The Downtown Sykesville Connection has stayed busy planning events, both new and old, refusing to let the coronavirus pandemic lessen the town’s interaction with its community.
Julie Della-Maria, executive director for DSC, said Sykesville has tried to collaborate with its Main Street merchants amid the pandemic. The new events start with Super Hero Night that begins Friday night at 6.
People can shop and peruse the downtown areas while following social distance guidelines, and face coverings are required. But underneath those protective masks, one might recognize Superman, Wonder Woman, or Captain America strolling Main Street.
Della-Maria said there will be activities, trivia, a superhero costume contest, and giveaways for those in attendance.
“It could not have been a better timing for us,” said Della-Maria, referring to Gov. Larry Hogan’s recent decision that Maryland can start Phase 3 of his reopening plan starting Friday evening. “We wanted to do something that catered to the young [kids] just before they get back to virtual school.”
Della-Maria said Sykesville’s community garden events are still happening. There will be a how-to-harvest tour for sweet peppers and hot peppers going on Friday as well.
“People can just show up and pick whatever they want,” she said. “We just ask that from time to time they think about coming and helping us weeding or watering the garden. It’s an educational and community garden.”
Della-Maria said the town has had some success during the pandemic with its modified farmers market. In the past, the market included food trucks and a moon bounce, but that couldn’t take place this year. Della-Maria said she didn’t want to give up on a venue for Sykesville’s local farmers, so this year their stands have been relocated around Main Street.
The optics are pleasant, Della-Maria said, and by having vendors integrated with town businesses it works financially as well.
“I think that’s one of the silver linings of the pandemic,” Della-Maria said. “We were pushed out of our comfort zone and we tried a very different model that has been very successful. ... It helps us tremendously bringing foot traffic to Main Street for the local main street businesses.”
The farmers market operates Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. until Oct. 27, according to its Facebook page.
Della-Maria said more events are being planned for the next three months to fill the void of others that were canceled because of the threat of COVID-19. Sykesville lost its Craft Beer Festival, one of the annual favorites, but Della-Maria said one of the replacements will be a virtual “Battle of the Bands” competition.
Eight bands have signed up for the battle, Della-Maria said, and she’s looking for four more. The Community Media Center of Carroll County is helping to create profiles for each contestant, she said, and the six-week contest will open at the end of the September.
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A motorcycle “Poker Run” is planned for Oct. 17 at five locations around the county. Riders can stop at each place for giveaways and to pick a playing card out of a deck. After building a poker hand by visiting each stop, riders end at 1623 Brewery in Eldersburg to see whose hand is best.
The winner gets a portion of the proceeds, Della-Maria said.
A “Pup Walk” is also in the works for Oct. 25, and Della-Maria said the event will be associated with Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s a 1-mile walk for dogs that are registered by their owners, from Sykesville Middle School to the downtown area. Social distancing guidelines will be followed, Della-Maria said, and treats will be provided for the four-legged walkers.
“We woke up one morning and we were like, ’OK. We’re done complaining. This is not going to happen the way we wanted. Now we have two ways of doing it ― we wait for this to pass or we take advantage of it,’” Della-Maria said.
Sykesville Mayor Ian Shaw said he’s excited about the town’s upcoming events as it tries to promote local businesses and keep people coming back to the Main Street community.
“We feel really good about it. Any kind of return to some sort of normal has been welcome news for us,” Shaw said. “Things obviously have been totally upside-down. It’s so nice to celebrate these little small moments inside of everything being pretty much a doom-and-gloom ... even the littlest thing really makes a huge difference. It gives everybody a little bit of hope for the future.”