Bay's Best Friend
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
With its many educational centers and programs in environmental education and environmental protection and restoration throughout Chesapeake Country, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation appears to, indeed, be the Bay's Best Friend.
Its Bay Weekly readers opinion that the Foundation is living up to its motto, "Save the Bay.
The 35-year-old Foundation cooperates with government, business and citizens in partnerships to protect the Bay's natural resources from pollution and other harmful activities by fighting for strong and effective laws and regulations. It even uses legal means to force compliance with existing laws when necessary. It is also responsible for restoring the Bay's essential habitats and filtering mechanisms, such as forests, wetlands, underwater grasses and oysters through a variety of hands-on projects.
Bay Weekly readers were impressed with the fact that this year, the Foundation planted more than two million oysters on reefs; broke new ground in underwater grass restoration; restored over 2,000 acres of wetlands and related habitat and 400 miles of riparian buffers in partnership with Ducks Unlimited. It also opened field offices in Washington, D.C., and Salisbury to work cooperatively with local watershed groups to improve water quality and restore habitat.
All in a day's work for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and Bravo! say Bay Weekly readers.
Bay Enemy #1
With so many of our readers living near the Chesapeake shoreline, the competition for worst enemy wasn't close. Believe it or not, 15.7 million people live in Chesapeake Bay's watershed, which means more congestion and more pressure on our fragile resources.
Apparently, people understand that the Bay already has exceeded its carrying capacity and that decisions being made right now about permits for subdivisions and ranchettes will affect the quality of their lives for years to come. Political leaders faced with these decisions or accepting big bucks from developers this election year might want to keep this vote in mind.
Best Thing about Chesapeake County
It unites us and defines us. Each one of us living within the Chesapeake Bay watershed system lives just a few miles from the Bay or from one of its 100,000 streams and rivers. It encompasses about 11,684 miles of shoreline, more than the entire West Coast. The Bay and its tributaries order our work, our play, what we eat, our way of thinking about the natural world.
Our watermen, once with their skipjacks and oyster tongs, crab pots and lines make a living from its depths as they have for hundreds of years. Pilots safely navigate ships to its profitable ports. Crab pickers and poets, legislators and lobbyists, those of us who cross its bridges every day to other pursuits in its cities, are inherently connected to its resources, its history and its geography.
We appreciate the Bay for the recreation it provides: boating, swimming, fishing and playing on its beaches. We boast of its abundant shellfish, crabs and fin fishes: It produces 500 million pounds of seafood every year. We enjoy its natural beauty and the wildlife it supports: More than 3,600 species of plants, fish, birds and mammals depend on it for food and protection.
Though its shorelines and composition keep changing, it appears much the same as it did when Captain John Smith landed at its mouth in 1607. It makes us and our politicians pay attention. A delicate balance keeps it alive, and we want it to be there, healthy and whole, for hundreds of years to come.
The good news is we dont take it for granted. We call it the best thing about Chesapeake County.
Biggest Gripe about Chesapeake Country
Traffic. The summer-long drought. Wall Street woes. Snakeheads on the loose. More than a month's worth of days 90 degrees or hotter. Sprawl. Terrorist threats.
In the end, none of this detracts from the wonder of living in Chesapeake Country, an enchanted region along a beloved Bay.
Best Place for People Watching
City Dock/Ego Alley
Sailboaters, powerboaters, St. Johns students, Navy midshipmen, townies, tourists, beer drinkers, coffee sippers and ice-cream-cone lovers gather at the City Dock in Annapolis for the best people-watching in Chesapeake Country.
Some prefer to stroll along, quickly examining the passing scenery. Others like to sit on a bench, which allows time for careful study. Most wear sunglasses. It wouldnt do to be caught staring. Even though everyone does it.
And in Ego Alley, the boats cruise in and out. The boaters, all skin and spandex. Too much or not enough? People-watchers make the call.
Best Bay Festival
North Beach Bayfest
You dont have to take Bay Weekly readers word for it. You can find out for yourself this very weekend, why they call North Beach Bayfests the Best Festival on the Bay. But here are some hints:
The 19th return of the annual summers end festival promises to multiply by the power of 10 the 1,800-person population of the village of North Beach.
Nor will those thousands have to content themselves with natures gifts to North Beach alone. Plus the Bay, beach and boardwalk, this Saturday and Sunday bring over eight hours of free concerts, featuring the best of local musicians, including, noon to 3pm Saturday, Bay Weekly readers choice for Best Band on the Bay, Mama Jama. Theres so much music each day, it takes four stages to hold it all.
Nor will you go hungry. Both days promise day-long crab and shrimp feasts.
The festival weekend opens with a parade noon Saturday, and continues with such all-American favorites as tug of war, three-legged races, egg tosses and crab races. The weekend never lets up on the fun for kids and adults.
And, through it all, whenever you look over your shoulder, youll find the Bay watching you, calling you, reminding you why this town was settled a century ago and why were still here.
Quiet Waters Park
Built to match the Victorian style of the park's buildings, Quiet Waters Park's playgrounds are this year's winners of the Best Playground award.
The park has four playgrounds, three smaller ones and a large, multi-level one with a gazebo. Their classic Victorian style and high quality are what Bay Weekly readers looked at when voting them the Bay's best playgrounds. And with a recent $200,000 grant from the state of Maryland to rennovate the playgrounds over the next year, they are going to get even better.
Best Place to Get Married
Herrington Harbour Marina Resort
With more than 700 miles of shoreline, and with each nook and cranny holding a treasured spot, Chesapeake Country has plenty of vistas to make memories. Still, theres something special about Herring Bay at the cove between Rose Haven and Fairhaven.
Jutting out into Herring Bay at this point is a gateway to romance, a place where the Chesapeake's beauty meets the tailored fit of a tropical paradise. Palm and banana trees, forest-like copses of seagrass, bright-painted, honeymoon-ready cabanas, private beaches and a clear-day view to Tilghman Island all add up to the Bay's best spot to tie the knot, according to Bay Weekly's readers.
A newlywed herself, Anna Chaney owner of Herrington on the Bay Catering, which handles all wedding arrangements at Herrington Harbour knows just how taxing getting married can be. So shes perfected plans that take the pain out of the preparations. As well as a glorious white tent overlooking the Bay, and a feast to your weddings size, budget and taste, shell provide flowers, cake and even the minister. But youll have to bring your own bride or groom.
Couples attest to Herringtons popularity with their feet, or in this case their ring fingers. If youre looking to get hitched at Herrington Harbour, youd better plan months in advance or have the flexibility for a mid-week wedding in February.
Best Place to Commune With Nature
Quiet Waters Park
From osprey to evergreens, Bay Weekly readers enjoy the great outdoors and choose Quiet Waters Park as the Best Place to Commune With Nature.
The park offers a wide assortment of wildlife, including a nesting pair of great-horned owls. You can also find deer, hawks, raccoons, foxes, turtles and a rough green snake or two. But no need to be scared when one slithers across your path: None of the park's snakes are poisonous.
On the leafier side of things, the park is home to an abundance of regional plants and trees in its three types of habitats: deciduous forests, wetlands and open meadows. It is also in the process of building a new wildflower meadow, which will add to the appeal of this nature-filled oasis in the middle of the heavily populated Annapolis. The only thing park rangers ask is do not take any of the wildlife out and do not bring any in, for either could harm the park's fragile ecosystem.
Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial
The statue of Louie Goldstein in front of the state treasury is newer, and the statue of Tecumseh at the Naval Academy more famous, but the statue of Alex Haley in Annapolis holds a special place in the hearts and minds of Bay Weekly readers.
Haley has become a familiar presence at City Dock. Brown-baggers sit with him to eat lunch; tourists pose for pictures by his side. Its easy to forget that he sits in our midst to memorialize the spot where his ancestor was once sold into slavery.
Its been easier to remember since June 12, when the final elements of the memorial a wall of plaques quoting Haleys Roots and a compass rose pointing back to Atlantic shores were dedicated in downtown Annapolis. The walls dedication reads, to those nameless Africans, brought to the New World against their will, who struggled against terrible odds to maintain family, culture, identity, and above all, hope.
Leonard Blackshear, the man responsible for the memorials presence, calls it a place to go to begin the process to find reconciliation and closure, to begin to move away from the anger, the hatred and the guilt that are slaverys legacy.
The memorial isnt just about slavery, Blackshear says, but about the values that helped African Americans survive slavery. Those values are universal, he adds. They help us get through life.
Small townish with its quiet neighborhoods and local shopkeepers. Cosmopolitan with its nightlife. Artsy with its play houses, movie theaters, coffee houses and galleries. Intellectual with its libraries, bookstores, the Naval Academy and St. Johns College. Outdoorsy with Quiet Waters Park and its creeks to sail, motor or paddle. Sporting with its sailboat races, Navy football and the annual Navy-St. Johns croquette match. Low-tech in the historic district and high-tech in industry. Fun-loving with its First Night and seafood, jazz and wine festivals. Serious as the seat of state and county government. Thats Annapolis. Theres something in town for you.
Best Place to Pick Up Bay Weekly
Fresh Fields, Annapolis Habour Center
Bay Weekly owes a special debt of thanks to the 400-plus places where we meet our readers.
Perhaps you've noticed over these 10 years that Bay Weekly is most commonly available at restaurants, shops, libraries, markets and other businesses where there's good foot traffic.
In today's world of stay-at-home internet connectivity and digital movies on demand, Bay Weekly readers are a special breed. Youre out and about. By taking part in what our communities have to offer, you help keep our local economies going.
By our distribution records, more than a thousand of you each week nearly 15 percent of our readership pick up your copy of Bay Weekly while shopping at Fresh Fields, which readers again this year named their favorite place to find the paper they cant do without.