In early 2012, The Hagerstown Town and Country Almanack was contacted by Dr. Michelle L. Stefano, Program Coordinator for Maryland Traditions, Maryland State Arts Council and Folklorist-in Residence, Department of American Studies at The University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC).   Dr. Stefano, along with associate, Phillip Gordon, provided us with a brief outline of the program, its mission and focus:  

Maryland Traditions is the folklife program of the Maryland State Arts Council, with additional funding provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.  Since 2001, Maryland Traditions has seeded a network of regional partners engaged in documenting and celebrating folklife in Maryland. ‘Folklife’, or living traditions, can be understood as cultural knowledge, skills and meanings that are handed down from generation to generation through word of mouth or by example. These living traditions may be indigenous to certain regions, expressed by long-standing Maryland communities and groups, or have found a welcoming home in the state in more recent times. Through fieldwork, grants, public programs, archives, apprenticeships, awards, and publications, we carry out our aim of sustaining Maryland’s rich and diverse traditions from the Chesapeake to Appalachia.

After visiting The Almanack’s website, Dr. Stefano became fascinated with its rich history and its contribution to local folklife in Maryland.  She expressed an interest in  how its astronomical calculation, weather predictions, and content have been developed over the years.  She also expressed an interest in nominating us for their annual award that recognizes achievement in maintaining living traditions.  


The Achievement in Living Traditions and Arts (ALTA) Award was established by Maryland Traditions in 2007 to recognize outstanding stewardship of Maryland’s living traditions. The award is named in honor of folklorist and community leader Dr. Alta Schrock (1911-2001). Dr. Schrock, a native of Garrett County, Maryland, taught biology at Frostburg State University and also founded publications, events and lasting institutions designed to share and safeguard her region’s traditional art forms. Her achievements in cultural conservation include the creation of The Spruce Forest Artisan Village, Penn Alps, the Journal of the Alleghenies and the Springs Festival.

Each year, three awards are made in the categories of people, place, and tradition. Recipients are selected based on their demonstration of excellence in such areas as research, documentation, presentation, entrepreneurship, artistry, stewardship, and community impact; places honored are those that specially serve to keep traditions alive and that are meaningful and effective gathering places or sites for carrying on living or endangered traditions; and traditions recognized are those that connect communities to cultural heritage in ways that exemplify Maryland’s dynamic spirit and may include events, occupations, knowledge, cultural scenes, and organizations.

In 2012, The Hagerstown Almanack was unanimously voted to receive the ALTA Award for Tradition. For more details on Maryland State Arts Council's Maryland Traditions Program, click here. To view the video highlighting The Almanack that was presented at the awards ceremony, click here.