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Free events, admissions enhance Maryland's appeal as tourism destination


Numerous chances to save on Maryland travel in June

BALTIMORE (May 26, 2010) – Land of the Free – a well-known phrase written in Maryland by a Marylander – is an applicable description of what visitors can find in Maryland this summer. That's the message from the state's Office of Tourism and the focus of its monthly Maryland Spotlight campaign – a monthly promotion that highlights distinctive aspects of Maryland tourism.

"Maryland has always been a great tourism value," says Governor Martin O'Malley. "Our location and ease of access – along with the many options that we offer visitors – makes Maryland an appealing travel destination. With the many free attractions, events and historic sites, we can provide both visitors and residents with memorable experiences that are reasonably priced – a significant consideration in today's economic climate."

The range of free events around the state is an indication of what Maryland has to offer," says Margot Amelia, executive director of the state's tourism office. "Heritage celebrations, urban festivals, arts shows and concerts – all of them free – are happening around Maryland."

Here is a sampling of free events in Maryland in June:

Imagination Bethesda , June 5, downtown Bethesda (Montgomery County) –This children's street festival features live music, numerous hands-on activities and roving performers.

Charles Village Festival , June 5-6, Baltimore City – Arts and crafts, entertainment and kids' activities abound in this urban celebration.
Ocean City Air Show , June 5-6, Ocean City (Worcester County) – U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds present an exhilarating aerial show along the beach. Fee for premium seating.
Thurmont Heritage Days , June 11-13, Thurmont (Frederick County) – covered-wagon and train rides, exhibits, car and truck show, music. Free admission.
World Soccer Festival , June 12, Towson Courthouse Plaza (Baltimore county) – Watch the games on a giant screen, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Event includes kids' activities and music.
River Artsfest , June 12, Indian Head (Charles County) – Artwork, music, dancing and literary readings are all part of this arts gala in Southern Maryland by the Potomac River.
Village Fair , June 12, near Berlin (Worcester County) – Held annually for more than 20 years, the fair features 75 arts and crafts vendors, food court, kids' area, pony rides, bath-tub races and antique cars.
Heritage Days Festival , June 12-13, Cumberland (Allegany County) – many free events plus historic tours, steam-train excursions.
HonFest , June 12-13, Hampden, Baltimore City – A Baltimore term of endearment that evolved into an iconic tradition is the basis for this neighborhood street fair. Music, festival fare and costumes – especially beehive hair-dos – are ubiquitous.
River Concert Series , June 18 - July 30, St. Mary's City (St. Mary's County) – St. Mary's College of Maryland presents a series of outdoor concerts on Friday evenings. Guest artists perform with the resident ensemble, the Chesapeake Orchestra.
Grantsville Days , June 25-27, Grantsville Park (Garrett County) – Grantsville Lions Club sponsors this family weekend in the Deep Creek Lake area, which includes a parade, live entertainment, Sunday gospel, tractor and truck pulls, and fireworks.
Somerset Strawberry Festival , June 26, Marion Station (Somerset County) – Strawberries galore in this small town on the Lower Easter Shore; features Little Ms. Strawberry Pageant, kids' parade, entertainment and crafts.
For information about additional free events in Maryland, check the Office of Tourism's monthly online newsletter for June.


Examples of free museums

In addition to special events, Maryland has a variety of attractions that offer free admission. Two museums in Baltimore – Baltimore Museum of Art and Walters Art Museum – have free general admission, as does the Academy Art Museum in Easton and the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in Hagerstown.

The U.S. Naval Academy Museum in Annapolis, which recently re-opened after extensive renovations, also has free admission. It features a new "Gallery of Ships" exhibit. Maryland is also home to the Navy's only museum dedicated to naval aviation research, development, test and evaluation – the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum in Lexington Park. Numerous aircraft are on display.


Other 'Free State' attractions:

City Dock , Annapolis (Anne Arundel County) – This is the epicenter of Maryland's Colonial-era capital. Boats come and go along "Ego Alley." The Kunta Kinte – Alex Haley Memorial is by the dock. Historic downtown Annapolis stretches outward from here.

Eastern Neck Wildlife Refuge , Rock Hall (Kent County) – Nearly 250 species of birds reside at this 2,285-acre habitat. Refuge also has nature trails, picnic sites, fishing areas and observation desks.

Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum , St. Leonard (Calvert County) – This 500-acre property with more than 70 identified archaeological sites overlooks the Patuxent River. It also has an archaeological museum, nature trails and picnic area. Special events and classes scheduled throughout the year.

Ocean City boardwalk and beach (Worcester County) – Maryland's seaside family resort has 10 miles of white-sand beach and a 3-mile boardwalk. Unlike many other beach resorts, Ocean City has no entry fees.

Spruce Forest Artisan Village , Grantsville (Garrett County) –Visitors can watch more than a dozen artisans – blacksmith, bird carver and weaver, among them – work in a cluster of 19th century buildings.

Free travel information

For more information about attractions in the state, order a copy of Destination Maryland – the state's travel guide. It has a Maryland Welcome! Passport! – good for up to $3,500 in savings at 250 attractions, restaurants, retailers and places to stay. And, it's free. You can also receive a Maryland Calendar of Events and a state highway map in the mail for free. Call 800-719-5900, or order online at .


Monthly themes

In May, the Tourism Office spotlighted charter boats. Previous themes have included: girls' getaways; Maryland gardens; bed and breakfasts; Chesapeake Bay art; hiking and biking trails; and Maryland wine.



About Maryland tourism

The Maryland Office of Tourism is an agency of the Division of Tourism, Film and the Arts within the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. Recently reported visitor data shows that the state welcomed more than 29 million visitors in 2009. In 2008, visitors spent nearly $14.5 billion on travel-related expenses – a 3.2 percent increase in spending over 2007. During 2008, the Maryland tourism industry also generated close to $1.8 billion in state and local taxes and provided 146,000 jobs to Maryland residents.

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