Most marketers are hoping to sell you something, but Gregory Shelton has a far grander ambition: He wants people to have a cool experience. And folks who live in and around Chesapeake City, Maryland, will notice that the town feels a little livelier this autumn as a result.
Shelton, 50, runs Poplar Hall, a consulting firm named after the home and farm he and his wife, Dawn, own in Newark. The property is on the National Register of Historic Places, and the business is part production company, part marketing shop. But what excites Shelton most is creating exciting in-person events—something memorable that guests can take part in, even in the age of COVID-19. “I’m what I call an experientialist, which is something I came up with myself,” he says. “I’m immersed in the idea of creating experiences for people.”
This fall, Shelton will bring his brand of three-dimensional marketing to Chesapeake City, the nearby border town where he grew up and where some of his family still resides. His series of events began in August with a farmers market every Friday evening on the waterfront behind the Inn at the Canal and the town hall. The market ran through the end of September.
This month, Shelton will serve up something even more innovative: a theatrical stroll around the city titled The Revisionists: A Haunted Victorian Walk. The event, which Shelton describes as a hybrid “mobile theatrical experience and history lesson,” is rooted in the period between the 1880s and 1920s that Shelton says is considered the golden age of ghost stories. “My goal is to make historic Chesapeake City the next Sleepy Hollow, and really own the month of October here,” he says.
View this post on Instagram
An amazing piece of Victorian Mourning costuming for the REVISIONISTS Victorian Walk in Chesapeake City (in late Oct.) In late 19th C. the deepest mourning clothing were to be black, symbolic of spiritual darkness. Are you ready for FALL yet? Tickets for the event go on sale Tues. Oct 8th at 10:00 am…Don’t Miss it! Click the link in the profile for more info. #therevisionists #poplarhall #mourning #mourningdress #black #blackness #blackclothing #chesapeakecity #halloween #ghostwalk #victorian #victorianstyle
Audience size will be limited to 10 to 15 people to allow for social distancing, and Shelton says the event will meet pandemic-related health requirements. Performances are scheduled for Oct. 23–24 and Oct. 30–31, with more to be added the week before and after those dates if they sell out. Attendees are encouraged to wear Victorian garb.
Shelton’s business relationship with Chesapeake City was forged around a European-style Christmas market that he debuted at Poplar Hall in 2017. After two years, the event outgrew his property, so Shelton relocated it to Chesapeake City. Since the event had generated significant buzz, Councilman Ed O’Hara asked Shelton to resuscitate the town’s farmers market, which had disappeared a decade prior.
Mayor Rich Taylor says Poplar Hall’s reputation for creating high-end experiences for all ages “dovetails nicely with what we’re doing with Chesapeake City in terms of being an upscale family destination.”
As a waterfront town with 693 residents, Chesapeake City has no trouble drumming up excitement during the summer, but the fall and winter have been a different story—at least up until this year. Shelton will wrap up his agenda with another Christmas market Dec. 5. Taylor says the town plans to expand the Christmas market in the future, after the coronavirus is no longer a factor.
For more about the event, visit poplarhall.us