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'Forgotten' South County will celebrate this weekend ANNAPOLIS/SOUTH COUNTY * Davidsonville * Edgewater * Shady Side * Deale


Below the South River, where Route 2 outruns the traffic an the fast food joints, begins the place they call South County. It's not much given to hoopla, crowd scenes or loud noises, but this weekend it will take time to celebrate itself.

The First Annual South County Festival will bring together merchants, crafts people, American Indians, historians, storytellers and dancers.

For eight hours on Saturday, at Herrington Harbour North in Tracy's Landing, they will show the stuff of South County's history and culture.

"I feel it's the forgotten part of Anne Arundel County," says Liz Shay, one of the festival organizers, who has lived in South County for about 10 years.

She hopes the 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. festival will help remind residents and visitors of South County's distinct personality.

44,000 residents

Home to 44,000 of the county's 443,000 residents, South County stands out in Anne Arundel as much for what it is not as for what it is.

It is not an endless array of shopping malls, fast food restaurants and subdivisions. It is farms and quiet bays along the Chesapeake, more like what much of Anne Arundel County looked like maybe 60 years ago, before it was overrun by the post-World War II suburban boom.

"It's always been much more rural, much more agricultural," than the rest of the county, says Ms. Shay, who lives in Churchton.

She says she moved there partly because she thought it would be a good place to raise children. For her son, who is 7, life in Churchton is "a Tom Sawyer sort of existence," she says.

"It's truly a transition zone, a cultural transition zone," says Robert Besse of Snug Harbor, one of the festival organizers who has lived in South County about four years. With the decline of agriculture and fishing -- two key elements of South County life -- the area is in the midst of change, he says.

South County history

Ms. Shay says she hopes it is not the sort of change she saw in her home town of Cape May, N.J., which she saw "go from a place that was forgotten by history to a place you can't go anymore. It's become a tourist trap."

The festival features the history of South County, including the life of the Piscataway-Conoy tribe, shipbuilding, Colonial crafts, religious history and the Civil War.

Nine South County restaurants will serve up a smorgasbord of their best dishes, filling out a festival menu that also offers American Indian dishes, beer and wine, barbecue, hot dogs, ice cream and pizza.

L Admission is free, with a $2 donation requested for parking.

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