Cambodian traditional music, family-owned amusement park, and maple syrup farming among 2016 Maryland Traditions Heritage Award honors
Baltimore, Md. — Maryland Traditions, the folklife program of the Maryland State Arts Council, is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2016 Maryland Traditions Heritage Awards.
Inspired by the work of Garrett County folklorist Dr. Alta Schrock, the Maryland Traditions Heritage Awards have been given annually since 2007 to a person or group, a place and a tradition that embody and help to safeguard Maryland's living cultural heritage. Three awards will be given during a November 11 awards ceremony and concert starting at 7:30 p.m. at Montgomery College’s Cultural Arts Center in Silver Spring, 7995 Georgia Ave.
The 2016 recipients are: in the category of person or group, Cambodian master traditional musician Chum Ngek of Montgomery County; in the category of place, Trimper’s Rides and Amusements of Worcester County; and in the category of tradition, the maple syrup farming practices of Steyer Brothers Farm in Garrett County and S&S Maple Camp in Allegany County.
“The cultural and artistic traditions that make up Maryland folklife are integral parts of the state’s heritage,” said MSAC Executive Director Theresa Colvin. “By taking time to honor the outstanding stewards of heritage each year, we recognize the importance of the traditional arts in cultivating strong communities statewide.”
Special to this year’s event are a performance of Irish traditional music by world-renowned button accordionist Billy McComiskey and friends, as well as a conversation with maritime culture advocate Michael Vlahovich. Both Billy and Mike are Maryland recipients of 2016 National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowships, the highest honor in the nation for folk and traditional artists.
The 2016 Maryland Traditions Heritage Awards Ceremony and Concert is a ticketed, free event. To reserve tickets, visit http://mcblogs.montgomerycollege.edu/cac/maryland-traditions/, or call the box office at (240) 567-5775.
2016 Maryland Traditions Heritage Award Recipients
PERSON: Chum Ngek’s life is a story of artistic inspiration, struggle, immigration and community, all told through the lens of traditional Cambodian music. The Khmer Rouge mass killings of the late 1970s led to the widespread demise of traditional artists in Chum’s native Cambodia. One of the fortunate few to escape, Chum resettled in Maryland in 1982. He brought with him his mastery of three distinct traditional repertoires and the 15 instruments used to perform them.
Since that time, Chum has become the musical backbone of Cambodian communities in Maryland and beyond. He advises, teaches and regularly performs at the Cambodian Buddhist Society in Silver Spring. This work reaches an estimated 30,000 Cambodians in the region. On the national level, he often performs at the Kennedy Center, Smithsonian Institution and various folk festivals. In 2004, he received a Bess Lomax Award as part of his recognition as an NEA National Heritage Fellow. Maryland Traditions is pleased to honor Chum this year as a true state and national treasure.
PLACE: Noted amusement park historian Jim Futrell recognizes Ocean City’s Trimper’s Rides and Amusements as the oldest park in the nation continuously owned and operated by the same family. Established in 1893 by Daniel and Margaret Trimper, Trimper's is a place where longstanding boardwalk traditions are kept alive, from games of skill to carnival foodways, including the "Pride of the Boardwalk" merry-go-round, which is a 1912 Herschell-Spillman carousel. Over several decades, a brother-and-sister team, Maria Schlick and John Bilous, who were originally from Ukraine, have maintained the ride, a practice that Maria still continues today. Currently, Trimper’s is run by sisters Linda Trimper Holloway and Stephanie Trimper Lewis (the great grandchildren of Daniel and Margaret), along with their nephew Brooks Trimper. Linda and Stephanie’s spouses and grown children also play major roles in park operations, making it a true family effort.
TRADITION: Each winter, farmers in western Maryland’s Appalachian region wait for the rare conditions that allow for the production of maple syrup. The night must be below freezing, but the days must be above. The wind must come from the north or west but not the south or east. This knowledge exemplifies the sort of folk wisdom, passed from generation to generation, that is necessary for a successful harvest.
This year’s heritage award in the tradition category broadly recognizes western Maryland’s maple syrup making tradition, with particular attention on two producers: Steyer Brothers Maple Syrup outside Oakland and S&S Sugar Camp in Corriganville. Surrounded by roads and local landmarks that bear their family name, the Steyers of Garrett County have been producing maple syrup on family land since the nineteenth century. The youngest generation is the fourth to be involved in the tradition, which shows no signs of slowing. In Allegany County, Leo Shinholt runs a sugar camp that he began in the late 1960s with his grandfather, ran for decades with his brother, and is now sharing with his nephews.
For more information on the Maryland Traditions Heritage Awards, see https://www.msac.org/maryland-traditions-heritage-awards, or contact Maryland Traditions Co-Directors Chad Edward Buterbaugh (
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