CROWNSVILLE — After decades in the same Anne Arundel County location, Maryland Renaissance Festival organizers say they are looking at moving to a new venue.
The Capital reports that a Facebook post by Jules Smith, the president of the festival held in Crownsville, raises the possibility that the county could lose the $8 million event, which attracts 300,000 visitors annually and provides hundreds of seasonal jobs.
Smith, who has been seeking a new site for years, says the festival has been offered a “large property directly on a major divided highway with larger fields and woods.” He doesn’t say where it is.
“We love being stewards of the property we currently lease but feel it is important to study this opportunity and see if approval from authorities would be permitted to operate in a new area that would allow us to provide an event with improved access, better customer services, greater space and more gentle topography in the village,” Smith writes.
The post sparked concern from those who want the county to keep a signature event and revenue generator.
Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Conference and Visitors Bureau CEO Connie Del Signore said she’d be disappointed to see the festival leave.
“It would be a financial hit,” Del Signore said.
Business leaders and elected officials need to meet with Smith, said Bob Burdon, president and CEO of the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce.
“Jules has been giving us signals for years,” Burdon said. “The question for us as a county is have we responded … quick enough or given him some reason to know we’d be in there swinging for him.”
Smith’s father and several other men started the festival. It was held in Columbia for its first eight seasons, but has been in Crownsville for 29 years.
The new season begins Aug. 23 and runs through Oct. 19.