nature and humanity these past few months.

And, while I don’t think that we should stop living our lives for fear of an attack or natural disaster, I believe we need to be intentional about two things – vigilance and communication. Any of my children could have been at the Jason Aldean concert – and in fact we all just saw him in Nashville at CMAFest. A co-worker just told me she is going to tell her older children to wear comfortable shoes when travelling or gathering in large groups of people so “you can be ready to run.” I am going to say this to mine as well. How sad that this is the world we now live in.

It seems to me that communication, above all else, is critical to our mental state. We have a primal need to let our loved ones know we are safe and to learn that they, too, are safe.  Now as our children live their lives in other parts of the country from home base, I greatly appreciate the cellphones we all carry. I know we constantly say that people are obsessed with their devices and social media, and we urge our friends to put their phone away. But I believe that being on our devices for connection to family and friends is important today for building and maintaining human relationships.

Yes, we still have a family plan with our cell provider and two of our three pay us monthly. (The fisherman has only a few more months with free cell service!) As well, the five of us have a family group text and at least once a day someone makes me smile and LOL across the miles. I will not turn off my phone and miss any of it!

Nancy Mugele is the Head of School at Kent School in Chestertown and a member of the Board of Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s. 

St. Martin’s Ministries Art Dinner Features Lighthouse Models

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One of the six lighthouses created by Dick Swanson to be auctioned off at this year’s St. Martin’s Ministries event.

“America the Beautiful, From Sea to Shining Sea” is the theme for this year’s 12th annual St. Martin’s Ministries’ Arts Dinner and Auction to be held on Friday, October 13, 2017 in the Chesapeake Room at the Rock Hall Firehouse.  This year’s event will include silent and live auction items donated by local artists and businesses that represent various regions of the United States.

Master craftsman Dick Swanson’s  Wood Lighthouse Series will take center stage at this year’s event as featured live auction items.  Representative of the evening’s theme, Swanson has chosen six American lighthouses, which once functioned as nautical landmarks in six different regions of the United States.  All still proudly standing guard over American’s vast network of waterways and coastlines. These are not your standard lighthouses that feature a tall white column with a light on top; these historic beacons each have their own particular personality.  Swanson’s unique creations are beautifully wrought in a variety of native woods and are truly one-of-a-kind treasures.

Dick Swanson was raised in New York state, in a furniture making family and trained early on in furniture and cabinetry making, though he became an electrical engineer by profession.  However, for the past 40 years he has continued his interest in furniture history, design and construction. Dick currently resides in Chestertown with his wife Nancy.

Swanson’s Wood Lighthouse Series will be on display at the Finishing Touch in Chestertown prior to the event.  Stop by and check out these unique pieces of art.  If you are interested in bidding on one or all of them and/or attending this year’s event you can visit www.smmartsevent.wordpress.com .

All proceeds benefit St. Martin’s Ministries.  St. Martin’s Ministries helps low income mid-shore families meet basic needs of food, clothing and housing.  In its 32nd year in Ridgely, Md. the Ministries is a non-denominational, non-profit organization.  Saint Martin’s House, a 2 year residential program, helps women and their children transition from homelessness to stability.  Saint Martin’s receives support from United Way and United Fund.   Numerous women and children in Kent County have benefited from the work of St. Martin’s Ministries.  For more information about St. Martin’s Ministries and this year’s Arts Auction visit www.stmartinsministries.org.