Sykesville's Concerts in the Park, held by the Parks and Recreation Committee of Sykesville, will host its first concert of its summer series — a tradition that has continued for more than 20 years — July 10. The kickoff concert will feature JoeyDCares Rock Orchestra, a nonprofit group that is a part of the Freedom Area Recreation Council of Carroll County, and is made up of students from grades 7 to 12 as well as adult volunteer musicians.

The free concert series features a variety of Maryland artists. It is held from 7 to 9 p.m. every Friday in July in Millard Cooper Park on Springfield Avenue in Sykesville. The artists for the following weeks are the Transfusion Jazz Quartet from Carroll County — July 17, Pet Rock from Howard County — July 24, and Soulflower from Baltimore — July 31.

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Although people can bring their own food and non-alcoholic drinks to the events, they can also buy a wide range of snacks, including candy, nachos, hot dogs, popcorn and ice cream, all of which will be sold throughout the concert. Drinks include soda, water and juice. Pets are not permitted.

Parking will be available at Sykesville Middle School, which has a parking lot adjacent to the park.

The concerts take place on a cement platform right in front of the "seats" or railway ties, which were once wooden strips of wood across railway tracks, said Janet Jacobe, member of the Parks and Recreation Committee of Sykesville. In past concerts the area has held about 300 people, but it could hold up to about 500, Jacobe said.

Behind the railway ties is a grassy lawn for people to set up chairs and blankets that they bring from home. A small hill crests to a playground where children can play during the concerts while under their parents' supervision, Jacobe said.

Joey Dundore, founder and conductor of the JoeyDCares Rock Orchestra, said the group's upcoming performance will be high-energy from start to finish.

"We're not a sit-and-clap kind of band. We're a rock band," Dundore said.

With instruments ranging from flutes to guitars and a selection of songs that will include hits from across the musical spectrum — from the Beatles to Taylor Swift — Dundore said the performance will have people out of their seats dancing, screaming and cheering.

JoeyDCares has performed in Millard Cooper Park twice before — in 2011 and 2012. Dundore said he likes the venue because of the close proximity between the audience and the group performing.

"It's really intimate. We're right in front of them — not even 10 feet away," Dundore said.

Usually, the proceeds from JoeyDCares' concerts are given to charities, which have included the Special Olympics and the Wounded Warrior Project. However, as the upcoming concert through Concerts in the Park is free, the goal for this performance is just to bring the community together to enjoy music and downtown Sykesville, said Carol Good, president and booking coordinator for JoeyDCares.

"It teaches [the children] to care for everyone else in the community," Good said.

Children love to run around with glow sticks they buy at the concert, and middle school boys ride their bikes to the concerts just to get some ice cream provided by Hoffman's Home Made Ice Cream and a hot dog, Jacobe said. The ice cream alone attracts people to the concerts, she said.

Jacobe said she has been taking her kids, now 18 and 21, to the concerts for years.

"It's something that I feel like my kids and other kids will say 'remember when we used to go to Concerts in the Park and catch fireflies and wave glow sticks around?' " Jacobe said.

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The music ranges from country to jazz, so there is a little bit of something for everybody, Jacobe said. She also said the concerts provide area artists the opportunity to get some invaluable exposure.

"I think it's a wonderful opportunity for the artists in our community," Jacobe said.

Though some people attend specific performances to hear a favorite genre of music, others attend each concert, regardless of who is playing or what kind of music is being showcased, she said.

"A lot of people come to every single one because it's always quality music," Jacobe said.

Sykesville resident Melissa Mooneyhan said she heard jazz music coming from the park one evening last summer and decided to attend the following week's concert.

"I'm glad I went," she said. "It makes me want to come back."

For this upcoming concert, Mooneyhan will be doing more than just attending — she will also be helping to sell concessions as a volunteer with Parks and Recreation Committee of Sykesville.

It is a small-town family event, Mooneyhan said. Everybody enjoys themselves and has a good time. Some people even dance to the music, she said.

"It's an open area; it's free; it's calm ... It's just very relaxing," she said.

The concerts have come full-circle for Jacobe and her family, she said. Her daughter, who started on the playground as a child, is now a volunteer at the concession stand for the upcoming concert.

The concerts are just a good time loaded with local talent, and an opportunity for people to get out and enjoy all the season has to offer, Jacobe said.

"By the time it's over you're looking up at the stars and it's just beautiful out," Jacobe said.

If you go:

What: Sykesville's Concerts in the Park.

Where: Millard Cooper Park on Springfield Avenue; parking is available adjacent to the park at Sykesville Middle School at 7301 Springfield Ave.

When: JoeyDCares — 7 to 9 p.m. July 10; Transfusion Jazz Quartet — 7 to 9 p.m. July 17; Pet Rock — 7 to 9 p.m. July 24; Soulflower — 7 to 9 p.m. July 31.

Cost: Free admission.

For more information: Contact Sykesville Parks and Recreation at 410-795-8959.

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