The Smithsonian Folklife Festival
The University of Delaware Sea Grant College Program is participating in the “Water Ways” theme area at this year’s Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, DC. The 10-day festival, held outdoors on the National Mall from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., concludes with a fireworks display on Sunday, July 4.
“Water Ways: Charting a Future for Mid-Atlantic Maritime Communities” celebrates the coastal region that stretches from Long Island, New York, through New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia, to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The festival has brought together people who have worked and studied the ocean, bays, rivers, and marshes of the Mid-Atlantic to increase public understanding and appreciation of this coastal area to America’s cultural heritage as well as to help encourage its preservation.
UD’s contribution to the “Water Ways” program is to highlight the importance of the horseshoe crab to the ecology of the Delaware Bay and to human health. Tracey Bryant, director of the Marine Public Education Office in Newark, and Doris Hicks, seafood technology specialist with the Marine Advisory Service in Lewes, coordinated the effort from University of Delaware Sea Grant.
Delaware Sea Grant donated over 5,000 copies of its popular horseshoe crab model, a paper model designed and produced by the Marine Public Education Office. Children of all ages use scissors and tape to assemble the model into a three-dimensional horseshoe crab.
Participants also have the opportunity to get a “firsthand” look at real horseshoe crab specimens, collected from the Delaware Bay. Volunteers from UD and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) — a cosponsor of the “Water Ways” program — are on hand to answer questions about horseshoe crabs.
According to NOAA, approximately 250 to 300 models are being assembled each day. “The models have been extremely popular with the public,” says Nadia Sbeih, who coordinates the volunteers for NOAA. “The table is mobbed all day.”
In addition to the models, visitors learn about a new Web site on the horseshoe crab developed by the Sea Grant programs in the Mid-Atlantic states, as well as tips to help the ocean. Delaware Sea Grant also provided various exhibits and “larger-than-life” posters, which are on display throughout the “Water Ways” area.
Originating in 1967, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival has celebrated traditional cultures from across the United States and around the world and attracts more than one million visitors every year. In addition to “Water Ways,” this year’s festival features “Haiti: Freedom and Creativity from the Mountains to the Sea” and “Nuestra Música: Music in Latino Culture.” Additional information about the festival, including a schedule of daily activities, can be found at http://www.folklife.si.edu/index.html.