Bottom County Festival Showcases Classic St. Mary’s Style

Saturday, April 23 marked a day full of classic St. Mary’s fun as the first annual Bottom County Festival at Chancellor’s Point kicked off with frisbees flying, t-shirt dyeing, and music playing. Sponsored by the Chancellor’s Point Club with help from Historic St. Mary’s City and Student Government Association Programs Board, the event was created not only to show off the beautiful area of Chancellor’s Point, but also to bring St. Mary’s students together for what they do best: hanging out in the sun.

Named after the nickname of St. Mary’s County as being the “bottom county” of Maryland, as well as a nod to past generations of St. Mary’s College who used to host music festivals titled the Bottom County Festival in the 1970’s, the event truly exemplified everything about St. Mary’s College culture.

Senior Megan Knipp who sits on the Executive Board of the Chancellor’s Point Club stated that the club members agreed that the name of the festival “was a good representation of what the club and Chancellor’s Point is about: getting back to our roots, both figuratively and literally. The club is about enjoying and respecting what nature has to offer.”

Not only was the event all about fun in the sun, but many other clubs and organizations set up booths in order to show their support as well as show off their own activities. The Campus Farm handed out free samples of their freshly grown kale, the Grilling Club continuously supplied free hamburgers and hotdogs throughout the event, Yera Dé Herbal Teas was taking “Earth Day Pledges” from visitors, the workers from the waterfront brought down kayaks for all to enjoy, and the Windsurfing Club gave out free windsurfing lessons.

“The weather was absolutely gorgeous and everything was very St. Mary’s laid back,” said senior Megan Tawes, who attended the festival. “I had a friend visiting and it was the perfect event to take her to in order to show what St. Mary’s if all about.”

The idea for the Bottom County Festival has been in the works for over a year. Brought up by a past alumnus Mike Benjamin ’09, who sat on the committee last year, the club agreed that hosting an event at the Chancellor’s Point site would be a perfect opportunity to show the St. Mary’s community what the site is all about. “Will Eaton [senior and Chancellor’s Point liaison], with the help from the club members and volunteers, put a good amount of time setting it up,” said Knipp. “The logistics were not easy to figure out. He deserves most of the credit for the festival.”

Along with being able to take the 30-minute walking trail down to Chancellor’s Point through Historic St. Mary’s City, students were also able to grab a ride down from Daugherty-Palmer Commons on one of the volunteer-run shuttles running straight to Chancellor’s Point, as well as taking part in a bike trip to the site organized by senior Aaron French.

Many students also visited the site in order to support and hear some of their fellow peers play music, including Tilapia Friday, DJ Graceland, and Three Man River Band.

Artists and jewelry makers had a venue to try to sell their work, frisbee enthusiasts had large grassy areas to throw around the disc or play Ultimate pick-up with friends, and by the day’s end most festival-goers had colorful hands due to either the tie-dye or face painting stations.

“I had a great time at the Bottom County Festival,” said sophomore Andy Krzys. “It was a lot of people relaxing in the sun together and having fun.”

Chancellor’s Point club members are hoping to continue the Bottom County Festival as an annual tradition in years to come. “I hope this year was the first of many more Bottom County Festivals at Chancellor’s Point,” said Knipp. “It is up to the underclassmen to carry on the tradition, and I know they are more than capable. Next year is going to be even better! And I will definitely be there to see it.”


Woodland Discovery Day Celebrates History of the Yaocomaco Indians

A demonstration on the creation of arrowheads and other tools. (Photo by Katie Henry)
A demonstration on the creation of arrowheads and other tools. (Photo by Katie Henry)
On Saturday, Sept. 11, students and visitors alike came to Historic St. Mary’s City to experience the Woodland Indian Discovery Day, a day of activities devoted to the history of the Yaocomaco tribe.

The Yaocomaco were a part of the Eastern Woodland Indians, and were the first group whom the Maryland settlers made contact with.

During the event, which has been going on since at least 1984, guests both old and young were able to discover how Woodland Indians such as the Yaocomaco were able to live comfortably off all of the natural resources around them.

There were various demonstrations, such as shaping canoes with fire, curing deerskins, making clay beads, and building Indian houses.

Guests were invited to take their turn at many of the tasks as well, trying out the skills that the Woodland Indians used to support their way of life.

“A lot of people enjoy watching and being a part of the traditional Native American dancing and songs”, said Coby Treadway, supervisor of the Historic St. Mary’s City Museum. “[I like] having all the different presenters with all their different skills, and watching them teach other people.”

The day proved to be a positive experience for many people, including St. Mary’s students.

“[Woodland Indian Discovery Day] worked as a fifth hour activity, and I’ve always been interested in learning more about the Native Americans from this area,” said First-year Nick Cook, “so it was a great opportunity to attend.”

The event ended at about 5 p.m., leaving its visitors happy and satisfied with all that they learned during the day.
It was both entertaining and educational, and needless to say, a success.

New Chancellor’s Point Projects: A Plan to ‘Get Credit for Time Outside’

Students are currently working to restore Chancellor’s Point, a 66 acre property owned by Historic St. Mary’s City. (Photo Submitted by Katie Krieger)
Students are currently working to restore Chancellor’s Point, a 66 acre property owned by Historic St. Mary’s City. (Photo Submitted by Katie Krieger)

Chancellor’s Point is a 66-acre property off of Rosecroft Lane that belongs to Historic St. Mary’s City (HSMC). Several College students are currently working to restore the property so that it can be opened to the public.

A wide variety of projects are planned, including restoring an old building on the waterfront, putting in extensive gardens based on the local ecology, and creating a space for a local immersion program where students could live on the property instead or in addition to studying abroad and receive credit for work done there.

“It started first on a trip to Easter Island,” said Mike Benjamin ’09. After the Leave No Trace study tour, “Maggie O’Brien contacted me to talk about ways that we could further Leave No Trace programming…She suggested this site and so I kind of chased after it.” At the end of his St. Mary’s Project, Benjamin proposed a local immersion program. He brought the proposal to HSMC, the joint advisory group, and Maggie O’Brien. He was hired under contract by the state to continue the program after he graduated.

“There aren’t that many opportunities to get credit for time outside in a university setting,” Benjamin said. “We want this to be something that becomes part of the curricula for the college.” The hope is that it will also involve community members.

One of the first projects on the site will be to restore the waterfront building and transform it into a simple nature education center. “It’s in such bad shape that we’re just trying to stabilize it and secure it and keep the outdoors from the indoors. With what we have we can make a useful educational space,” said Benjamin. Due to budget constraints, “it’s not going to have the sort of green or LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] ideals we’d like it to have.”

Several other projects are currently in motion. Senior Cheryl Corwin has been working with professor Kate Meatyard to create raised beds made up of native plants. “We’re planning to have a nursery so that we can sell plants as well as use them to replant…in the future,” she said. The gardening project came out of, “this amorphous idea to plan out the landscape according to the cultural significance of the plants here.”
“Students who will hopefully be living on site can take care of them,” said Chris Madrigal ’09.

In addition, Rachel Clement ’08, and Madrigal, who are both enrolled in the MAT program, are working on the sustainable education aspects of the site. Their focus is on the community, and they hope to use the site to give, “everyone around a place to learn and teach sustainable living,” said Clement.

Those involved in the project recently formed a Chancellor’s Point Club.

“We realized that we were [almost] all upperclassmen,” said Corwin, one of the club members. For it to work, “We needed strong campus community support. Plus, we just wanted to get the word out that there’s all this opportunity,” she said.

On a recent trip opened to all interested students, over forty people showed up to tour the property and learn about the planned restoration. Several more put their names on a list for anyone interested in receiving more information.

The Chancellor’s Point Club will begin to have regular meetings in the upcoming semester. Those interested in the project can find more information on the Chancellor’s Point blog at

HSMC Celebrates Fifth Annual RiverFest

Students with the St. Mary’s River Project brought the terrapin from Schaefer Hall to RiverFest 2009 along with a variety of other aquatic organisms.
Students with the St. Mary’s River Project brought the terrapin from Schaefer Hall to RiverFest 2009 along with a variety of other aquatic organisms. Photo By Brendan O’Hara

On Sunday, Sept. 27, about 800 members of the College and surrounding community gathered in Historic St. Mary’s City for the fifth annual RiverFest. From noon to 6, attendees were able to enjoy activities from skipjack rides to pumpkin painting and birds of prey demonstrations as well as the Historic St. Mary’s City museum.

The day included a wade-in with former Maryland State Senator Bernie Fowler, where over fifty participants waded into the St. Mary’s River until they could no longer see their feet. There were live performances, including Byzantine Top 40 and a middle eastern dance troupe. Younger participants enjoyed balloon animals, pumpkin painting and face painting. This year, a paddle-in was held for the first time, with participants launchin off from Great Mills and kayaking down to Historic St. Mary’s City.

The St. Mary’s River Project (SMRP) had a table where they displayed several different organisms. “Kids came past and we talked to them about the different organisms and about pollution,” said Alexia Gay, one of the current leaders. “We also handed out information about our program. At the same time, we had a team down at the water doing an interactive Seine for the kids, showing them the live organisms caught.”

Students from the St. Mary’s Environmental Action Coalition, Eco-House, and Tri-Beta also had tables at the event.

“This year’s RiverFest was awesome,” said Professor Elaine Szymkowiak, who helped organize the event. “We had a great turnout, with over 800 community members in attendance. After a rainy start on Sunday morning, the sun broke through the clouds and it was a beautiful day to celebrate the St. Mary’s River.”

RiverFest 2009 was sponsored by the St. Mary’s River Watershed Association (SMRWA). SMRWA, “really works hard to preserve the river and its resources and to educate citizens and help them appreciate the river,” said Professor Bob Paul, who is the SMRWA’s Vice President.

For the first three years, RiverFest was held at the Chesapeake Bay Field Lab on St. George’s Island. “Although it was a good site…it was too small for us,” said Paul. Last year, the festival was moved to Historic St. Mary’s City, its current location.

RiverFest was created because, “We thought that we needed a free community event that would be entertaining but also get information out to the community,” said Joe Anderson, the President of the St. Mary’s River Watershed Assosiation. “The St. Mary’s River is beautiful. It’s hard to tell that there’s anything wrong with it.”

This year’s RiverFest took a year to plan. SMRWA’s Executive Director Bob Lewis and staff member Lindsay Tempinson led the planning and were helped by SMRWA board members and community volunteers.

Next year, RiverFest may include boat races, “possibly a kayak race and a cardboard boat race for kids,” said Szymkowiak. “For the cardboard boat race, community organizations such as the scouts would have several weeks to build their boat and enter it in the competition. We hope to expand the number of exhibits and increase our sponsorships.”

Recreated Chapel Unlocked in St. Mary’s City

College students and St. Mary’s residents gather to watch the unlocking of the recreated historic Roman Catholic chapel in St. Mary’s City. (Photos By Brendan O’Hara)
College students and St. Mary’s residents gather to watch the unlocking of the recreated historic Roman Catholic chapel in St. Mary’s City. (Photos By Brendan O’Hara)

On Sunday, Sept. 20, the recreated Roman Catholic brick chapel at Historic St. Mary’s City was ceremonially opened to the public. Governor Seymour locked the chapel in 1704, intending that it never again be used as a place of worship.

St. Mary’s City, founded by the Calvert family, was valued as an experiment in religious toleration. “Religion determined who you were, who you married, who your friends were, your chances of political freedom and economic success, your very existence,” said Silas D. Hurry, Historic St. Mary’s City’s Curator of Collections and Archeology Laboratory Director.

According to Douglas Horhorta, a site manager for Historic St. Mary’s City, the doors of the Catholic Church were closed in 1704 to ensure that the colonists’ offerings did not go to the Catholic Church. “A lot of it’s about money,” he said. Calvert’s experiment in religious toleration had ended.

Excavations beginning in 1988 revealed the foundation of the brick chapel. “The foundation was massive by 17th century Chesapeake standards,” said Hurry.
The width and depth of the foundation suggested the building was about 23 feet tall at the eaves. Further excavation uncovered shards of glass, flat roof tiles, traces of plaster, and special stucco-like bricks. Archeologists then turned to other examples of chapels in order to determine a pattern for their design and construction, but this proved to be difficult.

“Given the ever tenuous position of Roman Catholics in England, it seems likely that there was an attempt to leave as little paper trail as possible,” said Hurry.
There is but one modern description of the chapel, and there are no surviving Catholic churches built in 17th century England. According to Hurry, much of the actual archeology to understand the building is the fruit of SMCM students in the archeological field school program.

After the ceremony, artifacts from the chapel excavations were on display and light refreshments were served.

The chapel will be open to the public during museum hours, and an interpretive pavilion is expected to be open to the public in summer 2010.

Capital Design Advisory Prepares Community for Anne Arundel Replacement

The site proposal will highlight the Historic City’s Middle Street, which lies beneath old Anne Arundel.
The site proposal will highlight the Historic City’s Middle Street, which lies beneath old Anne Arundel.

The Capital Design Advisory (CDA) Committee held an open house on Aug. 13th and a public meeting on Aug. 19th, to discuss the replacement of Anne Arundel Hall and the new Maryland Heritage Interpretive Center.

The meetings are intended to inform the community of the relationship between the College and Historic St. Mary’s City (HSMC) and how the prospective site plans will better serve the needs of both institutions. Additionally, the presentations describe how the site plans will foster joint educational programs and promote additional interaction as envisioned by the 1997 State legislation that formally affiliated the College and HSMC. “The buildings are a physical representation of the affiliation,” said Dr. Michael J. G. Cain, Director of the Center for the Study of Democracy.

According to the current site plan, the Anne Arundel replacement will house archaeological curation facilities for Historic St. Mary’s City and space for the Anthropology Department, International Languages and Cultures Department, the Museum Studies Program, the Center for the Study of Democracy and the Blackistone Room.
HSMC’s new interpretive center will replace the visitor’s center that is currently located off Rosecroft Road. It will include a theatre, permanent exhibit gallery and temporary exhibit space.
The new construction is intended to alleviate major challenges facing both HSMC and the College. Renewal of accreditation at HSMC is contingent upon construction of new facilities that meet the standards for archaeology and museum curation. In addition, storage is becoming a problem with an archive of five million artifacts.

The construction will also offer space to accommodate the College’s growing academic needs. The Museum Studies program already includes twenty-four students and is expected to grow with the newly established Martin E. Sullivan Scholars program. “Bringing together museum functions and academic functions will provide our students with experiences in and outside the classroom on a much more regular basis than is now the case,” said Anthropology Chair Julie King.

A major discussion that took place at the Aug. 19 meeting included the pros and cons of tearing down Anne Arundel Hall, built in 1950, versus renovating it. According to Chip Jackson, Associate Vice President of Planning and Facilities, the College had preferred keeping Anne Arundel from a historical and a sustainability standpoint. However, two studies concluded that 85-90 percent of the materials would need replacing and the building would not be energy efficient.

According to Faden, the feedback has been mostly positive. “Once they had an opportunity to learn about the careful planning for the siting of the project and the attention taken to protect the cultural resources, most members of the community favored the plan,” she said.

However, a few community members expressed dissatisfaction with the process. According to Jackson, they felt that periodic public meetings were not sufficient and that the public should be allowed input at every level of the decision making process. However, Jackson felt that was “unrealistic.”

The Committee will continue to work on the proposal with the campus community and is currently coordinating with the SGA and Faculty Senate on how to get as many people involved in the process. “Student engagement is very important to us, and we welcome students’ interest as we go through this planning process,” Jackson said.

O’Malley Celebrates Maryland Day

Elementary school students present flags of their counties (Photo by Brendan O'Hara)
Elementary school students present flags of their counties (Photo by Brendan O'Hara)

Standing at a sundrenched podium in Historic St. Mary’s City, Governor Martin O’Malley joined hundreds of his fellow Marylanders on Sunday to commemorate the state’s 375th birthday.

Though a strong wind whipped off of the St. Mary’s River and swept through the pages of the Governor’s statement, O’Malley remained composed as he delivered an alternatingly humorous and emotional address on the heritage of Maryland.

“We cannot afford not to preserve the beauty of this place,” he said as his speech reached its climax, acknowledging the need to fund HSMC despite the state’s ongoing budget crunch.

O’Malley was joined onstage by House Majority Leader and St. Mary’s Trustee Steny Hoyer, Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr., Washington Post Vice President-at-Large and Trustee Ben Bradlee, College President Maggie O’Brien, Executive Director of HSMC Regina Faden and President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation Richard Moe, among others.

Numerous local politicians and St. Mary’s administrators, professors and students were also spread throughout the crowd. All were gathered to celebrate Maryland Day, a legal holiday that observes the landing of the Ark and the Dove on St. Clement’s Island.

Appropriately, each speaker centered largely on the legacy of Maryland’s first colonists and St. Mary’s City.

“This is not only Maryland’s first capital, but this is also where the roots of democracy were first planted in Maryland; it’s where the roots of religious freedom were first planted in Maryland…These are concepts we still believe in and embrace,” Moe said.

Hoyer, who represents St. Mary’s County in the House of Representatives, described his district as, “the mother county, a county of so many firsts.”

In a linear retelling of the Ark and the Dove’s journeys to Maryland, Frank J. Russel – President of the St. Mary’s County Board of Commissioners – concluded by adding, “Thank God it turned out this way!”

The Maryland Day Ceremony’s speakers also took time to honor all those who have contributed to the preservation of HSMC. Descendants of the first Marylanders, members of The Society of the Ark and the Dove and present and former Historic St. Mary’s City Commissioners were asked to stand and receive applause. Bradlee, who is 2009’s Marylander of the Year, was also frequently acknowledged.

Moe honored both Hoyer and O’Malley. He described Hoyer as “indefatigable” in his support of HSMC and called O’Malley one of a group of politicians who “gets it.”

Former Executive Director of HSMC Martin Sullivan and Roger Hill were also presented with an award for their service.

Additionally, O’Brien announced the College’s Martin Sullivan Museum Scholars program, which is planned to launch in 2012. The program, which aims to provide students with an intensive program in Museum Studies, has already garnered 240,000 dollars in endowment funds.

After the ceremony, senior Perry Colvin said, “I think that it’s tremendous to see Marty Sullivan honored so well. It’s a boon to our school to have such a wonderful man associated with us for so long.”

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