Chincoteague Heritage Days to Feature Island Specialties From 1970s Cookbook

On left, a well-used copy of “Native Seafood Cookery,” a cookbook published in the 1970s by the Oyster Museum Committee of Chincoteague as a fundraiser for the museum. The copy, on loan from Ann Rodgers, is part of an exhibit at the Museum of Chincoteague Island. The cookbook on the right is a newer copy owned by Museum of Chincoteague Island executive director Bruce VanStavern. The museum reprinted the cookbook and is selling copies. Photo by Carol Vaughn.

By Carol Vaughn —

A Chincoteague cookbook from the 1970s is being reprinted as part of the Museum of Chincoteague Island’s Heritage Days 2021 celebration.
Heritage Days kicks off with opening day Friday, March 19, with both in-person and virtual events throughout the following week.
The theme of this year’s Heritage Days is “Celebrate Being Local.”
The museum, at 7125 Maddox Boulevard just before the bridge to Assateague, will be open daily except Sunday from March 19 through 27 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The museum is celebrating its 51st year in 2021.
The board of directors is inviting everyone with a Delmarva address to be their special guest, with free admission, during the week.
Only 20 people at a time will be admitted due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“We would be delighted to have 20 visitors a day during the slow season, so we do not expect that to be a problem,” said Donna Leonard, board member.
Leonard in particular encouraged residents who have not visited the museum to plan to visit during Heritage Days.
Museum exhibits include the First Order Fresnel Lens from the Assateague Island lighthouse; famous Chincoteague ponies Misty and Stormy; ship models; a decoy carver’s workshop; an exhibit on the Chincoteague oyster industry; and oral histories, documents, and artifacts that tell the story of Chincoteague Island life over the years, among other treasures.
Cookbook Sales and Cooking Demonstrations
The cookbook, “Native Seafood Cookery,” originally was published to raise funds to build the museum, formerly called the Oyster Museum.
Chincoteague businessman Wyle Maddox in the 1960s invited the women who were organizing the effort to found a museum on Chincoteague to select any parcel on Piney Island for it, and Maddox’ construction company built the museum at its current location.
Ground was broken on April 4, 1970 and the museum was dedicated and officially opened May 5, 1972.
The museum was one of only two oyster museums in the world — the other, which no longer exists, was in Paris, France.

Old photographs are part of an exhibit about Chincoteague’s seafood industry at the Museum of Chincoteague Island on Thursday, March 4, 2021. Photo by Carol Vaughn.

It operated as the Oyster and Maritime Museum through 2010, when the name was changed and the museum was completely renovated.
The limited-edition reprinted volume costs $10, with proceeds again going to suport the museum.
“Now we’re reprinting it because we got the request to do so,” Leonard said.
The museum’s current exhibits include a copy of the original cookbook, on loan from Ann Rodgers of Onancock, a longtime museum volunteer and former Chincoteague Carnival Queen, whose mother was among the museum’s founders.

A photograph of Ann Rodgers, the 1957 Chincoteague Carnival Queen, is part of an exhibit at the Museum of Chincoteague Island. Rodgers, a longtime museum volunteer, loaned the museum a copy of a 1970s seafood cookbook published to raise funds to build the museum. The cookbook is being reprinted to be sold to again help fund museum operations. Photo by Carol Vaughn.

The well-used copy includes her handwritten notes next to some of the recipes.
To launch cookbook sales, videos of three well-known area cooks doing cooking demonstrations using local recipes will be aired.
The museum will host a virtual event Saturday, March 27, at 7 p.m., featuring cooking demonstrations by Laura Davis, of the Tide & Thyme food blog, making shrimp stuffed peppers; Steve Potts, of Bills Prime Seafood restaurant, making oyster stuffing; and Andy Linton, who has cooked at the annual Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company carnival since 2003, making the carnival’s famous clam fritters.
The demonstrations can be viewed by visiting the museum’s Facebook page,, and clicking on Heritage Days – Celebrate Being Local 2021.
Online orders can be made during the show and the cookbooks also are for sale at the museum gift shop.
“When Assateague Was Home” Film Online Screening
As part of Heritage Days, the museum in partnership with the Chincotoeague Island Arts Organization is airing the documentary film “When Assateague Was Home” as a tribute to Roy Jones, who died in 2020 at age 101.
The museum produced the film in 2017. Copies of the DVD are available at the gift shop.
Jones, the last surviving resident of Assateague Village, delighted in telling stories of his childhood.
The film will be shown during Heritage Days, starting March 22 at 7 p.m. To view it, go to the Chincoteague Island Arts Organization channel on YouTube,
Museum Asking for Chincoteague Artifacts
This spring, the museum is kicking off a collections campaign, calling it the “Everything Chincoteague ROUND UP.”
“If you, like so many of us, have been cleaning out your closets, attics, garages, or storage spaces during the Coronavirus pandemic, maybe you’ve reconnected with your roots, glanced at that box of old movies, thumbed through family photo albums, unearthed valuable memories or found that dusty yearbook hiding in a box. Please DO NOT TOSS them. Share them with us. We want to take a look. Help us preserve those memories for future generations. Bring those treasures to us,” a press release said.
Call 757-336-6117 with questions or email [email protected]
Items of interest may include but are not limited to:
8 &16 MM movies
VHS movies
Family Recipes
Family Trees
Written Collections/Journals
Historical Documents
Looking ahead to April, the museum will hold its annual ArtSea 5×5 exhibit and sale.
Artists are asked to create 5×5-inch canvases to be offered for sale to benefit the museum.
Artist may pick up a canvas now at the museum.
The 2021 event will be virtual and held as an online auction, but the museum will offer a live “sneak peak,” according to the release.
The auction starts Friday, April 30, at 5:55 p.m. and ends Saturday, May 1, at 5:55 p.m.
Children’s art prices begin at $25 and adult art prices begin at $55.
The artworks will be on display for an in-person “sneak preview” at the museum’s Legacy Pavilion from Thursday, April 29, through Saturday, May 1, from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and online at BetterUnite.
A link for the exhibit and auction will be on the museum’s Facebook page.
The museum’s website is
A number of video life histories can be viewed at and audio life histories can be listened to through the Chincoteague Island Library website at


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