Music and History Ring Across Kent County
Prepared by the CBM Marketing Department.
To many boaters, there's no better music than the call of geese accompanied by the breeze blowing through the rushes of a lone salt marsh. Others like bagpipes. There's no accounting for taste. But no matter what kind of honking blows your horn, you'll find concerts, festivals and historic programs all around Kent County that you can tune in to by boat. The season starts with a bang!
The British are coming back to Georgetown the weekend of May 3 to 5 and there's little doubt they'll be snubbed again as they were 200 years ago by the feisty Kitty Knight. The weekend is packed with historic re-enactments and festivities throughout the town and the neighboring village of Galena.
The celebration of the bicentennial of the War of 1812 starts on Friday evening with a dinner and lecture at the Kitty Knight House overlooking the Sassafras River. During dinner, there will be a re-enactment of the fireworks between Kitty and Admiral Cockburn, followed by real fireworks over the harbor and a DJ dance under a nearby big top.
Saturday starts with a 5-K run/walk in Galena, followed by the parade down Main Street that opens the annual Galena Dogwood Festival. Storybook characters will jump out of books from the North County Branch of the Kent County Public Library to walk in the parade. Adding to the fun is a baby contest, about 40 craftsmen and artists, demonstrations, exhibits and an amusement park. Programs include a family-oriented magic show, a mime, story telling, juggling and other monkey business. The Sassafras River Business Council will host a vintage car show and beer garden featuring local brews. Vendors will provide plenty of crab cakes, fried fish and other Eastern Shore delicacies.
On Sunday, it's back to the Kitty Knight House for a full-scale re-enactment of the burning of Georgetown, 200 years to the day of that outrage. The schooner Sultana will sail up the river to represent the Royal Navy, its canon ablaze. About three dozen re-enactors will charge up the hill to find Kitty Knight defending her home. To plan your weekend visit to Georgetown and Galena, see www.srbcinc.org and www.kentcounty1812.org.
And if you're sure you're one of those aforementioned bagpipe-ophiles, then you need to anchor out in Turner's Creek off the Sassafras River on Saturday, May 18. That secluded cove is only about a mile away - that's earshot for a bagpipe - from a new festival called "Shore, I'm Irish!"
The Irish music extravaganza takes place at Hopkins Farm in Kennedyville, about eight miles by car from Chestertown and about the same distance from Georgetown. Known more for its skeet shooting, the 600-acre farm has plenty of room to host such well known traditional Irish groups as Nua, the Rogues, Celtic Crossing and Maggie's Leap performing outdoors and inside the large barn, along with Blackthorn, the Irish rock favorites from Philadelphia. The event runs from 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. It's sponsored by both Guinness and Tullamore Dew and there will be other beverage and food vendors, too, plus a full schedule of fun programs and activities for all lads and lassies.
To get to the festival you can dinghy to a Kent County landing at the end of Turner Creek Road. Just up the hill, you'll find a hidden gem. It's the Kent County Museum, which celebrates 150 years of agricultural history. While it's only open on the first and third Saturdays through the season, there are acres of fields and woods to ramble even if the museum is closed, and a short nature trail that ends at a bluff overlooking the creek. There are public restrooms available at another historic site nearby, the old log Lathim House. All of Kent County's many historic sites and museums are listed at www.kentcounty.com/attractions/museums.php
If you're classically inclined, you can hang out on your boat in Chestertown the first two weeks of June, when young musicians from all around the world will gather for the third season of the National Music Festival. The festival's goal is to give gifted student musicians on the cusp of their professional careers a chance to perform with professionals from major orchestras, chamber ensembles and conservatory faculties. But the result is a full two weeks of high-quality performances, education and other music-related activities at venues all around the town - and all at a reasonable cost.
This year, there will be about 115 apprentices. Last year, they came from 16 countries and 28 states. They will mingle with 30 mentors under the aegis of the Artistic Director Richard Rosenberg and Executive Director Caitlin Patton, the husband-and-wife team who founded the event in 2010. Many events, including all of the rehearsals, are free. You'll need tickets for other performances but you can get them for a suggested donation of just $10 for chamber concerts or $15 for orchestral performances. If you want to be there the whole time, June 3 - 15, you can get a Festival Pass for $175.
Rehearsals are always free and open to the public. Dress as you wish, from casual boaty to chic. Single-ticket seating at concerts is limited to space available after Festival Pass-holders have been seated. All festival concert venues are handicapped-accessible.
Whenever you're in Rock Hall, there's sure to be a great concert at the Mainstay, the town's cozy cultural center on Main Street. Mainstay's founder and chief bottle washer, Tom McHugh, reports that there were 61 programs last year ranging from jazz, blues, classical and folk/Americana to "the kitchen sink." Performers love the Mainstay because the audience is small and attentive, and the intimate room's got a homey ambiance with great sound and sight lines. Beer, wine, soft drinks and home-baked goodies are available at the bar in the Byrd Room. See www.mainstayrockhall.org for a full slate of incredible performances.