Four Rivers partners with historic, preservation, and tourism-related organizations, as well as businesses, on collaborative programs, projects, and activities.
For the second year in a row, Four Rivers coordinated a three-day celebration of "Maryland Day", on March 25 – 27. This multi-event celebration incorporated a new feature: the Taste of Four Rivers collaborative cookbook. Participating sites all over the heritage area provided free recipes that reflected something unique to each individual site for visitors to create a personal cookbook! Highlights of Maryland Day Celebration 2011 included a free heritage stride and African-American history walk, an ArtFest, free or $1 admission tours, scavenger hunts, boating safety demonstrations, environmental, preservation, and hands-on learning workshops, a nature hike, special film presentation, re-enactors, historic map experts, colonial cooking and butter churning, and – as always – many kids' activities, crafts, and games. Twenty-two organizations at twenty-three sites participated in 2011. This year has proven to be the most well-attended event so far, with over 3,300 visitors!
In March of 2008 and 2009, Maryland Day was a one-day celebration with the participation of over 20 heritage sites and organizations throughout the Heritage Area. In 2010, we extended the celebration to a series of events that took place over three days: March 19 – 21. The 2010 celebration featured a heritage-themed run, a walking heritage stride, opportunities for visitors to explore their genealogy, free or reduced admission to popular museums, scavenger hunts, living history performances, hands-on programs for kids, an artfest, a mother-daughter tea, and more. Historically, Maryland Day is the commemoration of the formal founding of the colony of Maryland. This family-friendly event showcases the Heritage Area's finest heritage and preservation-related sites and kicks off the beginning of the busy spring and summer season. View photos and blog entries of this past year's event by visiting www.MarylandDay.org.
Maryland Day Celebration 2012 will be our Fifth Annual event! Please plan to join us on March 23 – 25, 2012.
Collaborative Programming in Previous Years
In 2004 and 2005, Four Rivers coordinated a summer-long series of family-friendly heritage activities in Southern Anne Arundel County. "South County Sundays" partners included Historic London Town & Gardens, Galesville Heritage Society, Shady Side Rural Heritage Society, Discovery Village, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, the Historic Village at Herrington Harbour North in Tracey's Landing, and the private historic properties of Larkins Hills, Obligation, and Oakwood. In 2006, the format of this collaborative program evolved into "Fall Heritage Days". New Fall Heritage Days activities included programs at Galesville's Quaker Burying Ground, which commemorated the 350th anniversary of Quakers in Anne Arundel County.
Four Rivers also partnered with Goucher College and the City of Annapolis, as Goucher began its Historic Preservation Certificate graduate program in Annapolis in 2005. Four Rivers offered tuition assistance to heritage area residents, as well as volunteers at heritage area sites and organizations, to assist them in taking advantage of the new courses based in our historic capital city.
Each year, Four Rivers hosts a heritage site directors' meeting, which provides an opportunity for these managers to share information about their organizations with peers. Attendees share information about grant sources, regional marketing initiatives, and other potential partnership opportunities, as well as the latest news from each site. A different heritage organization hosts the meeting each year and typically provides a tour of the site for attendees.
"Landings: A Boater's Guide to the Four Rivers Heritage Area of Annapolis & Anne Arundel County" brought new collaborative partners into the heritage fold. Local businesses that recognized the value of promoting accessible shoreline heritage to sail and power boaters became sponsors of this high-quality heritage tourism product in the summer of 2006 - Fawcett Boat Supplies and HistoryQuest in Annapolis; the Boatyard Bar and Grill and Jack Martin & Associates Marine Insurance in Eastport; Hartge Yacht Yard, Pirates Cove Restaurant, Riverview Inn, and Homeport Wine & Spirits in historic Galesville; and Deale's South County Café.
In March 2006, Four Rivers hosted its first annual "Making Heritage Connections" program at Anne Arundel Community College for guides, interpreters, volunteers, and docents at heritage sites. The program is designed to raise regional heritage awareness through historical content and interpretive skills-building sessions. We believe that providing this information to the "front-line" people who interact most with our visitors will help improve the visitor experience and increase visitation at our heritage area sites and events. The 2007 program, held on March 3, was crafted with input from the 2006 attendee surveys. Registrants heard historical content presentations on Southern Maryland tobacco culture, West River Quakers, Bay lighthouses, and the Captain John Smith 400 Project. Brief talks on the Anne Arundel County tobacco barns photography project and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center accompanied lunch, after which attendees participated in a lively discussion session on leading tours and providing the best possible visitor experience.
Also in 2007, Four Rivers joined forces with Preservation Maryland, the Shady Side Rural Heritage Society, Historic London Town & Gardens, Annapolis Maritime Museum, and Baltimore's B&O Railroad Museum for a February program on Disaster Planning for Museums & Historic Sites. More than 40 attendees from heritage organizations in Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania listened to presentations on museum disasters and participated in risk-assessment exercises with museum disaster-planning consultant Arthur Dutil.
In 2008, Four Rivers hosted a "Fam Tour" to South County on March 13 for local docents and interpreters, to familiarize them with historic resources "down south". Participants enjoyed a ride on a Discover Annapolis Tours' trolley, courtesy of Board member Matt Grubbs, for tours of several South County heritage sites. In partnership with Historic London Town and Gardens, Four Rivers co-sponsored a Historic Research Workshop on August 25, 2008. The workshop offered in-depth information on using primary and secondary sources, as well as the internet, for research. On November 18, 2008, sixty individuals attended Four Rivers' first "Mythbusters" workshop, dedicated to starting a dialogue about "busting" historical rumors, folklore, and myths within the heritage area. Presenters were Al Luckenbach of The Lost Towns archaeology Project, Rod Cofield of Historic London Town and Gardens, and historians Jean Russo and Jane McWilliams. Lisa Mason-Chaney of Hammond-Harwood House and Donna Ware of HLT joined the other experts for a panel discussion and Q&A with the audience. Interest is high for another "Mythbusters" workshop in the future!
Four Rivers hosted another "Fam Tour" to South County in August 2009 for the staff of the Annapolis & Anne Arundel County Conference and Visitors Bureau. In September of that year, the organization co-sponsored another well-attended workshop, "Best Practices in Live Interpretation", that was organized by, and took place at, Historic London Town and Gardens.
Four Rivers also provides technical, partnership, and networking assistance on collaborative activities through its mini-grant and Maryland Heritage Areas Authority grant programs. For example, Four Rivers assisted the City of Annapolis with its successful grant proposal to the Preserve America program for funding related to its Annapolis 300 commemoration in 2007-2008. Two Four Rivers mini-grants and one Maryland Heritage Areas Authority grant helped to support Annapolis 300-related activities, which began in late 2007.