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Events abound for September

September 02, 2005|by Tom Riford

This week, the state of Maryland announced that more visitors flocked here than ever before. More than 21 million people visited Maryland during 2004, an increase of 4.8 percent. This growth is more than double the national average for the tourism industry.

In Washington County, 2004 was the best year ever for tourism, and yet 2005 is ahead of last year's record pace, with hotel occupancy at the highest levels ever! So many visitors came to Washington County this year that hotel occupancy set records four months in a row. Tourism means investment in our community (money spent by visitors and also money invested by the owners of attractions, restaurants, hotels, etc.), and also jobs (in fact the single largest job growth in Washington County was in tourism).

High gas prices may have actually helped Washington County's tourism - because people may be choosing to stay closer to home rather than drive several hours away from the metro-areas. Groups and conventions are flocking to Washington County, not only because of an increased sales and marketing effort, but because there's so much to see and do here, and also because a group's costs are lower here than elsewhere.

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But fall is just around the corner; has the tourism rush slowed down? Summer vacations have come and gone, school is back in session - but there are lots of things going on in Hagerstown and Washington County for residents and visitors alike!

Elvis Lives - Hagerstown is once again the place to celebrate the King of Rock and Roll. The fourth annual Elvis Lives in Hagerstown Music Festival will take place Saturday, Sept. 10, at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center, in a Las Vegas-style music festival. Join four renowned Elvis tribute artists for a musical extravaganza. Tickets are available now. Call 301-739-2015 for tickets to the evening event. People come from all over to see this annual event.

The Revolution Comes to Fort Frederick - Fort Frederick will be filled with the sights and sounds of the Revolutionary War during this historic encampment, Sept. 10-11. Explore life during the war and see how it affected the fort and the surrounding area. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For information, call 301-842-2155. When was the last time you visited Fort Frederick (Maryland's first state park)?

Boonsboro event - Boonesborough Days will be celebrated in Boonsboro's Shafer Park on Sept. 10 and 11, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. The annual, old-fashioned craft festival attracts more than 10,000 people who experience the heritage of southern Washington County (by the way, did you see that Boonsboro was written up in a USA Today article this past week?).

The two-day event showcases quality craftsmanship typical of 18th-century Americans. Craftspersons sell everything from homemade soaps to jewelry to baskets and everything in between. There will Civil War displays and antiques for sale, not to mention the homemade foods. Sunday morning begins with a community worship service. For more information, call 301-432-5889.

Hancock Canal Apple Festival - This great event starts with a dance at the American Legion on Sept. 16. The 28th Annual Hancock Canal Apple Festival kicks off with the Grand Parade through Hancock at 11 a.m. on Sept. 17. The festivities continue at Widmeyer Park until 5 p.m. and then again from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 18. The Apple Festival features arts and crafts, ongoing entertainment, a baby contest, antique and classic car displays, food vendors, and more. Parking is free and additional information is available at 301-678-6938.

Smithsburg Steam Engine and Craft Show - This wonderful annual event was started by the local athletic boosters club to enhance athletics at Smithsburg schools. It is still going strong 31 years later. This year's show will be held Sept. 24-25, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Smithsburg Fire Hall grounds.

Visitors can enjoy antique farm equipment, old steam engines, gas-powered tractors, and gas engines. More than 100 vendors will be on hand. There are equipment demonstrations, and food is available. For more information, contact 301-824-3593.

Second Annual Chili Cook-Off and Music Festival - Saturday, Sept. 24, noon-6 p.m., Municipal Stadium. This is a terrific event and a fundraiser for the Arts Council. Sponsors from as far away as Avery Island, La., have flocked to be involved! (Tabasco Sauce was invented by Hagerstown's Edmund McIlhenny, and the McIlhenny family's hot sauce creation is helping to sponsor this year's event!)

The Hagerstown Suns will spice up the stadium with a chili contest and live music festival. Local cooks can compete for prizes in the Best Overall Chili, People's Choice and Best Booth Display categories, with the Best Overall Chili winner taking home at least $1,000. Winners will be announced at about 4 p.m. Call 301-791-6266 for registration costs, ticket prices, the entertainment lineup and other information. This is a fun event, with bands, food, and a kids' play zone, too!

As you can see, the possibilities for fall fun in Washington County are many, and it's only September. Wait until you see what's in store next month. Take the time to enjoy the crisp days, the beautiful fall foliage, and the richness that is Washington County! Visit the CVB's new Web site, to explore the latest news, find out about events, and also to learn more about Washington County: www.marylandmemories.com.




Tom Riford is president and CEO of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau. His column appears the first Thursday of each month.

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