March 1, 2024

Jazz, Seafood Fest Strikes the Right Note


A popular St. Mary’s County music fest hit the right notes at the annual Maryland Tourism & Travel Summit in November.

The 20th Potomac Jazz & Seafood Festival was honored as the only event in Maryland to win one of four statewide awards at the summit November 7, 2019, in Allegany County.

The festival won the Maximizing Opportunities Award. The recipients of this award are recognized for successfully taking advantage of an existing event to generate overnight stays. The festival expanded from a one-day Saturday event into a three-day weekend celebration by partnering with the St. Mary’s County Museum Division, the town of Leonardtown, the Friends of St. Clement’s Island and Piney Point museums, and Visit St. Mary’s MD.

The four partner organizations who won the award worked for nearly a year prior with organizations and businesses throughout St. Mary’s County and beyond to make the 20th anniversary a success. Representatives were chosen to appear on two Baltimore-area news stations with the Maryland Office of Tourism to promote the festival as part of Maryland’s larger Summer of Music Series to encourage music lovers from all over the mid-Atlantic to visit.

The award was accepted by Dale Springer, president of the Friends of St. Clement’s Island and Piney Point museums; Andrew Ponti, marketing manager of the St. Mary’s County Museum Division; Jason Aul, executive director of Visit St. Mary’s MD; and Leonardtown, all of whom were partners in guaranteeing the success of the weekend event.

“This award is a huge testament to how relationships and working well together for a common goal can eventually reap great rewards,” said Karen Stone, manager of the St. Mary’s County Museum Division. “We are honored that the Maryland Office of Tourism recognized the efforts of partner organizations to make St. Mary’s County a premier tourism destination. The award shows that we can make a true economic impact on our state by encouraging visitors to stay longer and spend more here.”

The Leonardtown commissioners were proud to work side by side with the other partners in expanding the festival at St. Clement’s Island Museum to a full weekend jazz celebration throughout historic Leonardtown.

“The 20th anniversary Potomac Jazz & Seafood Festival weekend celebration provided a wonderful opportunity to highlight historic Leonardtown along with St. Clement’s Island Museum. Jazz enthusiasts traveled from near and far to enjoy a full weekend of jazz-themed events and special offers from the local businesses. The commissioners of Leonardtown are excited to continue this fruitful partnership with the St. Mary’s County Museum Division, the Friends of St. Clement’s Island and Piney Point museums, and Visit St. Mary’s MD,” said Brandy Blackstone, town events coordinator. Ms. Blackstone and Laschelle McKay, town administrator, accepted the town’s award at the December 9 town council meeting.

The county’s tourism organization, Visit St. Mary’s MD, helped to promote the event and engage local businesses, hotels, and restaurants with the weekend activities.

“The year-over-year increase in hotel occupancy for this festival exemplifies how our collaborative efforts are helping to bring in more visitors,” Mr. Aul said. “With everyone working together, we were able to showcase more of our beautiful county than ever before.”

The tourism awards, given by the Maryland Department of Commerce Office of Tourism Development and the Maryland Tourism Development Board, recognize excellence and major contributions in expanding the market of Maryland tourism products, maximizing opportunities to generate overnight stays, leveraging partnerships, and showcasing Maryland as an exciting, must-see tourism destination.

The 21st annual festival weekend will be July 10 through 12, 2020.

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