On Sept. 23 from 12 – 6 p.m., Chincoteague and Wallops Island will host their first-ever festival for science, local culture and craft beer: MARSH Fest.

What is MARSH Fest?

What exactly the festival is all about is explained right there in its name: Music, Art, Research, Science and Hops (the MARSH) and Food, Exploring, Sponsors and Tickets (the FEST).

MARSH Fest is primarily focused on culture and science, in addition to beer and the 20+ craft breweries that will be in attendance to provide the Hops.

Wait…it’s a festival for craft beer and science?

You heard that right. While there will be an abundance of craft beer to taste (plus a Shore Craft Beer Garden to supply your favorite local brews), the MARSH Fest atmosphere won’t be limiting itself to the trappings of a simple beer festival.

“See, MARSH Fest is a place where art and science collide,” explained Jenna Chapman, co-founder of both MARSH Fest and Chincoteague’s Black Narrows Brewery. “We’ll have the ESO Arts family tent right smack in the middle of the festival so kids can come create one-of-a-kind masterpieces. On the creative movement side stage, kids will learn the fundamentals of ballet, yoga, karate. Next door, NASA will have plenty of hands on STEM learning activities.”

It’s all about the ecosystem…

Chincoteague Bay Field Station, a non-profit environmental education center on Wallops Island, is one of the festival’s primary organizers along with Black Narrows. 100% of the festival’s proceeds will go toward educating and empowering local students to protect and preserve the natural landscape of the Eastern Shore, from the ocean to the agriculture to the region’s, you guessed it, wetlands and marshes. You can read more about the field experience that the festival hopes to provide to all area 8th graders on their website here.

One small part of the natural landscape is Dixon Leatherbury’s Seaside Hops Farm in Mochipongo, VA, where Chincoteague’s Black Narrows Brewery harvests their hops.

The landscape of the festival will be broken up into six ecosystems–maritime forest, dunes, fresh marsh, salt marsh, intertidal and ocean–each with “breweries, artists, farmers, food vendors, scientists and researchers, mixed together, offering the best this area has to offer.”

“Within those ecosystems artists and scientists, food and beer vendors will be mixed in together, providing a one-of-a-kind experience never before seen here on the Shore,” Chapman said. “Plus we’ve got a killer line up of bands and performers.”

Bands and performers including the likes of Angelica Garcia, Mercy Creek, Tim Morgan, Heather and the Oyster Boys and Double Booked. Plus, there will be the ESO Arts Family Tent (festival admission is free for kids 12 and under) and plenty of food from local businesses like Nice Farms Creamery (ice cream!), Pico Taqueria (tacos!), Eastern Shore Coastal Roast (coffee!) and more.

…And, of course, the beer

You can’t forget the beer. MARSH Fest will be one of the first opportunities to taste beer from Black Narrows Brewing Company, a primary organizer of the festival and the soon-to-be first brewery on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

In addition to Black Narrows, there will be over 20 breweries from Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and DC, including a few local favorites like Dogfish, RaR, Cape Charles Brewing Co. and Rubber Soul.

“Coming from the brewery side of things, Josh [Chapman, Black Narrows co-founder] wanted to bring beer and brewers that had never been here on Virginia’s Eastern Shore,” Chapman said. “We also wanted to highlight local beer through Shore Craft and bring a great group of makers together.”

If you like craft beer, you’re not going to want to miss this premiere festival. But don’t come alone–bring the whole family to enjoy the food, music and art, and to do your part in preserving the ecosystem and natural beauty of the Eastern Shore.

Kristin Helf
Author: Kristin Helf

Kristin is a writer and picture-taker in Ocean City, Maryland. She likes puppies, pumpkin ales and watching movies for the Ocean City Film Festival in her spare time.

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