Culture Change Afoot on Eastern Shore

By Chloe Thompson
UJW Staff Writer

For years, Maryland’s Eastern shore has been balancing two conflicting stereotypes, a culture of coastal living, and a culture of hunting, fishing, and “living the country life.”

The two stereotypes are what are typically thought of when thinking of the Eastern shore. With the introduction of new cultural hot spots like festivals, restaurants, and shopping centers, comes a whole new group of people with different ideologies. The culture is more than likely going to change because of this, leaving the question in many minds if the culture will change, or stay as is.

“The two (cultures) don’t fit together at all.” said Kent Island High School Sophomore Shanna Pellegrin. “It’s a really unlikely combination. It’s almost two opposing political standpoints. You can tell that at some point, the culture here is going to change. And that feels like it’s going to happen pretty soon.”
Kent Island is the largest land mass in the Chesapeake Bay, and is the main connector to the rest of the Eastern Shore.

“People drive through here on the way to the beach, they’re saying, like, wow…this is beautiful. Then they want to check it out…they want to move here, raise their kids here.” said KIHS Junior, Lily Walsh. “A lot of people that are coming here have lived in the city before (are living there now), and they’re coming from areas with different cultures than what is around here.”

The addition of new communities and shopping centers has increased the population throughout the shore. According to the US Census Bureau, the population of Queen Anne’s County (the county Kent Island resides in) was 47, 798 in 2011, and was 48, 595 in 2012. This addition of 795 people brought the addition of different races with it, increasing the population of African-Americans from 4.9% to 6.9%. And with the inclusion of different races come new viewpoints and philosophy, aka, culture.

“People call them Western Shore-ers, like, no matter where they’re from, they’re going to call them Western Shore-ers. They’re from California; people here are going to call them that. (If) they move here from anywhere other than like, Centreville (a town further out on the Eastern Shore), people are going to call them that.” said Kent Island High School Senior Kylie Haarhoff. “Yes, I do think this is because they are different races, but different races want to come here. We have good food, and now we have music festivals. We’re getting very hippy, kind of Coachella vibes around here.”

Music festivals in and around the Eastern Shore seem to increase intrigue with the area. In 2010, Firefly Music Festival was created by a company based in Chicago called Red Frog Events. The festival is in Dover, Delaware every year, bringing artists on the line-up who aren’t what is expected of a concert in the Delmarva area.

“Chance the Rapper is on the lineup.” said KIHS Sophomore Maddie Gonzalez. “That’s not country. Where we live is so country. This kind of music wouldn’t have come here before. I guess you could say our culture is expanding.”
With new inclusions of people, entertainment, and shopping, the question still in the forefront of many people’s minds is where the Eastern Shore culture will go from here.

“It’s going to change.” said KIHS Freshman Taylor Potter. “We can’t stay country forever. Every society grows and changes. It’s almost silly to look at it differently, you know? We’re getting new vibes. A lot of people, who are, I don’t know, originally from here are against that. They want the same two, the boating and the country. New stuff is coming.” She said laughingly. “Just wait on it.”


Founded in 1975, the Washington Association of Black Journalists is an organization of Black journalists, journalism professors, public relations professionals and student journalists in the D.C., metro area. WABJ provides members with ongoing professional education opportunities and advocates for greater diversification of the profession.