Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Get into the Halloween Spirit on a Ghost Tour

Sites and attractions throughout St. Mary’s County will be holding ghost tours in the weeks leading up to Halloween! Come hear the spooky history and legends of Sotterley Plantation, Summerseat Farm, Point Lookout Lighthouse, and Historic St. Mary’s City.

On October 14, 15 and 16, Sotterley Plantation will tell the tales of the Civil War and the experiences of Sotterley’s inhabitants, who were Confederate sympathizers during this volatile time in history. Tours will start every ten minutes beginning at 7 p.m. and tickets are limited.  Visit Sotterley's website,, for more information.

Summerseat Farm will be holding its ghost walk, “The Gates of Summerseat,” on October 21, 22 and 23. “The Gates of Summerseat” will feature 332 years of history, lore, and legend at one of America’s oldest – and most storied – farmsteads. Tours run from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and tickets are limited.  Visit Summerseat's website,, for more information.

Point Lookout State Park also has some eerie tales to tell. During Spirits of Point Lookout on October 29 and 30, guests will be taken on historically representative interactive tours of Point Lookout featuring the site’s many legendary tragedies and hauntings. The tours will run from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Advance ticket purchases are recommended.  Visit the Spirits of Point Lookout website,, for more information.

Historic St. Mary’s City will share the story of its early inhabitants and what happened to them after their deaths during Grave Matters on October 29 and 30.  Experience life and death in 17th century Maryland as you walk historical paths by moonlight with Maryland’s colonists providing a glimpse of their days and nights that’s entertaining, illuminating, and possibly haunting. Tours will run every 15 minutes from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Visit Historic St. Mary's City's website,, for more information.

For more information on the ghost tours and other upcoming events, visit the St. Mary’s County Division of Tourism website,

Friday, September 24, 2010

'Beloved Horses' Author Sharon Miner to Hold Book Signing at Greenwell

Cover of the upcoming book.
Author Sharon Miner will be at Greenwell State Park on Sunday, Oct. 3, from 1pm - 3pm, to sell and sign copies of her new book, "Beloved Horses in Second Careers." One of Greenwell's beloved horses, Spot, is profiled in the book and appears on the cover.

Spot is the cornerstone of Greenwell's riding lesson program, popular with riders and campers alike. He is a favorite of riders with disabilities as he is so patient. Unknown to many, Spot led quite an interesting life before he came to Greenwell. Miner's book tells the story of Spot.

Miner's appearance is sponsored by the Greenwell Foundation and is part of an East Coast tour promoting the publication of her new book.

Sharon Miner is the author of adventure stories and mystery novels for middle grade readers and young adults. Miner, a professional horsewoman, always includes horses in her books. Read more about Miner and her books at her Web site:

For more information about Miner's East Coast book tour, visit her blog:

More about Spot:

Spot was born in Texas where he was used for cow cutting. He did the same later in California. He landed in Oklahoma and was sold to a man who lived in Maryland. Caitlyn Keyes was 13 years old and living in Southern Maryland when she saw an ad in a magazine for an eventing farm.

"The ad had a picture of this really cool looking registered Paint Horse named Lucky Leo. We ended up going to that farm (because my mom does saddle fittings) and she asked a girl who this horse was because I just wanted to see him. Well come to find out he just so happened to be for sale. Of course we bought him!"

"He then evented up to Training Level but could easily school Prelim, but he developed arthritis so he was retired from jumping. Then a year later he went to nationals in Pony Club in Kentucky for Dressage! Also, the whole time I owned him he fox hunted. I am so happy to hear that he is still a superstar."

-- Caitlyn Keyes, Summer 2009

More about Spot's role in the Greenwell Therapeutic Riding Program:

A few years ago, Gene and Colleen Lane spent time at Greenwell as park hosts. They lived in their motor home at the park and volunteered with several of Greenwell’s programs including the Therapeutic Riding Program. As TRP volunteers, Gene and Colleen assisted as side-walkers, walking alongside a horse and TRP rider during lessons. Now, Gene is a TRP rider himself.

Shortly after completing their park host service, life took a drastic turn. Gene suffered a fall and a stroke. He lost the use of his legs and one side of his body.
Gene Lane riding Spot

Therapeutic riding was suggested as a way to offer Gene an opportunity to improve his physical and cognitive abilities. At first, he wasn't sure what to expect but he says because of his experience as a Greenwell TRP volunteer, "I knew I would be better." Colleen says they both knew the difference riding would make because of their experience as volunteers in the program.

Since his injury, Gene has had to rely on others for assistance with everyday tasks and he spends a lot of time in a wheelchair. But riding is the first thing he has done for himself. Therapeutic riding has also taken his recovery to a new level.

After two months of riding, his balance and posture have improved, he is able to sit upright, his legs are straighter and his overall attitude is happier. And the horse he rides, Spot, can sense that Gene is getting more comfortable as time goes on as evidenced by the change in Spot’s walk and gait.

"Riding in the TRP is truly the highlight of my life," says Gene. He says riding Spot has enriched his life in so many ways, adding, "Spot is a lifesaver."

The Greenwell Foundation offers therapeutic and recreational horseback riding lessons for children (age 7 and up) and adults with developmental, physical, or emotional challenges. Lessons fees, donations, and grants combine to cover the cost lessons year-round.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

RiverFest: Celebrate the St. Mary's River!

Celebrate the St. Mary’s River with kayaking, song, entertainment, and educational exhibits at RiverFest 2010 on Saturday, September 25 at Historic St. Mary’s City!

Festivities will take place from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and all activities are free! Discover what you can do in your own backyard to keep our waterways and shoreline healthy. Local vendors will be on hand to discuss solar energy, sustainability, rain barrels, and rain gardens. Take home a copy of the 40-page home conservation guide available free at RiverFest.

Join Senator Bernie Fowler for the annual River Wade-In, an informal check of water quality, at 2 p.m. See how deep you can go before you lose sight of your feet. Have a close encounter with some of the winged, finned, and furry characters you might meet in your neighborhood at birds of prey and touch tanks exhibits. Mutts Gone Nuts, a madcap variety show featuring amazing rescued dogs, will perform at 1 and 3. Stroll through outdoor mini-galleries, where regional wildlife artists will display their work, or paint a pumpkin and create your own work of art. Become a work of art by having your face painted or watch a balloon artist twist and turn a latex and air sculpture. Relax at water’s edge and enjoy regional talent including David and Joe Norris performing original tunes inspired by our land, waters, and history, Southern Maryland Traditional Music and Dance, and duet Indian Summer. At 4 p.m., Hot Jazz of D.C. will wrap-up the day with manouche gypsy jazz and swing.

The living history exhibits, including the tall ship Maryland Dove, and the St. John’s Site Museum at Historic St. Mary’s City will be open. Vendors will offer food and beverage for sale throughout the day. This event is sponsored by the St. Mary’s River Watershed Association and Historic St. Mary’s City, with support from The Boeing Company, St. Mary’s County Arts Council, Maryland State Arts Council, and more than thirty local businesses. For more information about RiverFest visit or or call 301-862-3517 or 800-SMC-1634.  To see a video about RiverFest, click here.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Ghosts of Sotterley Tours: “The Civil War at Sotterley – the Nation will rise again … and so will the dead!”

The Nation is divided by the Civil War and the death toll is rising. Danger lurks at every turn … especially for Confederate sympathizers, as were the inhabitants of Sotterley during this era.

On October 14, 15 and 16, the “Friends of Sotterley” acting troupe promises even more thrills and chills than last year. For the second year, the incomparable James LePore has written a script of intrigue, surpassing his prior stab at creative genius and the ultimately spooky! Under the direction of Dawna Diaz and featuring the technical wizardry of Ming Diaz, the entire creative team offers a seemingly real-to-life (and death) exposure to Sotterley Plantation during this most volatile time in history. This historic dramatization walking tour unfolds at various outdoor locations around the plantation, so dress appropriately for the weather. Guests are also invited to take the chill off by a roaring bonfire (weather permitting) and to enjoy treats available for purchase.

Reservations are required for this event.  Tours start every 10 minutes beginning at 7 PM.  New this year: “Save Time, Buy Online at!" The cost is $13 per person. Order online and receive a 10% off coupon for our Museum Shop!  This event may not be suitable for young children.  Phone orders: $14 per person, 301-373-2280.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

44th Annual St. Mary's County Oyster Festival

It’s that time of year once again. When, for oyster lovers, the St. Mary’s County fairgrounds near Leonardtown transform to nirvana. Oysters served up raw, scalded, grilled on the barbie, on bread, on the half shell, stewed, nude, cooked in savory sauces, in salads, even in desserts, just about every way imaginable and then some. They’re here for the eating and enjoying at the 44th Annual St. Mary’s County Oyster Festival. This year's festival will be held on Saturday and Sunday, October 16th and 17th at the County Fairgrounds on Route 5, just South of Leonardtown.

The idea of the oyster festival was first hatched back in 1967 when the Lexington Park Rotary Club was looking for a project in which the entire membership could involve itself for the good of all concerned. In addition to the member’s involvement, the festival had three main objectives:

-Promote a weekend of fun, food and fellowship in a rural atmosphere.

-Promote the bounties of life in this land of pleasant living, especially St. Mary’s County oysters, as an attraction to visitors.

-Provide funds to benefit the charities of the various participating service and civic organizations.

A little under a thousand visitors relished this first endeavor. Through the years, attendance steadily grew, as did the festival. Today the St. Mary’s Oyster Festival has become one of the Eastern Seaboard’s leading folk festivals. Good food, quality entertainment and two nationally recognized contests, the National Oyster Cook-off and the U.S. National Oyster Shucking Championship Contest are the elements that attract visitors from across the country each year.

“Oysters any way you like 'em” have always been the trademark of the festival, and this year is no different. If you can’t get enough, oysters will be available ‘to go’ in pints and quarts. Seafood lovers can also feast on a delicious range of specialties like scallops wrapped in bacon, fried clams, crab cakes, shrimp, fried fish, crab soups and seafood and clam chowders. For those that might be shy about all that seafood, other dishes will be available. Volunteers from numerous local non-profit organizations make the event run smoothly by cooking and serving most of the food, contributing to the funds available to charitable causes.

On Saturday, nine finalists from across the country will compete to determine the nation’s premier oyster chef in the National Oyster Cook-off. The three fresh oyster categories that the finalists will compete in are: Hors D'oeuvres, Soups and Stews, and Main Dishes. Their recipes were chosen from nearly 150 entries submitted by contestants from coast to coast. Visitors can watch the preparation and later sample the contestants' dishes.

The U.S. National Oyster Shucking Championship Contest, held both days, features the fastest men and women shuckers from around the country as well as the fastest local tidewater shuckers competing for cash prizes and a trip to Galway, Ireland to compete for the International Oyster Opening title. Shucking champions will begin their competition on Saturday with several heats held for both men and women contestants. Winners of the first round will compete on Sunday, with the women's champion and the men's champion competing head to head for the U.S. championship crown and the right to represent the United States in the International Oyster Shucking Competition.

A family-oriented festival, the St. Mary's event is also noted for its’ quality entertainment. Live entertainment will be provided at three locations on the festival grounds. There's something for the curious shoppers in the crowd as well. Two buildings will be dedicated to displaying and selling local arts and crafts, always a crowd pleaser, exhibitors are restricted to local arts and crafts to preserve the local flavor.

Entertaining and educational exhibits sponsored by county, state, and private community organizations participate in the festival. There is also a building on the grounds filled with exhibits including old farm and watermen's implements. These exhibits showcase and celebrate a time and place when men and women made their living working the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

In addition, this year The Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, DC (DCVAMC) is sponsoring an outreach/information event for recently returned combat Veterans on Saturday and Sunday, at the festival. All Veterans of all eras are invited to come join in for a day of family fun and camaraderie.

The gates are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and from 11:00 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $5 for adults, no charge for children 12 and under, and there is plenty of free parking. The festival events continue, rain or shine, since adequate buildings and tents are provided on the grounds. Proceeds from the Oyster Festival go to local charities.

The Festival has come a long way since 1967 when the stalwart bunch worked night and day to stage the first festival. The Rotary creed of “Service Above Self” has been at work in its most graphic state – not only by Rotarians but also by all those who participate.

For more information on the festival and a full schedule of events contact the Oyster Festival office at 301-863-5015, or write to P.O. Box 766, California, MD 20619, or visit the festival web site at

Monday, September 13, 2010

RiverFest on the St. Mary's River!

Discover Southern Maryland’s maritime heritage, the beautiful St. Mary’s River, and 101 many ways to protect and play in the tidewater environment at RiverFest on September 25 from noon - 5 p.m.! Discover how to tread lightly on this fragile landscape and learn about local flora and fauna. Relax at water’s edge as local musicians perform. Join a wade-in with Senator Bernie Fowler for a casual measure of water quality. See how deep you can go before you lose sight of your feet. The event, sponsored by Historic St. Mary’s City and the St. Mary’s River Watershed Association, is free!

For more information, visit or call 301-737-2903.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

FREE WineFest Pre-Event at Blue Wind Gourmet

FREE to the public: To kick off the Riverside WineFest at Sotterley 2010 event season, the public is invited on September 14 to a free Pre-Event Party hosted by Blue Wind Gourmet and owner Rob Plant, featuring savory gastronomic delights and wine tastings from two local wineries: Running Hare Vineyard and Port of Leonardtown Winery.

Running Hare Vineyard, located in Prince Frederick, offers a little bit of Tuscany and Napa in Southern Maryland, with regional and International award winners. Port of Leonardtown Winery, the newest winery on the local scene, made its first bottling run in April and is ready to introduce to its taste sensations!

Blue Wind Gourmet is located at 22803 Gunston Drive in California, MD.

Riverside WineFest at Sotterley 2010 will take place on October 2nd & 3rd from Noon-6 p.m. at Sotterley Plantation, so don’t forget to mark your calendars! Discounted tickets are available through September 24th at or by phone: 301-373-2280 or 800-681-0850.