Es­sex Day 2017 info inside!

The Avenue News - - FRONT PAGE - By: GIANNA DECARLO gde­carlo@ches­pub.com

IT’S THAT TIME AGAIN!

In just a few days, the 400-500 blocks of East­ern Blvd. will be filled with mu­sic, laugh­ter, ven­dors, rides, and the smell of freshly fried fun­nel cakes and hand­made crab cakes as Es­sex Day gets ready to cel­e­brate its 42nd year.

On Sun­day, Septem­ber 17, the Es­sex com­mu­nity will come to­gether and ex­pe­ri­ence the best the area has to of­fer. Mu­sic will fill the air from three stages with a full day of live per­for­mances, peo­ple will get to browse rows upon rows of ven­dor stands, sell­ing ev­ery­thing from snow­balls to Scentsy, and a stage fully de­voted to chil­dren’s karaoke will let your lit­tle ones sing their hearts out.

This year will also wel­come sev­eral new at­trac­tions, such as pony rides, fully-cos­tumed su­per­heroes and char­ac­ters from Chuck’s Comics in Es­sex, and a chance to meet and take a selfie with real-life ghost­busters.

How­ever, among all this ex­cite­ment and en­ter­tain­ment, Es­sex Day, at its core, is about com­mu­nity.

“I have al­ways said it has been like a fam­ily re­union be­cause there are peo­ple there that you won’t see any­where else but at Es­sex Day, and it is al­ways great to reignite those friend­ships, and meet up with old bud­dies and have those con­ver­sa­tions,” said Del. Ric Met­z­gar, one of the fes­ti­val’s cochairs.

Joe DiCara, one of the other cochairs, ex­plained that Es­sex Day arose out of “Su­per Sun­day”, an event started in the 70s where fam­i­lies and neigh­bors would come out and con­gre­gate at the town cen­ter and raise money for lo­cal projects, such as the restora­tion of Balle­stone-Stans­bury House.

“The evo­lu­tion was from that to what you see now, it’s ac­tu­ally ex­panded so much that it now con­sumes ev­ery­thing from Wood­ward Drive to Mace Ave.,” he said.

While Es­sex Day has been a com­mu­nity tra­di­tion for decades, get­ting ev­ery­thing or­ga­nized and put to­gether in time this year was not a sim­ple task.

Be­tween com­mit­tee mem­bers step­ping down and a grow­ing todo list of re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, Met­z­gar said they only had around 60 days to get the fes­ti­val ready. But they made it work, and the two men credit a strong and de­voted task force of vol­un­teers for mak­ing the fes­ti­val pos­si­ble.

“It was a group ef­fort, it’s not just one of two peo­ple do­ing ev­ery­thing, it’s taken a real group to make this hap­pen,” said Met­z­gar.

DiCara echoes his sen­ti­ments, adding that the group has wel­comed many new mem­bers, most of which are also Es­sex res­i­dents who wanted to do some­thing good for their com­mu­nity.

“That’s the best that you can get be­cause they have a stake in this whole thing,” he said.

And to an­swer the ques­tion that has been on ev­ery­body’s mind since last Es­sex Day, yes, there will be rides this year!

Many Es­sex Day at­ten­dants were dis­ap­pointed last year when there weren’t any rides at the fes­ti­val. DiCara ex­plains that the com­pany they hired to man the rides went out of busi­ness and they didn’t tell the or­ga­niz­ers un­til the morn­ing of Es­sex Day.

Call­ing the or­deal “frus­trat­ing”, DiCara said they took ev­ery pre­cau­tion to avoid such a fate this year and that at­ten­dants can ex­pect the full gamut of tilt-awhirls, mini-roller coast­ers, and other car­ni­val fa­vorites.

Met­z­gar and DiCara both say Es­sex Day is one way to shift the per­cep­tions of Es­sex by show­ing off all that we of­fer. We’re not re­brand- ing, ex­plained DiCara, we’re just shin­ing a spot­light on all the good that we have in our own lit­tle part of Bal­ti­more County.

“This is about re­mind­ing ev­ery one of the mis­sion. The mis­sion is call­ing pos­i­tive at­ten­tion to the com­mu­nity. Ev­ery com­mu­nity has crime, ev­ery com­mu­nity as rental prop­er­ties, and the mis­sion is to en­cour­age peo­ple who are not fa­mil­iar with the area to look at it as a place to do busi­ness and to live,” said DiCara. “Es­sex Day tries to say, ‘Look, this is where we are, this is who we are, th­ese are some of the features and ben­e­fits of be­ing here.”’

Met­z­gar added that you will never see Es­sex cleaner than it is on the week of Es­sex Day. The fes­ti­val in­spires a sense of pride within the res­i­dents and pushes them to want to take care of their com­mu­nity. He re­calls see­ing vol­un­teers pick up trash and pluck weeds around East­ern Blvd. to pre­pare for the event.

“Ev­ery­body pitches in,” he said. “That’s Es­sex for you.”

The Es­sex Day Fes­ti­val will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For more in­for­ma­tion on Es­sex Day and a full sched­ule and list of ven­dors, visit www.es­sex­dayfes­ti­val.com.

See you there!

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