The University of Delaware's festive Coast Day returns for the 37th year on Sunday, Oct. 6 at the Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes. The family friendly day includes recognition of the essay contest winners, seafood-themed contests, touch tanks, live music and more.

Fifth-grade Delaware students throughout the state have the opportunity to speak their minds and win a $100 bookstore gift card over the next few weeks thanks to this year's Coast Day essay contest.

This year's theme "Building Resilient Coastal Communities" asks entrants to describe what they have learned in the months since Hurricane Sandy and how they can best prepare for future coastal hazards such as hurricanes, flooding and sea level rise.

"The essay contest not only creates a friendly competition for students, but it also engages them to learn more about the coastal issues," said Chris Petrone, a marine education specialist with Delaware Sea Grant. "The contest enhances students' knowledge and writing skills in a fun and different way than what they might be used to."

The contest is also designed to develop research skills while creating an interest in environmental and coastal issues. The rules and information packet (available at gives a detailed description of contest expectations, writing prompts, vocabulary to include and links to possible resources. Essay entries must be less than 400 words in length, postmarked by Friday, Sept. 20 and sent to:

Coast Day Essay Contest

Chris Petrone

Delaware Sea Grant-Marine Advisory Service

700 Pilottown Road

Lewes, Del., 19958

Finalists will be recognized at Sunday, Oct. 6 at Coast Day, an annual educational festival promoting Delaware's rich marine resources. It begins at 11 a.m. at UD's Hugh R. Sharp campus in Lewes. The top three winning essayists will receive bookstore gift cards: $100 for first place, $75 for second place and $50 for third place.

The event is sponsored by UD's College of Earth, Ocean and Environment in conjunction with the Delaware Sea Grant. It attracts thousands of visitors and has won numerous awards for promoting environmental education and stewardship.

Aside from the essay contest, the day-long event includes several other coast-themed contests and activities. There will be a crab cake cook off at 11 a.m., featuring eight finalists who submitted recipes and will compete for cash prizes, a plaque and the opportunity to serve as a judge next year. There is also a "chowder challenger" which pits two teams against one another to see who can make the best chowder. Voting is done by Coast Day visitors, who will get tasting samples.

Organizers have also added a new oyster shucking contest that will take place at 3 p.m. at the Crab Cake Cookoff tent. The details and rules have not yet been finalized but more information will be made public as it becomes available.

Another new aspect of this year's festival will be the display of three to six-feet-long LEGO ships, constructed by the TEACH FLEET Community Lightship Initiative. In keeping with the spirit of Coast Day, the ships represent sea-faring vessels, from tugboats to aircraft carriers.

The day will also include a chemical magic show, treasure hunt, critter touch tanks and tours of UD's research ships.

For a complete list of contest rules or to learn more about Coast Day, visit For more information about the essay contest, contact Chris Petrone at (302) 645-4308 or