Watermen to join Hall of Fame at Soft Shell Spring Fair

CRISFIELD — This weekend’s celebration of the soft shell crab includes new additions to the Waterman’s Hall of Fame. Three men whose combined years of work total 180 plus the operator of one of the Smith Island ferries will be recognized 2 p.m. Sunday, May 24 at the City Dock.

The most senior in the group is Leon McMann of Tangier. At 84 years old he was 70 years on the water as a crabber and oyster dredger. His workboat is the Betty Jane.

 
David Laird, 75, from Smith Island on board Scotty Boy crabbed and oystered for 60 years. And right behind him from Crisfield is Lloyd A. Webb Jr., age 70, with 50 years on the water.

 
Each year an associate award is also presented to a person or entity that through their work supports watermen and water activities. The freight and passenger ferry Island Belle is this year’s winner. Its successor is the Island Belle II operated by Otis Ray Tyler as together they continue to be relied upon to carry soft crabs and supplies for watermen.

 
The original

Otis Tyler has captained the Island Belle II for 30 years. The original Island Belle will be recognized during the Soft Shell Spring Fair.

Otis Tyler has captained the Island Belle II for 30 years. The original Island Belle will be recognized during the Soft Shell Spring Fair.

, according to architectural historian Paul Touart, was built on Smith Island in 1916 and retired over 60 years later in the waters off Ewell where it now rests on the bottom. Mr. Tyler said his family has been involved with the service over 100 years, with his great-grandfather designated to carry the mail. He has carried the tradition forward for 30 of those years.

 
The Soft Shell Spring Fair is a Crisfield Lions and Lions-Lioness production and features entertainment and food from noon to 4 p.m. all at the City Dock. There will be local seafood, arts and crafts, children’s activities including fire engine rides, and music by Blue Crab Crossing. At 1:30 there will be a pet parade, and at 2:45 workboat races. Admission to the site is free.

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