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 will revisit some of the cultural traditions and community members represented at the Chesapeake Traditions program at the National Folk Festival in 2018, and we’ll learn about what tradition bearers are up to today. Chesapeake Traditions Today will also introduce you to new traditions and culture keepers, all representing communities and ways of life here on the Shore.

Listen to new episodes each Thursday morning on WSDL 90.7 (6:01 and 8:01 a.m.) starting July 2, 2020, and look for new videos here each week.

This project is produced by the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, Salisbury University and the National Folk Festival, with support from Maryland Traditions and the National Council for the Traditional Arts, in collaboration with Delmarva Public Media.


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 www.turtletracks.org, 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.