`Welcome' staff gets eye-opener

Tourism: Maryland Welcome Center employees find a lot to like as they sample Carroll County's attractions.

February 27, 2002|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

They were impressed by the blacksmiths at Union Mills Homestead. They gushed over the down-home cooking at Baugher's. And they delighted in the afternoon sunshine at Cascade Lake.

The staff of the state's 13 Welcome Centers - the places where visitors stop for information about all that Maryland has to offer - spent yesterday touring some of Carroll County's most popular attractions.

It was the first time in the tour's 17-year history that state workers had visited Carroll.

Their three-day tour of Frederick and Carroll counties began with a visit to the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg and ends today with a trip to the Carroll County Farm Museum in Westminster.

"You can read brochures and look at pictures, but nothing beats seeing these sites in person," said Nancy Wilson, manager of the state Welcome Centers for the Maryland Office of Tourism.

"We've really enjoyed riding through the countryside."

More than 2.2 million people stopped by the state's Welcome Centers last year, seeking information about what to see and do in Maryland.

Carroll's tourism office is hoping that this tour, which includes some 60 Welcome Center staff members, will encourage state tourism workers to direct more visitors to the county.

In 2000, Carroll's share of Maryland's $8.2 billion tourism industry was $54 million, according to the Travel Industry Association of America, based in Washington.

Statewide, the tourism industry provides 104,000 jobs, of which about 570 are in Carroll, said Karen Glenn, a spokeswoman for the state's Department of Business and Economic Development.

"Carroll County would be a great place to take a day trip," said Donna Meyer, who works at the State House Welcome Center.

"A lot of the people who visit Annapolis appreciate history and are looking for things to do with the children. The Homestead is an ideal place to go. Visitors can see blacksmiths work and learn how flour is made."

Built in 1797, Union Mills Homestead was where Union and Confederate soldiers camped on their way to Gettysburg.

Today, a blacksmith shop, tannery and grist mill are among the buildings that survive on the 14-acre site seven miles north of Westminster.

State tourism workers also enjoyed walking along Sykesville's historic Main Street and the beauty of Cascade Lake near Hampstead.

Several took advantage of the warm weather and walked along the dock.

"A lot of the people who come in don't have plans," said Rachel Calkins, a supervisor at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport Welcome Center.

"They fly in at the spur of a moment and look to us to tell them where they should go. This would be a nice place for a day trip, especially with kids."

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