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“Working Waterman’s Weekend” to open 2009 season

by Bill Powell

May 2, 2009 • 10 a.m.–4 p.m. • Deltaville Maritime Museum, Deltaville, Va. • Free - Public Invited. Watermen of the Chesapeake Bay Deltaville Maritime Museum & Holly Point Nature Park Museum & Park Opening Day. Chesapeake Bay Workboats & their Crews at the Pierwalk. On the hard (land) our Working Watermen. Antique Engine Display. Aquaculture Display. Coastal Conservation Assoc. & More. Speakers: Ken Smith, President VA Watermen’s Assoc. and Larry Chowning, Author

There will be something for everyone this Friday and Saturday, May 1-2, at Deltaville Maritime Museum and Holly Point Nature Park. The official start of the museum’s warm weather season expands this year into their First Annual Working Waterman’s Weekend with both land and water exhibits.

On Saturday, “Willis Wilson Day,” all museum facilities will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Museum Galley will be open with barbecue, hot dogs and hamburgers, tea and lemonade. The park will be open from dawn until dusk as it is every day. This will be a rain or shine event.

This year for the first time, the museum has actively recruited local working watermen to display their boats at the museum Pierwalk, and to talk to folks about their work. Watermen will arrive at the pier between 2 and 5 p.m. on Friday, May 1. Visitors are welcome to come “walk the walk.”

The museum and park will close at 5 p.m. on Friday for a private function for museum members.

On Saturday, all land and water activities will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. At 10:30 a.m., on the museum’s entrance steps, a ceremonial ribbon-cutting celebrating the museum’s official opening and a tribute to the late Willis Wilson, a local waterman, will be held.

At 1 p.m., under the log canoe shed, Ken Smith of Heathsville, the president of the Virginia Watermen’s Association, will speak on the current state of the Chesapeake Bay fisheries and their effect on Bay watermen. Smith has promised to “tell it like it is” from the waterman’s viewpoint.

Prior to Smith’s speech, members of the Middlesex County Board of Supervisors will present Smith and the museum with a plaque declaring the first weekend in May “Working Waterman’s Weekend” in perpetuity.

Following Smith, local author and newspaperman Larry Chowning will amuse the audience with one of his wonderful stories relating the life and times of watermen past. Kaptain “no tellin’ what he’ll say” Krunch will introduce Larry. 

Activities on the Pierwalk will be an expansion of the museum’s “Living History” program. Along with the watermen and their boats, there will be an oyster shoal to hand tong; a soft-shell shedding tank; Wright skiffs and kayaks to paddle; the museum’s John Smith shallop replica “Explorer” for that 17th-century experience; and the museum’s future flagship, “F.D. Crockett,” on-hand with John England and his restoration volunteers.

Delta Marine Construction and Brian Fletcher, builders of the museum’s beautiful Pierwalk, also will be there to offer information.

On the “hard” (land), the “working waterman” theme continues with a display of antique diesel engines by Henry Lackey; an exhibit of oyster aquaculture by Ken Spurlock; and a display of Virginia and world record fish by the Coastal Conservation Association.

Hank Norton will appear in his role as shallow water and light-tackle fishing guide with his saltwater fly-fishing gear and methods. 

Jimmy Meredith will be displaying Hammer Time Marine’s erosion control grasses and plants.

J&W Seafood will have a display of saltwater fishing tackle.

Larry Chowning will be on hand with his wonderful selection of books defining the Bay waterman. 

The museum itself has its best foot forward with new paint both inside and outside, expanded exhibits, new models and displays. A museum tent will be set up outside with information, a used book sale, and museum gifts.

All of Holly Point Nature Park’s nature walks and gardens will be open and should be in full bloom.

Urbanna businessman Bill Hight will be in the Tea House with his private collection of handcrafted workboat models and a display about the Bay Buyboat Association. Hight will be sharing the Teahouse with Cindy Lou Wheatley who will be showing off Tangier Island and its wonderful new museum. Also in the Tea House, Wade Self of Callao will display his intricate working model of a fish wier, sometimes called fish traps or pound nets, and Marine Electronics will exhibit its 2009 electronics.

Under the Boatshop shed will be an exhibit and demonstration of 17th-century navigation tools by the re-enactors from the Colonial Seaport Foundation, and ongoing demonstrations of such unfamiliar tools as the drawknife, spokeshave and foot adze by David Weller of Holly Hill.

Anyone who wishes to display fisheries-related exhibits or techniques, please leave a message at the museum (776-7200), or email Bill Powell at .

Deltaville Maritime Museum and Holly Point Nature Park, an all volunteer, non-profit organization, is located in Deltaville at 287 Jackson Creek Road. Signs for Saturday’s festival on Route 33 will direct motorists to the park.

To find out more about the museum and its events, or to become a member, visit and click “museumpark,” or Google Deltaville Maritime Museum. The park is open from dawn to dusk daily.

posted 04.29.2009

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