Our slogan – Keep it Local – is evocative of the importance of supporting ‘mom and pop’ businesses rather than ‘big box stores’ to boost our local economy. But, did you ever think about the economic impact of being a tourist in your own town? Tourism is a powerful economic engine with the potential to dramatically help our communities. Visiting local attractions not only shows support simply by the visibility of your presence, it can stimulate the economy. Many local attractions include vendors selling refreshments and even gift shops. Additionally, local support gets the attention and support of government officials for our local tax districts.
Arts and Entertainment Districts offer tax-related incentives to help attract artists, arts organizations and other creative enterprises to these areas, and are aimed at developing and promoting community involvement, tourism, and revitalization. A&E District designations last for 10 years. Within Harford County, the A&E Districts in both Havre de Grace and Bel Air offer a variety of exhibits, galleries, lectures, film and concert performances, featuring not only local artists and musicians, but also attracting nationally known actors and performers.
“Maryland’s Arts and Entertainment Districts serve an important role in revitalizing communities across the state,” notes Maryland Secretary of Commerce Kelly M. Schulz. “This designation helps attract artists and creative businesses and gives counties and municipalities the ability to develop unique arts experiences that engage residents and attract visitors, contributing to community and economic revitalization.”
Why not pick one of our towns, and go visit? You’ll be seeing a side of our area that you may not have seen before, and you’ll be supporting our local employees and businesses.
So, what’s to see in Harford County?
How about starting at the southern edge of the county? Joppatowne is located on the edge of Harford and Baltimore County and contains a lot to see and do. There’s Mariner Point Park and the Rumsey Island Historic Village. The Copley Fall Festival, October 19, celebrates historic Joppa, county seat of the original Baltimore County and a major seaport in the 18th Century. If you’re a boater, you can put in at the nearby marina and see the area from the water.
Further upstream to the West is the Jerusalem Mill and surrounding historic village. This unique community provides an insight to life in Harford County during colonial times. There is a blacksmith shop, the restored mill, the historic Jericho Bridge, and much more. Several times a year, there are festivals and Civil War reenactments, and an opportunity to experience vintage baseball, as played in the mid-1800s.
Linking Joppa with the area of Joppatowne is Gunpowder Park. Here, where the Big Gunpowder Falls meets Little Gunpowder, the river ranges from a shallow stream to areas with deep swimming holes and fishing spots. It’s a beautiful place to hike, picnic or commune with Nature.
Near that area, the McComas Institute historic African-American school and the neighboring church have recently been purchased and are undergoing restoration. The church and school are excellent examples of community gathering spots linked to our historic past.
As you’re touring, there are many lunch and dinner spots around the Joppa area. You’ll find everything from vendors at the Amish farmers’ market, to Italian cuisine, crab houses, and local pubs.
In the upcoming months, many of our hometowns host festivals that attract tourists from well outside the county. The Maryland BBQ Bash, Havre de Grace Waterfront Festival, Bel Air Festival for the Arts and the Harford County Wine Festival attract thousands of visitors each year. Those visitors are drawn to the events and they remain (and return) to appreciate all that Harford County has to offer.
Our Calendar of Events – both online and in print – is the most extensive and lists even MORE events to enjoy as a Tourist in Your Hometown. Listings in our calendars are FREE and community groups and businesses are invited to provide details of events in the months ahead.Join Harford’s Heart in touring other areas of Harford County, exploring and discovering aspects of our heritage, culture and thriving business communities.