Art and wine lovers can rejoice, as Sykesville's annual celebration of all things beautiful and tasty returns Sunday, May 7 for another year of talent and tastings in the downtown area.
This is the seventh year for the Art & Wine Festival, and according to Julia Della-Maria, Sykesville Main Street Association coordinator, it is planned to be the largest yet.
Featuring more than 50 artists, 18 wineries and distilleries, live music, art exhibitions, a dozen food trucks and more, the festival will take over downtown Sykesville for a celebration of fine arts and alcoholic drinks. To help prepare for the expected increase of visitors this year, Della-Maria said they've doubled the number of free shuttles to take people from the available parking to the downtown celebration.
With six successful past events, Della-Maria said artists and wineries are now starting to reach out to them to take part in the festival. This year participants who purchase the $25 wine glass, will be able to drink wines from local and area wineries as well distilleries — including Sykesville's new Patapsco Distilling Company — for the first time.
"There's been a shift from the sweet Maryland wines," Della-Maria said. "We're welcoming these wineries with high quality wines that are bringing in new, sometimes more European flavors."
Harford Vineyard is one of the wineries participating in the event for the first time this year. Co-owner Theresa Mooney said they try to get out to as many events as possible, but it's difficult as a small, family-owned vineyard to ensure they have enough staffing to keep the winery open while they're gone. She said the festival was ideal because it was a single day on a Sunday. She said they're excited to see if people come out and the experience is good.
In addition to the wine and art exhibitors, the festival will also feature demonstrations from local and area artists working in unique media.
One of the demonstrators is Ferenc Gregor, a sculptor from Mount Airy who will display his methods for marble sculpting. Gregor, who has been sculpting and carving for more than 30 years, said he loves having the opportunity to meet with the public and explain his work.
"A lot of people on the East Coast don't get a chance to see this work up close, so I love having the opportunity to show them what happens and to educate people on how it's done," Gregor said. "Most people walk by marble and say, 'Oh, that's supposed to be soft.' I tell them to pick up a chisel and try and chip away at it, because it's still rock."
During the exhibition, Gregor said he will be working on pieces carved out of marble from the Carrara quarries, the same used by Michelangelo. In addition to showing off his skills, Gregor will offer stone and foam pieces for sale as well as offering pieces from his line of carved chocolates as well. Money raised by the chocolate sales will go toward Scares That Care, a nonprofit that operates an annual horror convention charity weekend, donating funds to organizations that treat childhood illnesses.
The Art and Wine Festival represents the final event during Sykesville's tenure as Coolest Small Town in America, which it was named by Budget Travel in June of last year, beating out 14 other semifinalists with 44 percent of the total vote. In an attempt to keep the celebration of Sykesville's attributes going, they are currently in the running to be named the Best Main Street in America by Independent We Stand America's Main Streets competition.
Della-Maria said, according to the Independent We Stand website, Sykesville has passed the first round of online voting to become one of the 25 finalists for the final $25,000 prize. Now they will compete against the 24 other Main Streets in a round scored by professional judges who will determine which town's Main Street is the best.