Maritime Heritage Festival set for Sunday


Delaware Seashore State Park will host the sixth annual Maritime Heritage Festival at the Indian River Life-Saving Station Museum from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, July 17. The festival brings history alive in unique ways; families can experience the rich history of the Delaware coast through crafts, games, prizes, food, music and demonstrations throughout the day.

The highlight of the festival will be the Breeches Buoy Rescue Demonstration, performed by park staff and active-duty Coast Guardsmen. They will fire a historic “Lyle Gun,” a line-throwing cannon used to fire a projectile attached to a rope to a boat or victim in distress. Lyle guns, used as the preferred rescue method of the U.S. Life-Saving Service, helped save lives from the late 19th century all the way until 1952.

This year’s festival will showcase three new or improved museum exhibits that were made possible through the National Park Service’s Maritime Heritage Grant Program. The Life-Saving Station was awarded $25,000 last year to put toward refurbishing the existing flag tower, restoring the 1914 Stieff piano and purchasing a custom-made reproduction of a Life-Saving Service beach cart.

Alongside the existing exhibits at the museum on Sunday will be a traveling exhibit from the Treasures of the Sea museum at Delaware Technical Community College’s Owens Campus in Georgetown.

The Treasures of the Sea exhibit features treasures recovered from the Spanish galleon Nuestra Senora de Atocha, which sank in a brutal storm off the coast of Florida on Sept. 6, 1622. The ship, bound from Havana, Cuba, to Seville, Spain, had been laden with treasure — gold, silver ingots, emeralds and jewelry — when it crashed on a coral reef. The search for its remains kept treasure-seekers hunting for 360 years.

Although the shipwreck was found in Florida, it has a Delaware connection. In the early 1980s, treasure hunter Mel Fisher, researcher Eugene Lyons and investor Melvin Joseph Sr. of Georgetown teamed up in and eventually recovered more than 1,000 silver bars, 180,000 silver coins and a number of bronze cannons from the shipwreck.

Today, more than $4 million in artifacts, including silver ingots and coins, bronze cannons, gold coins and chains, silver artifacts, deep green emeralds from South America and religious articles, are featured in the permanent display housed in the library building at Delaware Technical Community College in Georgetown.

Part of that exhibit will be featured at the Maritime Heritage Festival, which will also feature giveaways, presentations and activities for children, such as a treasure hunt in the sand.

The celebration will also feature guest speakers from DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation’s Cultural Resources office, the U.S. Life-Saving Service Heritage Association and Scott Ernst Custom Woodworks to discuss how the grant funds were used to complete the projects exhibit renovations.

There will be entertainment for all ages throughout the day, including storyteller and musician Matthew Dodd, who will return to perform “Songs & Stories of Old Sailing Days” while dressed in sailor garb, and a show of historic sea shanties and stories to entertain kids of all ages.

Between shows, visitors can check out displays and family-friendly activities from local museums, historical societies and maritime organizations.

The schedule for the day is as follows:

• Noon — Doors open, all exhibits and activities open, museum tours start. Matthew Dodd begins performance of “Songs of Old Sailing Days,” which is an interactive performance for all ages

• 1:30 p.m. — Guest speakers from the Office of Cultural Resources, the U.S. Life-Saving Service Heritage Association and Scott Ernst Custom Woodworks (which built the reproduction United States Life Saving Service beach cart exhibit).

• 2 p.m. — Activities and Matthew Dodd performance continue.

• 3 p.m. — Breeches Buoy Rescue Drill Reenactment

• 3:30 p.m. — Announcement of the raffle winners, with activities continuing until 4 p.m.

The schedule is subject to change, as weather might be a factor in some of the activities.

The activities will include a life-sized board game, “sailor tattoo” face painting, 19th century colonial games, a raffle and much more. Food will also be available for purchase, including crab cake sandwiches, fish tacos, and lobster rolls from SoDel Concepts’ Big Thunder Roadside Kitchen

The Indian River Life-Saving Station is located 3.5 miles south of Dewey Beach and 1.5 miles north of the Indian River Inlet Bridge on Route 1. Admission to the festival is free. For more information, contact the Indian River Life-Saving Station at Delaware Seashore State Park, at (302) 227-6991.

For more information on the Indian River Life-Saving Station, visit www.destateparks.com/park/delaware-seashore/life-saving-station.asp. For more information on the Treasures of the Sea at Delaware Tech, call (302) 259-6150 or visit www.treasuresofthesea.org.
By Kerin Magill

Staff Reporter

Delaware Seashore State Park will host the sixth annual Maritime Heritage Festival at the Indian River Life-Saving Station Museum from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, July 17. The festival brings history alive in unique ways; families can experience the rich history of the Delaware coast through crafts, games, prizes, food, music and demonstrations throughout the day.

The highlight of the festival will be the Breeches Buoy Rescue Demonstration, performed by park staff and active-duty Coast Guardsmen. They will fire a historic “Lyle Gun,” a line-throwing cannon used to fire a projectile attached to a rope to a boat or victim in distress. Lyle guns, used as the preferred rescue method of the U.S. Life-Saving Service, helped save lives from the late 19th century all the way until 1952.

This year’s festival will showcase three new or improved museum exhibits that were made possible through the National Park Service’s Maritime Heritage Grant Program. The Life-Saving Station was awarded $25,000 last year to put toward refurbishing the existing flag tower, restoring the 1914 Stieff piano and purchasing a custom-made reproduction of a Life-Saving Service beach cart.

Alongside the existing exhibits at the museum on Sunday will be a traveling exhibit from the Treasures of the Sea museum at Delaware Technical Community College’s Owens Campus in Georgetown.

The Treasures of the Sea exhibit features treasures recovered from the Spanish galleon Nuestra Senora de Atocha, which sank in a brutal storm off the coast of Florida on Sept. 6, 1622. The ship, bound from Havana, Cuba, to Seville, Spain, had been laden with treasure — gold, silver ingots, emeralds and jewelry — when it crashed on a coral reef. The search for its remains kept treasure-seekers hunting for 360 years.

Although the shipwreck was found in Florida, it has a Delaware connection. In the early 1980s, treasure hunter Mel Fisher, researcher Eugene Lyons and investor Melvin Joseph Sr. of Georgetown teamed up in and eventually recovered more than 1,000 silver bars, 180,000 silver coins and a number of bronze cannons from the shipwreck.

Today, more than $4 million in artifacts, including silver ingots and coins, bronze cannons, gold coins and chains, silver artifacts, deep green emeralds from South America and religious articles, are featured in the permanent display housed in the library building at Delaware Technical Community College in Georgetown.

Part of that exhibit will be featured at the Maritime Heritage Festival, which will also feature giveaways, presentations and activities for children, such as a treasure hunt in the sand.

The celebration will also feature guest speakers from DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation’s Cultural Resources office, the U.S. Life-Saving Service Heritage Association and Scott Ernst Custom Woodworks to discuss how the grant funds were used to complete the projects exhibit renovations.

There will be entertainment for all ages throughout the day, including storyteller and musician Matthew Dodd, who will return to perform “Songs & Stories of Old Sailing Days” while dressed in sailor garb, and a show of historic sea shanties and stories to entertain kids of all ages.

Between shows, visitors can check out displays and family-friendly activities from local museums, historical societies and maritime organizations.

The schedule for the day is as follows:

• Noon — Doors open, all exhibits and activities open, museum tours start. Matthew Dodd begins performance of “Songs of Old Sailing Days,” which is an interactive performance for all ages

• 1:30 p.m. — Guest speakers from the Office of Cultural Resources, the U.S. Life-Saving Service Heritage Association and Scott Ernst Custom Woodworks (which built the reproduction United States Life Saving Service beach cart exhibit).

• 2 p.m. — Activities and Matthew Dodd performance continue.

• 3 p.m. — Breeches Buoy Rescue Drill Reenactment

• 3:30 p.m. — Announcement of the raffle winners, with activities continuing until 4 p.m.

The schedule is subject to change, as weather might be a factor in some of the activities.

The activities will include a life-sized board game, “sailor tattoo” face painting, 19th century colonial games, a raffle and much more. Food will also be available for purchase, including crab cake sandwiches, fish tacos, and lobster rolls from SoDel Concepts’ Big Thunder Roadside Kitchen

The Indian River Life-Saving Station is located 3.5 miles south of Dewey Beach and 1.5 miles north of the Indian River Inlet Bridge on Route 1. Admission to the festival is free. For more information, contact the Indian River Life-Saving Station at Delaware Seashore State Park, at (302) 227-6991.

For more information on the Indian River Life-Saving Station, visit www.destateparks.com/park/delaware-seashore/life-saving-station.asp. For more information on the Treasures of the Sea at Delaware Tech, call (302) 259-6150 or visit www.treasuresofthesea.org.