Residents of Laurel enjoy a calendar full of outdoor events every year from parades to festivals and dog shows.
“Events are huge for the city of Laurel,” said Audrey Barnes, director of communications for the city. “They are a family tradition for a lot of people. It is hugely important for us to get people together.”
Whether admiring Corvettes or trick-or-treating on Main Street, the events are not held to bring in revenue, but rather to showcase Laurel and all it has to offer, Barnes said.
“You can live here and do all this fun stuff,” Barnes said. “It’s a win-win situation.”
Open to everyone, the one guest that is not wanted is rain, and this year there has been plenty of it.
For the first time since its start over 20 years ago, Riverfest was not held at Riverfront Park. Days of rain had left the ground too soggy and the annual event was moved to a parking lot.
“We had to move it last minute,” said Maureen Rogers, administrator with the Laurel Board of Trade, sponsor of the event. “We didn’t have the playground. We didn’t have the expansive space, but the ground was too mushy. People could get stuck.”
The city’s annual dog show was canceled due to rain and the doggie swim in September was threatened (though the dogs did get a quick dip).
“Safety is the first priority when canceling an event or rescheduling,” Barnes said. “We can’t take a chance with people’s safety.”
Thunderstorms or lighting, will automatically cancel an event. Though not ideal, most events are held even if there are a few raindrops.
“We always love it when the rain holds off for us,” Barnes said. “That’s a good day.”
One year, the weather was not ideal for the city’s Fourth of July parade.
“People still came out,” Barnes said. “People really want it.”
The weather was perfect for the Laurel Arts Council’s first Artists’ Block Fair in April, according to Cheryl Dyer, a member. Hopes are high that the second Block Fair, scheduled for Oct. 13. will feature sunshine, too.
“We don’t have the space to take it inside,” Dyer said. “There is no rain day.”
The event, Dyer said, is important to the Arts Council, as it gives the group recognition.
“It is a chance for people to get to know us,” Dyer said. “It gives our artists the chance to interact with people and to show their work, and even sell their work.”
Montpelier’s Festival of Herbs, Teas and the Arts is held outside every April, rain or shine, as there are awnings over the tables, according to Miles Cowling, a receptionist.
“The festival brings a lot of attention to the Arts Center and to the Montpelier Mansion,” Cowling said. “We get a good amount of visitors to it every year.”
Close to 100,000 people attend the city’s Main Street Festival, Barnes said.
“We continue to make it better,” Barnes said. “We provide live coverage [of it] so people who moved away can watch.”
Despite a different location, Riverfest was also well attended this year, Rogers said.
“It is not as frantic as the Main Street Festival,” Rogers said. “It is really blossoming now. It is a really relaxing day.”
It also helped that the sun made an appearance, she added.
“Nothing like good weather to make people happy,” Rogers said.
Barnes is hoping the weather is clear for the city’s annual Trick-or-Treat on Main Street on Oct. 25 as well as for traditional trick-or-treating on Halloween on Oct. 31.
“Every time our little ghosts and goblins come out we hope for good weather for them,” Barnes said.
And, she warned, it will take more than a few rain drops to stop participants from walking on Oct. 10 as part of the city’s Walk Laurel Day.
“It will take a lot to keep us down,” Barnes said. “A light drizzle won’t.”