Music, art, science and beer: Festival at Wallops brings them all together

(Delmarvanow.com) -- The Eastern Shore’s first festival marrying craft beer and science will take over the lawn at the Chincoteague Bay Field Station on Saturday, Sept. 23.

MARSH Fest runs from noon-6 p.m. with a unique blend of live music, local fare, science and craft brews at the center in Wallops Island.

“’MARSH stands for music, art, research, science and hops,” said Elise Trelegan, education director at CBFS and festival organizer.

“We’re going to highlight local breweries, but also bring beers that a lot of people never get to try on the Eastern Shore,” said Jenna Chapman, festival organizer and co-founder of Black Narrows Brewing Company, opening soon on Chincoteague Island.

The family-friendly festival will host scientists and researchers from across the region, who will showcase their work. The Eastern Shore’s Own Arts Center is sponsoring a huge family tent with kid-friendly activities.

The entire festival is divided into six different “ecosystems,” with unique components in each one, such as an oversized replica of a whale that children can walk through, Chapman said.

“You know how sometimes you’ll go to festivals and most of the artisans are in one area, and most of the food vendors are in another area? We’re trying to mix that up,” she said.

“If you’re in ‘Ocean,’ mom and dad can have a beer and the kids can get a snack, but they’ll also get to interact with a farmer and a scientist,” Chapman said. “It’ll be a really fun experience for the whole family.”

In addition to wandering through MARSH Fest’s ocean, maritime forest, intertidal, freshwater marsh, saltwater marsh and dune zones, visitors can enjoy music by up-and-coming artist Angelica Garcia.

The former Accomac resident released her debut album “Medicine for Birds” last year to praise from reviewers at the New York Times and NPR.

Local favorites Double Booked and Mercy Creek will also take the stage, along with Hampton Roads’ Tim Morgan.

Shore Craft Beer will host a beer garden in the Salt Marsh section of the festival and visitors can enjoy samples from more than 20 craft breweries such as Denizens and Right Proper Brewing Companies from Washington, D.C., Vanish from Northern Virginia, and Delmarva’s Evo and Dogfish Head.

There will also be an interactive garden by Accomac’s Perennial Roots Farms.

All proceeds from MARSH Fest will help local middle school students get out in the field and experience nature through the Chincoteague Bay Field Station.

“This whole event is going to provide an opportunity for eighth grade students in Accomack and Northampton counties to get outdoors and have a field-based experience,” Chapman said.

The goal is to get every Eastern Shore of Virginia eighth-grader out on a trip, whether it’s on a research vessel trawling for marine organisms or visiting Greenbackville’s shores to learn about coastal resilience, she said.


“We’re hoping to build that connection between what people are supporting and what they see when they come out to this festival,” she said.

The idea to host MARSH Fest came about last year during the Chincoteague Bay Field Station’s Serving Up the Shore event.

“I’d been talking about doing some sort of outdoor festival event for four years now,” Trelegan said.

She and Chapman “started throwing around some ideas, and then they got very real, very quickly,” she said.

The result is a cooperation between the Chincoteague Bay Field Station, Black Narrows, Perennial Roots, Eastern Shore Coastal Roasting Company, and Jessica Battista, a local artist who designed the graphics for the event.

“It was just the perfect marriage of all of these ideas, and it spun out from there,” Chapman said.

MARSH Fest tickets are available for $30 online and include a limited number of beer samples during the festival. Non-drinking tickets cost $10 and children under 12 get in free. Tickets will also be for sale at the door.

There will be pre-festival activities including kayaking, guided bird walks and a trip to Wallops Island to learn about barrier island ecology before MARSH Fest kicks off at noon on Saturday, Sept. 23.

Click HERE for more information on MARSH Fest, pre-festival activities and to purchase tickets. To learn more about the field trips MARSH Fest will fund for local students, watch the video at www.marshfest.org/why.

Those who cannot attend MARSH Fest, but still wish to donate to the Chincoteague Bay Field Station to help local students get out in the field can purchase a donation ticket online.

Delmarvanow.com


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