Maryland has nearly a dozen official cultural symbols. In my opinion, the only ones that really stink are the official beverage, spirit, and dance. Milk and the square dance simply represent too many states to mean anything. Whether alcoholic beverages (e.g. rye whiskey) should be adopted as state symbols is a matter of opinion.
|Smith Island Cake
|Recreational and Team Sport
|Center Stage, Baltimore
|Summer Theater of Maryland
|Olney Theatre, Montgomery County
How could anyone not be awed by Maryland’s state boat and sport, the Skipjack and jousting, however?
Originating in the 1890s, skipjacks are said to be the last working boats under sail in the United States. Fleets of skipjacks once dredged oysters from the floor of Chesapeake Bay in winter. Ironically, the name “skipjack” refers to fish that leap out of the water.
The speedy skipjacks that once raced the wind are now racing time as their numbers dwindle.
How can such a tiny state have three official sports plus an official exercise?
Lacrosse is Maryland’s official team sport, while volleyball was named the official recreational and team sport. Volleyball originated in Massachusetts, while lacrosse was first documented in present-day Canada.
Lacrosse and volleyball take a back seat to Maryland’s official sport, jousting. A knight on horseback armed with a lance is even depicted on Maryland’s coat of arms. In fact, Maryland was the first state to adopt a state sport.
Jousting is associated with medieval Europe. However, tournaments have been held in Maryland since early colonial times. Rather than fade away, they became increasingly popular after the Civil War.
People were often killed in medieval European tournaments. Fortunately, modern jousting tournaments are relatively safe, however.
After a day of jousting, lacrosse, and volleyball, you might want to wind down with a stroll through Wye Oak State Park. In fact, walking is Maryland’s official exercise.
Smith Island cake reigns as Maryland’s official state dessert. The cake traditionally consists of eight to ten layers of yellow cake, with each layer separated by chocolate frosting. The colors complement Maryland’s flag. On Smith Island, the cake is called a “layer cake.”
Maryland’s official beverage isn’t nearly as unique. It’s milk. Fortunately, Marylanders crowned rye whiskey the official state spirit in 2023.
Rye whiskey was historically the prevalent whiskey in the northeastern states, especially Pennsylvania, New York, and Maryland. Among the most accomplished distillers was America’s most famous slave owner, George Washington.