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Friday Focus: The Charles County Holiday Trail

By Monica Meinert • November 22, 2013

holiday trail logo
The holiday season is in the air in Charles County as several historic and contemporary sites come together to form the 2013 Holiday Trail! Working behind the scenes to coordinate the effort is Kate Zabriskie, who came up with the idea last Christmas as a creative way to promote tourism in Charles County. Her vision was quickly embraced by local organizations, with 10 groups agreeing to participate in the trail’s first season. As part of this week’s Friday Focus, Kate spoke with us about the trail and provided details about how and when to go.

Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, etc.)

A: The Charles County Holiday Trail is composed of historic and cultural sites in Charles County. The purpose of the trail is to share these landmarks with locals and visitors alike. The Trail is exciting because it marks the first time that all of the sites have been open on the same weekend, December 6-8, 2014.

The participating landmarks include:

The African American Heritage Society
Mount Carmel of Port Tobacco
Friendship House
Kris Kingle Christmas Market at the Charles County Fair
A Holiday Arts Faire (located at the Kris Kingle Christmas Market)
Mattawoman Creek Art Center
Mount Aventine at Chapman State Park
Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House Museum
Smallwood Retreat House
Thomas Stone National Historic Site

Q: What has been your favorite "moment" (example of how your organization helped)?

A: This is our first year promoting our sites together, and the most exciting part of the effort is the realization that the sites are working toward the same goal and can share resources, lessons learned, contacts and strategies.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: The biggest challenge is getting the word out. People from the County will tell you they haven't been to some of these sites in years—or ever, for that matter. For those new the County, many don't even know these places exist.

Q: How can people really help?

A: The public is invited to visit the sites the weekend of December 6-8. They can also visit our website, where they can connect with us via social media. Additionally, businesses, organizations or individuals can include this informational text in newsletters, Facebook posts, etc.

Q: What advice can you give someone looking to work at a non-profit?

A: Realize that nothing is below you. At some point, you will probably end up cleaning dirty bathrooms before an event. On that same note, however, there will usually be more to do than you can ever get done. Choose what you will work on wisely. Always be in recruit mode and never forget to say thank you!

Want to experience the Holiday Trail for yourself? Here’s what you need to know:

The trail begins on Friday, December 6 with the Kris Kringle Christmas Market at the Charles County Fair. Admission is $1 or one non-perishable food item. All admission will go to the Southern Maryland Food Bank. Modelled after the markets in Germany, visitors can expect plenty of food, lights, greens, art, music, shopping and a living nativity.