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Q&A: Troy Welsh, Downtown Sykesville Connection’s event coordinator, on how COVID-19 shaped his first year on the job

Troy Welsh took over as event coordinator for the Downtown Sykesville Connection in late February of 2020, but Welsh didn’t know how unique his first year on the job was about to be when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold a few weeks later.

Welsh grew up around the Sykesville area and said he came to better appreciate the small town as he prepared to graduate from college. He had family members holding jobs at various downtown businesses, a sister practiced ballet at Carroll County Dance Studio, and Welsh said he recalls many a good meal enjoyed at E.W. Beck’s and other establishments.

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Welsh liked Sykesville so much that he chose to work for the town when given the opportunity. The Times caught up with Welsh to talk about how the DSC coped during the past year, and what lies ahead for the Sykesville community by way of events and gatherings.

What’s the best way to sum up your first year, amid the pandemic, as event coordinator for the Sykesville Downtown Connection?

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The best way I could sum up my first year as the Event Coordinator for the Downtown Sykesville Connection would be inspiring! I started in this position about two weeks before the entire country began going into quarantine. Even in this time of being separated physically we were able to keep the community together with various virtual events like the Downtown Disco-rona Dance Off, our Best Battle Of The Bands, or even our Secret Santa event. The Sykesville community is incredibly supportive and that extends to the DSC team. From Day One, I have been surrounded by staff, board members, business owners, volunteers, and residents who are all deeply passionate about our town. This passion is infectious and it is what kept me going throughout the entire year. I love to spend time on Main Street with my dog Lake, chatting with everyone ― I am a talker, and I am lucky that my role as the Event Coordinator for the Downtown Sykesville Connection has given me the chance to get to know so many Sykesvillians.

How did you see Sykesville come together during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep businesses afloat?

Throughout this past year we have all been faced with challenges like never before. We have been forced out of our comfort zones and had to think outside of the box to find new ways to keep pushing forward. What I saw during this past year was an entire community coming together to keep Sykesville up and running. We may not have been able to host our traditional events but that did not stop us ... as the world went virtual, so did we. Our community came together to vote for Sykesville in the Best Main Street in America contest, and to no surprise we won! I saw residents supporting our small businesses and asking for more and more ways to support them. Several Main Street businesses began offering new ways of shopping ― online, curbside pickup or even delivery options. I also saw volunteerism like never before, everyone wanted to help. A neat event that our volunteer partners just hosted was the Sykesville Plogging event. As I mentioned before, the word I used to describe my first year was inspiring and this event was nothing short of that. We had people of all ages working to clean up our community, we even had Town Council member Stacy Link out helping clean up the community.

What was your favorite DSC event that took place in 2020 and why?

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It is tough to choose just one. I would say the most fun event for me was the Best Battle Of The Bands. It was awesome to be able to work with the Community Media Center to support our local artists. I got to know a very eclectic group of bands that love our town and love what they do. When we got together for our socially distanced live broadcasted grand finally in the gazebo on Main Street it was freezing outside, but the bands, the Community Media Center Staff, and fans all came out to share in the moment. That was a night I will never forget!

Did the pandemic change the way your group will try to put things together going forward?

I believe the pandemic changed the way the entire world will do things moving forward. However, I do not think this is a bad thing. We have been challenged to find new ways to stay together and now as we return back to a sense of normalcy I believe many of the non-traditional tactics we had to use this past year will be added into the mix with our traditional models. What we have found is that no matter what Sykesville will remain strong and together we can handle anything.

What are some of the upcoming events that have you excited for the Sykesville community?

We have a TON of great events coming back to Sykesville in the coming months! Our Farmers Markets kick off on Sunday, May 16. The week after we have one of the coolest events I have had the pleasure of working on called Game On Main. It is the first event of its kind in Carroll County with a video game tournament right here on Main Street. We will have video game trucks, sidewalk displays from our Main Street Businesses and delicious food and drinks available from our eateries! Registration is live on our website now. I promise you are not going to want to miss this event. Following that we have our Let Freedom Ring Parade on July 3, Sippin’ on Summer is on July 31, and our Coolest Golf Tournament at the Links at Challedon is coming on Aug. 20. More information on all of these events and more can be found on our website or our Facebook page.

If you are within the Sykesville Town limits, don’t forget to vote on May 4! More information on voting can be found on the town website!

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