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A deepening concern for the health of the St. Mary’s River led to the inaugural Riverfest at St. Mary’s City eight years ago and this year’s event may be the best yet from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 13.

The St. Mary’s Watershed Association sponsors the event, said organizer Bob Lewis.

“St. Mary’s College professors Robert Paul and Chris Tanner got federal and state grant funding in 1997-98 for monitoring the St. Mary’s River,” Lewis said. “They used the grant to collect data for 10 years. During that time, they could see what was happening on land was degrading the river. They saw the need for the advocacy of land policy use and began making annual reports to the St. Mary’s County commissioners.”

In 2002, Paul contacted the National Fish and WIldlife Service to study the effects of Hilton Run an apartment complex in Lexington Park at the head of the St. Mary’s River to determine its effect on the estuary. This coincided with Paul’s belief that there was a need for a nonprofit advocacy group for the river, according to Lewis.

In March 2005, the St. Mary’s River Watershed Association was born. The first Riverfest was held on St. George’s Island, but has since relocated to St. Mary’s City where it has grown substantially.

“We get around 1,000 people,” Lewis said. “We have gotten as many as 1,500.”

This year’s event features the musical duo Magpie Terry Leonino and Greg Artzner who have performed as a couple for almost 40 years.

Leonino was a student in her senior year at Kent State University in the fall of ’73, and when she graduated the following spring, she and Artzner packed his VW bus and moved to the Washington, D.C. area. In Takoma Park, they lived in the apartment over the House of Musical Traditions formerly rented by Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols. In the years that followed, they have traveled and toured extensively, performed in concerts at folk clubs and festivals around the world.

“We’re really excited they’re coming,” Lewis said. “On Friday morning at 9 a.m., they’re going to the Chesapeake Charter School to perform for the student body. This will be followed by a master class of 20 select students, and they and the students will compose a brand new song with local interest.

“On Saturday at Riverfest. Magpie will perform at 1 p.m., and near 2 o’clock, the charter school chorus will join them on stage to sing this new song. If we’re trying to reach a younger generation and a family crowd, these guys ought to do it. It’s a message that they’re performing and singing.”

The event is free and visitors can tour the Maryland Dove, paddle a kayak or help skipper a small sailboat. Kids can try their hand at tonging for oysters or tying sailors’ knots.

Former state senator Bernie Fowler will be on hand for a wade in on the St. Mary’s River.

“After the charter school chorus, Bernie will address the crowd about cleaning up our waterways and his wade in program to bring awareness to water quality issues,” Lewis said.

The Spring Ridge Middle School Rhythm Club will line up on the way to the waterfront to drum waders down to the beach.

Lewis said efforts to help the waterway are bearing fruit and he hopes to prove that when they wade into the water.

“My wife said she wants to do the wade in this year and she’s only 5 foot 2 inches tall,” he said. “She may well be over her head by the time we get to where we can’t see our white sneakers.”


Where: 47414 Old State House Road, St Marys Cit

When: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 13

Feature: Entertainment, demonstrations, tall ships, dance exhibits and demonstrations, kayaking, sailing, seining, oyster tonging, crafts, artwork, facepainting, refreshments and food

Admission: Free; includes free admission to Historic St. Mary’s City

Contact: Call 301-737-2903 or go to