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Maryland Traditions Archives

Awards

Tradition bearers in Maryland have received two sets of awards that recognize contributions to folk and traditional arts. The ALTA/Heritage Awards are sponsored by Maryland Traditions, the state folklife program. The National Heritage Fellowships are sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts

Founded in 2007 as the ALTA Awards (Achievement in Living Traditions and Arts), they were re-branded in 2016 as the Heritage Awards. Given annually, these awards recognize outstanding contributions to the vitality of Maryland folklife in three categories: Person/People, Place, and Tradition. 

The ALTA Awards were created to commemorate Dr. Alta Schrock (1911-2001). Schrock founded the Spruce Forest Artisan Village, Penn Alps Restaurant and Craft Shop, and more than a dozen community groups in western Maryland, setting a standard for what it means to support living cultural traditions. In addition to award recipients, the awards honor her legacy.

The National Heritage Fellowships are the highest honor in the folk and traditional arts in the United States. Since the first class of recipients were recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts in 1983, many Marylanders have received the award.

Materials related to these awards are located in Collection 116 and Collection 120 of the Maryland Traditions Archive.

ALTA Awards, 2007-2015

Year

Category

Recipient

2007

Person

Anna Holmes of North Brentwood (Prince George’s County) was a beloved educator, quilter, family historian and community activist.

2007

Place

Penn Alps & Spruce Forest Artisan Village in Grantsville (Garrett County) continues to safeguard Appalachian culture.

2007

Tradition

The National Outdoor Show promotes the traditions of Dorchester County’s marshes since 1938 and is the home of the International Muskrat Skinning Contest.

2008

Person

The United Methodist Women of Smith Island (Somerset County) have perpetuated stories, songs and everyday lifeways for generations.

2008

Place

J. Patrick's, once located in Baltimore City's Locust Point, was the region's main hub for celebrating Irish music and culture.

2008

Tradition

The Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival fills the Howard County Fairground with sheep breeders, cooks, textile artists and every aspect of sheep fancying.

2009

Person

George Wunderlich of Hagerstown (Washington County) is an acclaimed builder of mid-1800s Wunder banjos and a leading public cultural historian of the instrument and its roots.

2009

Place

Blob’s Park & Bavarian Bier Garten in Jessup (Anne Arundel County) was opened by Max Blob in 1933 and was the home for great polka music and German fare.

2009

Tradition

Swan Meadow School of Oakland (Garrett County) teaches students the musical, culinary, literary and storytelling traditions of the Amish and Mennonite communities of Western Maryland.

2010

Person

The descendants of Nathaniel “Uncle Nace” Hopkins hold the annual Emancipation Day celebrations in Trappe (Talbot County) since 1867.

2010

Place

Globe Poster opened in Baltimore in 1927 to produce show posters for vaudeville acts, carnivals, burlesque and movie theaters.

2010

Tradition

Jousting is one of the oldest rural traditions of the Mid-Atlantic Region and is the Official State Sport.

2011

Person

Rich Smoker is a master decoy carver who lives in Marion (Somerset County).

2011

Place

Patterson Bowling Center Duckpin Bowling Lanes (Baltimore City) is the oldest duckpin bowling alley in the world.

2011

Tradition

The Singing & Praying Bands of Maryland (Eastern and Western Shore) are an African-American devotional/musical tradition that is unique to Delmarva.

2012

Person

The Carroll County Ramblers are a family bluegrass group based in Taneytown (Carroll County).

2012

Place

Sparrows Point Steel Mill and its Communities (Baltimore County), a now-closed steel mill that shaped the lives of hundreds of thousands of steelworkers and community members.

2012

Tradition

J. Gruber’s Hagers-town Town and Country Almanack (Washington County) is the oldest almanac in the U.S. that is still produced by heirs of the original founder.

2013

Person

Wallace M. Yater is a master blacksmith living in Boonsboro (Washington County).

2013

Place

Piscataway Homelands: People Culture and Traditions of Prince George’s, Charles and St. Mary’s Counties.

2013

Tradition

The Oyster Fritters of the Sharptown Firemen’s Carnival (Wicomico County) are an enduring community tradition of the Eastern Shore.

2014

Person

Bernard “Lefty” Kreh (Baltimore County) is a master fly fisherman, guide, journalist, photographer and author.

2014

Place

Bending Water Park and Indian Water Trails (Somerset County) comprise indigenous landscapes and waterways significant to the history and culture of the Accohannock Indian Tribe of the Lower Eastern Shore.

2014

Tradition

The Painted Screens of Baltimore is one of the most iconic and well-known living traditions unique to the city.

2015

Person

Captain Kermit "Robert Lee" Travers (Dorchester County) is reputedly the only surviving African-American skipjack captain active within the Chesapeake Bay Region.

2015

Place

St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church (Baltimore) is the main anchor for Greek culture in East Baltimore and is considered the most traditional, conducting services in both Greek and English.

2015

Tradition

The Marbles Game of the Greater Cumberland Region (Allegany County) is a source of deep community pride. With tournaments dating back nearly a century, games are taught in public schools and local players have won nine National Marbles Championships.

Heritage Awards, 2016-Present

2016

Person

Chum Ngek (Montgomery County) is a master of traditional Cambodian music and is the musical backbone of Cambodian communities in Maryland and beyond.

2016

Place

Trimper's Rides and Amusements of Ocean City is the oldest family-owned amusement park in the nation, having opened its doors in 1893.

2016

Tradition

Maple syrup making is a generational tradition in Western Maryland and is carried forward today by families like the Steyers of Garrett County and the Shinholts of Allegany County.

2017

Person

Joan Gaither (Anne Arundel County) creates story quilts that bring Maryland history to life, with a focus on the stories of the state's African-American communities.

2017

Place

The Baltimore American Indian Center (Baltimore City) provides native communities with weekly culture classes, annual pow wows, a full-fledged community museum, a multipurpose meeting space and more.

2017

Tradition

The Skipjack Race and Festival of Deal Island (Somerset County) commemorates the skipjack, the traditional oystering and crabbing vessel of the Chesapeake Bay.

2018

Person

The Sensational Royal Lights (Dorchester County) are the generational gospel quartet of the Elliott family, whose music and ministry are rooted in African-American devotional traditions.

2018

Place

Curtis’ Coney Island Famous Weiners (Allegany County) is a century-old restaurant and community gathering space run by generations of the Giatras family in downtown Cumberland.

2018

Tradition

Stuffed ham (St. Mary’s County) is a regional culinary practice marking holidays, family gatherings, and community events in southern Maryland for hundreds of years.

2019

Person

Jay Armsworthy (St. Mary’s County) is the bluegrass musician, promoter, organizer, and radio host whose efforts are known throughout and beyond his home place of southern Maryland.

2019

Place

The Arch Social Club (Baltimore City) has been a central location for generations of African American community and culture in the city since 1912.

2019

Tradition

The bomba and plena percussion and dance traditions of Puerto Rico are upheld in Maryland through the work of the cultural arts organization Cultura Plenera (Howard County).

2020

Person

Rock Howland of Carroll County is a master of Appalachian flatfooting, a mountain dance style that has emerged from a blend of Scots-Irish, African American, and Indigenous solo dance traditions over the past 150 years.

2020

Place

The region now known as Dorchester County is the ancestral home of the Nause-Waiwash Band of Indians, descendants of the Nanticoke Indians who have made their home on the Eastern Shore for centuries. 

2020

Tradition

The Black Storytelling tradition is influenced on state and national levels by activities in Baltimore City, where organizations such as the National Association of Black Storytellers and the Griots’ Circle of Maryland steward and participate in African and African American oral traditions.

2021 Person

Phil Wiggins of Montgomery County is a master harmonica player in the tradition of the Piedmont blues, a delicate, lyrical style of blues originating in Black communities in the eastern United States in the 1920s and 1930s. Phil has taught thousands to both play and value the Piedmont blues and is the recipient of many awards, including the National Endowment for the Arts’ National Heritage Fellowship, the nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts.

2021 Place The historic Dentzel carousel has been a fixture in Montgomery County’s Glen Echo Park since 1921. Crafted by the Dentzel Carousel Company, the amusement has for 100 years served as the site of community gathering, including a 1960 civil rights protest to open the park to Black visitors. The desegregation effort was ultimately successful, and the carousel has remained the centerpiece of the park and a cherished attraction for all guests.
2021 Tradition Arabbing is the name for the Baltimore City tradition of selling fruits and vegetables by horse-drawn cart. Those practicing the tradition, known as arabbers, alert their customers to the availability of fresh food through unique hollers. For 150 years, arabbing has been recognized as a tradition primarily upheld by and for Baltimore’s Black communities, as well as an entrepreneurial economic system serving neighborhoods across the city.

 

National Heritage Fellowships, Maryland Recipients

Year

Recipient

Tradition

Location

1983

Lem Ward

Decoy Carver/Painter

Crisfield, MD

1986

Ola Belle Reed

Appalachian Banjo Picker/Singer

Rising Sun, MD

1986

Khatna Peou

Cambodian Court Dancer/Choreographer

Silver Spring, MD

1998

Harilaos Papapostolou

Greek Byzantine Chanter

Potomac, MD

1998

Apsara Ensemble

Cambodian Traditional Dancers and Musicians

Fort Washington, MD

2001

Joe Wilson*

Folklorist, Advocate and Presenter

Silver Spring, MD / Trade, TN

2001

Hazel Dickens

Appalachian Singer-Songwriter

Baltimore/DC/WV

2004

Chum Ngek*

Cambodian Musician and Teacher

Gaithersburg, MD

2005

Chuck Brown

African-American Musical Innovator (Go-Go)

Brandywine, MD

2007

Roland Freeman*

Photo Documentarian, Author, and Curator

Baltimore and Washington, DC

2009

Mike Seeger*

Musician, Cultural Scholar, and Advocate

Baltimore & Silver Spring / Lexington, VA

2011

Warner Williams

Piedmont Blues Songster

Gaithersburg, MD

2012

Mike Auldridge

Dobro guitar player

Silver Spring, MD

2014

The Holmes Brothers

Blues, Gospel and R&B

Rosedale, MD/Saluda, VA

2014

Singing and Praying Bands of Maryland and Delaware

African-American Sacred Music

 

2016

A. Michael "Mike" Vlahovich

Shipwright and Maritime Culture Advocate

St. Michaels, MD/Tacoma, Washington

2016

Billy McComiskey

Button Accordion, Irish music

Parkville, MD

2017

Phil Wiggins

Piedmont blues harmonica

Takoma Park, MD

2019

Mama Linda Goss

Storytelling

Baltimore

2019

Rich Smoker

Decoy carving

Marion Station, MD

* Bess Lomax Hawes Award recipient. The Bess Lomax Hawes Award recognizes an individual who has made a significant contribution to the preservation and awareness of cultural heritage.