A bustling fall season, including the normally faithful crowds at the annual Waterfowl Festival in Easton, won’t be seen on the Mid-Shore this year because of social distancing restrictions. (Photo courtesy Len Foxwell)

Fall is a chance where everything turns golden outside, and the crisp air seems to bring our optimism.
After a simple summer vacation, events in the community have begun to reemerge with the fall foliage in October.
Kicking off the fall calendar were Cordova’s “Not Fair Country Fair,” a drive through event taking the place of their event normally held in August as well as the Academy of Art Museum’s Virtual Show, with items listed virtually and bonus events such as studio tours with makers.
More community fundraisers and events forge ahead as local non-profits and organizations take on 2020 by proceeding virtually, with caution, or in new formats.
While their events might not look exactly the same, it’s the same organization and same volunteers serving the same mission and putting their heart and hopes into an event meant to make the community stronger.
The Tuckahoe Steam and Gas Association, having the whir of machinery silent for the first summer in decades, is holding a free Fall Festival, Oct. 31- Nov. 1, a time for the community to have a “nice day of relaxation and enjoyment.”
There will be the steam engines, antique tractors, demonstrations and flea market usually found at their summer show. Same wheat thrashing, less sweat.
One of the most noted fall events in Easton, the Waterfowl Festival will also be looking much different this year. With several artists needing to travel across the country and many older volunteers, the festival deemed it best to postpone their 50th celebration for 2021.
Art lovers can instead browse art on a virtual gallery on the festival’s website, waterfowlfestival.org, and have carvings, sculpture, photography and paintings shipped in time for the holidays.
Additionally, the festival’s companion organization, Waterfowl Chesapeake, has created a “CommUNITY” event with other non-profits in the town for the weekend of Nov. 14.
The festival will hold a pre-registered event for ages 4-12 to paint a 7-inch decoy for a suggested donation of $15 and will host a “Drive in” lecture at the Ashley Insurance lot with Dr. Wayne Bell on feeding your birds this winter, a “Raptor’s Eye” exhibit and an introduction to the Jr. Duck Stamp contest with Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Avalon will also be participating with “Art for the Outdoors,” a drive or walk through art exhibition where you can explore and later purchase outdoor art. Building African American Minds will show “Bridges Allow Movement,” a short film featuring BAAM students and African American community members in a video reflecting different words of hope and inspiration. Christ Church will be featuring their uplifting music videos in their beautiful church sanctuary, while Eastern Shore Land Conservancy will host “Everything Oysters,” with work on display from photographer Jay Fleming with oysters to slurp on site or take home.
Make sure your kids join the Academy of Art Muesum with some rocks to hide and paint, stroll through the Talbot County Free Library’s BookStroll, and admire the Art Birds display from the Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center’s Afterschool Arts Enrichment students. Discover Easton will also be hosting elaborate pumpkin carvings to watch as well hosting the fun and festive scarecrow contest for downtown businesses.
Created as a small scale event focused on “commUNITY,” do be sure to visit a favorite non-profit or take time to learn about a new one.
Missing the festival food? The Easton Elks #1622, usually host of the Sportsman’s Exhibit, will be doing a pre-order for their fall classics with fried oysters, soft shell crabs, crab cakes, oyster stew, clam strips and more — all that you can pick up to take home or stay to enjoy with a craft beer.
Speaking of mouth-watering food, look out for drive through firehouse meals too like Oxford’s drive-thru of a seafood dinner platter with crab cake, fish flakes-trout, shrimp and sides on Nov. 13.
Be aware many departments are starting to do pre-orders so they have a good count of food to order- and so you don’t get left hungry!
Follow your local department on their social media for other fundraising efforts, such as Greensboro’s outdoor movie nights.
Another popular way fundraiser is raffle tickets, where you could win anything from a freezer full of food to a new firearm for hunting season.
The tickets also make a great gift for co-workers or family members. Virtual auctions are also a great way to score a good deal on larger gift. While COVID-19 may hog the spotlight, everyday emergencies still mean these units need proper equipment and gear to serve their communities.
Looking onwards to Christmas events, the Festival of Trees benefitting Talbot Hospice will moved from the ballroom to the tented wing of the Tidewater Inn this year on Saturday, Nov. 28. Their chosen theme is “The Red, The White & The Blue: A Celebration of an American Christmas.”
To further accommodate the underlying theme of social distancing, trees will tabletop size this year, measuring from about 12-36 inches, perhaps the perfect size for you to purchase and take home with you.
To get you in the holiday spirit, there will also be a “Candy Cane” striped scarf sale, their traditional poinsettia sale, and a virtual Santa themed run, where you can run or walk dressed in your Santa themed best at whatever time suits you while still supporting hospice!
Christmas in St. Michaels will also be going slightly virtual with an expanded online marketplace and auctions with a variety of goods for you or those on your list, and of course, you can still order their collectible 2020 Christmas ornament. On the evening of Dec. 12, you can also watch a boat parade with lit up in lights. Take a chance on a raffle for a private helicopter tour and dinner at the Inn at Perry cabin. Not only a fun event for the family, it also focuses raised funds to several community enhancement and education & child development organizations.
A few things to keep in mind as you go through these events. Be patient. Restrictions aren’t easy on you or the volunteers who are likely brand new to the new format. Be generous if able. With so many events cancelled and smaller crowds turning out, non-profits will really be feeling the pinch, so grab a bit of cash to drop in so your support can help them come back next year full force.
Be excited. The current climate has lots of things changing, and some ways of being forced to think outside the box are ideas you may even see stick around and incorporated for years to come.