Stoltz Pavilion

Singer and performer Martin Sexton belts it out in the Stoltz Pavilion, which opened in November 2020. The Avalon Foundation won recognition from the Maryland Office of Tourism for opening the venue during the pandemic.

EASTON — The Avalon Foundation was one of four organizations recognized by the Maryland Office of Tourism Development and the Maryland Tourism Development Board on Nov. 8 for innovation and success in bringing tourists and business to the state.

At the state’s 40th annual summit for tourism and travel, the Avalon Foundation — which won recognition from the Office of Tourism for the first time — earned the award for “Maximizing Opportunities.”

The state selected the nonprofit for opening the Stoltz Pavilion in the parking lot of Talbot Town last year, which “enabled the Avalon Foundation to be among the first presenters in the U.S. to resume live performances at a sustainable scale” after most venues were closed during the pandemic.

Al Bond, the president of the Avalon Foundation, thanked his “incredible staff” and Talbot County Department of Tourism and Economic Development Director Cassandra Van Hooser, who helped direct attention to the Avalon.

Bond added he was grateful for the recognition, and that it showed innovation and leadership.

“It’s gratifying when you put your heart and soul into something, and you get the kind of recognition that we just did,” he said.

The Avalon Foundation has hosted 90 shows at the Stoltz Pavilion since opening it in November 2020. The organization has a temporary permit for the venue, which it has renewed, but is looking to make it a permanent location one day.

The Talbot Town venue is surrounded by a chain-link fence and covered overhead by a large tent. A stage is placed in front, with seating surrounding it.

Bond said the foundation, which hosts its main venue off Dover Street, decided it would look for a suitable outdoor venue after Gov. Larry Hogan announced events could hold up to 250 people outside.

Bond coordinated with the town of Easton for approval and the Stoltz family, who own the Talbot Town parking lot and surrounding property.

The Stoltz family was delighted to assist, Bond said, since they have long contributed to the Avalon Foundation and served as members of the board of directors. The Stoltz family also helped raise most of the $210,000 it took to get the venue up and running.

Though the foundation’s directors were confident they would be successful, it was a bit of a gamble during a pandemic that had forced people away from each other and large gatherings.

“In the time that we were actually coming up with the idea of the pavilion, I felt a little bit like a crazy person for opening a music venue when they were closed everywhere,” Bond said. “It feels good to be on the other side of it, having it be as successful as it has.”

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