The Delaware Lighthouse Festival is this weekend in Lewes. Many former keepers and their descendants will be on hand with personal artifacts and mementoes, telling the stories that make up Delaware's rich lighthouse history.
Despite being a small state, Delaware has a surprisingly long coastline. So, it may or may not surprise people to know that the nation’s First State features more than 20 lighthouses — some active, some not — that have guided and warned ships for more than 100 years.
So, to celebrate Delaware’s rich lighthouse history, the Delaware River and Bay Lighthouse Foundation will be holding the Delaware Lighthouse Festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 11 on the Green at the Lewes Terminal of the Cape May-Lewes Ferry.
Here are a few things to know before you go.
1 History comes alive
One of the highlights of the festival will be the stories and memorabilia that former keepers and their descendants are bringing to the event. Special guests are traveling from near and far so the public can get a better idea of what lighthouse keeping was like for the people who dedicated their lives to it.
Penny Czerwinski, of Townsend, and Bob Savage, of Milford, both grandchildren of former keepers, are bringing the personal artifacts of their grandfathers. Savage has an original incandescent oil vapor lamp that was once the beacon for the Harbor of Refuge Lighthouse while Czerwinski has station log books and the personal journals from the Mahon River and Reedy Island lighthouses.
One of the more modern keepers, Warren Walls, of Lewes, will also be on hand, discussing the waning days of manned lighthouses that he experienced as a memer of the U.S. Coast Guard.
Even more descendants and keepers will also be bringing personal belongings, handwritten words, uniforms and models and will be on-hand to discuss and showcase these artifacts all day.
2 Festival fare
The private journals and records of former lighthouse keepers seem to point to a common theme: food. Many entries record “the biggest bass caught yet,” recipes, the first catches of the season or descriptions of the many fish that graced the tables of keepers.
In honor of the lighthouse keeper’s diet, several participating restaurants have a few sea-worthy offerings, from Nage Bistro’s crab cake sandwich and Bethany Blues BBQ’s Walk the Plank Pulled Pork Sandwich to Old Bay Steakhouse and Seafood’s smoked gouda crab dip and On the Rocks Bar and Grill’s Del Bay Wings, there will be something for every keeper’s taste buds Saturday.
3 Keeping the kids entertained
Festival organizers have not left out the little ones. There will be a bevy of games and activities, some free, for kids of all ages to experience. A few things like the bouncie house, spin art, plinko, alien knockout and face painting have a nominal fee.
4 Ospreys finally get their names
A mated pair of ospreys, who have been residing at the Breakwater East End Lighthouse and raising their young while allowing themselves to be gawked at and photographed since 2005, will finally get names.
People have been submitting their suggestions and the winner will be announced during the official opening of the festival and the declaration of Delaware Lighthouses Day in Lewes.
5 Pick up a prize
In addition to food, history, kid’s activities, music and vendors, there are also be more than 30 prizes given away as part of a lighthouse preservation raffle. Spend $1 toward this goal and you could walk away with anything from gift certificates and merchandise to all kinds of pirate expeditions, personal photo shoots and motel stays. Everything was donated by local restaurants, merchants or festival vendors so some of the names will probably be recognizable, like Browseabout Books, Lighthouse Embroidery and Gifts, Sand Palace Motel, Pirates of Lewes Expeditions or Lewes Harbor Marina.