Sykesville has won the title of Best Main Street of America.
According to a Tuesday morning news release from Independent We Stand, organizer of the contest, Sykesville was able to accrue an “unprecedented” number of votes, more than 125,000 total.
As part of Sykesville’s win, the town will receive the grand prize of $25,000.
Previously, Julie Della-Maria, executive director of the Downtown Sykesville Connection, told the Times a large portion of the grand prize would go toward the small businesses in Sykesville. Downtown Sykesville Connection had been advertising the contest to solicit votes, she said.
“Winning this contest is about more than just adding another accolade to our already wonderful list of accomplishments as a Main Street program. It allows us to provide even more support to our local business community in a time of dire need,” Della-Maria said in the release. “Along with an existing microgrant program with the Town of Sykesville, we plan to use our cash prize to help our members get through the coronavirus crisis.”
Della-Maria said in an interview Tuesday that she wants to be able to do something meaningful to help all businesses in Sykesville.
“We need to find ways to create projects that help all the businesses,” she said. “So, to be as impactful as we can with that, we have a lineup of programs. Now that we have some funds to support creative programs to have a series of activities that will bring people to Main Street that will highlight the businesses.”
Independent We Stand co-founder Bill Brunelle said he found it inspiring that Sykesville intended to use their prize to help their community.
“Everybody knows that small businesses are really struggling right now,” he said. “But there’s a different way of doing business in the retail world now, and hopefully this will help. It was truly an inspiring story, and we’re super glad we could help tell it.”
Della-Maria said the Downtown Sykesville Connection is working with the town to find a way to support outdoor dining now that food service businesses are permitted to offer that.
According to Brunelle, it was the sheer amount of votes that primarily led to Sykesville’s win.
Additional prizes to the contest include STIHL Equipment Certificate for $1,000 worth of STIHL equipment good at any STIHL dealer in the U.S., Do it Best Corp. $500 shopping spree, Free One Day Downtown Assessment from Flip This Town, Nationwide Marketing Group $500 shopping spree, PPG Paints $500 shopping spree, public relations and social media recognition, and a special plaque for the winner to proudly display, according to the release.
Sykesville will receive the prizes within the next month, according to Brunelle. Although a ceremony is normally held with the winners of the contest on July 4, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, that will be moved to a later date.
“Usually we visit the town, we do you know a full check presentation and what we call ‘Main Streets Makes Us Better’ events,” Brunelle said. “Usually there’s a small party, a parade and we do it around July 4; what better time is up to celebrate America’s main streets? But it doesn’t sound like July 4 is going to really happen the way people want it to happen, so we’re thinking about putting it off until the fall and they have a couple of other events that we want to tie into. We’ll definitely be visiting, we’ll bring a production crew, do a full video and check presentation.”
According to Della-Maria, they hoped to create a float for “The Best Main Street in America” for July 4 to coincide with Independent We Stand plans. Instead they are hoping to celebrate at the Year of the Woman event scheduled for Aug. 16 or the Arts and Wine Festival, which has been moved to September.
“Our Main Street is mostly women operated,” Della-Maria said. “When I spoke to Independent We Stand, I told them that would be awesome to just combine the two in a giant celebratory event, so that might be an option if we are able, if guidelines have changed by Aug. 16.”
This newest title is not the first Sykesville has won on a national scale; in 2016, the town won the title of Budget Travel magazine’s Coolest Small Town in America.
Sykesville’s Main Street won the semifinals round against nine other municipalities across America: Chattahoochee, Florida; Bedford, Pennsylvania; Emporia, Kansas; Hope, Arkansas; Snohomish, Washington; Homer, Louisiana; Macon, Georgia; Osborne, Kansas; and Columbia, Kentucky.
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New Market’s Main Street in Frederick County was the only other Maryland municipality to make it to the quarterfinals round, but it did not make the top 10 selected for the semifinals.