St. Mary's County has stories to interest any travel writer and any audience.
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U.S. OYSTER FESTIVAL
The U.S. Oyster Festival is held annually in October at the St. Mary’s County Fair Grounds. It features the Oyster Cook-off and the U.S. National Oyster Shucking Contest. The winner of the National Oyster Shucking Contest goes on to represent the United States in the International Oyster Festival shucking competition in Gallway, Ireland. Contestants come from across the country to compete in St. Mary’s County at this national festival. The Shucking Contest starts on Saturday with several “heats” for the different levels of competition. Winners from these first rounds compete on Sunday, finishing with the crowning of the U.S. Oyster Shucking Champion.
The Oyster Cook-off offers awards several categories, and the recipe chosen as best overall wins the “Grand Champion” award of $1,000. At the U.S. Oyster Festival, spectators taste more than just samples. Local venders are on hand every year serving up area favorites like St. Mary’s Stuffed Ham, fried seafood and steamed shrimp, sausages, boardwalk fries, ice cream and treats, and all types of oysters: fried, grilled, raw, shooters, stewed and even jarred to take home.
RIVER CONCERT SERIES
The River Concert Series features the Chesapeake Orchestra, which plays serious classical composition, light classics, jazz, and more. Genres such as Bluegrass and Blues are fused with orchestral instrumentation to appeal to a wide range of audiences. Nationally-prominent artists and bright new talents fill the roles of soloists and narrators. These outdoor concerts create a family-friendly atmosphere that brings locals and visitors together for nights of entertainment. The River Concert Series' regular outdoor summer concerts are held Friday evenings, throughout June and July at St. Mary’s College of Maryland in St. Mary’s City.
GHOSTS OF ST. MARY'S
Is St. Mary’s haunted? Find out for yourself by participating in the many ghost tours around the county each October. Search for the spirits of Civil War soldiers and explore one of the most haunted lighthouses in the county, at Point Lookout State Park. Over 330 years of haunted history keep visitors coming back for tours of Summerseat Farm, which was featured on the Syfy show “Ghost Hunters.” Hear tales and track spirits of slaves, servants, and landowners during the incredibly popular Ghosts of Sotterley tours at Sotterley Plantation, an 18th-century tidewater plantation.
STUFFED HAM - ST. MARY'S SIGNATURE DISH
Every old-timer in the county has the recipe. Trouble is, each one is different. North county folks like it with kale, and south countians go for the pepper. The dish is thought to have originated with early slave culture. Get the “real recipe” from the folks at the country stores, local lunch spots and church suppers, and sample for yourself.
MARYLAND BEGINS HERE!
St. Mary’s county is Maryland’s birthplace. Discover sites brimming with colonial history. St. Clement’s Island is where colonists first landed. St. Mary’s City, the first state capital, is the site of the first settlement and is the longest continually inhabited area in Maryland. Visitors can explore Historic St. Mary's City, a living history museum built on the foundations of the original 17th-century “city.” St. Mary’s County is also home to the oldest tidewater plantation in the country, Sotterley Plantation.
The county’s location on the Chesapeake has given it a rich military history stretching from Revolutionary War to the War of 1812 to the Civil War right into modern times with the Patuxent River Naval Air Station. Point Lookout was home to a state-of-the-art Civil War hospital and a prison camp for Confederate soldiers captured at the Battle of Gettysburg. The Paxtuxent River Naval Air Museum illuminates the area’s importance as the center for naval aviation technology and testing.