If you visited the French-Asian bakery Tous Les Jours on Route 40 recently and saw someone who looked like Maryland's First Lady Yumi Hogan, it was her.
The governor's wife was in town to celebrate the launch of the new website for "Korean Way" — a state-designated five-mile stretch on Route 40 that houses more than 166 Korean-inspired restaurants, bakeries and businesses. Two years ago, the state approved the designation and marked the area on the roadway with "Korean Way" signs.
Visit Howard County, in partnership with the Korean Society of Maryland, launched the website MarylandKoreanWay.com to promote Korean culture, dining and recreational experiences along the designated portion of Route 40 — a nod to the growing Korean population in Howard County and its economic contributions to Ellicott City.
"Howard County is made up of the most dense population of Korean Americans in the state with numerous Korean stores and restaurants," said Hogan, according to a press release issued by Visit Howard County. "By branding 'Korean Way' for tourism and providing useful information through the website, I hope that we can attract more visitors, promote local businesses and create an even more vibrant community and a greater understanding of cultural diversity."
Amanda Hof, Visit Howard County director of Tourism Development, echoed Hogan's sentiments in the press release, "The Maryland Korean Way brand was created to be a source inspiration when it comes to the different culinary and recreational experiences along Korean Way." She hopes "everyone will visit MarylandKoreanWay.com to discover new restaurants and fun things to do."
The launch party also attracted a bevy of officials from the state, county and Korean Embassy. State Senator Gail Bates, Howard County Executive Alan Kittleman and Howard County Council members Jon Weinstein and Greg Fox were among a few who made presentations.
Kittleman spoke about the success of the Korean Festival held annually in September. He told the crowd that it had become so popular that it has outgrown its Centennial Park location. The 2018 festival will relocate to the Howard County Fairgrounds in West Friendship on Saturday, Sept. 15.
Speaking about "Korean Way's" significance to the community, Weinstein told me, "This is a great example of what community means - opportunities for people of all backgrounds to get together and enjoy each other."
Daniel Kim, owner of Tous Les Jours restaurant, is optimistic for the future. According to the Visit Howard County press release, Kim said he believes the "exposure from the new website will bring new customers to his and other businesses along 'Korean Way' and added, 'when people think of Korean food, they will think of Korean Way'."
Looking for unusual and hard-to-find plant varieties? Try the Whipps Garden Cemetery plant sale on Friday, May 11, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, May 12, from 9 .am. to 4 p.m. at the First Lutheran Church at corner of Chatham and Frederick Road in Dunloggin.
The event includes a variety of native plants for sale, many of which are donated from the gardens of Master Gardeners. Free compost bins will be available on Saturday from noon to 2 p.m.
The park began as a burial ground in 1855 for the Whipps family. While the last burial was 1915, the restoration of the 19th-century cemetery into a garden park began in 1987. Today, Howard County's Master Gardeners maintain the park which is open to the public daily.
All proceeds from the plant fundraiser are used for the maintenance of the one-acre Whipps garden-park, and fund projects such as signage for trees, shrubs and selected perennials. Although volunteers from the Master Gardeners and two local garden clubs - Cross Country and Branch and Twig - support the park with mulching, planting and general maintenance, additional community volunteers are welcome and needed, including student groups and families. Volunteers work every Thursday from 9 a.m. until noon, weather permitting, March through October.