GI Festival to honor watermen

Quinton Sheppard - Posted on Jun 25, 2010 - 12:11 PM

Gwynn’s Island’s annual celebration will recognize the talents of local watermen this weekend. "Honor the Watermen" is the theme of the 62nd annual Gwynn’s Island Festival, scheduled for Friday night and Saturday in and around the grounds of the Gwynn’s Island Civic Center.

The "world-famous" chicken dinner will kick off the Gwynn’s Island Festival on Friday night at the Civic League building. Dinners may be picked up to go (drive through) from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., with sit-down service from 5 to 7. Dinner includes fried chicken, potato salad, baked beans, cole slaw, ham biscuit and cake. Tickets are $10 and available at the door.

The festival will open at 9 a.m. Saturday and will include fun for all ages and interests, according to Cricket Call, spokesperson for the festival.

Throughout the day, live music will be played by groups, including Yours Truly, After Six, Plastic Happiness, Juniper Green, Craig Todd and Friends and Southern Friends.

Call said the Gold Wing Road Riders Association Chapter "O" from Williamsburg will present a motorcycle display.

Many local books and their authors will be on hand. One book signing includes the 2010 edition of "Inagua," by the late Gilbert Klingel, who made his home in Mathews. It has just been re-released and will be available at the festival. Marcy Benouameur of Onemo, the author’s daughter, has written the introduction to the new edition, bringing Klingel’s story to the present. She will be signing copies of the book on festival grounds.

The book, a shipwrecked naturalist’s story of adventure and discovery on a lonely island in the Bahamas, will soon be available at various locations around Mathews. It can also be ordered directly from the publisher. Visit for more information.

"Anyone loving adventure and the natural world will enjoy reading this unusual true story," Benouameur said.

Call said the Gwynn’s Island Museum will be open Saturday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and local service organizations such as the Mathews Volunteer Rescue Squad, the Mathews Volunteer Fire Department, Coast Guard/Auxiliary, Mathews Sheriff’s Office and others will be in the Civic League Building. Free blood pressure checks will be available.

The annual pet parade will be held at 10 a.m., with registration for the event starting at 9:30.

Other activities include a golf-putting contest, with the top prize of two rounds of golf at the Piankatank River Golf Club; plenty of children’s games and more. "Buttons the Clown" will be making the rounds, Call said.

This year’s festival features a newly-designed T-shirt, Call added.

The 50/50 raffle ticket goal this year is $3,000. Proceeds go toward maintaining the Civic League building and museum. Contact Call at 725-7577 to purchase or help sell raffle tickets.

Finally, she said the Gwynn’s Island Festival souvenir booklet contains articles about Gwynn’s Island and advertisements from local businesses. The booklets are free.

"Everyone gets free parking and free admission," Call said. "Come early and stay late. There is something for everyone."