Thoughts on 3rd Friday – April 2018 edition

The beauty of having a blog is that I don’t have to be in any hurry to post what, to others, may be old news by now.

Yes, this month’s Third Friday is a hazy weekend past and normally about this time I would be starting my wrapup of the monthly Republican Club meeting. But since I don’t play as much in the political game (and I had a previous commitment anyway) I was someplace else tonight. (Apparently I missed the annual legislative wrapup this evening, but it doesn’t matter because I’m working on the real legislative wrapup called the monoblogue Accountability Project. What do you think I spent a good part of my weekend doing?)

Digression aside, on Friday evening the family and I went downtown for a little while to see what we could see.

Looking west down Main Street as the sun starts to sink on downtown Salisbury.

The parking lots were about full, but it didn’t seem like that translated into a lot of people on Main Street. It was a nice gathering, but I’ve seen wall-to-wall people down there, too.

The wares of Zockoll Pottery.

One business that has seemed to be down there month after month is Zockoll Pottery. Now I’m a little biased because I know Brent through church, but he’s quite the artisan and even tossed a little bit of clay while he was down there. His business is slowly recovering from a fire that damaged his studio around the holidays.

At the top of the Plaza hill looking east down Main Street.

As I strolled up Main Street to the top of the hill, it seemed to me the crowd was a little thinner. Granted, we arrived about 6:30 or so, thus the sun was going down and it was cooling off rapidly. Also, there’s been a bit of a change in the setup where the area that’s being closed off has increased to the first block of Market Street so the focus of Third Friday is geographically shifting a bit to the west.

This is the forgotten corner of Third Friday, down St. Peter Street.

The photo probably doesn’t do this justice, but this is where the bubbles were coming from. Sometimes there’s been a food truck down there but this is also where the Jaycees sell the beer. It’s an unusual setup to have such a large open container section since there are two blocks of space where people may imbibe.

The band of the month was a staple local cover band called Tranzfusion.

The musical choice was one of the more unusual ones – normally they don’t do a straight-ahead classic pop cover band. Normally they choose something in a more alternative or acoustic vein, but these guys kept a decent crowd nearby. Wasn’t completely my thing but that’s quite all right.

Back in the day Third Friday used to be more ambitious with multiple music groups on two or three stages, but in recent years they’ve settled on the single stage of the Plaza for music and maybe some other act (like a youth dance group) on the courthouse steps. One thing that I’m going to be curious about regarding downtown development is whether Third Friday will eventually be relocated to focus the music on the amphitheater that’s under construction – alas, that location doesn’t leave a lot of space for artisans unless they are placed across the river.

Not much was up on North Division Street this particular Third Friday.

The event that would make good sense based around the amphitheater is the “Fridays at Five” event (like the last one from 2017 that I attended in this North Division Street location.) That is a gathering where such a focal point would enhance the event. (The same goes for First Saturday, which I’ve always managed to miss. Half the time it’s held inside anyway.) I think there will be some events held in and around the amphitheater this summer as a dry run for the National Folk Festival.

Suzanah Cain, running for District 4 County Council, was one of several candidates at Third Friday. By the way, she’s not in the photo because she was circulating as a good politician would.

While Third Friday’s physical location lies just outside the district, both County Council District 4 hopefuls were pressing the flesh. I saw Josh Hastings out walking around, while I got to at least introduce myself to Suzanah Cain before I left. At the time she was standing with the guy in the ultimate catbird seat, Delegate Carl Anderton. (The third in the confab was one of my favorite Democrats, Sarah Meyers – so it was a reach across the aisle.) Also making his rounds was Clerk of Courts candidate Bo McAllster, who I saw for the second time in less than a week. He had his wife and two kids in tow.

One place I didn’t stop by and say hello was the Republican Women’s booth. (Honestly, I’m not sure which of the two local groups was there. I’m sure someone reading this would tell me and break my you-know-whats for not dropping in.) But this was while I was still walking with Kim – shortly after she stopped and I kept going until I got to the band – only to turn around and see she was talking to Carl Anderton, who I had seen a couple minutes earlier and said hello to walking by. (Turnabout is fair play, I suppose.)

Anyway, we checked out the scene and departed as things were already breaking down about a half-hour before the scheduled (but informal) 8:00 close of festivities. Seeing them bail early was the second part of the foundation of my theory that the crowd was less.

A final thought: in years past this particular Third Friday date would have been a lead in for Pork in the Park. But for just the second time in over a dozen years, there was no Pork in the Park in April. (In 2014 it was held in May because it would have fallen on Easter weekend.) A few months back Wicomico County finally decided to pull the plug on that event to concentrate on the WIcomico County Fair, which is held in the same location.

You could couple that somewhat official excuse with the cyclical nature of food-related events. Even the venerable old Delmarva Chicken Festival that had dated from the 1940s ran out of time a few years ago and was – ironically – folded into the former Wicomico Farm and Home Show and rebranded as our county fair in 2015. It’s sad because Pork in the Park was one of my favorite weekends of the year until they ruined it by being greedy. That began in 2012, which was the year they alienated half their food vendors, and then a couple years later Pork in the Park doubled down by charging a hefty admission fee. Anyway, to get a “do you remember when” back when Pork in the Park was a premier event, here is a nice walk around video from 2012 (with a cameo from Jonathan Taylor of Lower Eastern Shore News – watch from the beginning and you’ll see him.) After those spectacular failures and the loss of the KCBS competition, it was never the same. Even worse, the event that succeeded it with KCBS (Pig and a Jig, down in Snow Hill) also seems to be no more.

But the demise of Pork in the Park and the former Salisbury Festival a few years apart means that two staple events of the so-called spring shoulder season are no more. The Wicomico County Fair is held in the traditional late-summer slot one would associate with a county fair, while the Salisbury Festival is being rebranded as the Downtown Salisbury Festival and they will try it in early June, when the june bugs are in OC.

With those cautionary tales in mind, we will see how Third Friday fares as the years go on. Has it reached its peak like all these other events did?

Weekend of local rock volume 54

I’m actually a week overdue on this one, because I meant to post this the weekend after the Delmarva Chicken Festival. Hopefully Tom Larsen and his Lookin’ for Trouble band don’t mind the wait.

As I found out later, this was a special reunion show for Tom, bassist Elwood Bishop, and drummer Keith Brooks.

Of course, I expected them to play a lot of blues because I’ve seen TLB close the Good Beer Festival for both years since its inception, and probably here and there at similar events as well.

He even brought along his merchandise table.

But his show was a little different, as he had a lot longer time slot – or so he probably thought. This was when Larsen and his band started rolling.

About four or five songs in, his band had to take a break because there was a competing event across the way – the Worcester Children’s Theater show I alluded to in my main coverage. So they were sidelined for a good 45 minutes or so before resuming.

But resume they did, and shortly thereafter Tom found he had a young fan.

Those who were there also found out Tom can make almost anything work for a slide guitar.

I’m sure Cascading Carlos can work that into his act.

But above all, it looked like Tom and the band were having fun up there, playing a lot of original music to boot.

While he doesn’t play in the area all the time – Tom goes up and down the East Coast with some regularity – those who are fans of the blues locally should know who he is and where he plays. The folks at the Chicken Festival were treated to a doggone good show.

2013 Delmarva Chicken Festival in pictures and text

Since I tagged along with my fiance, who was working at the event, I decided to check out the festival which perhaps typifies best what our area is about: the 64th Delmarva Chicken Festival.

Held in Snow Hill, Maryland for just the second time, the festival featured several of its usual fan favorites, like this distinctive mainstay.

Billed as the world’s largest frying pan, this ten-foot behemoth is brought out each year to fry for another group of poultry-hungry diners.

Others who may prefer their birds chargrilled can get their wish too.

Hundreds of people were taking advantage at lunchtime yesterday when I was there.

Also on that end of Byrd Park (a very appropriate place for a Chicken Festival, in my opinion) was the stage for a new favorite, the Mountaire Chickin Pickin’ competition.

Having seen this competition last year, I can assure you it’s on the messy side. However, it is neater than the professional eating competition Kim and I saw in April.

And no celebration of poultry would be complete without the chance to see those who will be on your dinner table in a few weeks at various stages of life. The little fuzzballs in the bottom two pictures are child favorites.

The kids also get their own games, called the Chicken Capers. I think the object of the contest in the bottom picture was to carry an egg on a spoon across an obstacle course.

The kids were also featured as part of the entertainment this year. This is the Worcester County Children’s Theater performing as USO performers during World War II. The older gentlemen in the background doing musical accompaniment are known as the WW2nes, and the show featured its own child version of Bob Hope.

It was a nice little show for the several dozen who sat there and enjoyed it. This was part of a broadly appealing entertainment package.

I have much more on one entertainer in particular for a future Weekend of Local Rock post.

One thing about this festival, as opposed to the ones I’ve attended in Salisbury, is that the entire town of Snow Hill seems to have backed the event quite well. Up and down Market Street were these eggs mounted on utility poles to denote sponsors.

I saw this on my way downtown to see another facet of these gatherings – a large car show. These guys probably take the craft of restoring cars about as seriously as poultry farmers tend to their flocks.

One of the first I saw down there was my instant favorite.

Let’s face it: in this area of the country, Mustangs and (particularly) Camaros are a dime a dozen. You might even see your share of Firebirds and, less occasionally, a Barracuda. But I think this is only the first or second AMC Javelin I’ve seen, and it reminded me of my hometown.

Being from a city which makes Jeeps, back in the days when Jeep was part of AMC the muscle car of choice for those workers was the Javelin – and why not when you get a hefty discount? So they are far more common there, but here? Let’s just say someone from Virginia made my day.

The Chicken Festival also gave other businesses a chance to get their name out. One has to ask, though, what NASA has to do with the poultry industry. They are a large local employer thanks to Wallops Island, but still this was a little strange. (Then again, one could argue the health care provider my fiance works for is not poultry related, either. But NASA is a little out there.)

Snow Hill can use every job it can get, though. Coming back from the car show downtown I noticed a set of eyesores lined one part of the street by the park.

This was one of three adjacent houses in a similar state of disrepair – but it could be an opportunity for an investor with an eye for value and a cooperative local government who sees the potential of these parcels based on the location.

Looks to me like a replat would leave enough space for a half-dozen condos spaced around the alleyway. Then again, perhaps the reason this hasn’t been done are the onerous environmental laws in this state. Anyone who comes up with laws regarding fertilizer usage just may be a little too far to the side of Radical Green.

Yet I would agree with the contention that farmers are the true environmentalists. From new fuel-efficient equipment…

…to vegetative buffers…

…to new approaches to dealing with age-old problems, farmers are in step with true environmentalism as opposed to power grabs in the name of “sustainable” development.

This last product is one example. I never thought about bird mortality, but not every chick makes it to adulthood. Those who don’t survive have to be taken care of somehow, and composting wasn’t doing the job – instead, the decaying flesh attracted flies and rodents. What sits next to this gentleman is a freezer especially for these birds, to be kept until the surviving birds are sent to market. Then the company disposes of the product and cleans the freezer. Yes, this “mortality management” system has a high four-figure startup cost, but is billed as a labor saver.

Someone came up with this product idea, and I doubt it was the government.

So as the boats cruised down an idyllic Pocomoke River, the 64th Delmarva Chicken Festival approached its close yesterday evening.

I close with this photo just because I liked it. You don’t get this shot at the Centre of Salisbury – but you could at the upcoming Worcester County Fair held in the same park August 9-11, or any other time the park is open.

Since the last three Delmarva Chicken Festivals have been in Millsboro, Delaware, Salisbury, and now Snow Hill, I suspect the next one will be somewhere on the mid-Shore. Regardless of its actual location, those who support the local poultry industry will do their best to make it a success.

A Shore method of hearing from the Left

You’ll probably recall, as part of my coverage of the recent Delmarva Chicken Festival, that I brought up a new group called Let’s Be Shore. It’s a project of the Maryland Humanities Council, explained the nice lady manning (or would that be womanning?) the tent, and they’re looking to create a dialogue about our way of life.

Well, the other day I received an e-mail from Michelle Baylin, who’s the Communications Manager of the Maryland Humanities Council. It read in part:

I was writing to ask if you would consider additional posts and wanted to let you in on an update:  we are planning our first panel discussion, during the Chesapeake Folk Life Festival on July 28th at 3pm, with some of our video portrait subjects participating.  We’ll also have a Sharing Station tent at the festival as well.

Let’s Be Shore seeks, through the use of the humanities, to bring people with divergent perspectives together for respectful dialogue, offering a platform for residents to express views on the issues of land use, agriculture, the economy, and water quality along Maryland’s Eastern Shore.  Conservative views are an important component to presenting a balance of opinion! (Emphasis in original.)

Well, let’s add up the score: you got at least one additional post and I definitely have conservative views. But I knew nothing about the Chesapeake Folk Life Festival until I looked it up – it’s held in the quaint but picturesque town of St. Michaels. There’s nothing farther down the Shore just yet, so this partial effort at a response will have to suffice for now.

As always, I’m a little suspicious of these attempts at “dialogue” and togetherness because my experience has been that those who gain control of the group tend to also want to control a lot of other activities – case in point, the Wicomico Neighborhood Congress, which eventually devolved into an agenda-based group that seemed to screech most loudly against developing new neighborhoods (which, ironically enough, would be potential new members.) They eagerly climbed aboard the “growth is bad” bandwagon personified by this guy.

On the other hand, the tendency of conservatives to just want to be left alone by big government also means they’re not going to speak out as forcefully and we all know the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

But insofar as the quality of Chesapeake Bay is concerned, of course I’d like it to be clean as well. Yet I’m quite aware that to get it as pristine as it was when the only things which moved around here were a few Indians and plenty of wild game is not very realistic. To think otherwise is a pipe dream only a non-profit or government agency which would like to assure itself a perpetual slice of the taxpayer revenue pie would think up.

More importantly, if we ever got it back to that state the Chesapeake Bay Foundation would have no more reason to exist, so do you think they’ll ever give the Bay an “A” for cleanliness? I doubt it, because they’ll continually move the goalposts and we’ll be lucky if they get it above a “C”. In fact, the stated goal of the CBF is to restore the Bay to its state when first discovered, but there are several million people who would have to be forcibly relocated for that to occur. Not that the CBF seems to mind.

Instead, they advocate policies which will make growth more difficult and expensive in the entire Bay watershed, with a little bit of indoctrination thrown in:

Education will serve as a means to citizen engagement and behavior change…Drawing on the beneficial results of CBF educational efforts, we will engage adults and young people in a campaign to see that good laws and regulations are developed, introduced, passed, and enforced.

So that’s what we on the pro-growth side are up against, and it wouldn’t surprise me to eventually find the CBF’s hand (or money) in this effort at “dialogue.”

Speaking of money, as of last year the Maryland Humanities Council derived the bulk of its income from the National Endowment for the Humanities, with a smaller portion coming from various state departments. It’s worthy to note as well that the National Endowment of the Humanities requested over $154 million of your tax dollars for FY2013. Thus, you and I are paying for this.

The question is whether they’ll actually listen to conservative voices of reason who would like nothing better than securing a cleaner Bay without sacrificing the vast potential this area still has.

2012 Delmarva Chicken Festival in pictures and text

We welcomed the event back to Salisbury after a four-year absence – oddly enough, it seems to come here during a Presidential election year. As I promised, here’s my accounting of the event.

If you’re wondering why I was there, well, as part of my Central Committee duties I coordinate our presence at particular events. They understand it’s a win-win situation as I help get the people there for their purposes and I have an excuse to roam around for mine. This was taken early on Friday with the first of my volunteers, Tom Hughes, manning the tent.

Tom (and many others) were kind enough to mind the store while I did my thing, particularly at the opening ceremony. It’s interesting that not one of these birds is really a chicken.

I talked about the politicians and their speeches yesterday, but I didn’t see any of the Maryland folks doing the chicken dance, did I?

I think some of those on the right-hand side of the photo (with their backs to the camera) were Delaware state legislators, though, so they weren’t as bashful.

The political types were quick to grab a piece of the ribbon, though, and officially kick off the 63rd Delmarva Chicken Festival.

One thing the DCF attempts to accomplish is educate those who are city slickers about the chicken cycle of life. First you have the incubator to help the newly hatched come into the world.

Then it’s perhaps the favorite part of the DCF in terms of the “awwwwwww” factor. These are the definition of “harmless lovable little fuzzballs.”

But then they grow to be decent-sized birds.

Fortunately, they don’t feature the chickens’ actual demise, but they come to what may be considered a glorious end in one of several ways. Some are barbecued to perfection.

Others are fried in the giant frying pan. For the curious, some of the facts and figures about this behemoth are below.

Still others are picked apart for cash prizes. Mountaire, which provides the chicken, also put up the money to the winners.

I found it interesting that the meat picked from the chickens goes to a local cat shelter. I gather that’s because of the non-sterile conditions the meat is prepared under, because there are no gloves on those hands.

The Chickin Pickin’ was one of many side events that went on, along with a full entertainment schedule and a car show on Saturday.

Whether it was to our benefit or not, our booth location was well away from the stage so we really didn’t get to hear the bands like alex&shiloh, pictured below. So, alas, I’ll have no Weekend of Local Rock post from this.

As I mentioned, there was a car show and I am definitely a sucker for car shows. But I don’t hold a candle to this owner’s love for The King of Rock n’ Roll.

I decided to feature a few other cars here for a purpose. Has it occurred to you how many venerable nameplates have disappeared over the last decade or so? Names like Oldsmobile…

…or Pontiac…

…or Mercury, just to name a few.

I’d love to find an AMC Javelin at one of these shows because I always thought those looked cool as well – yes, another nameplate that’s bitten the dust in my adult lifetime.

I added this one for a sentimental reason. My parents owned a 1964 Thunderbird when I was born. It wasn’t a convertible and it was baby blue instead of red, but you get the picture. And it gives me an excuse to symbolically wish my Dad a Happy Father’s Day. It’s symbolic in the sense that he never looks at a computer, fortunately he’s alive and well.

This car was worth showing for the board out front.

The board details some facts about 1967, when that Mustang was built.

And it provides a brilliant chance to illustrate a point about the next picture, for 1967 is also the year that this guy’s opponent was first sworn into public office. He’s been there ever since and politically Ben Cardin has not aged as well as that red Mustang.

On the other hand, Dan Bongino spent most of four solid hours meeting and speaking to voters, while his volunteers helped keep the GOP booth staffed. I also found out Dan likes the same wraps I do, since he grabbed a quick bite to eat (and no, I did not take a photo of it.) Oh, that guy who was sworn in back in 1967? Yeah, he was there long enough for a few sound bites but that was about it.

Bongino wasn’t the only politician who dropped by over the two days. Delegate Mike McDermott said hello, and here he’s pictured with our county GOP Chair Dave Parker, who’s on the left. (That doesn’t happen often.)

Andy Harris also came over with two of his kids on Friday, and I also have to point out State Senator Jim Mathias was kind enough to shake hands and say hello. He was the only Democrat to do so that I’m aware of.

By now most readers should know I seek out the political in almost everything, and the DCF was no exception because there were a number of agricultural-related lobby groups represented. Needless to say, Maryland’s Department of Agriculture was there, pushing an $18 million cover crop program.

The lady sitting there certainly looked bored. But other groups were less obvious as to what they stood for. Take the group Let’s Be Shore for an example. Their purpose was to, as they said, establish a dialogue about our watershed. But one has to ponder what gets the Maryland Humanities Council interested in agriculture?

They are planning public meetings for later this summer, and if I can I’ll have to show up. I definitely have some opinions on the Watershed Implementation Plans of which they speak.

Food safety was the mantra of CommonGround.

The little brochure they were handing out was intended to correct “common misconceptions” about the food industry, such as the impact of genetically modified food. “Farmers and gardeners have been creating plant hybrids for as long as they’ve been growing plants,” states one portion of their handout. “Biotechnology simply serves as a more technologically advanced method.”

To be honest, I really don’t have an informed opinion on what these multinational corporations do with plant research, but I did find it intriguing that the effort is sponsored by “America’s soybean and corn farmers and their checkoffs” and is aimed more toward the women who primarily are food buyers.

This group, though, hits closer to home.

As a group “raising awareness about the dire threat raised by environmental activists who sue first and ask questions later,” I can see them coming into conflict with some of the other groups represented. I find it strange, though, that environmentalist groups and their supporters tend to be from big cities and are probably the most likely to complain about the smell of the country.

Now when I smell the obvious by-product of raising chickens I joke that it “smells like Delaware.” But to farmers that’s also the smell of money and the odor of continuing the process by which people all over the world are fed – the chicken manure fertilizes the grain used for the feed which eventually once again creates the by-product. Those of us who understand how our region works appreciate the economic impact farmers create, but those who fly through it on the way to their beach homes simply complain when they drive by a newly fertilized field.

But they would complain more if that chicken they were planning on barbecuing wasn’t on the grocer’s shelf, wouldn’t they?

A successful festival

This is probably not going to be a long post, in part because it would step on the toes of tomorrow’s topic. But I wanted to make special mention about what happened this weekend at the Delmarva Chicken Festival.

As is often the case with these events, I assist in coordinating the local GOP presence there. What that normally entails is securing the tent itself and the help. The former is easy because a member of our Central Committee is gracious enough to lend us his tent, table, and chairs, but the latter is difficult because oftentimes I have to sign up people well in advance and they tend to forget or find that their plans change.

So I have to hand it to Dan Bongino and his campaign staff, because their volunteers stepped up to the plate in a big way over the last two days, with the icing on the cake being a solid four hours with the candidate himself present. And he didn’t stay anchored to the booth; instead, he walked the grounds and introduced himself to an audience which may or may not be eligible to vote for him (many in attendance came from Delaware) but should have been impressed by his personable nature. Obviously most weren’t prepared to debate him on real issues.

But thanks to Dan I had volunteers out the wazoo for most of the day, and I wish some of the other campaigns would have assisted in a similar way. I realize this was a busy weekend all around, but hopefully the Salisbury region now knows what a hard-working Senator they have the chance to elect.