NEWS IN BRIEF
New trail links War of 1812 sites in Chesapeake region
With some 100 guests assembled, the National Park Service (NPS) officially launched the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail, July 30, during a ceremony in the Fell's Point neighborhood of Baltimore. The trail is a 560-mile land and water route that reflects the history of the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake Bay region. It connects historic sites in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., and traces American and British troop movements during the war.
"The launch of the Star-Spangled Banner Trail is a key part of our nation's bicentennial celebration of the War of 1812," said Sen. Ben Cardin, one of the speakers at the event. "It will provide Marylanders and visitors with a way to access and appreciate the sites engaged in our nation's 'second war of independence.'"
To help visitors navigate the trail, NPS plans to install 25 three-panel orientation kiosks and about 100 interpretive wayside exhibits along the route. Additionally, the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) is placing highway markers on state roads for the trail.
The trail links more than 20 National Historic Landmarks, 100-plus historic districts and properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places, 13 national parks, 39 Chesapeake Bay Gateways, and dozens of state and local parks. In addition to the Chesapeake Bay, the trail also spans the Potomac, Patuxent and Patapsco rivers.
"As we commemorate the War of 1812 bicentennial, the trail will help bring to life historic events that unfolded in our own backyard and changed the course of our nation's history," said Rep. John Sarbanes, who authored legislation to establish the trail. "I hope it will help visitors, students and others to learn more about our state's critical role in the 'second war of independence' and how the United States' victory set the stage for the spread of democracy around the world."
NPS' Chesapeake Bay Program Office and Fort McHenry National Monument and Shrine jointly administer the trail, in coordination with hundreds of trail partners – both governmental and non-governmental – throughout the bay region.
Trail visitors can tour historic sites along the trail, and bike or kayak through sections of it. They can also use a Star-Spangled Banner Geocaching Passport to record details about where they find any of the 30 geocaches (hidden containers) along the trail, which reveal that location's connections to the War of 1812.
Other speakers at the launch included John Maounis, superintendent, NPS Chesapeake Bay Program Office; Gay Vietzke, NPS deputy regional director, Northeast Region; Doug Simmons, deputy administrator, Maryland SHA; and Bill Pencek, executive director of the Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission and chair of the trail's advisory council. Jack Trautwein, Fell's Point town crier, opened the ceremony.
Six industry leaders join state's tourism board
Gov. Martin O'Malley recently made six appointments to the Maryland Tourism Development Board. The 24-member board oversees the Maryland Office of Tourism Development, the state's tourism-marketing arm.
"Each of the new (board) members understands the significant impact that tourism has on Maryland's economy and on our quality of life," Gov. O'Malley said. "We are fortunate to have their combined years of experience and insight guiding our tourism efforts and continuing the growth of this $13.1 billion industry in Maryland."
The appointees are:
The board is made up of leaders from hospitality-related industries – lodging, retail, transportation, food service and attractions – along with six members of Maryland's General Assembly and representatives from the Maryland Association of Destination Marketing Organizations.
- James A. Grube, owner, Slack Winery and Woodlawn Estate, Ridge (St. Mary's County)
- Patricia C. Heffelfinger, executive director, Maryland Soccer Foundation, Boyds (Montgomery County)
- James Matthew Neitzey, executive director, Prince George's County, Maryland Conference and Visitors Bureau
- Raymond L. Nelson, vice president, Veolia Transportation, Baltimore
- Winifred J. Roche, tourism and marketing manager, Harford County Office of Economic Development
- Gail E. Smith-Howard, general manager, Hyatt Regency, Baltimore
Federal grant to fund cabin restoration on Tubman Byway
A former slave cabin on the Eastern Shore's Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway will be restored and open to the public for the first time as a result of a $195,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski, Maryland's two senators, jointly announced the award, Aug. 3.
"This grant and the Byways program will help link Americans to their history – both geographically and culturally," Sen. Cardin said. "I'm proud that visitors will be able to come to Maryland to enjoy our state's natural beauty, while also learning about our nation's history."
"(Tubman) was tireless in her commitment to fight for those who could not fight for themselves," Sen. Mikulski said. "I am proud that these federal dollars will restore and preserve this piece of Maryland's history for future generations."
The cabin, known as the William Still Family Facility, is located at the Caroline County 4-H Youth Park, off of Rt. 16, outside of Denton. State officials expect the restoration to be done by spring 2013, in time for the 100-year anniversary of Tubman's passing. Funds for the project will be administered through the National Scenic Byways Program.
Grants go to National Road, SSB and C&D trails
The William Still Family Facility on the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway was one of three Maryland projects to receive funding through the National Scenic Byways Program in the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)'s 2012 Discretionary Grant Program.
An award of $42,000 will go toward new interpretive signs along the Historic National Road in Maryland. The signs are expected to improve traveler experience and help cities and towns along the route benefit from increased tourism. Another award of $55,000 will provide signage along the Battle of Bladensburg section of the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail.
Also, a $2 million grant through the Public Lands Highway Discretionary Program (part of the FHWA grant program) will fund the completion of the western 1.8-mile segment of the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal Recreational Trail. The 17-mile canal – a working waterway that accommodates 25,000 vessels a year, linking the Chesapeake Bay with the Delaware River – is surrounded by 7,500 acres of public land.
Two excursion yachts host christening ceremonies
Watermark, an Annapolis-based tour and charter company that operates a fleet of 13 vessels out of its home port and Baltimore's Inner Harbor, launched its newest excursion yacht, Raven, during a July 25 christening at the Light Street Finger Piers (by the Baltimore Visitor Center) in the Inner Harbor. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake became the ship's godmother, as she swung the customary bottle of champagne against its hull during the evening ceremony.
The 99-foot vessel with its signature purple hull can accommodate 149 guests. Its design was inspired by early-1900s steamships, according to company officials. Watermark offers private charters, water-taxi service, walking tours and public cruises.
A day earlier, July 24, Entertainment Cruises' National Elite made its debut at National Harbor Marina in Prince George's County. The 124-foot, three-deck vessel can carry up to 150 passengers. Previously known as Romantica, the vessel received a new name in honor of its move from Washington, D.C., to National Harbor. Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown attended the ceremonial christening and inaugural cruise with his wife Karmen Walker Brown, who served as the ship's godmother. Entertainment Cruises also operates tour boats out of other cities, including Baltimore's Inner Harbor.
Civil War partners discuss September strategies
Representatives of the Maryland Office of Tourism met with a group of industry partners to discuss marketing and logistical strategies for the September activities and events that commemorate the 150-year anniversary of the Civil War's 1862 Maryland Campaign. The meeting, held Aug. 2 at the offices of the Tourism Council of Frederick County in downtown Frederick, was a follow-up session to a May 2 meeting.
Several large-scale events are set for September in Washington County. A re-enactment of the Battles of South Mountain and Antietam, called Maryland, My Maryland, is Sept. 8-9 at Boonsboro Town Farm. Another re-enactment of the Battle of Antietam occurs Sept. 14-16 at Legacy Manor Farm, two miles north of Antietam. (Each event has about 4,000 re-enactors.) Also, Antietam National Battlefield presents a commemorative anniversary weekend, Sept. 15-17.
Events in Frederick include the premiere screening of Heart of the Civil War – a Maryland Public Television documentary that will screen at the Weinberg Center for the Arts, Sept. 4. Admission is free, though registration is encouraged. During the Sept. 21-22 weekend, churches and other locations offer tours in connection with Frederick – One Vast Hospital. Docents and living-history interpreters reveal how the town was a center of medical care for wounded soldiers.
Partners at the meeting included officials from the Frederick tourism office, Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area, National Park Service, South Mountain Recreation Area and one of the re-enactment organizations.
Arts center on Eastern Shore opens with FiberFest
Fiber Arts Center of the Eastern Shore (FACES), located in Denton, held its grand opening during FiberFest 2012, a four-day celebration of fiber arts organized by the Caroline County Council of Arts and the Heartland Quilters of the Eastern Shore, Aug. 2-5. The arts center occupies a renovated structure known as the Hardee House that dates back to the early 19th century. It has exhibit, retail, studio and instruction spaces.
Weekend events included classes and lectures with Elly Sienkiewicz, a prominent quilting expert and quilting historian. The Heartland Quilters hosted more than 40 fiber-arts vendors at its annual Shop Hop, and the Quilt Crawl allowed visitors to see fiber-arts exhibitions at different locations in downtown Denton.
The county arts council and FACES receive funding from the Maryland State Arts Council and the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority.
Submit nominations for Maryland Tourism Awards
Nominations for the 2012 Maryland Tourism Awards — as selected by the Office of Tourism and the Maryland Tourism Development Board — will be accepted until Sept. 24. Award categories are: Green/Sustainable Tourism; Visit Maryland (promotion of the state as a travel destination); Cultural/Heritage Tourism; and Economic Engine.
The awards pay tribute to individuals, organizations, businesses or governmental agencies that have significantly contributed to the efforts of the tourism office and board to boost jobs and economic impact in Maryland's tourism industry, and enhance the state's image to travelers. Winners will be announced at the Maryland Tourism and Travel Summit, Nov. 15 in Cambridge. Details about the award program and a nomination form are available online. For more information, call or e-mail Jennifer Jones, 410-767-6296.
Condor flights to BWI prompt visit by German writers
Seven German journalists and Capital Region USA (CRUSA)'s public relations representative in Germany visit Howard County's visitor center on Main Street in Ellicott City, July 19. The journalists write for a variety of German publications, which have readerships ranging from 100,000 to 700,000.
During their introduction to the Capital Region, the German contingent spent three days touring Baltimore, Annapolis and Howard County. CRUSA, the Maryland Office of Tourism and local tourism offices arranged the tour, which coincided with the launch of service by Condor Airlines between Frankfurt Airport (Germany) and BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport. Frankfurt Airport is a major European-travel hub.
CRUSA is the regional destination-marketing organization that promotes international travel to Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.
Updated byways publications set for release
A new magazine-style map and guidebook describing Maryland's 18 Scenic Byways will be released Aug. 9 at the B&O Railroad Museum's Ellicott City Station by the Maryland Office of Tourism and Maryland State Highway Administration. The byways are driving tours and routes that reflect distinct themes, such as the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad (Eastern Shore), Religious Freedom Tour (Southern Maryland) and Antietam Campaign (Capital Region and Western Maryland).
Summer restaurant weeks continue in August
Hagerstown Restaurant Week (Washington County) runs to Aug. 18 in its fifth year with two dozen participating restaurants. Baltimore County Restaurant Week is Aug. 10-19, and includes three dozen restaurants. And, Carroll County Restaurant Week returns for its second year, Aug. 19-26. Restaurants participating in these weeks offer prixe-fixe menus for dinner, and in many instances, for lunch, too.
Seafood festivals celebrate bay traditions
It wouldn't be summer in Maryland without these annual seafood festivals. Seafood Feast-I-Val, Aug. 11 at Sailwinds Park in Cambridge, is an all-you-can-eat affair with musical entertainment and craft displays. The American Bus Association named it one of the top 100 group events in the U.S. Havre de Grace Seafood Festival (free admission), Aug. 11-12 at Tydings Memorial Park, has an array of food choices, 120 arts and crafts vendors, music, even a car show. Chesapeake Crab and Beer Festival, Aug. 18 at National Harbor, offers all-you-care-to taste tickets with more than 40,000 crabs on hand, and 50 different beer and wine choices. And, the 65th National Hard Crab Derby and Fair runs Aug. 31 – Sept. 2, at Somers Cove Marina in Crisfield.
Pro skateboard, BMX athletes back at beach
The Dew Tour – an action-sports road show – returns to Ocean City for the second straight year, Aug. 16-19. With a towering vertical ramp, skateboard bowl and bike motocross (BMX) riders soaring in the air, the weekend event should be easy to find along the south end of the beach. This year's edition introduces a surfing competition. Admission to all events, including beach concerts, is free. A limited number of Premium Pass tickets, which offer reserved seating, may be purchased online.
Grand Prix of Baltimore tickets on sale
Tickets for the Grand Prix of Baltimore — Labor Day weekend — are available on the race's web site (www.RaceOnBaltimore.com) or by calling 1-800-745-3000. Last year, more than 150,000 fans attended the first-ever Grand Prix race in the city. General admission tickets are $15 for Friday, Aug. 31, $50 for Saturday, Sept. 1, $55 for the day of the race, Sunday, Sept. 2. A three-day general admission ticket is $85. Reserved seat packages, which include reserved seating on Saturday and Sunday, are also available. Single-day reserved tickets go on sale July 15. Paddock passes — $40 for one day, $65 for three days — give fans access into the Baltimore Convention Center to see race cars and crews.