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on location: northeast ❖

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ucked along the East Coast, Maryland offers group travelers a boatload of cultural opportunities and lessons in national history. And what better way to experience the state’s heritage and personality than including one of its countless events and festivals in your next mid-Atlantic itinerary. Many of these local events have been in existence for decades, attesting to their worth as trip enhancers. Whether you’ve got Maryland on your radar for winter or warmer months, the state has countless fairs and festivals that will keep your groups entertained.

Jousting, the state sport of Maryland, takes center stage at the Maryland Renaissance Festival in Annapolis.

kari kamin

WINTER The North American Craft Show, a longstanding staple in Ocean City, marks its 25th year on Jan. 14-15, 2012. Admission gets you into its sister show, the Nautical & Wildlife Art Festival, conveniently located in the same building. The art and craft mediums are extensive and attract artists from many different states and nearly 6,000 people. (410-524-9177) The 11th annual World of Pets Expo will be taking place Jan. 27-29 at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, near Baltimore. Whether

they own a pet or enjoy offering a good head scratch, animals lovers of all kinds gather to watch performances, attend seminars, or browse merchandise for their favorite pet or pet owner. Well-trained pets are welcome (if kept on a leash), but not required. (410374-5964, worldofpets.org) The Maryland Home and Garden Show comes to the Maryland State Fairgrounds on March 3-4 and 10-11. Look for home improvement ideas in the show’s 400-some exhibits and learn about the latest products. (410-8631180, mdhomeandgarden.com/spring)

Maryland Celebrates Year-Round Crafts, music, seafood and history flavor group-friendly annual events in Baltimore, Annapolis and beyond

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Das Best Oktoberfest in National Harbor brings out the German in everyone.

SPRING The Maryland Film Festival will be held in Baltimore during the weekend of May 3-6. This noncompetitive film festival screens international films in various locations, encouraging filmgoers to view movies as both art and entertainment. Filmmakers often attend, so bring your autograph books. (410752-8083, md-filmfest.com) Your groups can view some of the most elegant and impressive yachts when United States Yacht Shows presents the Bay Bridge Boat Show April 19-22 in Annapolis. The event will feature seminars and demonstrations as well as a “guess the fish’s weight” competition. (410-268-8828, usboat.com) Ever wondered how to use a medieval crossbow? Find out safely at Steppingstone Museum’s Medieval Days Encampment on May 12-13 in Havre de Grace. There will be arts and crafts, period dance and music, and equestrian games. (410-939-2299, steppingstonemuseum.org) The 17th annual Western Maryland Blues Fest takes place May 31June 4 in downtown Hagerstown and City Park. Be a part of the festivities as Hagerstown celebrates this distinctly LeisureGroupTravel.com

American style of music as performed by nationally known blues artists. (301739-8577, blues-fest.org) SUMMER Kick off your summer with the StarSpangled Spectacular 2012 from June 13-19 in Baltimore. The weeklong event, sponsored by the U.S. Navy and Operation Sail, observes the 200th anniversary of the U.S. declaration of war against Great Britain. The event’s theme—“Our Flag Was Still There”— commemorates the struggles and triumph of the War of 1812 and Francis

Scott Key’s writing of the Star-Spangled Banner while Baltimore’s harbor was under attack. Explore tall ships and a vast, international fleet of war ships from over 25 countries and mingle with the sailors. This group-friendly, once-in-alifetime event will feature an air show by the Blue Angels, musical performances and other landside festivities, plus fireworks on Flag Day ( June 14). Water taxis will be available so your group can travel from one area of the harbor to the other. One- to three-hour boat cruises will coincide with special events like the ships’ arrival and departure, Blue Angels show and fireworks. Ships will be staged in Baltimore’s famed Inner Harbor, Fell’s Point, Canton and Locust Point. (410767-6974, starspangled200.org) The Dundalk Heritage Fair boasts the largest parade in Maryland. The festival will take place June 29-July 1, with a special fireworks celebration on July 4. While this year’s festivities are still pending, last year’s events included live music, pig races and a magician. (410284-4022, dundalkheritagefair.com) Seafood fans head to Havre de Grace Seafood Festival from Aug. 10-12 in Havre de Grace, a city located on Chesapeake Bay. Besides crab cakes, shrimp, scallops and other fruits of the sea, the

Artscape, set for July 20-22, is one of Baltimore’s biggest summer events. December 2011 43


on location: northeast ❖ An experience worth sharing.

Ocean City, Maryland Group Tours. Plan a group trip everyone will love. Explore nature or enjoy a historic Heritage Tour. Indulge in our unique shops and outlets. Offering entertainment and dining choices as vast as our 10 miles of award-winning beaches, you can’t help but have a great time.

ococean.com For planning materials and assistance, contact the Group Tour & Travel Coordinator at 800-626-2326 or www.ococean.com.

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festival offers live entertainment and arts and crafts. (hdgseafoodfestival.org) Billing itself as the largest free arts festival in America, the 31st annual Artscape will take place in Baltimore on July 20-22. Whether you prefer paintings or sculpture, performance art or street art, theater or opera, there will be something for everyone at Artscape with nearly 175 exhibitors on 12 city blocks. (877-225-8466, artscape.org) The 45th Maryland Seafood Festival at Sandy Point State Park, on the northwestern shore of Chesapeake Bay near Annapolis, takes place at the end of the summer and offers an extensive menu as well as chef demonstrations, a crab soup cook-off and crab cake eating contest. Not a fan of crab, shrimp, oysters, clams or rockfish? There are other food options available. Live music and arts and crafts also are featured. (443926-1464, mdseafoodfestival.com)

One of the state’s most popular events, the Maryland State Fair in Timonium, comes around in late August and early September, offering livestock, crafts, farm and garden exhibits and midway rides, not to mention Thoroughbred horse racing and jousting, the official state sport of Maryland. (410252-0200, marylandstatefair.com) The 65th National Hard Crab Derby in Crisfield takes place next Labor Day weekend. Festivities kick off on Thursday night with a carnival, but be sure and get plenty of rest for the early morning crab cooking contest. Other events include a street parade, live music, a crab picking contest, and of Obtain Maryland visitor guides and itineraries – and contact groupfriendly suppliers directly – at leisuregrouptravel.com/instant-info

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pah bands and classic German food like potato pancakes, schnitzel and sausages. Maryland Brewer’s Oktoberfest, the largest beer fest in Baltimore, offers similar festivities Oct. 13 at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, with Best Beer Belly and Carry Your Wife contests thrown in for good measure. (dasbestoktoberfest.com, mdoktoberfest.com)

Enjoy apple fritters, apple cider, apple cake and candy apples at the annual Darlington Apple Festival, always on the first Saturday in October in the quaint village of Darlington in Northeast Maryland. This harvest fest also includes stage entertainment and hundreds of crafters. (410-457-4189, darlingtonapplefest.org) LGT

The Maryland Film Festival in May draws movie buffs to Baltimore.

course, the crab derby itself. The upstairs of Tawes Museum will shine a spotlight on photographs of crab races from past derbies. Close out the weekend with a fireworks show. (410-9682500, crisfieldchamber.com/crab-derby) FALL Step back in time at the Maryland Renaissance Festival in Annapolis. Next year’s edition begins Aug. 24 and runs for nine weeks every weekend, ending in October. There will be plenty to do and see with stage and street acts, vendors, jousts and musicians to swell your Renaissance spirit. Willing festivalgoers are encouraged to partake in the fun and wear family-friendly costumes. (800-296.7304, rennfest.com) There’s no better place to celebrate Oktoberfest than Maryland. At Das Best Oktoberfest (Sept. 22-23 in National Harbor) you’ll feel like you’re in Germany with over 80 different beers, 15 of which come straight from breweries in Maryland. The festival will feature oom-

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE See the article on Fort McHenry National Monument in Baltimore. Log on to http://leisuregrouptravel.com /?p=25806. LeisureGroupTravel.com

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Maryland