Tiny Treasures: It’s Time for the Eastern Shore Sea Glass and Coastal Arts Festival

Sea glass—the broken pieces of glass and pottery once considered the debris of the sea, have become treasures to the avid collectors who describe the search as addicting, exhilarating and therapeutic. “It can be found in so many beautiful colors all around the world along the shorelines of any waterway,” said Kim Hannon, founder of the Eastern Shore Sea Glass and Coastal Arts Festival. “Sea glass has grown in popularity over the past 10 years, and for most collectors, it’s the thrill of the hunt.” 

On April 22 and 23, this annual festival welcomes more than 90 artisans from around the country to the grounds of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Maryland. “We have amazing new artisans from all over the country plus many of our returning artists who always bring beautiful art, jewelry and so much more,” Hannon says.

Now in its 12th year as an unofficial rite of spring for sea glass lovers, the festival also offers lovers of the coastal lifestyle the opportunity to purchase books, mosaics, candles, clothing, pottery, wood, and ironworks. 

“I’m really excited about the festival,” Hannon said. “In past years we’ve had thousands of people attend from across the country. And we hope this year’s guests have a great time hunting for unique treasures during the two-day event while making some great memories and new friends along the way.”

For local collector and resident Penny Lins, springtime is the perfect time to celebrate what some call mermaid tears. “Being a shell collector, my eyes naturally gravitate towards the shells I collect. But sea glass fascinates me. The rarer the color, the more interested I am in trying to seek it out.” 

Lins praises the museum as a venue for the event. “Lots of vendors, lots of space, and lovely items for the collector or for the person who appreciates unusual things.” 

Sea glass expert Mary McCarthy returns to the festival to help identify shards for collectors. And no festival would be complete without live music and food. Food, beer, wine and cocktails will be available for purchase. (Bacon lovers, take note: there’ll be a food truck just for you.) 

At the Tolchester Bandstand, local acts will keep the music going on both days. On Saturday, the Chris Sacks band takes the stage from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., followed by Jayme Dingler from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday’s lineup is Anna Burgess (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.), followed by Dave Hawkins (1:30 to 4 p.m.).

For an alternative view of St. Michaels, Patriot Cruises offers a 70-minute cruise around the Miles River. Departure times are at 12:30 and 2:30 pm each day. Enjoy the view of the area’s historic mansions, plus locations used in filming the movie The Wedding Crashers. Cruise tickets are discounted for festival-goers; click here and enter the code seaglass. Full schedule and tickets are available here.