Drop anchor for sea glass, art, and history
The Eastern Shore Sea Glass and Coastal Arts Festival in St. Michaels, Maryland, has transformed itself into one of the most unique sea glass festivals in the country. Since the festival moved to a waterfront location at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) in 2019, the event has become an even more exciting atmosphere where festivalgoers can enjoy works of art, jewelry, and home décor created from sea glass and natural elements. The venue allows for more scenic river cruises, live music, food, and libations.
The annual festival, hosted by local shop Ophiuroidea, is held in early April. This indoor-outdoor tented event in the beautiful harbor town of St. Michaels features 70 artists from all over the East Coast who share their love of sea glass and art.
Kim Hannon, owner of Ophiuroidea and organizer of the annual festival, says, "I love co-hosting the event with the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. CBMM’s 18-acre waterfront campus offers plenty of room and amazing views and exhibits, in addition to what the festival offers.”
With live music, sea glass jewelry, coastal arts, and great food, there’s plenty of fun all weekend. Saturday is the busiest day at the festival, when sea glass enthusiasts search out the best new pieces, and Sunday is more leisurely. Take a break to sample the local libations at Eastern Shore Brewing, St. Michaels Winery, and Lyon Distilling Company.
“We’re delighted to host the Sea Glass Festival at CBMM,” commented CBMM President Kristen Greenaway. “Our numerous indoor and outdoor spaces lend themselves very well to festivals, and the festival also helps introduce a potentially new visitor to CBMM’s mission and vision.”
The Sea Glass Festival features more than 70 artisans who exhibit and sell coastal and sea-glass related jewelry, home décor, art, and more. The festival also includes educational lectures about sea glass and its history along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. Miles River cruises aboard CBMM’s 1920 buyboat Winnie Estelle are offered throughout the two-days.
There are beachcombing exhibits in CBMM’s Van Lennep Auditorium, including sampling of the different types of finds discovered by those who seek to preserve the history of the Chesapeake region by collecting fragments of its past. From shark teeth and other 20-million-year-old Miocene-era fossils, through Victorian doll parts and marbles, to modern plastic toys and marine debris found today, the Chesapeake Bay holds history, treasures and trash alike to be discovered by beachcombers who search its disappearing shorelines.
About St. Michaels
St. Michaels, Maryland, is a historic waterfront town in Talbot County whose origins date from the birth of the colonies and which is nestled along the beautiful Miles River, located in the heart of the Chesapeake Bay. In the early 1800s, the harbor port served as a shipbuilding town and a center for the oystering and crabbing trades. In the mid-nineteenth century, steamboats brought excursionists from Baltimore to the town, and summer guest cottages opened for weeklong rentals beginning in the 1880s.
The town’s picturesque setting has earned it national attention as one of the best small towns in America. Don’t miss the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, located on the site of a former seafood-packing house and cannery, and home to the Hooper Strait Lighthouse.
The idyllic town has walkable streets filled with great shops and restaurants. This year the festival will have Phillips Wharf Environmental Center shucking their locally farmed oysters as a fundraiser. Aquaculture and oyster farming is a state wide initiative to improve the water of the Chesapeake Bay. The festival also hosts several other food and beverage vendors for a quick way to grab a snack.
While in town, try the brick-oven pizza and mouthwatering meatballs at Ava’s Pizzeria, or stop by Gina’s Cafe for her famous fish or crab tacos with one of her signature margaritas. For a casual spot to eat local oysters, check out Awful Arthur’s Seafood Company, and for fine dining, reserve a table at 208 Talbot. There are plenty of great places to stay, from economy lodgings to the Inn at Perry Cabin, with a spa, tennis, golf, and sweeping views of the Miles River.
Beachcombing around St. Michaels
Talbot County, Maryland, is one of the oldest centers of European settlement in the New World and Talbot County’s long history has always been linked to the water that surrounds it. There are more than 600 miles of tidal shoreline, the most of any county in the United States. Public beaches and parks along the river and other locations along the Chesapeake Bay offer great beachcombing for driftwood, shells, sea glass, and more. Be sure to take a trash bag with you to collect trash while you’re treasure hunting.
This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine January/February 2019 issue.