Rock Hall FallFest, the annual street fair that celebrates community, the arts, and, of course, the “return” of the oyster, will be held Saturday October 9, 2021 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. in the historic Kent County waterman’s village.

Tom McHugh - Guest Musician at 2019 FallFest
Tom McHugh – Guest Musician at 2019 FallFest
The event, which began in 1998, was founded by local organizer, educator, and musician Tom McHugh. This year’s FallFest is dedicated to his memory. Tom passed away in May due to complications from a stroke at the age of 83, but his spirit and vision will live on with the 24th edition of FallFest.

At 12:40 there will be a Tribute honoring Tom McHugh at the Bayside Stage. Joining in the Tribute will be the Rock Hall Elementary School Kazoo Band.

“Tom used to say that music isn’t just music,” said Peg McHugh, Tom’s wife. “He was using music to make people think and to help find peace in their lives.”

McHugh, a lifelong musician who began playing trumpet in a high school band, was also an accomplished banjo and harmonica player. He played in various ensembles based in Kent County and was the founder of The Mainstay, Rock Hall’s casual but cutting-edge music venue.

After retiring from more than three decades of university professorship, beginning at Washington College in Chestertown, McHugh was the director of The Mainstay from 1997 to 2015. Upon “retiring” again, he became liason between Kent County schools and the local art community, and, among his other accomplishments, established the Rock Hall Elementary School kazoo band. That whimsical group will perform in his honor at this year’s FallFest.

The Many Faces of Tom McHugh

Photos: Steve Atkinson – ShoreToBeFun