Gregory Pizzuto has worked as a chief information officer for two international law firms, as Midwest regional practice leader for PricewaterhouseCoopers and as president of a small family consulting business.
But in 2003, after more than 20 years in the business and technology fields, the Ohio native was ready for a change. He received his master’s degree in sports management and in 2012 became manager of Harford Community College’s APG Federal Credit Union Arena.
“Love Harford County,” Pizzuto says. “I love the rolling hills. I love the change of seasons. I love that we have anywhere from the Chesapeake Bay in Havre De Grace and all along that coastline to Ladew [Topiary Gardens] and Rocks State Park.”
This summer, Pizzuto expanded his love of all things Harford County by becoming executive director of Visit Harford!, the county’s tourism group. We talked with the Abingdon resident about the county’s most popular tourist sites, his vision for the future and why the group’s “Underwood for President” buttons — part of a self-guided tour featuring spots used in the Netflix series “House of Cards” — are flying off the shelves.
What are some of Harford County’s most popular tourist sites and activities?
I think the Maryland State BBQ Bash continues to be one of the gold standard as far as events. They set record attendance again this year, probably over 25,000 people that come in for what is really a day-and-a-half event. … Ladew Gardens, rated top five garden in the country. You can’t get much better than that. It’s amazing to me that there’s still people in this county who have not been there. And the eagles that we get at Conowingo Dam and Susquehanna State Park are just such a natural beauty. There’s just something mesmerizing about seeing eagles in the wild.
What’s next for Harford County tourism?
I’m excited about the breweries that are coming in. There’s a brewery opening soon in downtown Bel Air. Falling Branch Brewery in Street is one of the largest hops growers around. They’re getting ready to open a brewery this fall. That’s another jewel in the county I’m keeping my eye on. It’s those types of places that we want to promote, as well as our existing places.
What about these “Underwood for President 2016” buttons you are giving out as part of Visit Harford!’s self-guided ‘House of Cards’ tour?
It’s hard for us to keep them on the shelf! Everybody wants one. ... I have something in the works that I hope to pull together soon (for the tour), and when that happens, I think it will be extremely well received and will make it easier for people to go to these locations. The goal is to be able to not only to see where something was filmed but understand what season it was in, what show it was in and maybe a little bit about what actually occurred there.
Describe Harford County in 10 words or less.
Harford has it. If you want hiking trails, water, gardens, food, wineries, ice cream, Harford has it.