To view online go to:

On the National Road
Bob Geier brought his 1903 Oldmobile from Washington, D.C., to join the caravan of antique cars, new cars, jeeps, trolleys, fire trucks, horses, bicycles and roller skaters in a May 7 parade in Cumberland that celebrated the bicentennial anniversary of the Historic National Road. The day's bicentennial events drew 3,500 people to the downtown area, said Kim Shirer, director of tourism programs for Allegany County Department of Tourism. (See story below.) Photo courtesy WFRB-FM, Frostburg.


Maryland's 9/11 memorial project unveils web site
A new 9/11 Memorial of Maryland web site is live. The site includes information about the memorial, which will be unveiled in September on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. It will be located on the plaza of the World Trade Center in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. A related exhibit on the observation level of the World Trade Center will also open.

The centerpiece of the memorial includes three large pieces of limestone from the damaged section of the Pentagon and a 22-foot artifact— three rusted structural-steel columns twisted together— from the collapsed World Trade Center towers in New York.

The web site additionally has news items that trace the development of the memorial and names of the 63 Marylanders who died that day. The Maryland State Arts Council is administering the project. For more information, call or e-mail Susie Leong, 410-767-6544.

Cycling enhances travel experiences across state
Slow down, pedal your way around Maryland. May is National Bike Month. Biking along a bike trail gives you up-close, authentic experiences, says the Maryland Office of Tourism, and it's a good way to exercise and enjoy the outdoors.

"Maryland's physical diversity— from the mountains of Western Maryland to flat, open spaces on the Eastern Shore— provides a multitude of experiences for cyclists," says Margot Amelia, executive director of the tourism office. "We have some of the best biking opportunities on the East Coast— both on-road and off-road.

"You can trace portions of the 200-year-old Historic National Road—especially in the western counties— and get a feel for this celebrated byway, the first federally funded U.S. roadway," she says. "In Southern Maryland, you can follow routes that reflect the origins of our state along the Religious Freedom Byway. And, on the Eastern Shore, you can cycle through areas that showcase Chesapeake Bay wildlife. Kent County, for instance, has a network of bike routes."

In tribute to the 150-year anniversary of the Civil War, Amelia also says: "We have new content on with information about six routes linking prominent Civil War sites." The routes are designed for well-conditioned cyclists and include Sharpsburg, Gettysburg (Pa.), and Harpers Ferry (W. Va.) as destinations. The page includes links to local maps and detailed information about each route.

Four welcome centers celebrate Tourism Week
Maryland welcome centers along I-95 in Howard County and I-70 in Frederick County will host representatives of area attractions, accommodations, restaurants, state parks and county tourism offices at Tourism Week open houses this week.

"These events are great opportunities for our tourism partners to interact with travelers," says Jennifer Jones, manager of the Welcome Center program at the Maryland Office of Tourism. "One year, one of our hotel partners was grilling hot dogs in the parking lot. We also get representatives from the State Highway Administration and state police who address road-safety issues. And, the Driving Drowsy Campaign (a group formed to raise awareness about the perils of driving while sleepy) provides coffee to travelers."

The I-95 centers (north and south) had at least 20 partners participating in their May 11 open houses. The I-70s (east and west) were expecting at least 15 partners for their May 13 open houses.

National Travel and Tourism Week, May 7-15, is the U.S. Travel Association's annual salute to "the power of travel" and the economic benefits that it generates. Maryland welcomed more than 29 million visitors in 2009. Those visitors spent nearly $13.7 billion on travel-related expenses generating close to $1.6 billion in state and local taxes and providing 134,000 jobs to Maryland residents.

Tubman parks bill gets Senate hearing
Sen. Benjamin Cardin provided written testimony at a Senate hearing, Wednesday, May 11, on behalf of a bill that would establish the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park in Caroline, Dorchester, and Talbot Counties, and the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park in Auburn, N.Y. A video of the hearing will be available on the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee web site.

By passing the Harriet Tubman National Historical Parks Act, Congress would authorize a National Park Service (NPS) partnership with the state of Maryland to operate a Tubman park on the Eastern Shore. A Tubman state park is currently in development with its visitor center scheduled to open by 2013. State officials expect that a joint NPS-Maryland park would have significant economic impact in the region, especially along the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway.

Also, the Choptank Region History Network presents a Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Conference, June 3-4 at Chesapeake College in Cambridge. The event includes presenters, workshops and guided tours in the area. Conference information and registration form available. And, on Sept. 14, Eastern Shore residents will convene in Washington, D.C., for Harriet on the Hill Day and meet with members of Congress to discuss both Tubman's legacy as the preeminent conductor of the Underground Railroad and the economic value of the proposed Tubman national parks.

POL champ gets finalist medal at nationals
Maryland's Poetry Out Loud champion, Kari Barclay, a junior at Richard Montgomery High School in Montgomery County, was one of nine U.S. students who advanced to the finals of the Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest, held April 29 at the Lincoln Theatre in Washington, D.C.

Barclay performed recitations of Lawrence Ferlinghetti's Dog and John Donne's Holy Sonnets: Death be not proud. He received a finalist medal and $1,000. Youssef Biaz of Alabama emerged as winner of the competition with his recitation of Elizabeth Bishop's Filling Station.

Poetry Out Loud is a creation of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. It's administered in partnerships with state arts agencies in 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. More than 365,000 students competed in the 2011 program.

Maryland Traditions wins Preservation Award
The Maryland Traditions program of the Maryland State Arts Council will receive a 2011 Maryland Preservation Award for Preservation Service from the board of trustees of the Maryland Historical Trust (MHT). Maryland Traditions was selected in recognition of "the Arts Council's leadership in and continued dedication to documenting, perpetuating and sharing the musical, cultural and artistic traditions of Maryland's people and places," wrote Harrison Wetherill Jr., chair of MHT's board. The award will be presented Friday, May 20 at 4 p.m. in the Miller Senate Office Building in Annapolis.

Cardin pays tribute to Historic National Road
Sen. Benjamin Cardin saluted the bicentennial anniversary of the Historic National Road— the first federally funded roadway in the U.S.— in a statement for the Congressional Record. "I ask my colleagues to join me in celebrating this national achievement," he wrote, "which reminds us of the importance of supporting infrastructure investments that promote trade and commerce, and in thanking the people of Cumberland, Md., for celebrating this national achievement."

Cardin presented a copy of the document for inclusion in the National Road Bicentennial Time Capsule that was dedicated at a groundbreaking for the National Road Monument, May 7 in Cumberland. The ceremony was held at the one-room cabin that George Washington used for his headquarters during the French and Indian War. Historic National Road is one of America's Byways.
Photo: Sen.Cardin with Kim Shirer, director of tourism programs, Allegany County Department of Tourism

Open call, May 14, for Game Change extras
Central Casting D.C. seeks extras, ages 21-60, for the HBO movie Game Change, which stars Julianne Moore, Ed Harris and Woody Harrelson. Filming takes place in Baltimore. To apply, go to Inscape Theatre at Stevenson University's Greenspring campus, 1525 Greenspring Valley Road in Baltimore County (21153) on Saturday, May 14, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Parking is available in the back of the campus by the theater. Bring a current snapshot. No phone calls and no children, please.  

Be on reality TV while on vacation in Western Maryland
If you have a compelling story to share on national television, you could win a stay in a luxury rental at Deep Creek Lake in September. The selected family or group will star in the reality show Getting Away Together, which is distributed to PBS stations nationwide. Film crews will document members of the family or group throughout the vacation allowing viewers to get to know the family. To enter the contest, send your story to Sarah Duck at the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce, 15 Visitors Center Drive, McHenry, MD 21541. E-mail submissions also accepted. Deadline is May 15 at 5 p.m. Groups may not exceed 20 persons.  

Arts Council honors Individual Artist awardees
The Maryland State Arts Council hosts a free, public celebration and reception to salute recipients of the 2011 Individual Artist Awards, Monday, May 16, 6:30 8:30 p.m. at the American Visionary Art Museum's Jim Rouse Visionary Center.

The program, which starts at 7 p.m., honors artists in these categories: choreography; classical music composition; classical music solo performance; dance solo performance; poetry; sculpture; world music composition; and world music solo performance. The event also features traditional Irish music by flutist Laura Byrne (an IAA winner), accordion player Billy McComiskey, fiddle player Jim Eagan and pianist Donna Long.

Annapolis museum sets dates for tours of Thomas Point lighthouse
The Annapolis Maritime Museum offers a limited number of public tours of the Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse this summer. Tours run July 16 and 17, and Aug. 13 and 14. A boat will ferry visitors out to the last screw-pile lighthouse in its original location, 1.5 miles offshore in the Chesapeake Bay near the mouth of the South River. Advance registration is required. Call the museum at 410-295-0104, or visit its web site for additional information. Also, learn more about this lighthouse or volunteer for restoration work with the U.S. Lighthouse Society by visiting Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse online.

Send 'Tweetable' deals for re-Tweeting
Maryland hotels, restaurants and attractions can send news about their specials or packages to the Maryland Office of Tourism for broadcast on Twitter. Messages must adhere to Twitter's standard for length: no more than 140 characters in total. A web address that offers more information should be a part of each message.

Notice of “Tweetable” deals will go to the more than 3,000 followers of the tourism office's Twitter account, TravelMD. Send tweets for specials to Liz Fitzsimmons.