Essex Day Festival welcomes changes, upgrades, new mascot
Every year, the Essex Day festival is dedicated to significant members of the community that have passed away this year. At the event’s opening ceremony, their contributions on the community and their lives will be honored and remembered. An empty chair in their honor will be set up on the main stage, decorated with white flowers and the MC Jamie Costello will say a brief blurb about each.
Those being memorialized are:
A longtime Back River resident,
Renault passed away on
August 1, at the age of 68.
She was a prolific author and advocate for the Essex community, writing columns for the Avenue News for over a decade and publishing over a dozen books.
Her final book “My 40 Year
Dance with Cancer” was released last year. Before her death, she served on Baltimore County Commission for Women to represent the 7th district and was a member of the Patient Advisory Board at Franklin
Square Hospital, the Parish Council at Our Lady of
Mount Carmel Church, the
Holly Neck Conservation Association and the Back
River Restoration Committee. The eastern Baltimore County businessman and former president of Essex Day passed away on February 28 at age 85. Wilbanks was the owner and founder of the local newspaper The East County Times, formerly known as the Essex Times, which he founded in 1995. Wilbanks was a member of the Eastern Baltimore Area Chamber of Commerce, acting as the organization’s president for several years.
The death of Officer Amy Caprio just a few days before her 30th birthday shocked the community. The Baltimore County police officer’s life was cut short on May 21 when a group of four teenage suspects hit her with a Jeep while she was investi- gating a case. She served as an officer for 3 years and 8 months, spending some time in the Essex Precinct. Caprio was the first female officer killed in the line of duty in the Baltimore Police Department’s 144-year history.
Kamenetz served as the 12th Baltimore County Executive from 2010 and May 10, 2018, when he passed away unexpectedly of cardiac arrest at age 60. He had served on the Baltimore County Council from 1994 to 2010. He was the former President of the Maryland Association of Counties and the Baltimore Metropolitan Council. At the time of his death, Kamenetz was a Democratic candidate for governor.
The 43rd Annual Essex Day Festival is happening along Eastern Boulevard this Saturday, September 22 from 10 am to 6 pm, and the buzzword surrounding this year’s event is definitely “NEW.”
First and foremost, the change that has received the most support has been the move from Sunday to Saturday to accommodate more vendors and a larger crowd without competition from NFL football.
“We wanted to give new life to the festival, which quite frankly had been on the decline over the past several years,” said Brian K. Marchetti who sits on the Board of Directors of the New Essex Day Festival Association. “We are really excited about all of the new changes and additions to Essex Day this year. The festival will reflect all of the great things we have going on in Essex, and we hope that everyone will come out and show their support for our community.”
Next up, the festival partnered with Starleigh Entertainment, who is sponsoring the Main Stage, now known as the Starleigh Entertainment Stage. The stage has been relocated to Woodward Avenue and Eastern Boulevard, away from its previous location at Taylor Avenue.
The Starleigh Entertainment lineup features some of the most popular bands in the area: School of Rock Baltimore, Red Dirt Revolution, Kanye Twitty, Tripwire, and Dean Crawford & Dunns River Band. Opening ceremonies, which will begin at Noon, will include special MC Jamie Costello from WMAR News Channel 2.
In close proximity to the Starleigh Entertainment Stage will be the brand new Beer Garden, hosted by PatRick’s Sports Bar and Grill. After many requests for a Beer Garden over the years, adults 21 and over can now enjoy three different types of brews in the fenced in garden area while listening to live music.
The all-new Acoustic Stage, located near Mace Avenue, has an impressive lineup of local favorites including headliner Mark Alan and opener Carlos Cubas. Other acts are Allison Dietz, K.C. and Doodle from “The Attitude,” and Troy and Tony.
At 1:30 pm on the Acoustic Stage, Rodney Henry of Food Network fame and founder of Dangerously Delicious Pies will host the allnew Pie Eating Contest. The winner will receive a special award, free pie and — of course — bragging rights!
The Circle of Faith Stage (formerly known as the Gospel Stage) has moved to Taylor Avenue. This year, national act Dixie Melody Boys will be headlining, along with local groups Downing Lane, Covenant Brit Ministries, and Christian Fellowship Church.
Another new addition to Essex Day that has people talking is its brand new mascot, “Cubey,” which is a cartoon version of the Essex Cube, the nearly 40-year-old monument located at Eastern Boulevard and Virginia Avenue. The idea for Cubey came from Essex Day committee member Scott Huffines, son of well-known community leader Jackie Nickel.
“Essex (and neighbor Dundalk) have been known for decades for their oversized structures: Pizza Johns, Crabland, poop plant, Eastpoint water tower,” said Huffines. “Cubey deserves his place — especially with the googly eyes!”
After initial hand drawings and computer renderings, lead designer Dennis Beckwith of Just Extreme Graphix created the current image.
“We are very happy with the final design, and hope it brings some life back to the original cube and surrounding landscape,” said Marchetti.
At the same time the Cubey character was unveiled, Cliff O’Connell, owner of Cliff’s Hi-Tech and chair of the Eastern Baltimore County Task Force, a committee of the Chesapeake Gateway Chamber of Commerce, started revamping the Cube. It was a team effort.
According to O’Connell, George Lang of Power Factor helped fix the lighting in the Cube, which now shines brightly at night, and Scott Smith of Smith’s Lawncare & Landscaping cleaned up the surrounding garden. O’Connell scrubbed the outside of the structure while his wife Debbie O’Connell cleaned up trash from the area.
“As part of the Task Force, it’s our role to give our area a facelift in the hopes that more people will get interested and that tenants and landlords in the business community will be invested and involved,” said O’Connell. “The Essex Cube represents the gateway to Essex, and the Cube had been sitting there neglected for a very long time. It was unlit, ugly, an eyesore, so we got it lit up and groomed in time to welcome the community and visitors to Essex Day.”
For more information and updates on the festival, go to www.essexdayfestival.com or https://www.facebook. com/essexdayfestival/.
BALTIMORE COUNTY OFFICER AMY CAPRIO