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Sykesville’s hidden Snallygasters aim to entice kids to explore the community through art

A new mural featuring not one but 10 dastardly Snallygaster creatures is brightening Downtown Sykesville, thanks to the efforts of the Downtown Sykesville Connection.

Artist Robin Culkin painted the mural, featuring a view of Sykesville’s Main Street and 10 Snallygasters hidden throughout, on a wooden door near Centennial Park, across from the French Twist Cafe on Oklahoma Avenue.

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“Just one Snallygaster wasn’t enough,” Downtown Sykesville Connection Director Julie Della-Maria said. “We thought it would be awesome for kids to have several Snallies to look for in Sykesville.”

Downtown Sykesville Connection worked with the artist to get the public art project meant specifically to entice children completed earlier this month, with funding from the Nora Roberts Foundation and the support of property owners Fred and Elaine Gossage.

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Dana Alonzi, chair of DSC’s design committee, described the new mural as vibrant and eye-catching.

“I think [the mural] is going to be a focal point for picture taking in the town as the weather gets nicer,” she said. “Something about the colors … make people feel happy to live here or to be visiting.”

In 2018, the town installed 10 outdoor murals depicting the legendary Snallygaster monster and released a book to accompany it.

The monster is a dragon-like creature in American folklore that allegedly inhabits the Central Maryland and Washington, D.C., area, and “The Curse of the Snallygaster,” written by Jack White, curator at Sykesville’s Gate House Museum is a new, Sykesville-based version of the mythical creature’s tale.

DSC also had plush Snallygasters created, based on a painting at the post office created by Frederick artist Goodloe Byron, and is asking the public for help naming it, via a Facebook campaign.

The organization is hoping to have 500 plush Snallygasters delivered to the town in time to be sold at Sykesville’s first farmer’s market of the season, scheduled for May 17.

“We hope kids will enjoy finding the 10 hidden Snallygasters in the mural and maybe take a fuzzy one home with them, along with the storybook that relates the legend of the Snallygaster’s last visit to Sykesville,” Della-Maria said.

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Alonzi said the nonprofit is also always looking for opportunities to make things kid friendly. The Snallygaster mini mural project was a big hit, and so the group decided to incorporate the creature into a colorful mural that kids would love.

“This project was borne out of the ongoing desire to have as much art downtown as possible because it really brings people together and adds a level of interest to the town,” she said. ‘People have given feedback and they really like it.”

Culkin braved Maryland’s unpredictable spring weather for a week to complete the exterior mural. The mural adapted art created by Lauren Pobletts that is represented on GetSyked flags displayed by businesses downtown.


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