Archived entries for Stuff to see, and things to do…

CLICK and VOTE to do more…We all WIN!

GrowBerlinGreen primary logoBeginning tomorrow evening and throughout this three day annual Berlin MDFiddlers’ Convention ‘ showcase weekend please remember to stop by the Grow Berlin Green booth. I think you’ll find something very interesting going on!
Despite the reports of the growing Texas-sized island of plastic trash floating around in the Pacific Ocean, one has only to flip to any media source to learn of the viable and strong counter measures to this and other alarming environmental phenomena that are taking place throughout our country and our world. Here in our town the Grow Berlin Green group is promoting these efforts. Although a young organization it is already wise – showing its wisdom by teaching the small, everyday but nevertheless significant ways by which each one of us can make a difference. We can be proud and we can support these ongoing efforts not only in practice but also by promotion of this group…
To that end, there is a contest – sponsored by Tom’s of Maine Community Award Sponsorship. Tom’s is a line of natural personal care body products featured in many of our local stores (Food Lion) – the one with the white and blue packaging. Seems Tom’s has selected our Grow Berlin Green team effort as one of the top 50 final entries. Depending on the vote count we can win an award – and $20,000, which could go a long way to continue the beneficial grass roots education being offered within our own community!

To learn more about Grow Berlin Green – click here!

To learn more about Tom’s of Maine and CAST YOUR VOTE for Berlin’s team under Assateague Coastal Trust – click here!  Voting ends October 30th!
(we’re still pretty far down that list of 50 entries – so be prepared to scroll!)

To learn more about the Texas-sized island of plastic trash – click here!

Summertime in BERLIN – done ‘just right’!

IMG_0182On Sunday, September 13th beginning at 1 pm the Berlin Main Street group will sponsor an Old Fashioned – Victorian Picnic on the Lawn at the Taylor House Museum to benefit the purchase of permanent decorations for our annual Victorian Christmas celebration.  Tickets are available at MR Ducks, Treasure Chest and Stuarts’ Antiques through September 7th.
Now that those niggling details are out of the way…WOW, we’re having a Town picnic where everyone is welcome to join in.  Admittedly, the Taylor House Museum lawn is the very best place Berlin has to offer for this event – spacious, with soft, green grass, seasonal color flowerbeds and large, lofty trees offering cool shade on a warm day.  In the background, our favorite ‘home of history’ too will lend a special feeling to this day.  As for the day’s main event – the picnic fare – Toni Stuart, chairperson has assured us that the catered Fried Chicken, Potato salads, Baked beans and HOMEMADE pies will be just right – of course, accompanied by fresh lemonade and iced tea!  We’re also told that there will be lawn games, old time photo ops and music for those with excess energy.  For the more staid among us there will be a live auction of oil paintings by our Town’s own artist of renown, Lynn Lockhart, as well as a silent auction of other special stuff.  And for those that like to take a chance – this is your opportunity – a 50/50 raffle with tickets at $100 each – the odds, pretty good…only 250 to be sold!  To mention again – the proceeds will go toward the purchase of special holiday decorations to be placed around town in December – so everyone shares in the winnings! Following the picnic that day, beginning at 6 pm the Museum will hold their monthly summertime Lawn Concert!
Come on – come out and enjoy an old fashioned, summertime Sunday afternoon in your town – done just right!

911 for 411 – time for a change!

A couple of weeks ago I was online seeking time and place information regarding our annual Memorial Day parade and celebration party to be held at Henry Park here in town. I went to our official Town website – TownofBerlinMD.com and under the third column on the home page at the bottom, clicked on ‘Town Events‘. This link redirected me to the Berlin Chamber of Commerce website at BerlinMDCC.org where I then went to the left side and clicked on ‘Event Calendar’. A page quickly popped up saying – “There are no events this week”. Wow, I had struck out there – at which point I had to ask myself for probably the 500th time – WHY?

And yet, I can probably answer my own question. For the past several years the Berlin Chamber has limited events to be listed on their website calendar to ‘member only’ activities. If a Chamber member business wants something to be listed they must email or phone a request to the Chamber office. Yet, falling further short, it seems that very few Chamber member events are ever listed. What’s with that? To my mind it stands to reason that to fully support Berlin businesses, encouraging publicity is primary – positive marketing is key. A few signs along the local roads may help, however folks from afar – never see these – (and they do not have access to the local info crawl on TV) they do however, when planning a trip to our big sister town of Ocean City Maryland – like to be aware of activities area wide. I was one of these folks for many years. And, because at that time, Berlin and it’s Chamber of Commerce having NO website, this town didn’t exist for me! Another story – another time.
Which brings me back to the official Berlin MD Town website. Yes, we have a website – although having pertinent information – unfortunately it is not attractive and certainly not truly representative of our community as are many other Town websites up and down Delmarva. Our new mayor, after having listened patiently to many complaints, some months back proposed that we have an IT (Internet Technology) Committee – made up of a few interested citizens along with our new Administrative Director and Deputy Director. (I’m now one of the ‘complaining’, citizen committee members.) It was decided during one of the three meetings held during the past five months that an overhaul of the Town ‘hardware’ would be first on the agenda – requiring a lot of our tax payer dollars – that’s fine and determined necessary. It was then proposed that money for a new website (requiring far fewer of those dollars) be held off and put into the new 2010 budget. OK, we’re there. The budget has been passed *. When’s the next website planning meeting?  Berlin Maryland proudly hosts some of the best events around, enjoying much public participation – and we could welcome more!
In the meantime, this very frustrated citizen will, in the next few weeks attempt to place a comprehensive and interactive Berlin Community Calendar of Events on this site and with your participation put up public-welcomed activities pertaining to any and all non-profit organizations within our Town limits. I’ll keep you posted as to the progress of this venture.

* The 2010 Town of Berlin budget was passed last week including a 3% raise for Town Staff at the same time many in our community were receiving news that there would be NO cost of living increase for FY 2010 in Social Security benefits. And, what’s with that?

Berlin’s own – JAZZ & BLUES BASH…’play it again, Steve’!

Next Saturday (May 9th) beginning at 10 am Berlin Maryland will offer up a return engagement of last year’s newest (surprise) musical event – now the Second Annual JAZZ AND BLUES BASH.  The ‘surprise’, that a first-time effort such as this was already just about perfect!  For many of us who were just leaning that bright spring morning of the sudden passing of our Mayor, Thomas Cardinale, the quality of this event and the professionalism exhibited by the performers help reconcile that deeper understanding of what Mayor Cardinale always stood for – his love, allegiance and unabashed pride toward his adopted home – the small, yet fine, Eastern Shore village of Berlin.
This year, again, our own ‘music man’, event chair Steve Frene (also chairman of the ever popular fall Fiddlers’ Convention) promises even more and better.  Frankly, I don’t know if that’s possible!  Going over the listings for the bands to be performing that day one can hardly imagine better.  Again, eyes and ears will be focused on the two stage sites along Main Street – and with our own beloved historic Atlantic Hotel back in full Victorian-inspired dress – the porch too will be overflowing with jazz aficionados amid just plain folk seeking a day of pleasure with good sounds.
Finally, to the many volunteers and to the event sponsors – special THANKS – your work and generosity helps Berlin continue to stand tall!
P.S.  Seating will be limited so remember to bring a lawn chair!
To enlarge any photo – just ‘click’!

It’s SPRING…and time to celebrate!

Recently, when stopping by my favorite Berlin Maryland “feel good” shop, Victorian Charm, I picked up a lovely ‘rack card’ from the counter. On it was advertised the activities for next Saturday (April 11th) taking place downtown on Main Street – SPRING CELEBRATION! Frankly, although a bit past the age of believing in the Easter Bunny – this is one of my favorite events. For 14 years our Town, through the auspices of the Berlin Chamber of Commerce, has celebrated our own Berlin-style rites of springtime with this joy-filled, colorful and just plain FUN event. Beginning at 8:00 am one can have breakfast with that cute furry character – the Easter Bunny, this year held at the Worcester County Arts Council on Jefferson St. and sponsored by the PINK BOX bakery (that means the food will be terrific!) Next, the lovely lawn at the Taylor House Museum at the corner of Main and Baker Streets becomes the site of the ubiquitous egg hunt followed by games for all ages – providing too a time to work off that breakfast! At noon, the newly re-opened Atlantic Hotel becomes a place of fashion – with a ‘homemade’ Easter Bonnet Contest sponsored by Bruder Hill. From noon until 2:00 pm our ever-cheerful, Mayor “Gee” Williams will be walking the streets passing out shiny quarters – change your outfit and get two! Concurrently, the Worcester County Arts Council building becomes the place to decorate a ‘Bunny Cake’ – more treats! Reservations are necessary for this and for the ‘Tea with the Easter Bunny’ held at Tea by the Sea at 1:30 pm. That Bunny is surely a busy fellow!
OK, here’s where the ‘feet meet the street’ – at 3:00 pm (only in Berlin) it’s time for the Hog Calling Contest. This is really fun – don’t be shy – more giggles than ‘calls’ but no matter, the kids try real hard! Finally, it’s 4:00 pm and it’s time for the main event…the infamous Berlin Maryland Official Pig Races where the contestants are first rounded up and then “encouraged” (this is the fun part) to run a course of 25’, in heats, to determine the day’s official winner! The prize – bragging rights for a full year added to whatever else our beloved emcee, Steve Frene can round up!
Throughout the day – all along the Main Street will be additional attractions: craft activities sponsored by Children’s Book Garden, rides (mechanical) by Jolly Rogers, rides (live, horse) from Autumn Grove Stables, a Mobile Learning Adventure (what’s this?) sponsored by PNC Bank and of course, the street vendors.
All of this amounts to a really full day – full of smiles – delight and wonder from the kids and broad smiles of pride from the adults. Never let it be said that the coming of Spring, celebrated Berlin-style, is not the very BEST anywhere! See you there!

A special thanks to Lindsay Parker of Wiggles and Giggles Daycare for chairing this super event!
For further information – visit www.berlinmdcc.org

America’s Coolest Small Town – Budget Travel Contest!

Note: The voting in this contest ends on April 3rd at which time the votes will be counted and the top 10 will be selected as “America’s Coolest Small Town(s)”. Berlin, currently standing in 12th place (992 votes) probably won’t make the cut! Seems that our neighbor, Onancock VA – presently standing in 4th place with 4,019 votes and a population of less than half (1,525 vs. Berlin’s 3,491) has more folks willing to use their keyboards to cheer for their town. Have you voted yet? If not click the link below and get busy during this last week of voting!
OK, so it’s a bit gimmicky…but at the heart of this contest, it’s true – Berlin Maryland is one of America’s Coolest Small Towns! Recently an entry was posted on the Budget Travel Contest website making our town a contestant for this honor! The editors have narrowed it down to a mere 22 towns nationwide…! YOUR vote can take us to the top (where we already know we belong)!!! Here’s the link – please go cast your ballot TODAY! (No online registration necessary) Note: Ballots may be cast weekdays from 10 am until 8 pm.

http://www.budgettravel.com/bt-srv/coolestsamlltowns/

Our entry says…”Berlin Maryland is definitely one of America’s coolest small towns — there is something for everyone! Located at the heart of the mid-Atlantic coastal region, a mere 7 miles inland, time and nature have created a most perfect place to live…and a very exciting place to visit! From surfing, sunbathing and fishing at the acclaimed Assateague Island National Seashore, (located on one of the few remaining natural barrier islands) to canoeing the quiet, peat-blackened waters of the meandering Pocomoke River this area has much to offer any water enthusiast . Hiking, biking or driving is enjoyed along the nearby scenic, 63 mile long old Algonquin Indian “beach to bay” trail is also available for the land lubbers. And, viewing the famed Chincoteague Island ponies in their natural habitat or the endless variety of wild fowl stopping to rest here along the famed Atlantic Flyway is also within an easy drive from town. Within our towns’ small Main Street commercial district, along tree lined streets one may view not only lovely period historic homes but set forth on a journey of discovery to seek that special something within our myriad of unique shops and to view the works of the many resident artists and craftsmen of renown within their galleries. We must mention too the multi-acre Stephen Decatur Park, that includes a large nature pond and public tennis courts! Berlin was recently honored with the State’s much coveted “Arts & Entertainment District” designation. As for the “entertainment” portion of the honor — along with the usual eateries there is the fully restored, Globe Theater…serving trendy bar food along with a full menu of year round live musical performances. However, like any small town our civic pride forces focus towards our annual Chamber of Commerce sponsored festivals including the Spring Jazz and Blues Fest, the well loved Fall Fiddler’s Convention and caroling during our month-long Victorian Christmas celebration. Our Town museum — the Calvin B. Taylor House also sponsors a series of popular summertime Concerts on the Lawn. To enjoy a picture view of our very real, small town flavor, you may rent the now 10-year-old Paramount movie — Runaway Bride starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere — where you can experience see Berlin Maryland up close! You will see that we’re a very cool, small town and certainly are one of the best places to live or visit. Come join us anytime!”

Downtown PARKING – a little “self-governance”, temporarily?

With recent focus on our tight daytime parking conditions in downtown Berlin MD, I vote for a little of that “self-governance”, it may be just the stuff to carry us through the Holiday-Event shopping season thundering our way.  Our annual VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS celebration begins next week with Arts Night on the 28th!

Certainly a benefit of living or working around Berlin is that most already know of some out of the way, yet convenient spaces.  We can park and yet not tie up parking for visitors and potential customers for our town businesses…and in this “less than stellar” economy that is very important.  Everyone benefits from a continuing and vibrant town center.

However, never a big fan of adding rules to rules, perhaps it’s time to take another look at current realities.  We have
several marked, Town-owned or maintained Public Parking lots just steps off Main Street. Wisely, shop owners and downtown business employees who park all day are already strongly motivated to park off Main Street. Employees of the Town government have been instructed to park in the St. Paul’s Church lot. I’m betting that if these reasonable requests were met on a regular basis there would be little need for more rules. Otherwise we are looking at more regulations – more signs and ultimately more costs in providing Police enforcement. Do you really want this?

That having been said, our downtown district needs more permanent parking.  Good minds are working on this – trying to configure around our narrow streets, sidewalk shops, restaurants and second floor apartments toward a more beneficial plan for all.  However, as one friend so aptly put it – “we’re not starting with a cornfield”.  This will take time and it will take now scarce investment dollars.  So, in the meantime we might try a little self-governance to keep things moving – toward the future of our businesses and our town.
To enlarge any photo, just “click”!

Berlin’s FIDDLERS’ CONVENTION – Coming soon!

With the advent of September here on the lovely Eastern Shore, the countdown to the annual Berlin FIDDLERS CONVENTION begins in earnest.  For 16 years the Town of Berlin and the Berlin Chamber of Commerce along with many area businesses have proudly sponsored this “Very Best of Berlin” event.  Beginning as an idea picked up by one of our leading citizens, the late Mr. Jim Barrett while traveling, this event has gone on to become a chock-full, three-day celebration of live Bluegrass concerts, competitions and jams within the capable hands of Mr. Steve Frene.  This year, beginning at 7 pm on Friday, September 19th through 3 pm Sunday, September 21st the streets of Historic Berlin Maryland will resound with the finest fiddlin’, pickin’, pluckin’ and strummin’ imaginable!  With its backdrop of unique shops and great eateries, the usually quiet little town of Historic Berlin becomes a visitor’s delight!  And, it’s free to all! Mark your calendar and come on down!
For a specific schedule visit our website at – www.BerlinFiddlersConvention.com where Competition and Sponsorship forms are also available.
Direct contact, phone Steve Frene at 410-219-3500, xtn 13 or email: sfrene@dbc1.com
To enlarge any photo, just “click”!

Berlin’s Annual SIDEWALK SALE – bargains vs. beach!

Friday morning dawned cool and clear…promising what is termed locally as a perfect “beach day” in nearby Ocean City MD (7 short miles east). However, it was a “no brainer” choice for many as today also marks the beginning of the Annual three-day, SIDEWALK SALE held on Main Street in downtown historic Berlin MD. (see the accompanying photos) Each year local town merchants put aside the odds and ends, overstocks and such that accumulate during the seasons and hold a big street party for shoppers at the end of summer! Certainly a great time to stock up on some grand gifts for the holidays – a remembrance for a relative or even snag something for your own closet – all obtained at real bargain prices! Authentic Vera Bradley brand handbags, Crabtree & Evelyn lotions and potions and “Fresh Produce” summer-wear were all piled high in front of Victorian Charm. Noticed some nice serving pieces in front of Abigails, dynamite clothing and accessories were going for up to 70% off at Bruder Hill and down the street, MR Ducks had a huge selection of tees and sweatshirts going for rock bottom prices. Even Cody’s Christmas Shop had some pre-season goodies displayed. Noticed too the tables being readied in front of the Atlantic Hotel for weary shoppers in need of refreshment! Doing double duty – other town merchants and local galleries were gearing up for the regular monthly 2nd Friday celebration – tonight’s “Arts Stroll” that begins at 6 pm! Notwithstanding, there are two days remaining for the Sidewalk Sale in Berlin this year…stop by – you’ll really be glad you did! And, remember to mark your calendar for next year – bargains vs. beach – it’s a “no brainer”! (Click to enlarge any photo!)

In Berlin – a metamorphosis @your LIBRARY!

There’s an interesting sign hanging from the front of our Berlin Maryland town Library these days stating, “Metamorphosis…@ your library”. This message bears a bit of thought – strictly speaking, as a zoological term, metamorphosis means to transform, in two or more distinct stages from the immature form to the adult. A second meaning can be the change or nature of a thing or person into a completely different one by natural or supernatural means. In other words – an evolution!!!

Particularly noticed during these more stringent economic times are the increased numbers of library patrons…more cars in the lot outside and more patrons inside. And why not – our library, a full-fledged branch supported by the Worcester County Public Library System and State of Maryland, offers the full line of library services – FREE! No just longer a place to “get a book” or look something up, the library here in Berlin has definitely “morphed”. No longer greeted with a glance or hearing a “sssh”, patrons are greeted with a smile, most times with a warm “Hello”. Often these days some sort quiet special-interest meeting of local citizens or book club is seen being held at the table in the comfortable reading area near the fireplace – or a lively story hour is being conducted in the Children’s area. And, since the placement of five computers within our branch, it is seldom that one finds a vacant seat! These activities are supplemented by the widened selections of loan-able materials including audio (some rockin’ music!) CD’s and visual (current and popular) DVD materials. One cannot forget the “bulletin board”, where announcements of community interest vie for attention or the shelves where stacks of weekly area tabloids are kept – free for the taking. There’s also the newest service (5yrs) whereby one can ask a question via their home computer and receive an answer from any library or from many institutions of higher learning Maryland wide using the askusnow.org website! Very cool! Don’t take my word for it…stop by soon and ask Alice, the ringleader of this wonderful transformation or her helpers Doris or Robin – you’re sure to get an answer and a smile! A metamorphosis for sure!



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