Woodland Festival is a homecoming

By Lynn R. Parks

Eleanor Jamison grew up near Woodland. Her father, Harry, was a captain on the ferry that crosses the Nanticoke River there and her mother, Myrtle, was organist for the Woodland United Methodist Church. And for Jamison, who is 80 and lives in Seaford, the annual Woodland Ferry Festival feels like old home week. "This is really like a homecoming," said Jamison, standing in the shade of a tent set up by the Woodland Ferry Association. "And what a pretty spot to have a homecoming. Look at that river there. Isn't it beautiful?" The 15th festival was held Saturday, in the small village southwest of Seaford. Coordinator Donna Angell said that from the ferry association's lemonade stand, where she was selling drinks, it looked like a large number of people took advantage of the warm weather to stroll through Woodland and visit the festival's booths. "We sold 245 cups of lemonade, and that's a lot of lemonade," said Angell. In addition, the Galestown Ruritan Club sold a record number of tickets, 380, to the festival breakfast that it sponsors. "We've had a good crowd," said Phil Livingston, Dover, who with his wife, Karen, attended the festival to help his parents, Phil and Phillys Livingston, in the ferry association booth. "It's a really nice day, and there's a nice breeze off the river." "What a beautiful place to have a festival," said Jack Noel, Angola, whose wife, Joan, could only nod her assent. She had just left one of several food booths and was busy with a chili dog. Noel said that he and his wife visit the festival every couple of years. "The food is always good and we usually run into some friends," he said. "And we always enjoy riding the ferry." The Woodland Ferry, which has been crossing the river at Woodland for 214 years, is open to pedestrians only during the day of the festival. This was the last festival for the current three-car ferry, which is 43 years old. A new ferry, which will hold six cars, is under construction at Chesapeake Shipbuilding Corp. in Salisbury, Md., and is expected to be completed and running by next year's festival.

The festival was started in 1993, to celebrate the 200th year of the ferry's operation. In addition to the ferry, the festival focuses on the village of Woodland and its history and natural heritage. Many of the old homes in the town had signs in front of them, telling when they were built and who had lived there, and the Days Gone By and the River's Edge, two private, local museums, were open. Proceeds from the festival benefit the ferry association, which gives out two $1,000 scholarships every year. The festival started at 9 a.m., with a dedication to the late Bill and Gertrude Royal, founding members of the Woodland Ferry Association. Their daughters, Amy Royal, Woodland, and Roxanne Royal, Laurel, accepted a tribute to their parents from state Rep. Dan Short. During the opening ceremonies, bands from Laurel High and Seaford High School performed. Phil Livingston (the father, not the son) fired a starter cannon to notify residents that the festival was under way. Ed and Lisa Niedzielski, Galestown, said that they attend the festival every year. This year, they brought with them their two dogs, Lexus Nicholas, a 2-year-old Yorkshire terrier, and Scruffy Nicole, a 6-year-old terrier mix. About mid-day, all four were headed to a food booth and some hamburgers. "The festival is very dog-friendly," Lisa Niedzielski said. "We like coming to places where we can take the dogs." Sisters-in-law Louretha Savage, Laurel, and Tiffany Savage, Seaford, were equally happy to have a low-key festival to which to take their children. Louretha's daughter, Glory, is 2 and was holding tight to a balloon and to a lollipop; Tiffany's son, Taylor, is 12 weeks. "You know how the state fair is so loud?" said Louretha, who works at the Western Sussex Boys and Girls Club, Seaford. "Well, this festival is nothing like that. It is nice and quiet, and that makes it good for little children and toddlers."

News tips wanted
Call us with ideas for news and features. We're always looking for good stories to share with readers. Call Bryant Richardson at 629-9788.