Smyrna’s 2019 Birdhouse/Feeder Decorating Contest

Smyrna’s 2019

Celebrating Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge

Sponsored by the
Smyrna Downtown
Renaissance Association
P.O. Box 163 Smyrna, DE 19977

Phone: 302-653-6449


The birdhouse and bird feeder decorating event is sponsored by the Smyrna Downtown Renaissance Association (SDRA). The Association expresses its gratitude to Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge for their generosity in providing the birdhouses and feeders for the competition.  Clip and return the form below to the address at the bottom of the form.

Smyrna, Delaware’s Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge

The 16,251 acre Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge is located on the Delaware Bay in Kent County near Smyrna, Delaware. Established in 1937 as a wildlife refuge, it provides feeding, resting, and breeding grounds for migratory birds along the Atlantic Flyway. The Refuge is known internationally and attracts visitors from around the world.  Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge was the fourth national site commemorated in 2015 in the United States Mint series of America the Beautiful Quarters.  Conde Nast Traveler Magazine selected Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge as Delaware’s entry in its The Most Beautiful Place in Every U.S. State series in its July 21, 2017 magazine.  So, the Smyrna Downtown Renaissance Association is celebrating the Refuge as its hometown special place with its 2019 Placemaking Project, a birdhouse decorating contest, and you are invited to join the fun!

The birdhouse/feeder decorating contest has four classes – Youth, Adult, Freestyle and Invitational.  Youth Class entries are for children from 5 to 14 years of age; Adult Class entries are from age 15 and older.  Invitational Class entries are from invited artists in the community who are being asked to design an entry that will be auctioned at a reception at The Painted Stave.  Proceeds will benefit the Smyrna Downtown Renaissance Association. Entries in these three classes will decorate a free bluebird house or bird feeder provided by the Association (Entries are limited to ten entries in each class, so be certain to register early!) and will compete for valuable prizes.  All participants will receive a certificate of appreciation.  Judging will be by a panel of judges empanelled by the Association.

Freestyle is the final class, and entries will be a birdhouse built from scratch by the contestant without using the kit provided for other classes.  These could include replicas of historic buildings (e.g. the Plank House, Smyrna Museum, Smyrna Opera House, Clements Mansion) or any whimsical theme selected by the entrant.

Entrants in the Youth and Adult classes can register for the contest and pick up their free wooden birdhouse/feeder at Smyrna Cards and Gifts (302-566-8553), 16 South Main Street, Smyrna, Del., from 10 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday – Saturday beginning March 1, 2019.

The completed decorated birdhouses/feeders in all classes will be accepted from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 19, 2019 at The Painted Stave, 106 West Commerce Street, Smyrna, Del.

Important Dates for Smyrna’s 2019 Birdhouse/Feeder Decorating Contest

March 1, 2019 through March 30, 2019

Register and pick up an unfinished birdhouse or feed kit at Smyrna Cards and Gifts from 10 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

May 19, 2019

  • Deliver completed entries to The Painted Stave from 10:00 a.m. to noon.  Other times and locations can be arranged by calling (302) 514-9816.
  • Winning entries in each class will be displayed in the new garden area at The Painted Stave  during a reception with complimentary refreshments and cash bar 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
  • Auction of entries to benefit The Smyrna Downtown Renaissance Association will be held from 3:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on May 19th.
  • Friends of Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge Annual Photo Contest entries will be  on display.
  • Special presentation and book signing by noted photographer and author Kevin Fleming.

Some Tips for Decorating Your Birdhouse or Feeder

Is Painting Birdhouses Good for Birds?

Participants can let their imaginations run wild for decorative-only birdhouses, not intended for nesting birds. However, here are some helpful tips if you wish to use your project for nesting birds.  Birds aren’t always picky about their accommodations, and they will nest in painted birdhouses and eat at feeders if the size, shape, and placement of the house or feeder meets their needs. Painting isn’t always the best choice for birdhouses or feeders, because poorly-chosen colors can be dangerous to the birds. Bright colors can draw unwanted attention that will attract predators, while toxic paints can be poisonous to both adult birds and fledglings.  Dark colors in sunny areas can also overheat the house, making it smothering for young birds or fostering toxic levels of bacteria growth in a birdhouse.

Best Birdhouse/Feeder Colors

There are times, however, when carefully chosen colors can be beneficial for a birdhouse or feeder. The best colors for a birdhouse or feeder depend on where it will be situated. In general, muted colors can help the birdhouse or feeder blend into its environment and keep nesting birds safe from predators. If the birdhouse or feeder will be mounted in a colorful flower garden, choose more colorful or bold prints that coordinate with nearby floral hues. White paint is recommended for purple martin houses to help reflect heat away from these open area houses, and any house in a sunny area can benefit from that heat reflection on hot summer days. Florescent, metallic or iridescent paints should be avoided because of their brightness and other additives could be harmful to wildlife. While cedar and cypress houses are naturally durable and do not require painting, pine or plywood birdhouses and feeders can be made more weatherproof and long-lasting with a good coat of quality paint.  Paint can help seal small cracks that would otherwise widen in the summer heat and destroy the house’s or feeder’s integrity, and a good paint job can revitalize an older birdhouse or feeder.

Tips for Painting Birdhouses/Feeders

■ Use water-based exterior latex paint, and always avoid lead-based or creosote paints that may be toxic to birds. Consider trying alternative, eco-friendly or naturally derived paints as well, or opt for natural or organic stains rather than paints.

■ Avoid painting the inside of a birdhouse or around the lip of the entrance hole. Growing birds may peck at the paint.

■ When painting, take care that the paint does not block or seal small ventilation holes or drainage holes in the house. These holes are necessary for a safe birdhouse and should be kept open and useful at all times.

■ Allow the paint to dry thoroughly for several days before mounting the house or feeder  for birds to use. This will allow potentially toxic odors to disperse before birds investigate the house, and will keep those odors from attracting nearby predators.

■ When cleaning the birdhouse or feeder at the end of each breeding season, check for peeling paint, chips or fading. Repaint or reseal the house as necessary, to keep the paint job in good, safe condition.

■ Most of all, have fun and use your imagination!

Birdhouse/Feeder Contest 2019 Entry Form

Posted in Posts | Comments Off on Smyrna’s 2019 Birdhouse/Feeder Decorating Contest

Smyrna’s 250th Anniversary Committee Concludes, Donating Remaining Funds to Four Organizations

The Smyrna 250th Committee which celebrated the Town of Smyrna’s 250th Anniversary concluded its year of celebrations by donating the remaining funds to the four principle organizations which led the celebration including the Smyrna Opera House, the Duck Creek Historical Society, the Smyrna-Clayton July 4th Foundation and the Citizens Hose Company’s Marching Band.  Checks for $1576.00 were presented to (pictured below left to right) Donna Cantillon of the Smyrna Opera House which hosted the Cotillion and the Mayor George Wright Tribute Dinner, Brooks Keen of the Duck Creek Historical Society which published a book on the town’s 250 year history, Joanne Masten of the Smyrna-Clayton July 4th Foundation which organized the parade and Bob Merrill of the Citizen’s Hose Company who organized the bands including the internationally acclaimed Romford Drum and Trumpet Corps from Romford, England.

250th Anniversary Committee Concludes, Donating Remaining Funds
Photo: Gene Shaner, 960 W. South St., Smyrna, DE 19977

Posted in Posts | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Smyrna’s 250th Anniversary Committee Concludes, Donating Remaining Funds to Four Organizations

Smyrna’s 250th Anniversary Wraps Up with a Free Concert!

The Smyrna 250 Committee is sponsoring a FREE concert featuring the popular group “Party Fowl Band” on Saturday, December 15, 2018 from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. in the Auditorium at the John Bassett Moore Middle School, located at the intersection of West South Street and South Market Street Plaza in Smyrna, Delaware’s Historic District.

During the first intermission, free anniversary cake and hot chocolate will be served. A plaque recognizing members of the 250th Anniversary Founders Circle, whose generous support funded the yearlong celebration, also will be presented to the Town of Smyrna. The plaque will be on permanent display in the Smyrna Town Hall.

“Party Fowl Band” is a high-energy cover band based out of the Smyrna-Clayton area. The band consists of six good friends that decided to put together a high-level party band. The band is comprised of seasoned musicians who have been in the cover scene for many years. Their purpose is simple: play music that people want to hear, people can dance to and most importantly, throw one great party!

This will also be a final opportunity to purchase a piece of history which makes a great holiday gift. Special deals on 250th Anniversary memorabilia will be offered during the intermissions at the concert.

Earlier in the day, the Town of Smyrna will present an array of family-friendly holiday events and activities from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. featuring seasonal music, a tree lighting at Town Hall on South Market Street Plaza and a visit from St. Nick! Visitors are invited to make a day of it by enjoying dinner at nearby restaurants, including Sheridan’s Irish Pub, Maverick Texas BBQ, and the Lemon Leaf Cafe, all on West Commerce Street within a block of the festivities.

The Smyrna 250th Committee is associated with the Smyrna-Clayton July 4th Foundation. The Committee has met monthly since August 2017 to organize a varied menu of family friendly events celebrating the town’s rich history. The Committee has raised more than $50.000.00 to fund many free events and activities. The events on December 15th will be the grand finale for a yearlong celebration that commemorates the community and its residents, both past and present. For more information about the Committee and events, visit Smyrna 250 on Facebook or call (302) 653-6449.

You are invited to ring out a year long celebration of Smyrna’s rich history during free events on Saturday December 15, 2018 including a free concert by the popular local band “Party Fowl Band.”



Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Comments Off on Smyrna’s 250th Anniversary Wraps Up with a Free Concert!

Renaissance Association Presents Annual Awards, 2018

SMYRNA, DEL., Nov. 29, 2018 – The Smyrna Downtown Renaissance Association, a non profit organization which encourages the beautification and preservation of Smyrna’s Historic District, presented its 2018 Community Service Awards at its Annual Reception and Meeting at the Painted Stave earlier this month.

Association President Maria Newill (l) presents the 2018 Star of Smyrna Award to Mike Rasmussen (c) and Ron Gomes(r) of the Painted Stave.

This year’s Star of Smyrna Award, the Association’s most prestigious, was presented to Mike Rasmussen and Ron Gomes for their vision and dedication in establishing The Painted Stave, the first stand-alone craft distillery in the State of Delaware, which has been a dynamic force in the revitalization of the Town of Smyrna, Del.

Each year the Association recognizes an outstanding public official for their work in promoting and improving the Town of Smyrna, and especially its Historic District.  This year, the Association honored Senator Bruce Ennis in recognition of his many years of service in the Citizens Hose Company, in the Delaware General Assembly and Senate, which has improved the quality of life and enhanced public safety for many generations of Smyrna residents and for his support for cultural and historical institutions including the Smyrna Opera House, the Duck Creek Historical Society, the Duck Creek Regional Library and the July 4th Foundation, which has cultivated a sense of place for Smyrna’s residents and made our community a better place to live.

Smyrna Downtown Renaissance Association President Maria Newill (l)
presents Senator Bruce Ennis (r) with the Association’s
2018 Outstanding Public Official Award.

This year, the Association’s Ellen Sayers Civic Beautification Award was presented to Valerie White for her promotion of 1000 Trees For Smyrna, for improving the quality of life in Smyrna’s Historic District and for making the Town a better place to live work and play.

Smyrna Downtown Renaissance Association President Maria Newill (l)
presents Councilwoman Valerie White (r) with the Association’s
2018 Ellen Sayers Civic Beautification Award.

Jason Kokotaylo received the Ken and Regina Brown Historic Education Award for his outstanding drawings of historic buildings for the 250th Anniversary coloring book.  Kokotaylo also provided drawings and maps for numerous brochures, including the Tree Tour for Historic Belmont Hall and the 250th Anniversary Tour of Smyrna’s Historic Homes.

The Smyrna Downtown Renaissance Association works to encourage the preservation  and improvement of both residential, commercial and institutional historic structures in Smyrna’s Historic District.  This year a residential award and grant was presented to Jeremy Reed for his restoration of the Tighlman Building located at 13 East Commerce Street and a Commercial/Institutional award and grant was presented to The Painted Stave in recognition of their expansion of The Painted Stave, located at 106 West Commerce Street, while maintaining the historic character of the property.

Jeremy Reed (r) accepts his façade grant award for his restoration of
the Tighlman Building from Association President Maria Newill (l).

The members of the Association elected Attorney Maria Paris Newill of West Commerce Street to another term as President.  Newill also is a member of Smyrna’s Redevelopment Authority.  Other officers elected at the meeting included Ruth M. Bower of North Main Street as Vice President; Allan Ryder, who is an Editor at the Delaware State News, who resides on West South Street, as Treasurer; Attorney William Wagner of East Commerce Street as Assistant Treasurer; and Joanne Masten of South Street as Secretary.

The Smyrna Downtown Renaissance Association has provided grants to organizations like the Duck Creek Historical Society for its archival initiative and a $5,000.00 grant to assist with the publication of the anniversary’s commemorative book.  It provided an initial $5,000.00 interest free seed loan to Smyrna’s 250th Organizing Committee to allow for the purchase of commemorative items for resale in order to raise funds for this wonderful yearlong celebration.  This year the Association continued to offer grants for historical markers, and street trees (including its Grant-a-Tree/Plant-a-Tree program) and also funded anniversary and holiday decorations for  public streets.

The Association maintains the planters on South Main Street and at the Four Corners at the Library and Smyrna Opera House.  It also maintains plantings to screen the South Main Street Public Parking Area and the planting at the old Post Office.

The Smyrna Downtown Renaissance Association celebrated Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge as a hometown special place with its 2018 Placemaking Project, a birdhouse decorating contest. The public was invited to decorate a bluebird house provided by Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge and to compete for valuable cash prizes provided by the Association.  The Project was a great success under the guidance of Karen Gill, who has actively kept the association connected with Delaware Downtown and the National Main Street Center.

More than 600 people voted for their favorite entries at I ♥ Smyrna School District Day.  In March, all of the entries were displayed in the windows of Ward Hall, courtesy of Bill and Mary Whitaker.  Winners were displayed at Smyrna’s Arbor Day and were auctioned off generating $600.00 which was donated to Councilwoman White’s “1000 Trees for Smyrna.”  Overall, the project was a great success and brought the Refuge and the Town closer together.

The Association successfully partnered with the Town on an $80,500.00 Delaware State Community Building Block Grant to design and plant a pocket park near the Maverick Texas Barbeque and new light posts with cameras, so that the Smyrna Police Department can monitor downtown.  Thank you to all of the members who helped to plant the park on Earth Day.

The Association advocates for historic preservation each year in May during National Historic Preservation Month through varied programs and events including the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s “This Place Matters Campaign.” The celebration included guided tours of the Historic District led by Jim Wolfe and other activities designed to highlight the Town’s rich architectural heritage. The Association staged a “This Place Matters” photo op at 132 South Main Street and empanelled a blue ribbon Demolition by Neglect Committee, which launched an in-depth study of this problem and identified private and public sector assistance programs which can assist owners of historic homes to maintain them.  A comprehensive presentation to Town Council is planned for early in the New Year.

The Association also is advocating expansion of the Historic District to protect cultural resources and historic structures, including the old Wayside Inn.  Finally, the Association presented a book titled Restoring Old Houses to Smyrna Public Library.  This encyclopedic volume offers valuable guidance on how to address issues with older structures whether for the DIY type or evaluating work by a contractor.

The Smyrna Downtown Renaissance Association is looking forward to a busy and productive new year.  Membership is open to the public and anyone interested in historic preservation or community beautification is invited to join.  For more information, phone (302) 653-6449 or visit the Association’s website at

Photographs by Dylan McDowell

Posted in Posts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Renaissance Association Presents Annual Awards, 2018

250th Committee Receives $2,500 Raised for Smyrna Community Dinner, 11/18/18

Smyrna 250th Committee Co-Chairs Brooks Keen (left) and Joanne Masten (right) present a $2,500.00 to the Reverend Dr. John Riley (center) of the Smyrna-Clayton Ministerium for the Smyrna Community Dinner on Sunday, November 18th at the Citizen’s Hose Company, one of the signature events for the Community’s year long celebration of the 250th Anniversary of the Town of Smyrna, Delaware’s founding.  Funds were raised by subscription to The Founders’ Circle and the sale of commemorative anniversary items including shirts, hats, ornament, yard flags and coins.  The last of these commemorative items is still for sale at Smyrna Cards and Gifts, 16 South Main Street, while supplies last.  The anniversary celebration will wrap up on December 15, 2018 with a free concert featuring local popular group Party Fowl, in the Auditorium at John Bassett Moore Middle School.

Posted in Posts | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on 250th Committee Receives $2,500 Raised for Smyrna Community Dinner, 11/18/18