On May 13 the folks from Westside Historical Society will open their 29th annual Heritage Festival, and this year there are two reasons to celebrate! Not only is this a chance to once again honor those traditions that have been a part of life in this watershed area of the Nanticoke River, but it’s a chance to commemorate the 150th birthday of Wicomico County!
And celebrate they will! A parade down Main Street, with fun floats by local groups and vintage cars, trucks, and farm equipment, and featuring the award-winning Mardela High School Marching Band, begins at 9:30. An exhibit of those old vehicles will be around for the day, as will the Traditions Tent with craftsmen and collectors of antique machinery, collectibles and antiques, makers of wooden baskets and rag rugs, hunters and farmers, and blacksmith Mark Williams will be demonstrating this ancient craft all day. There will be an expert calligrapher to teach you to write like they did in 1867! Westside Historical Society also will be having a wonderful silent auction of all kinds of goodies, the Mardela Volunteer Fire Department will be selling barbecued chicken and other mouth-watering treats, and there will be plenty of music and vendors! For the kids there will be lots of games, a bounce house, and some old-fashioned 19th century games – not a single electronic device among them! Anyone for Snap the Whip, Fling the Apples, 3-legged races? And more! The youngster’s “train” from the Hebron Railroad Depot Museum will be on hand! Throughout the day there will be demonstrations of some of the everyday practices of life in the year’s following the end of the Civil War – ordinary things like making hard tack for example!
Several activities will focus on the County’s 1867 founding. Some exhibits from the Barren Creek Heritage Museum will be set up on the Festival’s grounds at Mardela’s Raymond Robinson Park on Railroad Ave. and Station Street. One of the popular activities featured at the 100th celebration, in 1967, was a “Bearded Man Contest” and this will be repeated at this year’s festivities! So gentlemen, stop shaving as of now! Choose your own style – like President Ulysses Grant’s, or a dapper mustache and goatee, one trimmed like Abe Lincoln, or go wild with a Duck Dynasty wild and shaggy! There will be a chance to show off your tonsorial pride, and prizes! And if you wish, don’t shave until August when the contest will be repeated at the Wicomico County Fair!! Ladies, join the gents in paying homage to life in the mid-19th century; come dressed in your finest gowns and bonnets!
There is no admission fee to the Festival, which will begin at 9 am; parking will be available around the Park area and on side streets. There is still room for more vendors, and Festival organizers are still looking for donations to the Silent Auction and to the Baked good booth. Anyone wishing to get more information regarding this, entering the parade, or other aspects of the Festival should email Festival Chairman Vivian Calder at vcalder@umd.edu or phone 410-713-9309 or 443-880-5469, or write to Westside Historical Society, P.O. Box 194, Mardela Springs MD 21837.