Thursday, April 22, 2010

Port of Leonardtown Winery Opens May 21!

The official ribbon cutting of the Port of Leonardtown Winery will be held on Friday, May 21 at 2 p.m.!  The public is invited to the ribbon cutting and to enjoy the events planned during Winery Weekend—May 21-23. Guided tours of the Winery will begin following the ribbon cutting.

A collaborative project led by the Southern Maryland Wine Growers Cooperative, the Winery is housed in a former State Highway Administration Building in Leonardtown on McIntosh Run off Route 5.  The Winery’s grounds will be transformed into a park with a kayak/canoe launch on the McIntosh Run.

The building was renovated and equipment was installed in 2009. The Board of County Commissioners and the Town of Leonardtown both funded the project, the Maryland Agricultural and Resources-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO) provided a $25,000 grant and the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission granted the project $65,000.

“This Winery represents an investment in our community’s agricultural economy and will become a tourism destination,” said Francis Jack Russell, President, Board of County Commissioners for St. Mary’s County.

“And the Port of Leonardtown Winery will become the southern tip of the Patuxent Wine Trail that includes wineries in Calvert and St. Mary’s Counties and will promote tourism in our entire region,” added Mayor J. Harry Norris, Town of Leonardtown.

The Wine Growers Cooperative is proud of the new wines and the winery. “This winery is a result of much hard work and focus on quality," said Caroline Baldwin, President, Wine Growers Cooperative.  “Our members have sought out expert consultants and contributed many hours to produce our first production of wines and open the doors of the Port of Leonardtown Winery.”

The Winery supports Southern Maryland’s grape growers. By purchasing locally grown grapes, the winery provides an economic incentive for farmers to continue using their land for agriculture.

The Port of Leonardtown Winery features a tasting room, picnic area and is located near shopping, restaurants, kayak/canoe launch and a wildlife sanctuary. The Winery will be open Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 6 pm. It will also be open until 9 p.m. on the first Friday of each month during Leonardtown’s First Friday events.

Contact the Wine Growers Cooperative at or visit their blog at for more information.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Speaker Series at Sotterley: Flo Stone

Sotterley Plantation, in partnership with The Boeing Company, is presenting Ms. Flo Stone, President and Founder of the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital on Friday, April 30 at 7 p.m. She will highlight the 13 day program of the 2010 Festival with a special collection of film clips, a celebration of the diversity of outstanding environmental films. Clips to be featured at Sotterley will include selections from:

The Music Tree (a Festival award winner for artistry in film); Portrait films of distinguished writers of fiction and non-fiction (Peter Mattheissen and Frederic Back); A look at the remarkable Olympic Sculpture Garden in Seattle; Pearl Fryer’s topiary garden in Bishopville, South Carolina; A prize winning film about an orangutan - victim of forest destruction in Indonesia; Discussions with a family showing how they produce over 6,000 lbs. of homegrown organic crops on less than a quarter of an acre; Megamall explores the origins of the massive Palisades Center Mall built just north of Manhattan; Araya, a brilliant 1959 black & white film about the life of salt miners in Venezuela, winner of the International Prize at Cannes.

Stone’s extensive experience in film includes: public programs at the American Museum of Natural History, Founder of the Margaret Mead Film Festival, Film Chair for the Smithsonian’s Biodiversity Symposium, establishment of the Earthwatch Film Awards at the National Geographic, and preparation of filmographies for the Ocean exhibit at the Smithsonian and for the Festival of Indonesia.

Because of the generous grant and continued support from The Boeing Company, Sotterley Plantation is able to offer this important community outreach, fulfilling its mission of serving as an educational resource and cultural venue while it seeks to preserve, interpret and research the plantation’s diverse cultures and environments through its history.

FREE to the public. Call for Reservations: 301-373-2280.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

World Carnival Comes to Town

The annual St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) World Carnival comes to town on Saturday, April 17, from noon to 9:30 p.m., bringing food and fun for the whole family. Admission is free and the event is open to the public. The activities will take place on the college’s admissions field on Route 5. For more information, contact the Office of Student Activities at 240-895-4209 or visit the college’s web site at

Vendors featured at this year’s carnival are Bollywood Masala Indian cuisine, sand art and duck games, a funnel cake stand, hotdogs and fried Oreos, Chinese food, Indigo Moon clothing and crafts, handmade baskets and jewelry, and Maggie Moo’s ice cream. The SMCM cross country team will be selling snow cones to support its program. There will also be a large area for inflatable games.

There will be opportunities for the community to compete with students in games of nerf gun war, where massive amounts of foam darts will rain down on opposing “armies,” and “Quiddich for Muggles,” inspired by the Harry Potter series.

World Carnival, the college’s largest student-organized event, has become an important annual tradition to the St. Mary’s community and is the best-attended event on the college campus. Its purpose is to celebrate multiculturalism and diversity through campus bands, visiting artists, and a variety of community food and craft vendors.

World Carnival Saturday Events:
12:00 p.m.-  "Reading of the Sneetches" presented by Improv
12:30 p.m.-  Ewabo, the Caribbean steel drum trio
1:35 p.m.  -  Jimmy O'Keefe, acoustic artist
1:50 p.m.  -  Moksha, an Indian dance group from University of Maryland
2:45 p.m.  -  SMC men’s chorus
3:05 p.m.  -  Balinese Gamelan Concert: Music and Welcoming Bhakti Marga Dance, Palace Special Treat 
                  Legong Kraton, comical Jauk Dance, presented by The Art & Cultural Center of Indonesia
3:55 p.m.  –  Interchorus co-ed choral group
4:10 p.m.  -  Zac Cooke and Cheryl Corwin, acoustic artists
4:35 p.m.  -  Student Showcase
9:30 p.m.  -  Cool Kids Band

12:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m. – Nerf Wars
3:15 p.m. - Quidditch

Press release from St. Mary's College of Maryland.
Photo: Students from St. Mary’s College of Maryland participate in the 2009 World Carnival.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The 100th Anniversary of Mark Twain—America's First Rock Star—to be Celebrated at SMCM

April 2010 marks the centennial of the great American writer Mark Twain who is, as Twain biographer Ron Powers calls him, “Without question, the most recognizable American author, our nation’s first rock star.” At 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 24, at the Michael P. O’Brien Athletics and Recreation Center at St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM), Peter Sagal, star of National Public Radio’s (NPR) Wait, Wait...Don’t Tell Me!; Mo Rocca, humorist from “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart;” CNN political analyst Amy Holmes; and Dr. John Bird, noted Twain scholar; will take part in a dynamic panel discussion on Twain’s relevance today. Sagal will moderate the discussion using Twain’s words to address questions about race, religion, politics, and the “damned human race.” The panel discussion is free and open to the public.

Before the lecture, there will be a fundraising dinner for the Twain Lecture Series. A tented waterfront dinner will be served at 5 p.m. on the lawn of Maryland’s first statehouse at Historic St. Mary’s City. The event will be highlighted by remarks from Rocca. Special reserved seating for the dinner and the night’s lecture is available for $100. For additional information on the panel discussion and to purchase dinner tickets online, visit or call 1‑800‑458‑8341.

“Humor,” Mark Twain said, “must not professedly teach, and it must not profess‑edly preach, but it must do both if it would live forever.” With these words, Twain has given the charge: “We must live forever” through humor. The function of the SMCM Mark Twain Lecture Series on American Humor and Culture is to present the wide range of topics that face all humans, specifically Americans, through humor, with the guiding presence of America’s greatest humorist.

It is little known that Twain had a strong connection to the state of Maryland. According to Dr. Benjamin Click, director of the Mark Twain Lecture Series and chair of the SMCM English department, “One of his earliest public speeches took place in Washington, D.C. in 1868. His last lecture was in Baltimore, Maryland, at the Misses Tewksbury’s School Graduation, June 9, 1909. And just two years before that, he spoke at the Government House in Annapolis and was caught smoking in a “no smoking” sector of the Naval Academy. He died on April 21, 1910.

Public speaking wasn’t Twain’s only connection to Maryland. His smoking habit and love of tobacco also connects him to Southern Maryland. He described it thusly: “It is loose and dry and black, and looks like tea grounds. When the fire is applied it expands, and climbs up and towers above the pipe, and presently tumbles off inside of one's vest. The tobacco itself is cheap, but it raises the insurance.” Click continued, “Twain smoked up to 40 cigars a day, but said he made it a rule to never smoke when sleeping, and the cheaper the cigar the better.”

But Twain wasn’t cheap in all his tastes. His love of Maryland seafood reveals his penchant for finer things and connects him to another Southern Maryland tradition, oysters. On his list of favorite American foods, he lists fried oysters, stewed oysters, blue points on the half shell, oyster soup, oysters roasted in the shell, soft shell crabs, Baltimore perch, and canvas back duck from Maryland. Food from Maryland dominates the list. Click added, “Given this predominance, it’s safe to say that Twain digested more of Maryland than any other state.”

But was Twain ever in Southern Maryland? Perhaps St. Mary’s County? There’s no factual record of it, but that does not matter. For a man who could tell a “stretcher” as he called them, he was familiar with how facts work. “I never saw an author who was aware that there is any dimensional difference between a fact and a surmise.” Click continued, “That being the case, it’s not hard to surmise that Twain ventured south of Annapolis for a meal of Maryland oysters and soft shell crabs and an after‑dinner cigar, rolled from Southern Maryland tobacco.”

Sagal is the author of numerous plays that have been performed in large and small theaters around the country and abroad. Sagal joined the panel of a new news quiz show on NPR that made its debut on‑air in January of 1998. In May of that year, he became the host of the show. Since then, Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me has become one of the most popular shows on public radio, heard by 2.5 million listeners a week on 450 public radio stations nationwide and via a popular podcast.

Humorist, actor, and writer Rocca is best known for his off‑beat news reports and satirical commentary. Currently a contributor to the CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood and host of The Tomorrow Show with Mo Rocca on, he’s also a panelist on NPR’s hit weekly quiz show Wait, Wait...Don’t Tell Me! Rocca spent four seasons as a correspondent on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and four seasons as a correspondent on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Born in Lusaka, Zambia, and raised in Seattle, Washington, Holmes began her career in television as a Fox News Channel contributor. From there, she went to MSNBC for the 2000 presidential race. In 2002, she hosted Lead Story on Black Entertainment Television where she interviewed administration officials, journalists and top newsmakers. She has appeared on NBC Nightly News, Dateline, CBS Early Morning Show, and PBS’s To the Contrary. While providing political analysis for CNN, Holmes also appeared as a member of HBO’s Real Time Real Reporters team providing stories and commentary on the 2008 presidential election.

Bird's teaching interests include 19th and 20th century American literature, Mark Twain and American humor, critical theory, critical thinking, and composition. His main scholarly interest is Twain, about whom he has written critical articles and a book on Twain and metaphor. He has also written articles and given conference papers on Thoreau, Annie Dillard, Elizabeth Barstow Stoddard, other American humorists, and the Andy Griffith Show, among others. He is the original editor of The Mark Twain Annual, a publication of the Mark Twain Circle of America, and former president of the American Humor Studies Association.

Press release from St. Mary's College of Maryland.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

St. Mary's County Architectural Heritage Book Now Available

Documenting the unique architectural heritage of St. Mary’s County, “I’m Goin’ Down County, An Architectural Journey Through St. Mary’s County” is now available for purchase!

Coordinated as a project by the St. Mary’s County Department of Land Use and Growth Management and the Maryland Historic Trust, and written by former staff member Kirk E. Ranzetta, the 320-page hardcover book is an illustrated chronicle of the county’s historic buildings and the high-tech aircraft testing facilities located on the Naval Air Station Patuxent River.

“I’m Goin’ Down County” includes a historical narrative from the earliest periods to the present and weaves the churches, stores, residences, marine railways and boat-building shops, tobacco barns, camps, lighthouses and schools into a story of how countians shaped their community.

The volume includes over 400 photos complete with a detailed narrative of hundreds of historic properties located throughout the county. The books are available for $35 at the St. Mary’s County Department of Land Use and Growth Management Department or Bay Books located in the Wildwood Shopping Center. Copies are also available at each St. Mary’s County Library for reference. For additional information, contact Grace Mary Brady, Historic Preservation Planner, 301-475-4200, x1549 or

Monday, April 12, 2010

Exploring the Colonial Diet through Archaeology

Historic St. Mary’s City will host the annual Archaeology Month lecture on Friday, April 16 at 7 p.m. Henry Miller, Historic St. Mary's City’s director of research, will offer An Archaeological View of Food in Colonial Maryland.

Maryland’s colonists brought Old World eating habits with them. In 17th-century England, meat was commonly believed to be the most nourishing food and its high consumption was a sign of status and wealth. Some thought raw vegetables and fruit suspect but bread, beer and dairy products were staples. The common man in England found fewer and fewer opportunities to acquire meat, as forests disappeared and enclosure restricted access to commons. But according to George Alsop in 1666, Maryland offered both abundance and variety, and suggested newcomers could “Dwell here, live plentifully and be rich.” The chance for a better life that the New World offered must have been especially appealing to commoners.

But did Maryland live up to its promise? What did settlers eat in early Maryland and was it similar to England or different? Did the nature of their diet shift over the colonial period or remain much the same? While history provides valuable clues, many facts were never recorded about the foods they ate. Fortunately, archaeology can fill in these gaps and provide a far better understanding of how Chesapeake cuisine developed. In this illustrated lecture, Dr. Miller will describe what archaeology and history, especially the study of animal bones, reveals about changes to the human diet in the Chesapeake through the colonial era.

The Archaeology Month lecture will take place at 7 p.m. in the Historic St. Mary’s City Visitor Center auditorium. There is no charge for this event.
For more information about the museum and St. Mary’s City archaeology, visit or call 240-895-4990.

Photo of Dr. Henry Miller.  Credit: Historic St. Mary's City

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Leonardtown Goes Green! 10th Anniversary Earth Day Celebration

The 10th Anniversary Earth Day Celebration, in historic downtown Leonardtown, will be held from 12:30 - 4:30 p.m. on Sunday April 18th, 2010, and will include nearly 100 exhibitors, vendors and performances. Admission to the event is free.

There will be two stages for entertainment - one stage on the square and one stage at the wharf along the new Leonardtown waterfront - featuring musical performances and dance demonstrations throughout the day.

Kayak and canoe rides will be offered by various local outfitters from the new floating dock on the waterfront as well as a native plant walk and a tiger bounce, face painting and a puppet show for the kids.

HillSide Electric cars and the Leonardtown Fire Department will provide shuttle service between the waterfront and the square.

Animal displays include the Cosca Regional Park's live birds of prey, the Alpacas from Nobella Farms and the greyhounds from the Greyt Expectations Rescue.

Environmental organizations will provide recycling, conservation and organic gardening information. Area non-profits and service organizations will be featured and local businesses and restaurants will be open many offering Earth Day specials.

For the complete listing of activities and map go to

Earth Day on the Leonardtown Square is sponsored by the Leonardtown Business Association and the Commissioners of Leonardtown with funding in part by a grant from the St. Mary's County Arts Council.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Discover St. Mary’s County Destination and Relocation Guide and 2010 Calendar of Events Now Available

The Discover St. Mary’s County Destination and Relocation guide and the 2010 Calendar of Events are now available in both print and digital formats! The glossy magazine-style destination and relocation guide is published in partnership with the publishers of Maryland Life magazine. It features articles on the area as well as visitor information including listings for sites, attractions, and lodging and dining establishments. The guide also features information on relocating to St. Mary’s County.

"The destination and relocation guide serves as a great travel planner and business recruitment tool," notes St. Mary's County Tourism Manager Carolyn Laray. "We began our partnership with Maryland Life magazine in 2009 during the 375th birthday of Maryland and have again printed 75,000 copies of the magazine." The new publication includes a special feature on Leonardtown. The feature will also be included in the July/August 2010 issue of Maryland Life magazine.

The 2010 Calendar of Events features the major events taking place throughout St. Mary's County this year including the Crab Festival, River Concert Series, Riverside WineFest, and the St. Mary's County Oyster Festival.

The guide and calendar are free and are available at the St. Mary’s County Welcome Center in Charlotte Hall.  The guide is also available at participating businesses throughout the county, at the county libraries, throughout the Naval Air Station Patuxent River and at state and regional visitor information centers. The guide will be mailed to those requesting visitor or relocation information and will be distributed at venues throughout the mid-Atlantic region. Print copies can be requested by emailing or calling 301-475-4200, x 1404.

Digital versions of the guide and calendar may be viewed at the Tourism website at