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'It’s a long tradition': The Shepherd's Staff to host annual July 4 community cookout

'It’s a long tradition': The Shepherd's Staff to host annual July 4 community cookout
Musicians from Common Ground on the Hill play for guests at The Shepherd's Staff's 2015 Fourth of July Backyard Cookout at Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in Westminster. (Submitted photo / Submitted photo)

The Shepherd’s Staff will be hosting its annual Fourth of July Cookout on Thursday at its Westminster location, and while the nonprofit focuses on serving those who are in need, Executive Director Brenda Meadows said the event is open to the whole community.

“The cool thing about the picnic being open to everyone is there may be a certain idea about who it is that we serve, and it’s neat when people from the community come and get to experience the picnic along with the people that we serve and maybe do away with some misconceptions,” Meadows said. “It’s just a fun day where everybody can engage with each other and just enjoy the afternoon.”

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The cookout will get started at noon and run through 2 p.m. There will be hotdogs, hamburgers, beverages and other items provided by the Cedarhurst Unitarian Universalists, plus “Kona Ice will be there with snowballs and things like that,” Meadows said.

The cookout has deep roots in the community, with the event going back years before Meadows’ time with the nonprofit.

“It’s a long tradition,” she said. “I’ve been with the organization 10 years, and it was going on quite a bit longer than that. I am not sure what year we started it, but my guess is it is about 20 years.”

Another long-running tradition is the entertainment for the day: Musicians from the Common Ground on the Hill festival at McDaniel College will come to provide the soundtrack for the afternoon.

“It really makes a difference in the day. I love the music part of it,” Meadows said. “Some of the musicians have even said it’s their favorite part of the experience, coming down and being able to provide the music. They look forward to it.”

Additionally, the nonprofit In Ian’s Boots has been a part of the cookout for almost a decade, according to Meadows, and will be bringing free shoes and boots for those in need.

“They are an incredible organization, too. They lost their son to a sledding accident and in his boot was a Bible verse that started the whole nonprofit rolling,” she said. “We made a connection about nine years ago, and it’s something they have come down and enjoyed ever since. We love having them because they provide a boatload of shoes.”

While The Sheperd’s Staff will continue its mission of helping others on the Fourth, Meadows noted that the ultimate goal of the cookout is to provide a time to truly relax for all those who come out.

“We really just hope that people come out and enjoy a fun day and forget anything that is weighing on their minds,” she said.

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