Nothing says networking like an expo. On Sept. 19, the Reisterstown-Owings Mills-Glyndon Chamber of Commerce will hold its second annual Fall Crawl and Community Expo from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Long and Foster, at 321 Main Street in Reisterstown.
"It's a free event for businesses and attendees. And the goal is just to show off what Reisterstown has to offer, get people to stop and visit," said Colleen Brady, president of the chamber.
The event will feature tables set up by area businesses, light snacks and refreshments, face painting and activities for children, and more.
Everything at the event is free — including vendor spaces.
Attendees will be given a passport that they can have stamped at participating businesses on Main Street to be entered for a chance to win a "Best of Reisterstown" gift basket.
Marla Bosley, admissions director at FutureCare Cherrywood, in Reisterstown, said FutureCare will be participating for the second year.
"Last year was the inaugural year and we had a really good response. We were able to set up a table and get some information out about our facility and meet a lot of folks in the community and let them know about our services. So we're looking forward to doing it again," she said.
Bosley said the event serves not only to promote individual businesses, but also to help area businesspeople meet one another.
"And we get to meet other businesses too so it's a networking opportunity for us with the other businesses that participate so we get to talk to other vendors and share information," she said.
Bosley said she appreciates "the idea of showcasing Main Street."
"There's a lot of hidden gems on Main Street and it's a nice way to get foot traffic. The Fall Crawl is a nice way to get foot traffic in a historic district. It's a lot of fun giveaways and community outreach … It's a free event and you get to learn more about businesses in the area. It really gives you a sense of community once you can put a name and face with a business."
Bosley said the event gives businesses the chance to share the services they have to offer with the community.
"Some people don't know that we specialize in pulmonary rehab [at FutureCare Cherrywood]," she said. "We're able to let the community know about our expanded services and our recent renovation. Pulmonary is for lungs … and that's our specialty here and it's nice to let people know what our clinical capabilities are close to home, in addition to short term orthopedic rehab and neuro-rehab. Its nice for people to be able to be close to home to get the therapy that they need."
But the fun doesn't stop at 2 p.m.
From 2 to 5 p.m., the chamber and the Reisterstown Improvement Association are teaming up to host a food and history tour of Main Street.
The tour will be conducted through Charm City Food Tours and hosted by Lisa Dibbern, of the Reisterstown branch of the Baltimore County Public Library.
As part of the tour, participants will have the opportunity to sample foods from four Main Street restaurants while learning about the history of the area.
"It'll be a food and history crawl, so our little tagline is 'taste and see what historic Reisterstown has to offer.' So they'll get a walking history tour and to stop in different restaurants," Brady said.
Participants must register for the event at www.foodtourcorp.gimmeltickets.com/event/reisterstownfoodtour by Sept. 18 at 11 p.m. The cost is $50, which covers the tour and the food at each stop — including gratuities — but does not include alcohol.
Carin Smith, promotion chair for the Reisterstown Improvement Association, said the idea for the event came about after she attended a food and history crawl at Fells Point.
"I thought it would be something perfect to bring to the Reisterstown community and to Main Street and the way we paired it up was when I found out the chamber was doing the Fall Crawl and [Community] Expo, I thought 'Gosh, I want to do a food crawl,' and I thought … it's the perfect time to do it together," she said.
The tour will bring residents to historic sites such as the Reisterstown Community Cemetery and the Reisterstown library. It will begin at Reter's Crab House, where people are asked to arrive 10 minutes early. Participants will move on to sample dishes at the Grill at Harryman House and Java Mammas before ending the tour at Icedgems Baking.
Participants can expect small plates of signature dishes at each stop.
"I think it's going to be a great opportunity to be able to get a tasting of the restaurants, of the local fare on Main Street, as well as to learn about the history of the town," Smith said.
Smith said another food tour is being planned for Oct. 11. She said she hopes local businesses take advantage of the foot traffic from the event to help publicize their businesses.
"Our goal is that we want to have more food tours in the fall and in the spring and in the days that we have the food tours we want the businesses to have sidewalk sales to get the food traffic that's coming through," she said,
The food tour, she said, is intended to bring some publicity to the hidden gems of Reisterstown of which many might be unaware.
"Our main goal is we want the restaurants on Main Street to survive and thrive and we're just trying to do whatever we can to encourage more people to patronize the restaurants … we want to share the history of our town," she said. "I think it's great for the community and it's great for the business owners and we want to preserve our historic town. Every single one of the restaurant owners, it's a family-owned restaurant — it's not like any of them are chains — and that's what brings great character to Main Street."
Smith said that, for the chamber and the RIA, holding events like the food tour is all about strengthening the community.
"We just want to work together to build a stronger community," she said.
If you go:
What: Fall Crawl and Community Expo
When: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 19
Where: Long and Foster, at 321 Main Street in Reisterstown
For more information: Visit romgchamber.com or email email@example.com
What: Reisterstown food tour
When: 2 to 5 p.m. Sept. 19
Where: Meet at Reter's Crabhouse, 509 Main St.
Cost: $50 per person; register at foodtourcorp.gimmeltickets.com/event/reisterstownfoodtour by Sept. 18 at 11 p.m.
For more information: Contact 202-683-8847 or visit www.foodtourcorp.gimmeltickets.com/event/reisterstownfoodtour.