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Maryland BBQ Bash in Bel Air postponed to October because of coronavirus concerns

The annual Maryland State BBQ Bash is the latest summertime event to be affected by the novel coronavirus pandemic, as organizers announced this week that the two-day festival will be postponed to the fall.

The Bash is typically held in August in the parking lot of the Mary E. W. Risteau District Court and Multi-Service Center at Bond and Thomas streets in Bel Air. It is put on by the Bel Air Downtown Alliance and is a major fundraiser for the nonprofit organization.

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The decision to postpone to Oct. 9-10 was made “after much deliberation and evaluation of the current events revolving the public health crisis,” according to a Downtown Alliance news release issued Wednesday.

"We are hopeful that we can bring this event to the community this year in the safest way possible,” Kim Austing, president of the Downtown Alliance board, said in a statement.

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The Bash typically draws barbecue cooks from all over the country who participate in the two annual contests, one for amateur cooks and the other for cash prizes and the chance to compete in national and world barbecue championships.

Tens of thousands of people, including residents of Harford County and surrounding communities, crowd into the festival site to sample the wares of barbecue vendors from around the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions, listen to live music or check out various vendors in a separate area at the rear of the courthouse building.

The novel coronavirus, which causes the potentially fatal respiratory disease COVID-19, continues to spread in Maryland and in the U.S., with the national death toll crossing the threshold of 100,000 Thursday. There have been more than 2,300 deaths from COVID-19 in Maryland, out of 49,709 confirmed cases.

Harford County has 827 confirmed cases and 46 deaths as of Thursday, according to Maryland Department of Health data.

A number of summertime events in Harford County that draw large crowds have been canceled, including Independence Day celebrations in Darlington, Bel Air and Havre de Grace, as well as the Harford County Farm Fair.

The announcement of the postponement of the Barbecue Bash came out the same day Gov. Larry Hogan announced the easing of some statewide restrictions related to the coronavirus, such as allowing restaurants to offer outdoor dining starting Friday evening.

“We have continued to monitor the reopening initiatives happening nationally, as well as the guidance provided by Governor Hogan, and we believe that the date change will fall in line with the further re-opening phases,” Downtown Alliance Executive Director Christopher Pineda stated. “We are excited that we can continue to plan and hopefully bring the Bash back this year.”

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