Maryland Tourism spotlight shines on local products
BALTIMORE (June 22) – “Buy local.” That’s the July focus of the Maryland Tourism Office for its monthly Maryland Spotlight campaign. The Tourism Office is urging visitors and residents to take advantage of the state’s homegrown products, ranging from fresh produce to seafood to Maryland wine. This campaign overlaps the state’s “Buy Local Challenge Week,” July 18-26 – a time when Marylanders are encouraged to eat at least one local product each day.
“The bounty of our land and water, as well as the Marylanders who secure these products, are key to Maryland’s unique character,” Gov. Martin O’Malley said. “When you buy local, you are getting a fresh, quality product. You’re also preserving open space by keeping farmers on the land; supporting the economic advantages of sustaining viable, local producers; and forging a smart, green and growing future for all Marylanders.”
“Buying local” extends to investing in local resources for summer vacations, according to tourism officials. “We’re suggesting that visitors have a lot of choices in Maryland,” said Margot Amelia, director of the Tourism Office. “In addition to our abundant culinary treasures, we have: coastal resorts; thriving arts communities; urban nightlife; heritage landmarks; and magnificent mountain destinations.”
Amelia also mentions regional efforts to highlight local products, such as the Southern Maryland Trails: Earth, Art, Imagination program initiated by the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission (SMADC). The trails are a network of farms, art studios and galleries, eateries, and lodgings in five Maryland counties: Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.
Specific locations along the Southern Maryland Trails are described in both a free guidebook and online. “The emphasis is on quality and authenticity: things that are handmade, locally grown and harvested,” says Christine Bergmark, SMADC’s executive director.
Another initiative that promotes home-grown products is a series of three agricultural tours in Caroline (July 22), Dorchester (July 23) and Talbot (July 21) counties, sponsored by the Mid-Shore Regional Council and Dockside Express Cruises and Tours. Each county tour has four stops that provide a close look at local farms and a catered lunch featuring local ingredients.
An assortment of festivals and events that showcase local food are planned for July. They include: Taste of Cambridge, July 11 in Dorchester County; Potomac Jazz and Seafood Festival, July 12 in St. Mary’s County; J. Millard Tawes Crab and Clam Bake, July 15 in Somerset County; and Howard County Restaurant Week, July 27-Aug. 9.
Arranging a getaway that includes exposure to Chesapeake Bay seafood, local farmers’ markets, Maryland wine trails and artisan studios is sure to provide a pleasurable experience for visitors, Amelia says.
“For instance, picking up items for a picnic lunch at the Downtown Cumberland Farmers’ Market,” she says, “and then taking a hike or bike trip on the Great Allegheny Passage in Western Maryland – which connects with the C&O Canal towpath – is a great way to spend a Saturday.”
Amelia adds that Maryland has plenty of local festivals, county fairs, and other events and attractions – especially during the summer – that feature Maryland’s signature products.
Fairs and expositions
Among those events are: Baltimore County 4-H Fair, July 9-12 in Timonium; Kent County Fair, July 16-18 in Tolchester; TriState Festival Auction and Cruise-In, July 17-18 in McHenry, Garrett County; Washington County Ag Expo, July 17-19 in Sharpsburg; Cecil County Fair, July 24-Aug. 1 in Elkton; Montgomery County 2009 Farm Tour and Harvest Sale, July 25-26; Harford County Farm Fair, July 30-Aug. 2 in Bel Air.
Maryland Spotlight allows the Tourism Office to highlight an individual aspect or theme of Maryland travel. It expands the state’s Pretty. Close. marketing campaign, which promotes Maryland’s natural beauty and ease of access for travelers.
In May, the focus was on Maryland wine – an industry that now includes three dozen wineries and a variety of wine trails. For June, the Tourism Office has been highlighting the array of free things to do in the “Free State.”