Howard County

Once the weather warms up, festival season gets rolling in Howard County, Md.

“Everyone wants to go to a festival,” said Sarah Kurtanich, who promotes the area.

Whether you like balloons, blossoms, or sheep, Howard County has you covered this spring. 

Blossoms of Hopcelebrates the beauty of local cherry blossoms while supporting cancer patients, according to chairman Joe Barbera. It’s not a festival exactly, since the events raise funds for the Claudia Mayer/Tina Broccolino Cancer Resource Center. Instead, according to Barbera, it has a “festival kind of spirit.”

Upcoming events include the Pretty in Pink Ladies Champagne Luncheon and Fashion Show on April 13 and the Pink Greens Gold Classic on April 27, both held at Turf Valley Country Club. 

The Power of the Purse pocketbook auction is June 11 at Fretz Sub-Zero & Wolf Showroom. “That’s our single biggest fundraiser,” Barbera said.

Local organizations also support the project with their own events, including the Hills of Milltown 5K on April 13 and Clark’s Elioak “Cherrybration” Days, April 7–8.

Spring Fest,a free event, is set for April 21, noon–8:00pm, on downtown Ellicott City’s Main Street. 

“There will be music all day long on three stages,” said Maureen Sweeney Smith, of the Old Ellicott City Partnership. “This year, we’re going to have more diverse music, including bluegrass.” 

Kids’ activities are Earth Day-themed. Parking by the district and circuit courts and the George Howard Building, and shuttle service, are free. 

The Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, set for May 5–6 at the Howard County Fairgrounds in West Friendship, attracts some 250 vendors, 600 sheep and 40 workshops, and is “the largest festival of its kind anywhere around here,” Kurtanich said. 

Details and registration for fiber arts workshops are at sheepandwool.org. 

Horse racing’s Triple Crown is marked with a trio of festivals in the county, too.

The Howard County Cup Races at Pleasant Prospect Farm in Brookeville are always held on Kentucky Derby Day. On May 5, gates open at 12:30pm, with the first race at 3:00pm. Festivities end with the Kentucky Derby broadcast. 

The Preakness Balloon Festival begins May 11, 4:00–9:00pm at the Howard County Fairgrounds in West Friendship. It continues Saturday, 11:00am–9:00pm, with additional balloon flights early Sunday.

“We want everybody to have a great time,” said Mark Beaven, general manager of WCBM radio, which sponsors the festival with WQLL. 

In addition to hot air balloon glows and rides, there will be live music and the regional Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. Beaven recommends getting tickets for the 90-minute balloon rides online. 

Wine in the Woods is held Preakness weekend in Columbia’s Symphony Woods. Maryland wineries, artisans, and musicians, and their fans, will gather May 20–21.

The Capital Jazz Festival takes place June 1–3 at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md.

The Columbia Festival of the Arts, whichmarks its 31st year and is set for June 14–30, is one of the country’s largest regional arts festivals, accordingto festival director David Philips. “Last year, we had about 23,000 people come to our festival,” he said.

While most performances are ticketed during the festival, the free LakeFest, June 15–17 at Lake Kittamaqundi, features local bands, visual arts, and food, according to Dave Simons, the festival’s program director. 

Details on both events are available at columbiafestival.org.

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