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Fire and Ice Festival in Bethany Beach, DelawareFrom brand new arrivals like the National Folk Festival in Salisbury to old standbys like the Hard Crab Derby in Crisfield, here are 18 items to put on your calendar for 2018:

Jan. 26-28
Fire & Ice Festival
Bethany Beach, Del.
Put your long johns on and get your winter in gear at this first-time-ever weekend-long festival featuring ice sculptures, ice skating, warming stations, live music, and more.

Feb. 12
Frederick Douglass Bicentennial
Easton, Md.

This year marks the bicentennial of the birth of Douglass, who came into live a slave on Tuckahoe Creek in Talbot County and then grew into a writer, orator, and abolitionist of international renown. A top-notch Douglass re-enactor, the actor Bill Grimmette, is doing a national tour with a one-man show in honor of the bicentennial. This appearance at the Academy Art Museum is the first stop on that tour.

(Bonus events: The legacy of Douglass will also be a focus of the Juneteenth festivities in Easton on June 18–details here. And in past years, Easton has had a Frederick Douglass Day event in September. Presumably, that will be returning as well. Here is what last year’s schedule looked like.)

Feb. 23-24
National Outdoor Show
Golden Hill, Md.
The 73nd edition of this Eastern Shore classic will feature a sweet small-town beauty pageant, the World Championship of Muskrat Skinning, and lots of contests, activities, and demonstrations that add up to the real deal when it comes to the throwback culture of remote South Dorchester County. Details.
(Bonus event: On Sun., Feb. 25, the outdoor Crawfish Boil & Muskrat Stew Festival in downtown Cambridge caps off this big weekend. New this year: A Muskrat Leg Eating Contest! Not kidding. Details.

April 28
Eastern Shore of Virginia Garden Tour
Cape Charles, Va.
The 71st annual edition of this tour will focus on the Cape Charles area and include Eyre Hall, which is one of the best preserved plantation homes in all of the history-laden state of Virginia. The tour there will focus on gardens that rank among the oldest surviving colonial-era gardens in the country. Details.

Ward World Championship Decoy Carving on the Eastern Shore of MarylandApril 27-29
Ward World Championship Wildfowl Carving Competition and Art Festival
Ocean City, Md.
Much more than a competition, this decoy-carving weekend offers lots of demonstrations, classes, exhibits, dealers, auctions, kids’ activities, and more. Details.


May 3-6
Ocean City, Md.
Eastern Shore Road TripsIt may not say so officially on the calendar, but here on the Eastern Shore this humongous festival in the Inlet Parking Area marks the official start of the spring festival season. I have a friend who swears she can can do all of her Christmas shopping in the sprawling vendor tents. Plus, Trace Adkins is playing. Details.
(Bonus event: If you’re feeling been-there-done-that about Springfest, try Dover Days on Sat., May 5 instead. It’s a huge affair as well—more than 200 vendors—but the overall focus has more of a history and culture angle. Details.

May 26
Art & Music on the Farm
Machipongo, Va.
If you are a fan of old-school music, this Memorial Day weekend affair on the gorgeous grounds of the Barrier Islands Center will feature top regional talent in genres like gospel, bluegrass, chantey, and stringband. Nearly 50 artists and artisans are part of the deal as well. Details.

June 23-24
New Castle County Ice Cream Festival
Wilmington, Del.
If my math is right, this year marks the 40th birthday of “Delaware’s Largest Family Picnic.” Held at Rockwood Park & Museum in Wilmington, it’s been named a Top 10 Food Fest by USA Today, among many other honors. Lots of music, lots of vendors, and lots of food options in addition to the title attraction. Details.

July 14
Taste of Cambridge
Cambridge, Md.
Top restaurants compete in a Crab Cook-Off. You can buy a ticket that lets you sample the dishes and vote for winners. This all happens in the midst of a giant free block party full of music, kids’ activities, contests (including crab-picking), and more. Details. Currently, it’s 2017 info up there, but it will be updated soon enough.

July 21-27
Pony Week
Chincoteague, Va.
This will be the 93rd year of the traditional “Pony Swim” made famous in the children’s book and, later, Hollywood movie, “Misty of Chincoteague.” A whole week of activities surrounds the actual swim on July 25. If you go, be sure to go see the old “Misty” movie at the Island Theatre downtown. Details.

Ladybug Music Festival in Wilmington, DelawareLate July
Ladybug Music Festival
Wilmington, Del.
Think about music festivals in Delaware, and Firefly is sure to come to mind. But this hard-rocking “Celebration of Women in Music,” held across a number of different venues in Wilmington, is making a name for itself as well. Ladybug began as an obscure underground alternative to Firefly—hence, the name—but attendance has been growing steadily, from 300 in year one (2012) to upwards of 10,000 last year. The precise date of the 2018 festival will be announced soon. Details.
(Bonus event: If you are committed to joining the hordes at Firefly and nothing else will do, well, here is a link to info on that mid-June event.)

Blessing of the Combines in Snow Hill, Maryland

Aug. 4
20th Annual Blessing of the Combines
Snow Hill, Md.
This one-of-a-kind small-town block party should be great fun for just about everyone, but it will be even greater if you happen to have a youngster in your life who has a thing for oversized trucks. Farmers from all over the area bring their biggest combines into the heart of downtown Snow Hill while the town breaks out music, food, vendors, and more—yes, a preacher, too—to wish those farmers a safe and prosperous harvest season ahead.

Aug. 30-Sept. 3
Hard Crab Derby in Crisfield & Skipjack Races on Deal Island
Somerset County, Md.
The Derby is a sweet slice of Eastern Shore small-town bliss that includes a carnival, a parade, a boat-0docking battle, and competitions in crab cooking, crabpicking, and crab racing. Remote Deal Island is just a couple of necks up the way from Crisfield in Tangier Sound, and it is the site of a three-day affair that culminates in one of the two big Skipjack Race events on the Shore.
Details on the Hard Crab Derby (the info up there now is from 2017).

Details on the Skipjack Race (again, the info up there now is from 2017 info)

Dancers at National Folk Festival in Salisbury, MarylandSept. 7 to 9
The National Folk Festival
Salisbury, Md.

If I had to choose one and only one of these events to put on my calendar, this would be the winner. Downtown Salisbury will be hosting this affair in 2018, 2019, and 2020. Expected to draw more than 150,000 people from around the region and the country, the Folk Festival will feature seven stages of live music, some 350 craftspeople and artisans, and a wealth of dance, food, and family activities. Details.

Oct. 6
Chincoteague Oyster Festival
Chincoteague, Va.

Celebrate the arrival of another bivalve season at the event that lays a claim to being one of the oldest oyster festivals on Delmarva. The 46th annual edition of the event will be pretty much just like all of the ones that came before—hundreds of volunteers cooking and serving up oysters prepared every which way for a sellout crowd of 2,700. The same band, Island Boy, has been playing the event for more than 20 consecutive years. One word of advice: Buy tickets in advance. They will be all gone well in advance of the event.

Oct. 12-13
The Apple Scrapple Festival
Bridgeville, Del.
The unforgettable name isn’t the only great thing about this small-town affair. There will be hundreds of vendors, lots of music, a big scrapple recipe contest, and competitions in skillet tossin’, scrapple chuckin’, and more. Plus: The coronation of Little Miss Apple Scrapple!
Details (as of this writing, the details here are from 2017).

Oct. 27
Relaunch of the Bugeye Edna Lockwood
St. Michaels, Md.
For the past two years, experts at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum have been hard at work restoring the historic bugeye Edna Lockwood (1889) to her former glory. That work will be completed and celebrated at this Saturday afternoon affair, which will be a part of the museum’s annual OysterFest.
Details on the OysterFest event are here.
Details on the Edna Lockwood restoration are here—the museum has a done a great job chronicling the project on its website.

Downrigging Weekend in Chestertown, MarylandOct. 26-28
Downrigging Weekend
Chestertown, Md.
Now in its 18th year, this event has grown into one of the biggest annual gatherings of tall ships and wooden boats on the whole East Coast. Highlights include public sails, evening illuminations, and a fireworks show. The whole downtown area gets into the act with special art exhibits, lectures, performances and more.

––Posted on Jan. 2, 2018 by Jim Duffy





  • Wanda Cavey says:

    We attended the Chincoteague Oyster Fest last year. The atmosphere was nice but we won’t go again. Getting food was difficult because the lines were EXTREMELY long. What we did get was not the quality we expected. Some was over cooked, the steamed oysters were dry, there was no oyster stew, etc. They had clam chowder that was so bad we threw it out after one bite. The best food they had was the hot dogs and french fries. The lines were so long for the raw oysters and the salad bar that we never got any of those items.

    • Good afternoon Ms. Cavey,
      I am sorry to hear you were discouraged about your Chincoteague Oyster Festival.experience last year. Serving 2700 attendees does necessitate some wait time as our volunteers cook as fast as they possibly can and prepare the food to the best of their ability. The fact that you did not care for the chowder was a matter of personal preference since we had many people rave about it. Clam Chowder has been a festival favorite for many years. I will pass along your suggestion of Oyster Stew to the board for consideration. The Raw Bar and Salad Bar are indeed very popular items. As you can tell from the longevity of the festival and the fact that it sells out each year, it is a hugely popular event here on Chincoteague Island.
      If the Oyster Festival is not to your liking, I hope you will visit us again and try some of our other fun festivals held throughout the year. Visit to learn more.

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