Best of the Bay 2003

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| Best of the Bay Bay Life | Arts & Entertainment | Edibles |
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And the Winners Are…
Arts & Entertainment

Best Art Gallery
Readers’ Choice: Main Street Gallery, Prince Frederick
“I feel it’s our aura that makes our gallery special,” says Nancy Collery, owner of our readers’ favorite art gallery, Main Street Gallery in Prince Frederick. “It has a wonderful sense of intimacy. A visit to our gallery is a visit to our home. We take true delight in the art we sell, and we respect the artists who create it.”

Readers say they like the quality, uniqueness and diversity of the art at Main Street. From visitors Collery hears “wonderful things about how relaxed and refreshed they feel as soon as they walk in. They love it that they can expect something new and different each time they drop by.”

If you’re a new visitor, Collery says, “Expect pleasure; expect fun; expect a joyful perspective on life, love and the pursuit of happiness through art.”

Editors’ Choice: MFA Gallery on the Circle
Maryland Federation of Art is 40 years old, but its MFA Circle Gallery in Annapolis shows art that is perennially fresh. In a town self-conscious of its history, member-artists remind viewers that there’s much more to art than images of workboats, sailboats and views of the State Capitol from City Dock.

Maryland Federation of Art is a gallery and more than a gallery. First, it’s an alliance of artist-members. Prospective members of the Federation don’t need to show a portfolio, but membership is no guarantee of getting work into MFA Gallery shows. Solo and small-group shows proposed by members must pass a review committee of fellow MFA members. National shows, juried by one or more independent artists or curators, can attract as many as 1,200 submissions for as few as 20 slots.

Circle Gallery manager Joel Persels finds great strength in the Federation’s ability to support both emerging and mature artists.

“MFA creates a great platform,” he says.

Best Bay Writer
Readers’ Choice: Bill Burton
Love him or hate him, but Bill Burton is the man. Why? He writes like you and he are talking over a cup of coffee or the backyard fence.

At 76 Burton remains the premier outdoors writer in Chesapeake Country, more prolific than writers half his age.

We attribute a good measure of Bay Weekly’s appeal — thus our success — to Bill Burton’s presence in our pages.

He’s been on our masthead and pages since issue Number Five. Then newly retired from Baltimore’s Evening Sun, he saw the promise in the bright new idea we then called New Bay Times. For most of our 507 issues, he’s brought us a strength and sagacity envied by papers many times our age.

In his long career, Burton has turned his hand to political and news reporting, radio and television, books and outdoors journals.

The New England native broke into journalism with the Plainfield News at Goddard College in Vermont, where he published his first article, a special edition on a fire that destroyed the town’s biggest business. He also carried the paper to the printer and sold it on the street for five cents a copy.

Burton did a stint in Alaska, but he found the “best job in the world” with The Evening Sun. He created it himself. In his own words:

When I got discharged from the Navy Seabees, I was told I’d have to have a sedentary job all my life. I didn’t believe them and wanted to build myself up. I went home to Vermont to recuperate by hunting and fishing.

Then I took journalism at Goddard College on the G.I. Bill. My second semester I was made editor of the paper. My third semester, they opened a radio station in Montpelier, and as a disabled veteran, I got paid full-time as a journeyman. In a year I was a full-fledged journalist. After a couple of years, I switched to newspapers.

I had a bunch of outdoors notes people had sent that I put together in a column, “Outdoor Trails and Tales,” and I wrote that periodically. Outdoors writing was not big at the time, but wherever I was, I wrote an outdoors column as an extra, until in 1956 The Sun hired me on full time as an outdoors reporter. I’ve been a full-time outdoors reporter for 45 years.

Living the life he writes about, Burton has fished with two presidents, backpacked the Appalachian Trail in a windchill of 96 below, flown over Arctic tundra to check on migratory birds, hunted game big and small — and fished most every drop of water in Maryland.

Editors’ Choice: C.D. Dollar
For the better part of 10 years, Chris Dollar has written for Bay Weekly, bringing to our readers stories of rod and reel, gun and retriever. Such stories launched the careers of an earlier generation of outdoors writers, most notably to Bay Weekly readers Bill Burton, who came to The Evening Sun 40-some years ago when fishing parties returned knee-deep amid the day’s catch.

In his early years with Bay Weekly, Dollar wrote as sportsman and angler, and well-versed for that he was. A native of Chesapeake Country, Dollar has fished and hunted most of its land and waters, and he moonlights as a fishing guide.

But Dollar’s voice has evolved, and in it you hear a message loud and clear. Long gone are the Bay’s glory days, and the Bay today is hurting.

“I don’t think we’ll be able to reach the goals set out in the Chesapeake Bay Agreement,” Dollar warned in a chat over beers not too long ago.

As a full-time staffer and writer (and formerly a captain) for Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Dollar knows firsthand what he writes. His contacts and connections go beyond field and stream to the very scientists studying the Bay.

One hundred years ago, the conservation movement gained national clout through the will of the great sportsman and president Teddy Roosevelt.

Today, in the battle to restore the Bay, it is voices like that of Dollar — a sportsman and conservationist — and his Chesapeake Outdoors column calling the troops to arms.

Best Movie Theater
Readers’ Choice: Annapolis Mall
Want to see the latest blockbuster — and experience it as intended?

Crown Theatres at the Annapolis Mall give you that sensation. Eleven screens with stadium seating and digital sound let you see, hear and possibly feel that action, drama, horror, comedy or kids feature in full view.

Whether you want to sit in the first row and crane your neck or sit in the last row with your hand over your face, the Annapolis Mall Crown Theatre puts you up close and personal — in large, reclining bucket seats — to the big screen and huge sound.

Editors’ Choice: Eastport Cinema
My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Swimming Pool, Whale Rider, Mostly Martha, Bend It Like Beckham, Under the Sand, Gosford Park. If you know these movies, ones we’d otherwise have to drive to D.C. or Baltimore to see, you understand the attraction. If you’ve seen them at Crown Theatre’s Eastport Cinema, you also wish that the theater was up to the titles and the audiences it attracts.

Best Local Theatre Company
Readers’ Choice: Chesapeake Music Hall
Bay Weekly readers love dinner theater, so they’re paying their regards to Sherry Kay Anderson who, with her staff, has kept the fun coming at Chesapeake Country’s only dinner theatre. It’s a professional company, readers and Bay Weekly reviewers agree.

“We always strive to do the best we can,” says Anderson, “and we insist on quality in every aspect — not just acting but also in the costumes and sets and choreography.”

Patrons, says Kay, “are here for a nice evening out, and that’s what they get. They walk into a warm, friendly, family atmosphere, eat a buffet of home cooking and see a quality show. Again and again I hear that it’s a wonderful show.”

Editors’ Choice: 2nd Star Productions
Despite impossible odds, 2nd Star Productions has firmly staked its claim in the heart of Bay Country. In the face of competition from large, professional companies with big-name stars, this small company must consistently deliver first class quality in order to survive. And 2nd Star has not only delivered; it has prospered with the production of such stellar attractions as Curious Savage and Me and My Girl, to name only two of its recent hits.

Founded in 1996 by John F. Guyton, Gordon L. Gustin and Jane B. Wingard, 2nd Star Productions has proven that it can be trusted to deliver high-quality theatre. Of course, full credit goes also to a superb musical and technical staff. They make their magic in Bowie Community Playhouse, which seats 150 people, located in a peaceful, quiet, wooded setting well off the beaten path.

Best Outdoor Concert
Readers’ Choice: Calvert Marine Museum Waterside Festivals
What makes Calvert Marine Museum’s Waterside Festival so hard to beat? “I think the setting,” says museum director Doug Alves. “It’s outdoors. You’ve got the lighthouse in the background, and the Bay and the Patuxent River. Many times the concert ends and there’s the full moon over the lighthouse or the museum. And Solomons is a natural place, so it’s a lot nicer than being in a stadium.”

Then again, there’s the quality of the performers. “We try to run a fun show,” Alves adds, “and it’s a fundraiser for the museum, so we try to make sure that the concertgoers are treated like guests. It never rains — that’s a secret, and I’m sworn to silence and don’t want to jinx us.”

Readers say they like the intimacy of these concerts. “We limit the crowd to 4,500 people,” Alves explains. “We can get more people on the grounds, but everyone — whether they’re in the first row or the last row — has a good seat.

“Our concerts have more interaction between the audience and the performer. There’s real eye contact, and I think that’s important for the performers.”

Clearly, it’s important for Bay Weekly readers, too.

Editors’ Choice: Quiet Waters Outdoor Summer Concerts
What makes a great outdoor concert? Good venue? Diverse lineup of musicians and sounds? Lovely setting? In Chesapeake Country, like Calvert Marine Museum, Quiet Waters Park has all that — plus a stage that was built for an optimum listening experience.

“It’s very relaxed and has a real family atmosphere. We go all out and find quality music for the concert series. We also bring back old favorites,” said Quiet Waters’ John Marshall.

From the Zim Zemarel Orchestra to Them Eastport Oyster Boys to the Kennedys, there’s a different style of music to enjoy weekly on summer Saturdays.

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Last updated August 28, 2003 @ 3:01am