On Tuesday, July 9, representatives of the Tourism, Art & Downtown Development group took a walking tour of downtown Milford as part of their group’s effort to promote tourism on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and in Delaware. Two groups, one led by Lee Nelson, director of Downtown Milford, Inc., and Anne Jenkins, owner of the Anne Jenkins Gallery, visited several businesses in the downtown area.
The Tourism, Art & Downtown Development group began a few years ago, created as a joint venture between the Maryland Arts and Entertainment Districts and the Maryland County Tourism Officials located on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The focus of the group was to raise awareness of the many tourism options in small towns on the Eastern Shore. In July 2013, the group included Dover, Milford and Rehoboth, and in January 2014, added Middletown, Delaware City and Newark to the group.
“Milford has been involved with us almost since the beginning,” said Lisa Challenger of Worchester County. “We realized that by joining forces with Delaware, we could increase awareness of what is available to people in the area.”
During the tour, the groups walked from the Milford Public Library, down the Riverwalk to Walnut Street, getting views of the Augusta project, the children’s mural and other items designed to draw people to the downtown area. They also visited the Irish Rose boutique, Sugar Bee sweet shop and Gallery 37. Owners of the shops shared their business ideas and why they chose Milford as the location for their business.
“I wanted to be somewhere on the crest of something, so I chose Milford,” said Marcia Reed, owner of Gallery 37.
The group also visited the Mispillion Art Gallery and the Studios Upstairs, located above the art gallery. The Studios Upstairs allows artists to rent studio space either for personal use or for use as a retail location. The walking tour ended at the Verde Cooking School where the group enjoyed lunch.
“This group consists of members from 17 towns throughout Delaware and Maryland,” said Mr. Nelson. “It gives Milford a lot more leverage as far as marketing, having people come to Milford and spread the word on what we have available. It also allows us to save money as all marketing costs are shared by 17 other towns.”
The group’s website, which is titled “Eat, Drinks and Buy Art,” allows visitors in the area to see what is available in surrounding towns. The focus of the group is food, drinks and art of any type, including performing arts, visual arts, music, as well as bed and breakfast inns to name a few.
“When people visit Berlin, for example, the website provides them with other things they can do while they are in the area,” Mr. Nelson explained. A visit to the site shows that the Riverwalk Farmer’s Market, as well as an outdoor concert at the Richard M. Johnson Ampitheater, located next to the library, will feature The Honeycombs on July 16.
“This group benefits Milford in two ways,” said Mayor Bryan Shupe, who participated in the walking tour. “It allows us to highlight our downtown to economic development and tourism professionals from across Delaware and Maryland. It also allows us to ask these professionals from downtowns what challenges they have faced and how they overcame them.”
The group’s website can be found at www.eatdrinkbuyart.com.