Bad weather but good times at Down­rig­ging

The Star Democrat - - LOCAL - ddivilio@thekent­coun­ By DANIEL DIVILIO

CH­ESTER­TOWN — Vis­i­tors to Sul­tana Ed­u­ca­tion Foun­da­tion’s annual Down­rig­ging Fes­ti­val are used to cold and wet weather — there was even a threat of hur­ri­cane one year. But just as in years past, the cel­e­bra­tion of tall ships con­tin­ued to be a suc­cess de­spite the need for rain­coats.

Among those par­tic­i­pat­ing in the tall ship and wooden boat fes­ti­val that serves as a fundraiser for the Sul­tana Ed­u­ca­tion Foun­da­tion were the state tall ship of Delaware Kal­mar Ny­ckel, the pi­lot ship re­pro­duc­tion Vir­ginia, the War of 1812 replica pri­va­teer Lynx, the Liv­ing Class­room Foun­da­tion’s Lady Mary­land and host ves­sel schooner Sul­tana, along with the skip­jacks Elsworth and Sigs­bee.

Docked at the newly ren­o­vated Ch­ester­town Ma­rina, the tall ships of­fered free tours dur­ing open houses on Fri­day, Satur­day and Sun­day, Oct. 26, 27 and 28, as well as tick­eted sails all three days. Sul­tana Ed­u­ca­tion Foun­da­tion re­ported that more than 800 peo­ple sailed over the week­end. Also, the rain is cred­ited in part for the stand­ing-room only crowds at many of the events lo­cated in town.

The weather saw Fri­day’s planned fire­works post­poned un­til Satur­day evening. The town’s annual Hal­loween pa­rade, which co­in­cides with Down­rig­ging Week­end, was post­poned from Satur­day morn­ing to Sun­day af­ter­noon. Sun­day saw much im­proved weather, in­clud­ing blue skies.

Sul­tana Ed­u­ca­tion Pres­i­dent Drew McMullen said that de­spite the weather, this year’s Down­rig­ging Week­end was a suc­cess. Most of the sails re­port­edly took place, with hardy vis­i­tors dressed in lay­ers and ready to ex­plore the Chester on the tall ships.

“We had a great turnout both on the wa­ter and at the down­town events,” he said in a state­ment Mon­day. “A spe­cial thanks goes out to all our fan­tas­tic com­mu­nity part­ners and vis­it­ing ves­sels, whose flex­i­bil­ity and en­ergy re­ally made the fes­ti­val work re­gard­less of the rain.”

Forbes Hor­ton brought his fam­ily over from An­napo­lis Sun­day on a 35-foot Duffy lob­ster boat. This was their first time com­ing to Down­rig­ging Week­end, but not their first boat ride to Ch­ester­town.

The fam­ily pre­vi­ously came over in the sum­mer of 2017. Hor­ton was im­pressed with the ma­rina ren­o­va­tions he saw Sun­day com­pared to the state of the fa­cil­ity — which he de­scribed as “scary” — when he last pulled into the docks at Ch­ester­town. He had heard about the ma­rina be­ing re­done and thought he would bring his fam­ily over for Down­rig­ging Week­end, de­spite the weather.

“We like the new dock over there. That’s pretty sweet,” Hor­ton said of the ren­o­vated ma­rina.

Hor­ton’s sons Hen­drix, 9, liked the schooner Vir­ginia and Max, 7, picked the Lynx as the one he would want to sail home.

“It was re­ally rough on the way over, but we’re re­ally glad we came,” Hor­ton said.

With so much of the ac­tiv­ity fo­cused at the ma­rina, Down­rig­ging Week­end served as an un­veil­ing of sorts for the ren­o­vated fa­cil­ity.

Chris Cerino, Ch­ester­town’s mayor and vice pres­i­dent of the Sul­tana Ed­u­ca­tion Foun­da­tion, cam­paigned on the need to ren­o­vate the ma­rina and sought a se­cond term last year to see through the pro­ject he spear­headed.

“Our con­trac­tors re­ally stepped up for the town to com­plete the ma­jor­ity of the Ma­rina in time for Down­rig­ging. Al­though we still have work to do over the rest of the fall and win­ter, I hope it’s pro­vided the Ch­ester­town com­mu­nity the chance to see the full po­ten­tial of the Ma­rina com­plex now that it’s been re­vi­tal­ized,” Cerino said in an email Mon­day.

McMullen is ex­cited for what the ex­panded ma­rina could mean for the fu­ture of Down­rig­ging Week­end.

“Al­though it was chal­leng­ing plan­ning for the event while the Ma­rina work was be­ing com­pleted, now that the fa­cil­ity is in place, we are ex­cited to grow into the new space and make the event even big­ger and bet­ter next year,” he said.

Sul­tana Ed­u­ca­tion Foun­da­tion added a new build­ing of its own two years ago on South Cross Street. The Holt Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ter played host to the De­part­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources Scales and Tales pro­gram, dur­ing which vis­i­tors got close views of owls, hawks and snakes, of­fered a va­ri­ety of chil­dren’s ac­tiv­i­ties and held pre­sen­ta­tions in­clud­ing Pres Hard­ing’s “A Boy in a Boat­yard.”

The foun­da­tion re­ported more than 400 vis­i­tors to the Holt Cen­ter just on Satur­day for Scales and Tales and “A Boy in a Boat­yard.”

Also of­fered were food, bev­er­ages and per­for­mances, in­clud­ing the Ch­ester­town Ukulele Club, un­der the Fish Whis­tle food tent at the ma­rina. Chester River Wine and Cheese Co. of­fered a wine tent and do­nated a por­tion of its pro­ceeds back to the Sul­tana Ed­u­ca­tion Foun­da­tion.

There also were talks at the Book Plate and con­certs at the Garfield Cen­ter for the Arts and the Fish Whis­tle restau­rant.

The Kent County Arts Coun­cil spon­sored four per­for­mances of “The Un­lad­ing,” a short play by Robert Earl Price, at Janes United Methodist Church over the course of the week­end.

KCAC Di­rec­tor John Schratwieser said about 350 peo­ple at­tended the per­for­mances. He said the church was nearly full for the first three runs of the play; it was stand­ing room only for the fi­nal per­for­mance.

On Sun­day morn­ing, run­ners were in­vited to help pre­serve lo­cal wa­ter­ways by join­ing the Chester River Chal­lenge 5K and Half-Marathon.

Is­abel Junkin Hardesty of race spon­sor ShoreRivers, which will be open­ing a new of­fice at the Ch­ester­town Ma­rina, said turnout for the 5K and half-marathon was higher than last year, with more than 190 par­tic­i­pants. She thinks the im­proved weather Sun­day morn­ing boosted at­ten­dance.

“We’re look­ing for­ward to do­ing an event next year out of our new of­fice in the Ch­ester­town ma­rina build­ing, right in the mid­dle of Down­rig­ging fes­tiv­i­ties,” she said in an email Mon­day.

Across the Chester River, Kingstown Farm, Home and Gar­den again hosted a Dock­Dogs com­pe­ti­tion on Satur­day and Sun­day dur­ing Down­rig­ging Week­end. Vis­i­tors watched as han­dlers tossed a va­ri­ety of train­ing dum­mies and balls into a swim­ming pool. Dogs were then judged based on the length of their leaps into the wa­ter.

Ear­leville res­i­dent Laura Board brought her Ger­man shep­herd Jas­mine to the Dock­Dogs com­pe­ti­tion. Jas­mine had not par­tic­i­pated in a Dock­Dogs event be­fore, but Board, who was there with her fam­ily and had other dogs com­pet­ing, de­cided to give her Ger­man shep­herd a shot.

“This is her first time and my first time,” Board said. “”I wasn’t plan­ning on do­ing it, but re­ally, why not?”

This was Kris McClel­lan’s first time at Down­rig­ging Week­end de­spite hav­ing had a fam­ily con­nec­tion to Ch­ester­town. The Nor­folk, Va. res­i­dent has been a vol­un­teer crew mem­ber for about a year on the vis­it­ing Vir­ginia.

“My sis­ter went to Wash­ing­ton Col­lege, so I’ve been mean­ing to come for years,” McClel­lan said of Down­rig­ging Week­end, as he helped vis­i­tors aboard the Vir­ginia dur­ing the Sun­day morn­ing open house.

McClel­lan said the sails Satur­day cer­tainly were wet. Still, he thought every­one en­joyed them­selves.

“Every­one seemed happy, which is the main thing. I think the folks who come to this kind of event — a lot of sailors — they know what to ex­pect. It was a good time,” McClel­lan said.


The Kal­mar Ny­ckel, cen­ter, is seen from the plat­form bridg­ing the Vir­ginia, left and the Lynx, which were tied up side-by-side at the Ch­ester­town Ma­rina.

The Ch­ester­town Ukulele Club per­forms in a tent at the Ch­ester­town ma­rina Sun­day morn­ing as part of Sul­tana Ed­u­ca­tion Foun­da­tion’s Down­rig­ging Week­end.

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