39th Feast-I-Val brings foodies and tourists

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan Nevaeh Davis happily ate Maryland crabs with her family at the 39th Annual Seafood Feast-I-Val in Cambridge on Saturday.

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan
Nevaeh Davis happily ate Maryland crabs with her family at the 39th Annual Seafood Feast-I-Val in Cambridge on Saturday.

CAMBRIDGE — Not every region has a distinct — and distinctly delicious — local cuisine.

But the Eastern Shore does.

Members Cambridge Rescue Fire Company, Inc. (RFC) offered steamed crabs, barbecued chicken, crab soup, local watermelon, tomatoes, corn and more at the 39th Annual Seafood Feast-I-Val. The event is one of RFC’s main fundraisers.

It is also one of the city’s main tourist attractions.

“I’m figuring it’s between 1,200 and 1,500” guests attended the feast in Sailwinds Park, Ricky Travers said. Mr. Travers is one of the fire company’s leaders and organizers of the event.

While locals were certainly there, this is one show that is heavily supported by tourists. Buses brought groups to the park on the south bank of the Choptank River, while parking areas showed plenty of cars with plates from Pennsylvania, Delaware and other areas. “It’s a lot of exposure” for the county, Mr. Travers said.

It’s a lot of work, too. He said planning begins in January every year, and the event itself requires about 170 volunteers.

The workers came from various sources, including RFC, Elks Lodge 223, Dorchester County Detention Center, the Quota Club and the 4-H Club. They prepared and served dishes including 100 bushels of crabs, 120 dozen ears of corn, 150 watermelons, 150 pounds of tomatoes, 50 gallons of crab soup and 1,000 pieces of chicken.

The local ingredients and recipes got rave reviews. Darneil Felder from Baltimore said he comes to the county to hunt and fish, and to the Feast-I-Val every year. “I wouldn’t miss it,” he said, as he balanced a tray loaded with seafood, fresh fruit and vegetables.

This year, the event had a new feature, the 441-foot Liberty Ship “John W. Brown,” docked on the other side side of Governors Hall at Sailwinds Park. The Second World War-era ship drew more than 1,000 visitors a day during its week at the city’s new wharf, and had another successful day on Saturday.

Looking over the park, with its long tents providing shade for families, vendors selling their wares, and busy volunteers, Mr. Travers said, “We’re very blessed. It takes a whole community.”

Cambridge Rescue Fire Company was established in 1881. Its headquarters is at 8 Washington St.

To contact RFC, call 410-228-1023 or visit www.rescuefirecompany.org

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.

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