ST. MICHAELS — The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum hosted the 10th annual Watermen’s Appreciation Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 11.
The day featured a boat docking contest, steamed crabs and Eastern Shore style pickings, live music, beer, family activities and more.
Made possible by hundreds of museum volunteers and members from the Talbot Watermen’s Association, the fundraising event attracted about 3,000 people for a day of deep appreciation of the area’s watermen and their families.
“... As always we’re honored to be a part of this,” said Kristen Greenaway, CBMM president. “Our role here is to preserve the cultural heritage of the Bay, and how wonderful that we are doing it with a living group of people...these fabulous men and women have the opportunity to tell their story and to be able to do so on our campus is quite, quite wonderful.”
Each year several watermen are recognized and awarded numerous official citations from Gov. Larry Hogan’s office and a handful of elected state officials for their longstanding service and commitment to the industry.
Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherfordwas joined by U.S. Rep.Andy Harris, R-Md.-1st; state Sen. Addie Eckardt, R-37-Mid-Shore; Del. Johnny Mautz, R-37B-Talbot; Department of Natural Resources Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio; Talbot County Council President Corey Pack and Councilmen Pete Lesher and Chuck Callahan as well as Talbot Watermen’s Association President Jeff Harrison, among others.
This year’s honorees were Russell Dize, Barney Kastel, Tim Kastel and the late Wendell Lednum, whose family was present to receive recognition.
The Kastels were honored for providing 45 years of service with their marine supply business to Chesapeake Bay commercial and recreational boat owners and for their “dedicated efforts advocating for the rights of Maryland’s watermen.”
Dize was honored for his longstanding commitment in advocating for watermen. Hogan appointed Dize to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, and Dize also serves on the Tidal Fisheries Advisory Commission, which advises DNR on related rules and regulations. He has served on many related commissions as well.
Dize said the Hogan administration and DNR “opened up resources for watermen to open up and talk to state officials without being looked down upon.”
“Our state officials under the Hogan administration have been wonderful working with,” he said, saying they remembered what can be found on the Great Seal of the State of Maryland: a farmer and a fisherman.
“I’m representing watermen all the time... I do it to preserve our way of life,” Dize said later on. “I’ve had a great life, I graduated St. Michaels High School, worked on the water, I’m so happy to be able to represent the watermen. This award means just a little bit of payback.”
Lednum passed away in 2011 at the age of 55. Born in Tilghman, he attended St. Michaels High School and worked as a waterman. Lednum was a life member of the Tilghman Volunteer Fire Company and was a founding member and vice president of the Talbot Watermen’s Association.
Rutherford praised the late Wendell Lednum for “uniting Talbot County watermen to work together for the good of all watermen in Maryland.”
Harrison also said the Talbot Watermen’s Association scholarship given to the son or daughter of a waterman was named in Lednum’s honor, the Wendell Lednum Memorial Scholarship Fund.
Also, Greenaway accepted three official citations on behalf of the CBMM for “outstanding service” and for “preserving our rich history and heritage.”
“This is really special, we’re thrilled,” Greenaway said later on. “We’ve got an incredible staff here, for every single member of the museum and our volunteers and our board, for our members to be honored and respected is very heartwarming.”
Harrison praised the Hogan administration and DNR officials for their positive and productive relationship with the area’s watermen.
“80% of watermen are on this side of the Bay and it seems like everything is dictated to us from the other side so we appreciate everything that the governor has done, especially the two vetoes this year, even though it’s been overwritten already, the letters that he (Hogan) sent pretty much hit the spot of what is going on so we are proud to have you (Rutherford) and him there,” Harrison said.
“...As long as we’re in office; we’re in Annapolis, you’ll have friends in Annapolis. We do represent our state,” Rutherford said. “We recognize the importance of the history and the importance to its heritage of our state.
Kyle Poore, Brackish Life owner, awarded $500 to the Talbot Watermen’s Association, saying he began the Chesapeake Bay apparel company “as a way to focus on the watermen and what they do and keep them alive.”
Beginning around noon was the event’s “watermen’s rodeo” boat docking contest on the Miles River near the museum’s 1879 Hooper Strait Lighthouse. Spectators packed bleachers and stood on their tiptoes to catch glimpse of watermen competing to dock their boats as fast as possible.
First place contest winners were as follows: for large boat singles John Ashton with “Miss Julie” ranked first at a time of 34.14 seconds and in the shoot out round Kenny Heath with “Thomas Jayden” took first at 31.52 seconds. In small singles, Derrick Hoy with “Crusher” took first at 25.70 seconds and in the shoot out round Jamie Marshall with “Heather Nicole” ranked top at 24.68 seconds. Danny Haddaway with “No Name” won small teams at 27.56 seconds and Kenny Heath with “Thomas Jayden” won large teams at 38.51 seconds.
For more information about the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, visit cbmm.org.