Eat, Drink, and Buy Art on Delmarva started about 4-5 years ago in Maryland incorporating smaller towns to showcase restaurants, arts and performances.
According to Executive Director of Downtown Milford, Lee Nelson, this initiative came about because each individual town didn’t have the budget or the reach to market how they wanted to.
“Two years ago we in Delaware were invited to participate with them,” Nelson said. “The initiative is based on main street programs as well as different chambers that are focusing on economic development.”
Eat, Drink, and Buy Art has a website and Facebook page and has just recently launched a mobile app. On the website, each month a different town, eatery, gallery, artist and event are featured. Nelson said all these factors have helped to get the town regional recognition.
All the towns meet quarterly at a different location. At this gathering, the towns meet for a few hours and discuss everything that is going on. Nelson said this is where all major decisions are made, including the decision to get an app. After the group meets and discusses the important stuff, they go out to lunch and then explore the town which is essential for this collaboration.
“We talk about everything—this is a unofficial organization, a collaboration, cooperative effort by all 18 towns,” Nelson said. “We want everyone to know each other so this is the best way.”
Nelson says it’s hard to get statistics on whether this program is working, however, he’s noticed a difference.
“We have been talking to people who have heard about our website and Facebook page,” Nelson said. “I’ve seen a difference.”
The 18 cities participating in this organization include 6 from Delaware and twelve from Maryland. Delaware cities from North to South include Newark, Middletown, Dover, Milford, Milton and Rehoboth Beach. Maryland cities from North to South include Elkton, Chestertown, Centreville, Stevensville, Denton, Easton, Cambridge, Salisbury, Princess Anne, Snow Hill, Berlin and Ocean City.
Nelson says Eat, Drink and Buy Art is open to including other towns but they have to have certain criteria.
“They have to have an economic development structure in place and a commitment to be able to keep whatever they have on the website relevant,” Nelson said. “They have to have an eat, drink, and buy art aspect to their town and they have to be proactive and participate.”
Twice a week, Delmarva Almanac features one of these towns. You can catch this on Saturdays by tuning into WSDL 90.7 at 11:30 a.m. and on WSCL 89.5 at 3:30 p.m.
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