Es­sex Day Fes­ti­val wel­comes changes, up­grades, new mas­cot

The Avenue News - - ESSEX DAY - By: LISA HAR­LOW

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/.

COUR­TESY BCOPD

BAL­TI­MORE COUNTY OF­FI­CER AMY CAPRIO

GE­ORGE WIL­BANKS

KEVIN KAMENETZ

ANNA RE­NAULT

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