Chesapeake Traditions Today

Chesapeake Traditions Today is a 10-part series celebrating folklife of the Eastern Shore of Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay region. The series revisits some of the cultural traditions and community members represented at the Chesapeake Traditions program at the National Folk Festival in 2018, and shares stories about what tradition bearers are up to today. Chesapeake Traditions Today also introduces you to new traditions and culture keepers, all representing communities and ways of life here on the Shore.

Episodes aired Thursday morning on WSDL 90.7 during summer 2020.

This project was produced by the Ward Museum as part of its Lower Shore Traditions Program and the National Folk Festival, with support from Maryland Traditions and the National Council for the Traditional Arts, in collaboration with Delmarva Public Media. The Ward Museum’s Lower Shore Traditions program also received support from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority and National Endowment for the Arts. Thank you!

Episode 1: Nause-Waiwash Band of Indians

The Delmarva Peninsula (present day Delaware, and the Eastern Shores of Maryland and Virginia), includes the traditional homelands of the Lenape, Nanticoke, Nause-Waiwash, Assateague, Pocomoke, and Accohannock peoples—all of whom continue to carry on their ancestors’ legacies today. To kick off this new series on Chesapeake traditions, we’re highlighting and paying homage to a community of the region’s first peoples.

In episode one, meet Donna Wolf Mother Abbott, Chief of the Nause-Waiwash Band of Indians. Chief Donna will provide insight into the history and culture of her people, and the traditions and work carrying them into the future.

To learn more about the Nause-Waiwash Band of Indians, visit, or @TheNWBI on Facebook.

Episode 2: Skipjack Captains

Did you know Maryland has a state boat? It’s the skipjack – a two-sail bateau important in the history and development of the Cheasapeake’s oyster industry.

In episode two we meet two renowned skipjack captains from the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay – Harold “Stoney” Whitelock and Kermit Travers. Through them, learn about the iconic boat’s connection to the families and communities of the region.

Then, want to learn more about skipjack heritage? Listen to an extended clip with Capt. Stoney Whitelock thanks to our friends at Delmarva Public Media, and visit Skipjack Heritage.

Episode 3: Smith Island Cake

In today’s episode meet Janice Marshall of Smith Island, MD. Janice is a culture bearer in a long line of women who make what is today recognized as Maryland’s state dessert, the Smith Island cake. Learn more about this multi-layered confection and its possible history, and get ready to get hungry!

To learn more about Smith Island visit click here.

To try your hand at making Smith Island cake, check out this recipe from our friends at the Maryland Office of Tourism.

Episode 4: Scrapple

In today’s episode of Chesapeake Traditions Today meet Newell Quinton from San Domingo, near Sharptown, MD. Newell is a culture keeper carrying on the tradition of making scrapple. He does this using hogs he’s raised, and cast iron pots and techniques passed down over generations. It doesn’t get more farm to table than this!

Episode 5: The Gospel Quartet

For over 60 years, The Sensational Royal Lights have traveled throughout Delmarva to deliver their music ministry through quartet-style gospel music. In today’s episode of Chesapeake Traditions Today hear from three long-time members of this group that got its start in Cordtown, a small community near Cambridge, MD, and hear what inspires these Maryland Heritage Award winners today.

Episode 6: Picking Crab

“Hurricane” Hazel Cropper is a 16-time world champion crab picker, and is featured in the Guinness Book of World Records for the speed and volume of blue crab she can pick. Learn about this Crisfield, MD resident’s long connection to the Chesapeake Bay’s crabbing industry, and how she uses her talent to teach the “art” of crab picking today.

Episode 7: The Family Farm

Andy is a sixth-generation farmer, working the same land his ancestors did years ago, at Baywater Farms in Salisbury, MD. This family farm has become known for its heirloom and hydroponic vegetables, and it is an important part of the local farm-to-table movement. Learn about this occupational tradition-turned-business, which builds on centuries of farming ingenuity and tenacity shared by many family farms in the Chesapeake Bay region.

Episode 8: Decoy Making

This summer Maryland State Arts Council announced the 2020 cohort of Maryland Traditions Folklife Apprenticeship teams. Among these are master decoy maker and National Endowment for the Arts 2019 National Heritage Fellow, Rich Smoker (Marion Station, MD), and Rich’s old friend and new apprentice, Larry Beauchamp (Pocomoke City, MD). In this episode learn about Rich’s and Larry’s connections to the traditions of decoy carving and wildfowl hunting, and to the inspirational Eastern Shore landscape.

Episode 9: Working the Water

Capt. David Whitelock is a waterman whose crews sail on the Tangier Sound of the Chesapeake Bay. Learn about the challenges and joys of harvesting oysters and crab, and how the pandemic has affected those traditions important to generations of folks working the water.

Episode 10: Filipino Festival Traditions

Marianita Albano moved from the northern Philippines to the Eastern Shore of Maryland in the early 1970s. Her community of only a few Filipino immigrants has grown since then, and many families have brought, carried on, and adapted important Filipino cultural traditions to their new home. Among these is the Festival of Santo Niño de Cebú (Sinulog). In this episode of Chesapeake Traditions Today meet Marianita, and learn about the importance of this vibrant festival to the Filipino community of the greater Salisbury, MD region.