The Dorothy Megan is one of two riverboats that will rendezvous and "race" during a new ShoreRivers fundraiser. Photo courtesy of the Choptank Riverboat Company.

Choptank Riverboats Will “Race” to Benefit Riverkeepers

Over a century ago, riverboats transported Eastern Shore locals on day excursions and visitors from the nearby cities of Washington and Baltimore for relaxing vacations on the Shore. On Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022,  the long-ago riverboat tradition returns when the ShoreRivers organization hosts its first ever Riverboat Rendezvous and Race.

It’s an opportunity to have a good time, to support a worthy cause and have fun by dressing up in your favorite nautical attire from any era. (The event’s vintage logo could certainly serve as inspiration to check those trunks in the attic for an outfit reminiscent of days gone by). The Riverboat Rendezvous and Race benefit the organization’s RiverKeepers program, a mission to protect and restore Eastern Shore rivers (the Chester, Miles, Wye, Sassafras, and Choptank), through education, restoration, and science-based advocacy.

For a decade ShoreRivers’ fundraising efforts focused on the Wild and Scenic Film Festival, a collection of films grounded in a deep connection to the environment and a love of nature. This year, supporters and organizers wanted to try something new, a fun and festive event inspired by Mark Twain’s love of riverboat races, which he described as “two red-hot steamboats raging along, neck and neck straining every nerve.”

Maybe it won’t be quite that adrenaline-inducing, but it will be unique. “We wanted to create a distinctive opportunity to enjoy nature and the waterways we work to protect,” says Freya Farley, ShoreRivers Development and Events Coordinator.

“The Riverboat Rendevous is a brand-new event and promises to be an incredible afternoon,” said Isabel Hardesty, ShoreRivers Executive Director. “We’re very grateful for the energy and imagination they have put into creating this event.”

The nautical festivities begin at 2 p.m. with cocktails and hors oeuvres under a pavilion near the Suicide Bridge Restaurant, followed by a presentation of the ShoreRivers Award for Environmental Stewardship to Fred Pomeroy. Pomeroy, a Century Farm owner, waterman, former teacher, and a poet, is described as a “courageous citizen activist whose work has been a galvanizing force in the community on behalf of clean water.”

After the awards presentation, guests will board the vessels Dorothy and Megan and the Choptank River Queen, both reproductions of authentic 80-foot turn-of-the-century paddle wheelers, for a tandem cruise, race and fundraiser.

It’s an invitation for guests to raise their bidding paddles to bid in support of the Riverkeeper programs and equipment. The more money that is raised, the faster the boats will surge ahead as they race to a finish to see which boat was able to raise more money.

The proceeds support the RiverKeepers program “to protect and restore Eastern Shore waterways through science-based advocacy, restoration and education.” Funds will help pay for new boats and the equipment necessary to keep Riverkeepers outfitted with all they need to monitor the water and protect the area’s rivers.

For more information on the Riverboat Rendezvous and Race and for tickets to a “rollicking good time” on the river, visit shorerivers.org/events.

Sponsorships are still available at various levels and include complimentary tickets. To inquire about sponsorships, contact Freya Farley at [email protected].

-Niambi Davis