Lower Shore Traditions

History and Purpose

Begun in 2002, the Lower Shore Traditions program is the Ward Foundation’s folklife and traditional arts program dedicated to researching, supporting, and interpreting the region’s rich cultural heritage – in collaboration with regional cultural communities and culture keepers.

As the home of the Lower Shore Traditions program, the Ward Foundation is a regional folklife center in the Maryland Folklife Network, itself a part of the Maryland State Arts Council‘s Maryland Traditions program. Lower Shore Traditions was founded in partnership with Maryland Traditions and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Fieldwork–including interviews, audio and video recordings, and documentary photography–conducted with cultural communities in the region fuels exhibits, lectures, workshops, events, and publications, and has formed the basis for partnerships with the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the Library of Congress American Folklife Center, the National Folk Festival, and beyond.

The variety of programming from LST engages audiences of all ages from the surrounding communities. Past initiatives include Pass It On: Cultural Traditions of the Lower Eastern Shore, a K-12 Curriculum and Activity Guide; and the popular Delmarva Cooks program featuring regional cooks who carry on the traditions of the area through their foodways.

New projects and initiatives are always in the works.

Current projects and initiatives include:

  • Delmarva Cooks:  Flavors of the Shore, a new food series in 2021 highlighting the traditional ingredients found in many of the Eastern Shore’s most recognizable dishes, as well as the culinary traditions of other communities that have made the Shore their home.
  • Chesapeake Traditions Today, is a 10-part radio and video series, created in partnership with the National Folk Festival and Delmarva Public Media, highlighting tradition bearers and traditional communities in the Chesapeake region.
  • The Delmarvalous Festival was a one-day folklife festival and decoy carving contest celebrating traditional lifeways and practices of the diverse communities of the Eastern Shore.
  • Lower Shore Traditions: Apart but not Alone, a research project aimed at learning about how culture keepers are carrying on traditions, and communities are staying connected, during the pandemic.
  • Lower Shore Traditions Archive The Ward Foundation maintains an archive of documents, recordings, and photographs created as part of the Lower Shore Traditions program. Researchers and other interested individuals can learn about archive contents and access by contacting the Ward Foundation.
  • Check back soon for more information.