The Town of Chesapeake Beach held its Sixth Annual Stars and Stripes Festival on Memorial Day Weekend 2017. This event brings together elected officials, performance artists, families, and veterans together for a three-day patriotic celebration. This year’s festival had an emphasis on World War I— its American heroes, historical implications, and cultural impact in the United States. The festival kicked off with an Opening Ceremony on Saturday, May 27th.
With a backdrop of the shoreline and a magnificent American flag, onlookers enjoyed the United States Naval Academy Wind Quartet, performing selections at the beginning of the festival’s Opening Ceremony at the Chesapeake Beach Veterans’ Memorial Park. Connie O’Dell, Special Events Planner of Chesapeake Beach, served as emcee and welcomed guests including Mayor Pat Mahoney, Sen. Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr., and Calvert County Register of Wills Margaret Phipps. O’Dell recognized the volunteers who helped to put the event together, noting that “putting together a three day festival is a lot of hard work.” Dozens of volunteers coordinated vendors, performances, and attractions to create the free festival. O’Dell also read a letter from the White House in Washington, sending warm wishes for the event and appreciation for the festival’s recognition of those who have served bravely for the United States.
The Opening Ceremony featured Ellouise Schoettler, a nationally-recognized storyteller who performs stories and is featured on a local television show. Schoettler has put together many true stories told by American veterans in her famous one-woman shows. Today, she also teaches workshops on how to unlock important historical stories. At the Stars and Stripes Festival, Schoettler performed “Ready to Serve: Unknown Stories of 64 World War I Nurses from Maryland.” Schoettler captivated her audience with the true story she heard from a nurse in the 1970s. “So many veterans have stories locked up inside of them because no one ever asks,” she began. Her story included details from a young nurse’s perspective of landing in France with dozens of other young women with excitement but anxiousness for what they were bound to see as Army Nurses. Between communicable disease, harsh weather climate, and tiring hours, the nurses served in valiant ways that Schoettler argues need to be better amplified in stories about American military involvement.
On Sunday, the Family Fun Day brought out hundreds to Kellam’s Field for vendors, crafts, inflatables, and an unforgettable performance. The American Legion Post 206 in Chesapeake Beach sponsored a picnic lunch while vendors such as the Oyster Cultivation Society and Calvert Alliance Against Substance Abuse. Young visitors were able to enjoy inflatable games and mazes. Beginning at 1pm, the critically-acclaimed group Doc Scantlin and his Imperial Palms Orchestra performed jazzy American pieces from the 1930s and 40s. Called the “world’s best band” by Forbes Magazine, Doc Scantlin led a multi-piece band with performances by “Chou Chou” and the “Girlfriends,” which were met with enthusiasm and appreciation from the festival’s crowd.
Alexya Brown / Calvert Beacon Guest Writer