Service shows in the 2021 Stars of the Eastern Shore readers’ poll

By Laura Walter Special Projects Editor
Posted 11/1/21

Get ready to thumb some pages, Maryland.

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Service shows in the 2021 Stars of the Eastern Shore readers’ poll


Get ready to thumb some pages, Maryland. The Stars of the Eastern Shore readers’ poll has been published, recognizing the best and brightest of restaurants, entertainment, businesses, services, and star-worthy individuals.

The magazine was published in late October, and two celebrations were held at award-winning restaurants in Salisbury and Princess Anne, respectively: the Market Street Inn on Oct. 25 and Bubby’s on Oct. 28. The contest is organized by Salisbury Independent and the County Times of Somerset County.

“Truly a five-star contest, it consists of 170 winners in nine specific groups – all are nominated and then picked by our readers,” explained Darel La Prade, publisher.

The approximately 18,000 total votes “came from your readers, the people you service in your community … so thank you very, very much to the readers,” said Cathy Koyanagi, a marketing consultant for the company.

Geographically, the contest featured Wicomico and Somerset counties, plus several attractions for neighboring Worcester County. The top three finalists per category are featured in a print publication that is distributed across the region. They were also honored at the two open-house celebrations, with hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, and live music by the Summer Anna Duo.

“Celebrating these awards with our … business community was one of the greatest honors of this year,” said Konrad LaPrade, vice president of sales and marketing. “Congratulations again to our readers and businesses. You truly are stars!”

When voters chose their favorite merchants and groups, they also selected a Person of the Year, recognizing the good things that individuals bring to the community. This year, a theme of service and kindness emerged, as the three finalists showed love through their deeds. And they’ve inspired the community to serve, too.

The Rev. Martin Hutchison of Delmar, Md., was honored as 2021 Person of the Year for his years of hands-on community service. “Pastor Martin” is known across Salisbury for spearheading the Camden Community Garden, helping to feed and engage the community with fresh produce. He also works with projects that provide shelter and grooming for people experiencing homelessness.

As a pastor at Community of Joy – Church of the Brethren, “I’m constantly trying to push the Church outside the building. It’s not just a place we go on Sundays, [but also] an agent of service … no strings attached.”

He has also been a Lower Shore Vulnerable Populations Task Force leader; a Salisbury Kindness Commissioner; and the city’s Secretary of Community Gardens.

Grace Foxwell Murdock of Somerset County is a 2021 finalist (nominated again after receiving the 2020 award) for leading Salisbury’s citywide kindness initiative. A retired educator, her volunteerism has encouraged people to better support their fellow humans. She started the Wicomico Grows Kindness program, was named Salisbury’s first Secretary of Kindness and leader of the Salisbury Kindness Commission. The latter group has served the community with everything from children’s book drives to various COVID-19 public support projects.

Tim Howlett of Crisfield is a 2021 finalist for always being a good neighbor. He finds a task that needs doing and then invites the community to show up, like beautifying the community dock or building a neighbor’s handicapped-accessible ramp. Originally coming to Crisfield via the U.S. Coast Guard, Howlett has led food and service missions for Crisfield Church of God; held positions with Lower Shore Workforce Alliance and the Crisfield Area Chamber of Commerce board, and owned his own refrigeration company.

The Stars of the Eastern Shore celebrations were presented by the County Times and the Salisbury Independent and sponsored by The Bank of Delmarva, Chesapeake Utilities, Sandpiper Energy, Coastal Comfort Inc., Mrohs Gas Inc., Visiting Angels, Market Street Inn, Mojo’s Urban Eatery and Bubby’s Wing Shack.

For a full list of winners and finalists, visit the Stars of the Eastern Shore 2021 publication at

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