OVHS to host Delmarva food lecture, Christmas open house

Date Published: 
Nov. 3, 2017

To continue their public outreach and education, the Ocean View Historical Society will host a lecture by local author and storyteller Ed Okonowicz on “The Food Lore of Delmarva — Muskrat, Scrapple & More.”

“This talk was made possible by a grant from the Delaware Humanities, a state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities,” said OVHS President Barbara Slavin.

The talk will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 8, beginning at 7 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall at Ocean View Presbyterian Church, where light refreshments will be served. Attendees will learn how the region eats, and how it reflects on the area, its past, and the area’s regional and cultural traditions. The lecture is free to OVHS members, with a $5 admission charge for the general public.

Slavin said she had never heard one of Okonowicz’s lectures before, but when browsing through the Delaware Humanities website, the topic caught her eye.

“I’m hoping we’ll get a nice crowd that will be interested in this topic. He said it’s one of his most popular topics. With the word ‘scrapple’ in there, it seems most appropriate for Sussex County,” she said, adding with a laugh, that she has not had muskrat, nor does she care to.

To help continue to raise funds for the non-profit historical group, a night of shopping will be held on Friday, Nov. 17, 5 to 7 p.m. at the York Beach Mall in South Bethany. That evening, 20 percent of sales at McCabe’s Gourmet, Sea Level and Made By Hand Fair Trade Boutique will be donated to support the creation of the planned Coastal Towns Museum and OVHS’s Hall’s Store Visitor Center.

“We’d like to make that a tradition — the Friday night before Thanksgiving — so people can do a little bit of Christmas shopping before Black Friday,” said Slavin.

She noted that, on Jan. 4, 2018, a dine-and-donate will be held at Just Hooked in Fenwick Island — with 20 percent of that evening’s dinner tabs going to the society.

“That’s really great,” she said. “Fundraising is more active than it’s ever been, and it’s more necessary than it’s ever been.”

The historical society will continue its Christmas tradition by hosting an open house on Saturday, Dec. 9, from noon to 3 p.m. The free event will allow attendees to get a feel for Christmas in Ocean View in the 1800s.

“We like to have an old-time Christmas open house where we decorate the Tunnell-West house, which is a Civil War-era house, as it would’ve been done in 1860. We keep the decorations authentic for that time,” said OVHS member Carol Psaros. “We like to take people back to that era and have the house smell like it would have, give people some Christmas cheer that would’ve been appropriate for that time, some Christmas cookies, spiced cider and maybe some eggnog. It’s varied over the years.”

“It just seems like a good way to get people who haven’t been in or haven’t visited in a while to come in and see the changes or just enjoy the afternoon with a cup of eggnog. It’s just a nice affair,” added Slavin.

Psaros said sometimes other buildings at the historic complex are open during the event as well, depending on weather.

“We will have our docents present. It’s an informal event, but if people come and see a picture on the wall or an antique piece they want to know more about, there are people in the house who can fill them in.

“In doing so, you tell them about old Ocean View, who the first settlers were and how the town grew. We’ll even have our two-seater outhouse open and decorated for people to look in and imagine what it might have been like,” she said with a laugh.

There will even be live music provided by a mandola player to listen to while attendees enjoy a beverage and cookies.

“This year, we’re going to try to gather a bunch of greens and help people make a teardrop wreath. We’re going to provide the materials for that,” added Slavin.

The event coincides with the Town of Ocean View’s annual Christmas in the Park event.

“We just try to have fun with it,” said Psaros. “Christmas has morphed into a lot of commercialism. Back in the day, from what I understand, it was a very quiet holiday. People got together as a family, gift-giving was not what it is today — certainly not the focus of the event. It was a different type of celebration… It was not as commercialized as it is today. That’s the feeling we try to bring back.”

Slavin said it is important for the group to continue to do community outreach events throughout the year, and she hopes more people will attend to learn about the organization.

“I think it gives us credibility,” she said. “I think our historical house tour was an example of that. We’re able to show the community our history. If you’re going to live here, you may as well know what it was like back then.”

The Ocean View Historical Complex is located at 39 Central Avenue in Ocean View. For more information regarding the OVHS and upcoming events, visit Those interested in donating to the society or becoming a member can visit for more information.