Sun­shine, good winds for Down­rig­ging Week­end

Kent County News - - FRONT PAGE - By LEANN SCHENKE lschenke@theken­coun­

CH­ESTER­TOWN — It was sunny skies with a good breeze and plenty to do for the Sul­tana Ed­u­ca­tion Foun­da­tion’s 17th an­nual Down­rig­ging Week­end.

“I came here for the week­end, but de­cided to ex­tend my visit to Fri­day and Mon­day be­cause there is so much to do,” Chris­tian Wil­son said.

Wil­son was vis­it­ing from Bel Air and said this was his first Down­rig­ging.

The an­nual fes­ti­val, which cel­e­brates the end of the sail­ing sea­son and the start of ready­ing tall ships for win­ter, ran for three days, Oct. 27 to 29.

Through­out the week­end, the tall ships could be seen em­bark­ing on two-hour voy­ages down the Ch­ester River. Sun­day was a bit damp, but the tall ships still set out on pub­lic sails as planned, though vis­i­tors who did not want to get rained on could opt out for a full re­fund.

Sul­tana Ed­u­ca­tion Foun­da­tion Pres­i­dent Drew McMullen said the pub­lic sails sold out Fri­day and Satur­day. He said if not for the weather Sun­day, there could have been about 1,200 peo­ple on the Ch­ester River. De­spite Sun­day’s weather, he said this year’s fes­ti­val was one of the best.

“The wind Satur­day was perfect on the verge of be­ing too much,” McMullen said. “A few sail­boats did not want to come over from the western shore be­cause of gail-force winds, but a lot still came over be­cause this is their fa­vorite fes­ti­val. Ch­ester­town makes them feel very wel­comed.”

Lauren Mor­gens, cap­tain of the Kal­mar Ny­ckel from Delaware, said Down­rig­ging Week­end is one of her fa­vorite events to come to.

“My first Down­rig­ging was 11 years ago in 2006. It was also my first sail as cap­tain of this ship,” Mor­gens said Sun­day. “It’s nice to come back.”

Mor­gens and her crew of 23 vol­un­teers spent the time in be­tween sails Sun­day down­rig­ging the ship for win­ter, and so it can make the jour­ney back to Wilm­ing­ton, Del. She said the crew had to take a few pieces of the ship apart in or­der to fit un­der the bridge for In­ter­state 495.

“We’ll be sail­ing back with ropes and sails in two of our bunks,” Mor­gens said.

Among the special vis­i­tors to Ch­ester­town for Down­rig­ging was U.K. Am­bas­sador to the United States Kim Dar­roch and his wife Vanessa.

Though the eight tall ships tend to be the fo­cus of the fes­ti­val, there was plenty more for vis­i­tors to do and see over the course of the week­end. Rang­ing from book talks to art gallery tours, Down­rig­ging pro­vided in­for­ma­tion on the his­tory and health of the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay in ad­di­tion to the chance to get out on the wa­ter.

Over at the Sul­tana Ed­u­ca­tion Foun­da­tion’s Holt Cen­ter, vis­i­tors could get to know some of the lesser seen an­i­mals na­tive to the area.

As part of the Aquatic Ex­plo­ration in the Wet Lab ex­hibit, chil­dren were able to han­dle tur­tles, fish and crabs. Katie Ur­ban­ski, an in­tern for the foun­da­tion, was on hand to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion on the tur­tles and more crea­tures found in the Ch­ester River.

Emma and Lucy Tal­bott, who were vis­it­ing from Ari­zona, got to hold and learn about a di­a­mond­back ter­rapin found by Ch­ester­town Mayor and Sul­tana Ed­u­ca­tion Foun­da­tion Vice Pres­i­dent Chris Cerino.

There were many chances dur­ing the week­end for peo­ple to en­joy oys­ters. Those who don’t care to eat the raw va­ri­ety, had the chance to learn the his­tory of them.

Mas­soniArt wel­comed Down­rig­ging vis­i­tors Fri­day night with an oys­ter bar set up out­side the gallery on High Street, which fea­tured paint­ings of wa­ter­men by Marc Castelli. It quickly ran out of oys­ters shucked by mem­bers of the Kent County Waterman’s As­so­ci­a­tion.

Also Fri­day, the Garfield Cen­ter for the Arts hosted John Boul­ware, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the South Street Sea­port Mu­seum in New York City, for a lec­ture on the re­cov­ery and re­birth of the port of New York.

Ch­ester­town-area res­i­dent Kate Livie, man­ag­ing ed­i­tor of Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Mag­a­zine, pro­vided his­tory on the oys­ter dur­ing a book talk Satur­day at the Book­plate. Livie is the au­thor of “Ch­e­sa­peake Oys­ters: The Bay’s Foun­da­tion and Fu­ture.” She spoke to an au­di­ence of about 20 on the eco­nomic and en­vi­ron­men­tal merit of the oys­ter.

Also speak­ing at the Book­plate for Down­rig­ging was Wendy Mit­man Clarke, di­rec­tor of me­dia re­la­tions at Wash­ing­ton Col­lege. Clarke spoke about her novel, “Still Bend­ing Wa­ter,” de­pict­ing life on the Bay.

Now in its sec­ond year at Down­rig­ging, Del­marva Dock Dogs was once again a hit among vis­i­tors. Across the Ch­ester River bridge at Kingstown Farm, Home and Gar­den, dogs spent Satur­day and Sun­day jump­ing into a pool to the cheers of a crowd.

“She’s prac­ticed in ponds and rivers,” Ray Ra­ley said Satur­day of his 1-year-old dog Mag­gie.

Mag­gie jumped an im­pres­sive 20 feet 8 inches into the pool. Ra­ley and Mag­gie are from Ridgely. This was their first Dock Dogs com­pe­ti­tion.

Though the dogs who jumped the far­thest won prizes, the ones who were a bit hes­i­tant to jump into the pool of­ten earned the most cheers and en­thu­si­asm from the crowd.

Junebug, a 16-month-old border col­lie owned by Pat McNeal, was a bit un­sure about jump­ing into the pool, but given the cheers from the crowd and en­cour­age­ment from McNeal, she ended up jump­ing a solid 9 feet 1 inch and won the novice di­vi­sion of the com­pe­ti­tion.

At­ten­dance seemed high as ever Satur­day morn­ing as peo­ple lined High Street for the Ch­ester­town Lions Club an­nual Hal­loween pa­rade. This year, the club part­nered with Kent County High School to kick off their home­com­ing week.

New this year, Fer­raris fol­lowed the pa­rade down High Street and joined the an­nual show of clas­sic cars and boats at Dowrig­ging. The dis­play of Fer­raris from the late 1960s to the early 2000s drew a large crowd of on­look­ers.

The fes­ti­val wrapped up Sun­day with more pub­lic sails and the Ch­ester River As­so­ci­a­tion’s an­nual Run for the River. De­spite rain, run­ners still em­barked on the 5K or half marathon past the tall ships and along the Ch­ester River.

McMullen said he is un­sure if the fes­ti­val will try a lighted boat pa­rade again next year. This year was the first time it was of­fered, but it was can­celled due to low in­ter­est.

“We of­fered $1,000 as a prize and didn’t get a sin­gle bite, so we’re still de­cid­ing about next year,” McMullen said.

As far as the fu­ture of the fes­ti­val, McMullen said that it is tied to the Ch­ester­town Ma­rina.

“If the ma­rina is in the mid­dle of its re­con­struc­tion next year, the amount of ships we have next year will de­pend on that,” McMullen said. “We’ve been pur­posely turn­ing away boats who have wanted to come for years. Once the ma­rina is com­pleted we can add more ships.”


This aerial drone shot cour­tesy of Shore Stu­dios pro­vides a bird’s-eye view of the tall ships at the Ch­ester­town Ma­rina dur­ing Down­rig­ging Week­end.


Izzy An­der­son, 10, holds a di­a­mond­back ter­rapin Satur­day at the Sul­tana’s Holt Cen­ter. An­der­son, a fifth-grader at Rock Hall El­e­men­tary School, had seen the tur­tle ear­lier in the year dur­ing a field trip with the Sul­tana Ed­u­ca­tion Foun­da­tion.


Tim­ber, a 1-year-old Ch­e­sa­peake Bay re­triever, jumps into the pool for his toy dur­ing Dock Dogs. Tim­ber is owned by Al­li­son Howard of Milling­ton.


Paul Schrag­ger fol­lowed by Matt Ra­jkovich make their way down the Kal­mar Ny­ckel’s rig­ging after prep­ping the ship for its re­turn to Wilm­ing­ton, Del. Sun­day.


A line of Fer­raris parked at the foot of High Street at­tracts a lot of vis­i­tors Satur­day. Fol­low­ing the Ch­ester­town Lions Club’s an­nual Hal­loween pa­rade, the Fer­raris drove down High Street and joined clas­sic cars and boats on dis­play there.


Tall ships tied up at Ch­ester­town Ma­rina for Down­rig­ging Week­end are vis­i­ble in the back­ground while a movie plays on a big screen in Wilmer Park Fri­day night as part of the Hall-O-Teen youth event.


Kate Livie gives a lec­ture on the his­tory of oys­ters on the East­ern Shore as de­scribed in her book “Ch­e­sa­peake Oys­ters: The Bay’s Foun­da­tion and Fu­ture” Satur­day at the Book­plate.


Saf­fron a lab mix gets some air as she jumps into the pool dur­ing Dock Dogs Satur­day. Saf­fron is owned by Rinn Siegrist of Mas­sanut­ten, Va.


Sul­tana, a re­pro­duc­tion of its 1768 name­sake, heads back to its home port at the Ch­ester­town Ma­rina after a pub­lic sail on Ch­ester River Satur­day dur­ing Down­rig­ging Week­end.

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