NEWS IN BRIEF
Free mobile app guides Civil War travelers in state
With the 150-year anniversary of the Civil War's Maryland Campaign coming into full focus this month, the Maryland Office of Tourism has introduced a Civil War mobile app as a comprehensive travel-planning tool for consumers. Maryland becomes the first of six states associated with a regional Civil War Trails program to have a dedicated mobile app.
The tourism office developed the app in partnership with the Maryland State Highway Administration and the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area. And, the National Scenic Byways Program provided a significant portion of the funding.
"We've taken the two-dimensional guides and maps for our four Civil War trails, and are generating an interactive resource that provides visitors with an exceptional travel experience along those trails," said Marci Ross, assistant director for Tourism Development at the state tourism office. "It represents a natural evolution for Maryland's Civil War trails, which we began investing in 10 years ago."
The Maryland Civil War Trails app is available for free download on two platforms: iPhone and Android. Currently, the app covers 60 sites, museums and battlefields connected with the trail that reflects the Antietam Campaign – Gen. Robert E. Lee's advance from Virginia into Maryland, culminating in the pivotal Battle of Antietam in September 1862. The app also provides information about Civil War programs and events, dining and lodging options, and other tourism attractions along the trail.
Additional phases of the mobile app – addressing Maryland's other Civil War trails – will be available during the next several years of the Civil War sesquicentennial period, which ends in 2015. The roll-out of each phase will coincide with the 150-year anniversary of events that occurred along that particular trail. For instance, a mobile app for the trail called Gettysburg: Invasion & Retreat makes its debut in July 2013, 150 years after the Battle of Gettysburg.
Washington, Frederick counties host Civil War events
A large-scale re-enactment of the Battle of Antietam – with about 4,000 re-enactors – occurs in Washington County, Sept. 15-16, at Legacy Manor Farm in Boonsboro. This weekend event follows Maryland, My Maryland – a re-enactment of the Battles of South Mountain and Antietam that was held Sept. 8-9 in Boonsboro with about 5,000 re-enactors.
The Legacy Manor Farm event includes a variety of encampments, artillery demonstrations, period music and a Living History Village. During a Remembrance Illumination, Saturday, Sept. 15 at 7 p.m., 3,654 candles will be placed on the re-enactment battlefield to pay tribute to each of the soldiers who were killed in action at Antietam.
Sharpsburg marks the anniversary of Antietam with living-history interpretations and exhibits during its annual heritage festival, also Sept. 15-16. And, Antietam National Battlefield holds a three-day commemoration, Sept. 15-17, which includes organized hikes around the battlefield, a series of discussions featuring Civil War experts, living-history interpretations, exhibits, a family tent and a remembrance ceremony.
In Frederick, Sept. 21-22, churches in the historic downtown section open their doors as docents and living-history interpreters reveal how the town was a center of medical care for wounded soldiers during the Civil War.
BWI Marshall welcomes Spirit Airlines as newest carrier
Spirit Airlines is now serving Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. The low-cost carrier has moved its operations from Reagan National Airport to BWI, where it began, on Sept. 6, twice-a-day round-trip flights to Fort Lauderdale and one daily round-trip trip to Dallas/Fort Worth.
"Our new location at BWI allows us to better serve our customers from throughout the entire Baltimore-Washington region," says Mark Kopczak, a Maryland native and Spirit's senior director of network planning. "BWI provides Spirit with better scheduling flexibility and the ability to add flights to more cities nonstop, which ultimately translates to better service and more low fare options for our customers.
Spirit promotes itself as an airline with ultra-low base airfares, and a number of optional, fee-based travel services. Average domestic airfares at BWI Marshall remain lower than the national average and among the lowest of any major U.S. airport, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
Tourism office plans Tubman programming for 2013
March 2013 marks the 100-year anniversary of the passing of Harriet Tubman, the Eastern Shore native who became known for her efforts to help enslaved people in the region escape to freedom along the Underground Railroad in the years leading up to the Civil War.
The Maryland Office of Tourism is planning a weekend of events that pay tribute to Tubman, March 8-10, 2013. Two of these events include a groundbreaking for the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park and the official opening of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway.
"Beyond that weekend, we are also looking for Tubman-related events, programs and activities that we can include as part of a master schedule for Tubman commemorations during 2013," said Camila Clark, public relations and promotions manager at the state tourism office. "We welcome both already-planned programming and proposed ideas from local organizations, tourism offices and Main Street communities."
Arts Council annual report available in print, online
Maryland's arts industry generates $36.5 million in state and local taxes, and supports nearly 11,000 full-time jobs, according to the Maryland State Arts Council's newly released annual report for fiscal 2012.
The industry "pumps more than a billion dollars into our economy each year and has become the catalyst for neighborhood revitalization, improved tourism and creative collaboration in Maryland's 20 state-designated arts and entertainment districts," says Gov. Martin O'Malley in a published letter that introduces the report.
Available online, the 44-page publication features photos and artwork from some of Maryland's more than 350 arts organizations, and from individual artists in the state. The report also includes artist and arts organization profiles, descriptions of all Arts Council programs, and details of all grants distributed to each county.
The Arts Council awarded $8.9 million in operating grants to 244 arts organizations across the state during fiscal 2012. For more information about the report, call or e-mail the Arts Council, 410-767-6555.
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.
Maryland Zoo generates upswing in visitation, membership
The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore ended its fiscal year, June 30, with a total count of 409,843 visitors – an increase of 35,232 visitors over the previous year.
"We created several new promotions and events in fiscal 2012, including staying open late on Thursdays in August and bringing back the popular Zoo Zoom 8K race, both of which helped increase awareness of, and excitement for, the zoo," said Don Hutchinson, president and CEO of the zoo. "As a weather-driven operation, our very mild winter certainly helped as well."
The zoo also generated more than $1 million in membership revenue, up 10.4 percent from fiscal 2011. And, the zoo's largest fundraising event, Brew at the Zoo, attracted 38 percent more visitors and 45 percent more revenue this past fiscal year compared to 2011.
RAM promotion offers 20-percent dining discounts
More than 200 restaurants that belong to the Restaurant Association of Maryland (RAM) are offering 20 percent discounts on their menus during September in connection with the organization's Dine Out, Maryland! campaign. Coupons that are redeemable for the discount are available online. RAM is running this promotion in partnership with Share Our Strength's Dine Out for No Kid Hungry program – an effort to raise money and awareness for the fight against childhood hunger. RAM also offers a contest in which participants can win a year's worth of weekly $100 dining certificates.
Taste Maryland wine at September festival
More than 30 wineries from across the state will participate in the 29th annual Maryland Wine Festival, Sept. 15-16 at the Carroll County Farm Museum in Westminster. The festival features wine tastings, live music, local-restaurant fare, arts and crafts vendors, and wine seminars. Advance tickets are available online. A first-time festival event, The Wine Down 5K, is Sunday morning, Sept. 16, on the grounds of the Farm Museum. The wine festival is held rain or shine. For information about Maryland wineries and events, call 800-237-WINE.
Baltimore tourism group presents industry workshop
The Baltimore Tourism Association offers a professional-development workshop with industry speaker and strategist John Kennedy, Friday, Sept. 21, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Best Western Hotel and Conference Center, 5625 O'Donnell St. in Baltimore. Workshop topics address customer service, customer experience, and transactional vs. transformational sales. Tickets are available online.
Hospitality group schedules industry seminar
Howard Feiertag, a recognized expert in the hospitality industry, presents a morning seminar, Improving Profitable Sales in the Hospitality Marketplace, Friday, Sept. 28, at the Hyatt Regency Baltimore. Feiertag is a tourism and hospitality instructor in the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech. The Maryland chapter of HSMAI (Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International) has arranged this event. Registration, breakfast and networking begin at 7:30 a.m. The 90-minute program and an open forum start at 8 a.m. Early-bird registration ends Sept. 24. For details and registration information, visit HSMAI-Maryland online, or call 410-507-5025.
Southern Maryland park plans day of 1812 activities
Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum (JPPM) salutes the 1814 Battle of St. Leonard Creek – the largest naval conflict in Maryland history – with a festival and re-enactment on Sept. 22. The day includes living-history demonstrations, live entertainment and family activities. JPPM's Exhibit Barn, which features Farmers, Patriots and Traitors: Southern Maryland and the War of 1812, will be open. Also on Sept. 22, JPPM presents its annual Tavern Night, an evening of 1812-era music, games, drink and food.
Baltimore celebrates literary arts at yearly festival
The Baltimore Book Festival – a weekend extravaganza for the literary-minded – features appearances by 200 local, celebrity and nationally-known authors, Sept. 28-30, at Mount Vernon Place by the Washington Monument. Readings, workshops, panel discussions, cooking demos, theatrical presentations and musical performances will occur on the festival's 11 stages. Event also offers an array of food and beverage options, and numerous activities for children. Hours are noon to 8 p.m. on Friday, and noon to 7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.