Carroll County Times

Fall Festival a celebration of success

To celebrate the revitalization of Main Street and the turning of the seasons, the Sykesville Main Street Association has made preparations for the annual Fall Festival, one of the town's largest events of the year.

Now in its 44th year, the festival has added some changes to this year's format. Previously, many of the activities for children cost a minimal fee, but this year all kids' events are free, said Ivy Wells, main street manager and director of economic development.


"What my team tried to do two years ago is gear [Fall Festival] toward children," Wells said. "Before, kids' entertainment was only in the morning but now it lasts all day."

Activities include a moon bounce, ball pit, puppet shows and chalk art lessons.


For adult visitors, there will be plenty to do as well. A stage located at the corner of Sandosky Road and Main Street will host a number of performances, including multiple dance presentations, and drama productions from both Liberty and Century high schools.

The New Southern Cowtippers, an eclectic group whose style of music represents varying musical styles before the advent of the radio, will be performing live all day in the gazebo.

More than 60 vendors will be stationed along the length of Main Street and up the side streets of Sandosky Road and Oklahoma Avenue. They will include myriad local artisans and crafters, and a bake sale contributed by various sponsors and other organizations. Far more food options will be available than previous years, including crab cake platters from E.W. Becks, appetizers from Oscar's Alehouse, pit beef, turkey and ham, and other typical fair food.

A ticket raffle will also be taking place with several prizes including a Sykesville-themed 31 Bag filled with gift certificates contributed by businesses along Main Street.

Due to road closures, parking has been an issue in past years, Wells said. To alleviate the stress and difficulty involved in finding a spot for late arrivals, detours have been set up which provide access to several lots throughout the downtown area.

New this year, a large shuttle bus will be transporting visitors from the rear parking lot of Freedom Park, with stops at Little Sykes Railway Park and the downtown area. Handicap-accessible parking will also be available in abundance, Wells said.

The shops along Main Street — which have played a large part in the recent growth of the downtown area — will be open for business all day.

This is just the second year that the Sykesville Main Street Association has been involved in planning the Fall Festival, Wells said. It was started and organized for decades by the Sykesville Business Association, which no longer exists.


Events along Main Street have seen a recent boom in attendance, Wells said, and she expects the turnout at this year's Fall Festival to be bigger than last year.

"[The Fall Festival] has grown every year due to the popularity of Main Street," Wells said. "Main Street has grown and increased in popularity, so the festival turnouts have grown too."

Unlike the other major events held by the town, the Sykesville Main Street Association's aim is not to raise funds from the event, she said. Though it seeks sponsorship for the event and raises some money, its main purpose is to celebrate the success of the town's once-faltering economic landscape.

Denise Ashby, who lives just outside Sykesville, began participating in the Fall Festival when the association took over planning last year. She and her husband run a small side business called Ashby's Agates, which specializes in homemade jewelry, Ashby said.

"My husband and I are rock hounds," she said. "He is a lapidary, he polishes the rocks and stones we find, and I make the jewelry."

She said she also expects the turnout to be larger than last year.


"I am hoping to surpass what we normally make at these events," Ashby said. "It was a good size [crowd] last year, but if it grows that would be cool."

She said she has participated in many town events in the last few years, including the Fine Wine and Art Festival and the Chili Cook-off and Beer Festival, but the Fall Festival brings people together in a different way than these other events. With free admission, parking, kids' entertainment and the event's takeover of the entirety of Main Street, it draws a larger crowd and creates a bond between the business and visitors, she said.

"I think [the Fall Festival] gets people to Main Street to see what's going on," Ashby said. "Some people don't know there are a bunch of new shops and that there's new and interesting things. The shopkeepers are different too, they are aware they are a part of something bigger."

Rather than going to Frederick or Ellicott City, people can come to Sykesville for their small town shopping experience, she said.

"You can see an element of pride from businesses and residents now, and I'm loving it," Ashby said.

Reach staff writer Wiley Hayes at 410-857-3315 or


If You Go

What: Sykesville's 44th annual Fall Festival

Where: Intersection of Sandosky Road and Main Street, Sykesville

When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 11

Cost: Admission, parking and children's entertainment are free. Raffle tickets cost $1 each or $5 for seven.

For More Information: Visit the Sykesville Main Street Association's event website at