Wicomico County officials will bring the inaugural Delmarva Genealogy & Heritage Conference to the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center on Oct. 19-20. The new homegrown event is produced by Wicomico County Tourism and the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center.

The emerging popularity of genealogy sparked the idea for Tourism and Civic Center staff.

“A few staff members, myself included, have a personal interest in genealogy and heritage,” said Stephanie Mervine, assistant tourism manager for Wicomico County. “There are so many others out there like us.”

Once the idea was sparked, a well-rounded selection of genealogists, heritage experts, and true-to-theme vendors came together.

“We drew from our personal passion, working to create a forum where ideas and knowledge can be shared,” Mervine said. “It’s been amazing to see the process unfold.”

The conference’s keynote speaker is Joe Hardesty from Sons of the American Revolution, who will present both days of the event. His sessions include Introduction to Genealogy, Genealogy & Advanced Genealogy Research Online, History of the U.S. Federal Census, Researching Irish American Ancestry and Researching Our American Civil War Ancestors.

Other featured speakers include Terri Stern and Andy Hochreiter from the Association of Professional Genealogists, Kellee Green Blake of the National Archives and Shelli Nye of FamilySearch.

The conference will also focus on Delmarva heritage, and organizers believe the involvement of local heritage experts will help distinguish the Delmarva Genealogy & Heritage Conference from other conferences.

“The idea for a conference has been bubbling among our local heritage and genealogy experts for some time, and we see them as key partners,” Mervine said. “They recognize our area’s unique traits and have dedicated their lives to sharing Delmarva’s stories.”

Local speakers include Sylvia Bradley of the Westside Historical Society, Dr. Ray Thompson, an author and expert on historic preservation, Terry Phillip-Seitz, a genealogist, Mike Hitch, genealogist and author, Dr. Clara Small, author specializing in African-American heritage, Dawn Manyfeathers, a Native American storyteller, and Jefferson Moak, a genealogy archivist.

Attendees will be able to attend conference sessions of their choice. Topics include genealogy, ancestry, research, DNA mapping, Native American history, African American heritage, Irish American ancestry, Sons of the American Revolution and Daughters of the American Revolution.

Genealogy and heritage vendors will be on-site all weekend. Vendors include museums, historical societies, family tree companies, ethnic/cultural artisans, travel agents and more.

“It’s been very rewarding to put my passion for genealogy and heritage into this conference,” Mervine said. “The support we have received has been tremendous.”

The conference will be held on Oct. 19-20 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. each day. Single-day passes are $30 and two-day passes are $50. Tickets are on sale now at the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center box office, by phone at 410-548-4911 or online at www.WicomicoCivicCenter.org.