Havre de Grace celebrates Swanfest

Event opens today with a mix of eclectic fare that's affordable family fun

October 15, 2006|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Sun Reporter

Take a hayride or paddle a canoe. Tour an 18th-century mansion and meander around a working farm. Hike along a wooded trail or fish from a pier that juts 300 feet into the Chesapeake Bay. Listen to a bagpiper or a rock band. Pick your own grapes, pumpkins or flowers. Shop, dine and mingle with all manner of costumed characters.

The 10th Swanfest will spread across Swan Harbor Farm, a 503-acre county park near Havre de Grace from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. today. A $1,500 grant from the county and the Maryland Arts Council, along with vendor fees, helps keep admission to $5 a vehicle.

"The whole idea is to offer something families can do together without spending a lot of money or driving too far," said Craig Lanphear, festival chairman and park administrator. "We have activities for everybody."

FOR THE RECORD - In an Oct. 15 article in the Harford section of The Sun, the operators of the vineyard at Swan Harbor Farm in Havre de Grace were misidentified. John and Cecilia League manage the 5-acre vineyard operation, which they took over in 2003.
The Sun regrets the error.

Entertainment will include Irish dancers, a balloon artist and Renaissance re-enactors who stage contests with swords.

"Kids are fascinated by them," Lanphear said.

The Swanfest committee rotates attractions and adds new ones each year in an effort to satisfy the 4,000 people who typically attend.

The panel decided to highlight the farm's 5-acre vineyard this year. Swan Harbor Farm, which dates to the 1700s, is thought to be the site of Maryland's first successful commercial vineyard.

Visitors will be able to stroll through newly planted vineyards, which are managed by Fiore Winery. Vintners Mike and Rose Fiore invite guests to pick wine grapes, learn about winemaking and buy a lug -- a vintners term for a bin of grapes -- to try to bottling their own vintage.

"People can see what happens after wine grapes are picked," Lanphear said. "There won't be any wine samples, though."

Visitors also will see nearly $1 million in upgrades completed this year. In addition to the fishing pier, the park added a lighted stone walkway that connects to a formal garden, an observation deck, a gazebo and boat slips

The property also is a working farm with about 200 acres planted by a local corn and soybeans farmer. The main house, a mansion that overlooks the bay, will be open for public tours.

mary.gail.hare@baltsun.com

Swan Harbor Farm is at 401 Oakington Road. Information: 410-939-6767.

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