The Chestertown Tea Party Festival

May 23, 2019

The Chestertown Tea Party Festival is THIS weekend. For over 40 years, it has been an annual tradition, and the biggest weekend around. With the downtown streets closed, where vendors, artists, artisans, dancers, and re-enactors gather in the colonial village and wander up and down the streets – it’s been a huge happening. This year will mark the first year for a prominent, visible African American history component, which will include a 30-minute show at The Garfield Theatre, marching units in the parade and the 11 – 4 open hours for Sumner Hall, where an exhibit of a plethora of children’s and YA books will be highlighted, hosted by readers in colonial costume.

Learning leads to understanding, the goals of this new emphasis in the Chestertown festival. Racism leaves its mark in all areas of our country, from small towns to large cities, and it is this inclusion of information, with a fresh look at some treasured traditions, that hopefully will shed fresh lessons of light and lead to new conversations.

From Harbor Me, by Jacqueline Woodson, 2018, p. 34 —

Before Ms. Laverne talked about the Lenape, I hadn’t really thought about the people who came here before we did. Indians were just Indians with big crowns of feathers, hopping around in circles and hitting their hands to their mouths. But after we learned about the Lenape, the Lenape people, I couldn’t do that hand thing anymore. I couldn’t see the people wearing their feathers at football games on TV and on Halloween and not think that’s not right. That’s not…not the truth. When I told Ms. Laverne that, she smiled and said, Exactly. Then she smiled even bigger and said, I love this class SO MUCH! Which made us all feel amazing.

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