You know the Fourth of July is coming when you see the plastic chairs start to line up on Frederick Road in Catonsville for the parade. They were earlier than ever this year — I saw some up around June 13.

On your way from the parade in Catonsville to the fireworks in Columbia, stop at Main Street, and grab an ice cream and chill by the river for a few minutes. It will make your day even more special.

Oh, and Happy Birthday to my all-American daughter-in-law Kristen, born in Philadelphia on the Fourth of July. She is celebrating her 30th this year, on her honeymoon in Italy with my son, Dave.

Paint It!

It's time for the terrific annual plein air painting event in the Historic District. From July 11 to 14, artists will gather and paint our charming town. You can be a part of it if you want, registering to paint with either the Howard County Center for the Arts by calling 410-313-2787 or the Welcome Center at 410-313-1900.

It's fun just to wander down Main Street while this is going on just to peek over artists' shoulders to see their works in progress.

There will be a preview art exhibit of these works at the Second Sunday Market by Tonge Row on July 14, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Then the show will move to the Center for the Arts with a reception on July 15. The show will remain there until Aug. 23.

Coinciding with the Paint It project is the third annual Patapsco River Rock Building, honoring the late Teddy Betts, who started it all.

Join friends at the Patapsco River Bridge to artistically stack some stones in the river. It's a good way to cool off, have fun, and create notable street art. This definitely qualifies as outsider art.

Wiley Purkey is still painting Ellicott City as well. He has a new show, "Inside the Studio," at Perspectives Art Gallery, 8191 Main St., opening on July 5, with a reception from 5 to 9 p.m. One hundred of Purkey's works will be on display in a studio setup in the gallery, and every Saturday during the run of the show Purkey will be working there.

A portion of the sales will go to the Friends of the Patapsco Female Institute.

Bastille Day

Be transported to France during the amazing celebration of Bastille Day at Tersiguel's French Country Restaurant on July 14. The feast will last from 1 to 4 p.m. and promises to be a gourmet delight. In addition, participants will be entered in a contest to win a trip to Paris to celebrate Bastille Day there next year.

Call 410-465-4004 for reservations.

Movies at the Bin

The Wine Bin's summer movie series is in full swing. Come down on Saturdays and catch the 9 p.m. show. Come an hour early for wine tastings and bring a picnic.

They are showing "The Avengers" on July 6 and "Sideways" on July 13.

Restaurant Weeks

It's time to support the Farm-2-Table efforts of our local restaurants during Howard County Restaurant Weeks, July 17 to Aug. 5. You know that fruit and veggies never taste better than they do right now, and participating restaurants are showcasing their finest at special prices. Right now, Portalli's Restaurant on Main Street is on board for this special event.

Cookbook

Don't forget to send in your favorite recipe to the Howard County Historical Society for their 50th anniversary cookbook. Submissions are due by Aug. 31. Go to their website at http://www.hchsmd.org to participate.

Photo contest winners

The Ellicott City Restoration Foundation has announced the winners of its annual photo contest. First place, adult color, is Anita Feintuck; first place, adult black and white, is Marie McGing; first place, junior color, is Sarah Haber; first place adult, special (doorways or entryways), is Bria Brenner; and first place, junior special, is Sarah Huber. Their photos are currently on display at the Welcome Center on Main Street.