Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Lecture and Book Signing by Major General Fred J. Ascani, USAF Ret., and Lieutenant Colonel Sheryl Hutchinson, USAF Ret.

The Patuxent River Naval Air Museum is holding its fourth “Flight Test Tech Talk” program: a lecture and book signing by Fred Ascani and Sheryl Hutchison on Friday, October 2, 2009, from 4:30 to 7:00 p.m. They will present the new book Mentor Inbound: The Authorized Biography of Fred J. Ascani, Major General, USAF Retired: Holder of the 1951 World Speed Record.

The Rockford Register-Republic newspaper carried this headline in January 1945: “Aboard a Flying Fortress which appeared a flaming torch, spewing gasoline from its load of 15,000 gallons and trailing fire like a comet, a bomber crew which included Lt. Col. Fred J. Ascani, Rockford pilot, continued its run over a Ploesti oil field target and came through safely . . .” Fred Ascani flew 53 combat missions in command of the 816th Bombardment Squadron during World War II. The newspaper article about that ordeal over Ploesti is an early example of the extensive media coverage that the aviation exploits of Fred Ascani would generate throughout a legendary career.

Fred Ascani is one of the “Men of Mach 1,” and participated in the selection of Chuck Yeager as the pilot to surpass Mach 1 in the Bell X-1. Maj Gen Ascani’s contributions to airpower span over 40 years. Ascani began his association with flight test in 1944 at Wright Field, Ohio. He reported for duty at Edwards Air Force Base in 1950; as Director of Experimental Flight Test and Engineering, and as the first vice commander of the Air Force Flight Test Center, Ascani was an active test pilot, flying more than 50 research aircraft and experimental prototypes. At the 1951 National Air Races, Ascani established a new world speed record flying an F-86E Sabre: 635.686 miles per hour over a 100-kilometer closed course. General Ascani is considered by the USAF to be the “Father of Systems Engineering” and was also the System Program Director for the XB-70 Valkyrie Mach 3 bomber program, the spinoff technologies of which were vital to the development of the Space Shuttle. Ascani retired from the Air Force in 1973 with 6288 flight hours in a uniquely wide range of aircraft. He then taught systems engineering at the Pentagon to the next generation of acquisition professionals.

Author Sheryl Hutchison was on active duty with the USAF for more than 20 years, retiring as a Lt. Colonel in 2006. In July 2000, when then-Major Hutchison became a squadron commander at Edwards Air Force Base, California, she contacted Maj Gen Ascani to request his eyewitness account of how historic Edwards AFB sites looked in the 1940s. They developed an association that led to Mentor Inbound, the biographical account of Ascani’s career, written by Lt. Col. Hutchison in gratitude for his advice and to serve as inspirational history for future generations of airmen.

This event is free and open to the public. Though seating is not reserved, it is limited (standing room attendance is permitted): please RSVP to or 301-863-7418. Lecture and Q&A: 4:45 to 6:00 p.m. Maj Gen Ascani and Lt. Col. Hutchison will sign copies of Mentor Inbound from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. The book will be available for purchase at the Museum Store throughout the event.

The Patuxent River Naval Air Museum is one of 12 Official U.S. Navy Museums, and the only facility that preserves and presents the history of the research, development, test, and evaluation activities of U.S. Naval Aviation. Learn more about the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum via its website link on the Naval History and Heritage Command’s homepage:

Monday, September 28, 2009

Blessing of the Fleet

On October 3 and 4, come out to the St. Clement's Island Museum for the Blessing of the Fleet! The Blessing of the Fleet is a religious celebration of Maryland's birthplace, the landmark of St. Clement's Island, and a blessing of the boats, or fleet, as October 1 generally begins the oyster harvesting season in Maryland.

This is the 42nd year that the Blessing of the Fleet has been held. During the festival, enjoy a classic car show on Saturday and Sunday afternoon, Catholic mass on Sunday, arts and crafts, livestock and a petting zoo, an oyster tonging demonstration, hourly $100 cash giveaways, wine tastings, boxing robots, and pony rides. Plus, on Saturday night, watch as beautiful fireworks light up the sky over the Potomac River! The 2009 Blessing of the Fleet will also feature music by local bands, a parade on Sunday, and lots of fun childrens activities.

In honor of Maryland's 375th birthday, the 2009 Blessing of the Fleet will include a special cover on the event program that features Maryland's 375th birthday along with a picture of the cross and the Blackistone Lighthouse. There will also be a short story in the book that will describe the connection between St. Clement's Island and the founding of Maryland.

On Saturday, October 3, the event will run from 12 p.m. until 10 p.m. and on Sunday, October 4, the event will run from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. For more information about the event, please contact the 7th District Optimist's Club at 301-769-2763 or To visit their website, click here. To download the event flyer, click here.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Turning Points in St. Mary's County Historical Paper Contest Winner

The winner has been announced for the Turning Points in St. Mary's County Historical Paper Contest! Nicholas Pontorno, a student at Esperanza Middle School, won with his essay that described how the Patuxent River Naval Air Station changed St. Mary's County's history. As the winner, he received a $50 check from the St. Mary's County Historical Society and he read his essay during the St. Mary's County Fair.

The historical paper contest was sponsored by the St. Mary's County Department of Economic & Community Development and the St. Mary's County Historical Society, in conjunction with St. Mary's County Public School.

To read Nicholas Pontorno's winning essay, please visit the Fun for the Young page.

Riverside WineFest at Sotterley 2009!

Come to the place where wine flows freely, music is jamming, kids are playing, artists are selling, food is scrumptious, and everyone is having a blast! Sotterley Plantation will “Celebrate the Best of Maryland in a Breathtaking Setting” at the Riverside WineFest at Sotterley 2009. For two days, guests will have the chance to taste the offerings of 17 highly acclaimed Maryland wineries (with no tasting tickets). For those who have always wanted to learn about wine making and wine testing, you will enjoy the informative demonstrations and exhibits. Promoting goods from our local farming community and introducing fine local chefs, visit the So. Maryland, So Good tent and enjoy the full schedule of events. Hungry? Dash over to the food vendors for crab cakes, fried oysters, pit-roasted meats, stuffed ham, wraps, freshly made ice-cream and more. There is no such thing as a bored child here at Sotterley, as we offer free face painting and colonial games. Ready to dance? Go for it! Move and groove to a spectrum of music – from Jazz to1950’s classics to Rock & Roll to International Folk. Let’s talk Art – not crafts, but ART. Artists from The Color & Light Society will be painting, displaying, and selling their treasures in the Customs Warehouse. Down on the field, make a point of supporting other Maryland Artists, many of whom sell their creations nationally and internationally. As an added bonus, 98.3 Star FM celebs T-bone & Heather will be here with t-shirts and prizes for the crowd on Saturday from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.

NEW for 2009: Promising to make this year’s event even better, we will have an Antique Show in the barn with experienced local antique dealers selling favorites from days gone by. Since we aim to please, diehard football fans will be able to watch the Washington Redskins play (and beat) the Buccaneers on Sunday at 1 p.m. down on the field on a big screen television.

Tickets may be purchased in advance for a discounted price of $17 prior to September 25th, and at the gate tickets will be $20. Designated drivers are $15, those between the ages of 6 – 20 years old are $5, and children under 6 are free of charge. To purchase tickets in advance (VISA or MasterCard only) or to find out more information, visit or call 301-373-2280 or 800-681-0850.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Culinary Arts Students Will Face-Off at Celebrate 375 Cake Decorating Contest

In honor of Maryland’s 375th birthday, the Culinary Arts program at the Dr. James A. Forrest Career and Technology Center will hold a cake decorating contest at the St. Mary’s County Fair in the new auditorium building on Friday, September 25 from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m. The Culinary Arts students will work in teams of two, with a total of 12 teams competing. Cakes will be decorated using the theme of Maryland’s 375th Birthday and St. Mary’s County.

The cakes will be judged by Doris Jenkins of Carroll County, a judge of the Pillsbury Bake-off Contest at the Maryland State Fair; Anita Kriner, wedding cake designer and owner of Anita's Cakes in Great Mills; and Peter Schmitter, owner and pastry chef of Wildewood Pastry shop in California.

The cakes will be on display in the new auditorium building at the fair through Saturday. The newly crowned Queen of Tolerance and her court will be cutting and serving samples of the cake to the public on Sunday at 1:00 PM, also in the new auditorium building, during Maryland’s 375th Birthday Party.

The idea for the contest was that of Fair Director John Richards who approached school personnel with the idea. Culinary Arts instructor Amanda Garnados is coordinating the contest and working with the student teams. The St. Mary's County Division of Tourism is helping to sponsor the contest.

For more information about the St. Mary's County Fair, visit

St. Mary's County Fair Will Celebrate Maryland's 375th!

The 2009 St. Mary’s County Fair is hosting a variety of events to celebrate Maryland’s 375th birthday, including a cake decorating contest, an essay reading, and Maryland’s 375th Birthday Party!

On Friday, September 25, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., students from the Dr. James A. Forrest Career & Technology Center will face-off in a birthday cake decorating contest. The winning birthday cake will be chosen by a panel of judges including Doris Jenkins, of Carroll County, a judge of the Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest at the Maryland State Fair; Anita Kriner, wedding cake designer and owner of Anita’s Cakes in Great Mills; and Peter Schmitter, owner and pastry chef of Wildewood Pastry Shop in California.

Then, the winner of the Turning Points in St. Mary’s County Historical Paper Contest will be announced and will read his/her essay on Friday at 2 p.m. The essay contest encouraged middle and high school students to think about local history by asking students to write an essay on a turning point that caused change within St. Mary’s County. The contest was sponsored by the St. Mary’s County Department of Economic & Community Development and St. Mary’s County Public Schools. The winner will receive a savings bond from the St. Mary’s County Historical Society.

The festivities will continue on Saturday, September 26, with nearly a dozen songwriters, including Robin Guyther, Ben Connelly, Gary Rue, Krys Baker, Patty Dorsch, Scott Harshna, Catfish Joe, David Flood, Lissie Deere, David Norris, Carol Schachter, and Joe Norris performing original songs about Southern Maryland. The musical performances will start at the parade reviewing stand in front of the auditorium at 11:30 a.m.

On Sunday, September 27 at 1:00 p.m., the 2009 Queen of Tolerance and her court will be hosting Maryland’s 375th Birthday Party in the new auditorium. The Queen and her court will cut and serve samples of the birthday cakes from the cake decorating contest.

The cover of the 2009 St. Mary’s County Fair Guide also highlights Maryland’s 375th birthday with a composite of some of the student drawings entered into the cover contest that portray symbols of Maryland. The students who contributed were Becca Frazier and Robert Raley, from Margaret Brent Middle School; Chris Sydnor, Jenifer Schmidt, Stephanie Machina, and Kate Hardman, from Little Flower School; and Chris Forte, from Father Andrew White School. To see an online version of the Fair Guide, click here or on the image.

So come out to the St. Mary's County Fair this weekend and enjoy the special Maryland's 375th Birthday festivities! The St. Mary's County Fair is open from Thursday, September 24 through Sunday, September 27. For more information, please visit

Friday, September 18, 2009

Unlocking the Chapel

On Sunday, September 20 at 5 p.m., attend a brief unlocking ceremony and explore the chapel at Historic St. Mary's City!

In 1704, Maryland Governor Seymour ordered the sheriff to lock the Roman Catholic brick chapel at St. Mary's City and see that it was never again used for worship. With that action, the colony’s experiment in religious freedom ended.

On Sunday, September 20, 305 years after the original chapel was sealed, St. Mary's County Sheriff Timothy Cameron will unlock the massive oak and pine doors of the reconstructed chapel. The reconstruction stands as a symbol of liberty of conscience and separation of church and state, which were practiced in 17th-century Maryland far in advance of the laws and practices in other New World colonies.

The reconstructed chapel, which was rebuilt on its original foundation, is architecturally complete but not yet furnished. It will be open to the public during museum hours as finishing allows. An interpretive pavilion will be open to the public in summer 2010.

For more information, contact Historic St. Mary's City at 800-SMC-1634 or 240-895-4990 or visit

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

WineFest Pre-Event Party!

On September 22 from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m., the public is invited to a free pre-event party for Sotterley Plantation's 2009 Riverside WineFest! The event is graciously being hosted by Blue Wind Gourmet, which is located at 22803 Gunston Drive in California, Maryland. Whether you have tried the delectable creations at this amazing local restaurant before or not, this is a fantastic chance to feast on the savory gastric delights offered by Blue Wind Gourmet Owner, Rob Plant and to sip the wonderful varietals of Running Hare Vineyard.

The Riverside WineFest at Sotterley 2009 will take place on October 3 & 4 from Noon-6 p.m. at Sotterley Plantation, so don’t forget to mark your calendars! Discounted tickets are available through September 25th at or by phone: 301-373-2280 or 800-681-0850.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Leonardtown Events This Weekend

Leonardtown is holding two great events this weekend, Fall Follies on the Square and the 2nd Annual Leonardtown Wharf Waterfront Celebration!

Fall Follies on the Square
Fall Follies on the Square will be held on Saturday, September 12 from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. The event offers visitors a chance to purchase beautiful hand-crafted art made by local artists including florals, baskets, quilts, pottery, stained glass and more!

For more information, call the Crafts Guild of St. Mary's County at 301-997-1644 or visit

Leonardtown Wharf Waterfront Celebration
The 2nd Annual Leonardtown Wharf Waterfront Celebration is on Saturday, September 12 from 12 p.m. until 5 p.m. Join in the excitement of sailboat races, enjoy musical performances by David Norris and local school chorus groups, and take a guided canoe or kayak excursion. At Tudor Hall, see the Key Family in St. Mary's County exhibit, enjoy an Artists Gathering, and a special performance by the Newtowne Players. Then, take a boat ride out to St. Clement's Island aboard the Historic Oyster Buy Boat, "Samuel M. Bailey," and learn about the history of St. Mary's County! To see the event flyer, click here.

For more information, call the Town of Leonardtown at 301-475-9791 or visit

Woodland Indian Discovery Day

This Saturday, September 12, visit Historic St. Mary's City and explore ways Maryland’s first people found or made everything they needed to live well in Southern Maryland!

Experiment with shaping a bowl from clay under the tutelage of visiting artisan Keith Grenoble. Try making stone tools. Kirk Drier, a master flintknapper from Oregon Ridge will guide your efforts. The Baltimore Bowyers will teach would-be archers to shoot a bow and arrow. Visitors can discover how the Yaocomaco made fabric as Rodney Ericson guides hide tanning. Learn ways fire was used for cooking and shaping a canoe. Scheduled activities include The Tayac Territory Dancers, who will guide ancient dances at 12 noon and 2 p.m. Make a rattle to keep the beat! On a wild foods walk at 11 a.m. or 1 p.m., see which familiar plants make a good meal. Learn to see the world around you as the Yaocomaco people did and find food, shelter, entertainment, and fashion where you never saw it before.

The event is open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Special activities are included in general admission to the museum: $10.00 adult, $8 seniors, $6 students, and $3.50 for children age 6-12. Children under 5 years visit free!

For more information, please contact Historic St. Mary's City at 800-762-1634 or 240-895-4990 or visit

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Oyster Festival Poster Contest Deadline is Approaching

The deadline for the 2009 St. Mary's County Oyster Festival & US National Oyster Shucking Championship Contest Poster Contest is only 15 days away! The winner of the contest will receive a $500 prize, free tickets to the 2009 St. Mary's County Oyster Festival, and recognition during the Oyster Festival.

If you intend to submit an entry, please remember that:

  • Text limited to "2009 St. Mary's County Oyster Festival & US National Oyster Shucking Contest Championship Contest" and must include "Celebrating Maryland's 375th Birthday" logo and Rotary Club logo (Click here to go to the Enter Giveaways and Contests page to download the logos.)
  • Entry must be professional quality artwork (Finished size of Poster will be 18" x 24")
  • Must be on a CD, 300 dpi, and reproducible by conventional 4-color printing process
  • Include a 4" x 6" index card with the entry with:
    Your name
    Your complete mailing address
    Your home and work phone numbers
  • Do not place your name in any form on the face of the artwork image

For more information, please visit the Enter Giveaways and Contests page by clicking here.

All entries must be submitted to the address below by 5 p.m. on September 15.

Rebecca Deprey, Tourism Coordinator
P.O. Box 653
Leonardtown, MD 20650

If you have any questions, please call Rebecca Deprey at 301-475-4200 ext. 1404.