Spring is here - check out county attractions

April 05, 2007|by Tom Riford

Special to the Daily Mail

2007 is shaping up to be a great year for tourism. Also, the newest CVB publications are being well received, including the latest Hagerstown-Washington County Visitors Guide, the newest Calendar of Events, the Walking Tour of Hidden Historic Hagerstown, and the very popular Bike Map and Brochure. The Visitors Guide is bigger and better than ever, and has already attracted a lot of attention.

I was very interested to see the State of Maryland's annual report on the impact of Arts on the State and also on Western Maryland. The state of Maryland said that in 2006, the economic impact of the arts in Maryland topped $1 billion. Western Maryland has 7 percent of the arts organizations in Maryland, and more than 607,000 people directly made up Western Maryland's arts audience, with more than a $1.1 million fiscal impact. With so many arts and cultural events in Washington County, it's clear that there's a significant economic impact.


Spring is a great time to get out and see things here in Washington County. There are a lot of things happening, and visitors and residents alike have a lot to look forward to.

Hagerstown Suns

The Hagerstown Suns are beginning their newest season, and we hope for great things from this perennial contender in the South Atlantic League's Northern Division. The Suns' home opener is tonight, and let's all wish for a terrific season from what is called Hagerstown's "top attraction."

There are a lot of new promotions and fun events set for this season, including 14 fireworks shows and 12 premium giveaway nights, including four bobblehead giveaways (one is of Nora Roberts, and is sponsored by the CVB). The unusual promotions that have gained the Suns national recognition will also continue. The first day of "Shorebird Hunting Season" is set for April 27, as the Suns and intrastate rival Delmarva Shorebirds meet for the first time in 2007.

Civil War Newspaper Indexing Program

The Washington County Free Library, with Antietam National Battlefield, and the Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, invite the public to a special event on Saturday, April 21, to celebrate the publication of the completed Hagerstown Civil War Newspaper Index.

The newspapers for this period were long thought to have been lost but over the last few years have been located in several institutional collections and indexed. The Historic Newspaper Indexing Project is funded through grants from the Washington County Historical and Fine Arts Trust Inc. The online index provides a searchable database of subjects and names with corresponding references to the newspaper issues on microfilm at the Washington County Free Library in Hagerstown.

Antietam National Battlefield Superintendent John Howard said "the recently completed indexing project is a treasure trove of research; it allows the public to step back into time to see what the war correspondents of the day were writing and thinking. It is truly a unique gift to those with an interest in the Civil War or journalism."

A special exhibit will be available April 21, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Antietam National Battlefield Visitor Center. The public is invited on Saturday at 2 p.m. to hear renowned author Brayton Harris speak on the subject of Civil War journalism with special emphasis on the Battle of Antietam.

Greenbrier Challenge

The Greenbrier Challenge is a key national qualifying UCI/NORBA mountain bike race on April 29. The race is being presented by the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau in support of the Potomac Velo Club of the Northern Virginia suburbs of the United States capital. Hundreds of riders are expected to come to Washington County that weekend to participate in events each day.

In addition to its impact on the state and national level, this year's Greenbrier Challenge will also now affect a much larger stage - the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. For the first time, the race will be sanctioned by the Union Cycliste Internationale, the international sanctioning body of bicycle racing and the body recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the source for determining the cycling role of each nation in the Olympics.

UCI points earned in races will determine the number of starting spots each country gets at the 2008 Olympics - and will probably also be a major factor in who fills those spots.

As one of only a few UCI-listed mountain bike races in North America in 2007, and one of only three east of the Mississippi River, the Greenbrier Challenge becomes hugely important - not only for Americans, but also for riders from Canada and Latin America. It's no exaggeration when the race promoters state that, "The road to the Olympics runs through Greenbrier State Park."

Some of the top riders in the nation will be coming to our county. For more information, see:

Fourth Annual Museum Ramble

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