History of the Salisbury Festival - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

History of the Salisbury Festival


  • 1980-A two-day festive event is held on the Salisbury State campus, which is a joint project of the Salisbury Wicomico Arts Council and the College.  The emphasis is on cultural events and exhibits.  Eight foods, including oyster fitters, were served.  Mittie Ring coordinated the event for the Arts Council. 
  • 1981-Salisbury Wicomico Arts Council moves to downtown Salisbury and Executive Director Roy Perdue approaches the Downtown Merchants Association for sponsorship of the festival in their neighborhood.  "Arts on the Plaza" continued the cultural emphasis of the previous year's festival.
  • 1982-In an effort to assist local non-profits, to promote downtown, and the under-used Riverwalk Park, the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce appoints Joanna Abercrombie to chair a "festival" committee tasked with coordinating community resources to develop a larger city-wide festival that incorporates already existing successful events.  The Salisbury Wicomico Arts Council, Newtown Association, Salisbury State College, and other organizations and individuals work together with the Chamber to create an expanded community celebration of the arts, local culture, and of course, food.  This marks the first Salisbury Festival. 
  • 1983-After months of planning, the first "Salisbury Dogwood Festival" is held the last weekend in April and includes the Arts Council's "Arts on the Plaza" a Baltimore Ballet performance, live music, 10k race, historic home tours of Newtown, ethnic foods, boats on the river, antique cars, children's theatre, and much more.
  • 1984-The date of the festival is fixed as the first weekend in May, which continues through the ‘90's.  The Coors-Schwinn Criterion bicycle race is added to the schedule and remains a part of the festival for several years.
  • 1985-Festival events and activities develop and change each year along with the sponsors.  The Newtown Festival and House Tours returns to its roots as a separate neighborhood fall festival.
  • 1990-The Coors Light Triathlon is added to the festival's Sunday schedule drawing over 450 competitors from the U.S. and abroad.
  • 1997-The Sunrise Rotary Golf Tournament becomes a festival event.
  • 1999-The Saturday schedule is lengthened until 8 p.m. and the reggae band "Image Band" is booked for the new Saturday evening Riverwalk Block Party.  Downtown restaurants held an evening wine tasting with hors d'oeuvres and an art show.  This also marks the first Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce and Salisbury Lions Club Salisbury Festival Kick-Off Golf Tournament at Green Hill Yacht & Country Club.
  • 2000-Comcast Delmarva signs on as the main corporate sponsor which helps the festival grown even larger and assists in supporting more community non-profit groups.
  • 2002-The Festival celebrates its 20th anniversary.  The festival has grown to be the largest festival in our area.  Past chairman are invited to participate in the ribbon cutting ceremony.
  • 2005-The Salisbury Festival date changes to the last weekend in April. 
  • 2006-The Friday night block party hosts two band playing continuous music all night long.   Stewart Soper chairs the festival for the 5 year in a row, setting a chairman record.   
  • 2007-The Salisbury Festival celebrated it's 25th anniversary by giving away dogwood trees, selling anniversary t-shirts and providing commemorative  posters to the vendors.
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