The first ever ‘Buy Local Challenge 10th Anniversary Celebration – Southern Maryland Style’ event, was held this past Monday evening July 31st, at Robin Hill Farm & Vineyards in Southern Prince George’s County, which the Watson family kindly donated for the evening of the the event.

The farm festival featured 30 local farmers, producers, artisans, and vendors who pitched ‘farmers market style’ booths and tents on the farm lawn and offered product tastings and sales of their delicious wares. Sampling passes were provided to guests as part of their ticket price so they could taste local farm products such as: popcorn, cheese, fruits, vegetables, meats, wine, distilled spirits, beer, ice cream, baked goods, and more.  A locally sourced Southern Maryland style buffet dinner was also served by Bailey’s Catering, with the ingredients coming from over 10 area farms.  Background music filled the air with live music by the fantastic Hayley Fahey band, while guests played lawn games, chatted with friends, tasted, and shopped. SMADC and event sponsors provided conveniently insulated shopping bags and ice for guests to use to keep their purchases cool. Suttler Post Farm Clydesdales also provided carriage rides and were a fan favorite of the night! SMADC also used the event as an opportunity to debut two new artistically styled ‘Buy Local’ T-shirts too.

SMADC is pleased to announce that over 400 people from the general public, ev ent sponsors, VIPs, and vendors attended to show their enthusiasm for buying local and for supporting our area farmers, producers and artisans. The Maryland Department of Agriculture was well represented with Secretary Joseph Bartenfelder attending and addressing the gathering, encouraging consumers to “buy local all year round!”, and with Deputy Secretary Jim Eichhorst, Assistant Secretary Steve Connelly, and several other staffers in attendance as well. Initial feedback from vendors and guests is very enthusiastic, supported by requests to hold the event every year. We are already looking forward to next year! You can view the full album of photos here.

As a reminder of the origins and impetus for the event, all week long we celebrated Buy Local Challenge week, as one of SMADC’s goals include promoting Maryland’s Buy Local Challenge Week (July 22nd – 30th), and seeking to raise consumer awareness for SMADC as Southern Maryland’s one stop shop for all things Agriculture. Other efforts that coincided with the Buy Local Challenge, include a billboard campaign also geared towards marketing SMADC directly to consumers.

And two billboard Ads featuring the legend “Connecting you to So. Md Agriculture”, situated on Rt. 301 in Prince George’s and Rt. 5/235 in St. Mary’s. Combined estimated views of reaching over 289,660 people weekly. People who see the billboard can visit the SMADC website and enter for a chance to win a t-shirt.

Additionally, two photo contests were launched during BLC, to further promote the week, and increase awareness for SMADC as a ‘buy local’ resource.  Consumers posted photos of products purchased during the week using the hashtag #BuyLocalChallenge on Instagram and Facebook to win prizes. 20 Winners were randomly selected. We loved seeing all the entries– congratulations to those who won. The Billboard contest is still going on, so be on the lookout while driving around Southern Maryland, for a chance to win!