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Beloved community events planning a return this year

by Judith Hruz
Two of the community’s most beloved events are back on schedule this spring.
Olney Days, complete with the annual parade, will be held April 29 to May 1 and the Sandy Spring Museum Strawberry Festival will be held June 11 and 12.
After a two-year interruption by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Olney Civic Fund (OCF) announced it is planning the return of Olney Days.
“After the pandemic forced the cancellation of the majority of Olney Days activities in 2020 and 2021, plans are underway to bring back the long-standing local tradition,” said Helene Rosenheim of the OCF Board of Directors.
Museum officials are also eager to present the Strawberry Festival this year.
“We are so excited that the Strawberry Festival is back for its 40th year,” said Phillip Alexander Downie, the museum’s director of Special Events and Facility Rentals and chair of the Strawberry Festival.
“Every planning season I get to see and work with so many passionate community members to bring this amazing day to fruition,” he said.
For the first time in four decades, the festival will be held the second weekend of June instead of the first weekend.
“We have already contacted all of the key volunteers who are thrilled that the festival will be back,” said museum Executive Director Allison Weiss. “The festival will be one of the first big opportunities for the whole community to gather again and celebrate.”
The Olney Chamber of Commerce is “optimistic” it will hold its popular National Night Out celebration and Olney Community Night, two other well-attended events, said Terri Hogan, chamber executive director.
“We have begun the planning process on both events,” Hogan said. “It will ultimately depend on COVID restrictions and the venue guidelines.”
National Night Out is held the first Tuesday of August and Community Night has traditionally been held the second Monday of October, but Hogan gave no specific dates for the events if they are held.
“Data indicate nearly 85 percent of Montgomery County residents have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and almost 46 percent have received a booster shot,” Olney Civic Fund’s Rosenheim said. “As such, OCF and its partners remain cautiously optimistic that the situation will continue to improve and look forward to hosting Olney Days 2022. We will continue to monitor the situation closely, however, and are prepared to make alterations to our plans if needed as we get closer to the event. Regardless of the size and scope of this year’s Olney Days celebration, OCF will follow all Montgomery County COVID-19 guidelines.”
The Olney Civic Fund is a local, non-profit organization dedicated to raising public awareness of Olney charitable, educational, civic and cultural activities and supporting local charitable projects and civic events such as Olney Days.
“OCF is in need of both adult and student volunteers for the Olney Days events,” said Barbara Falcigno of the OCF Board of Directors. “As a nonprofit organization, we depend on the generosity of local businesses and community members to support our efforts. While we rely on local corporate sponsors to help fund activities, Olney Days cannot happen without our many committed volunteers.”

A return of favorites, some new features

Olney Days 2022 is scheduled to feature a variety of family-friendly events, including the following:
Friday, April 29 — OBGC Flix @ the Fields Family Movie Night, 8–10 p.m. at OBGC Freeman Fields, 4501 Olney Laytonsville Road.
Saturday, April 30 — Joe’s Ride and Stride benefiting the Joseph Patrick Sanford Foundation, 7-10 a.m. starting at Oakdale Church parking lot; 3425 Emory Church Road; Olney Days Free Paper Shred & Electronics Recycling Event, noon to 3 p.m. at Sandy Spring Bank, 17801 Georgia Ave.; and Party in the Park, 3 p.m. to dark at Olney Manor Park, 16601 Georgia Ave.
Sunday, May 1 — Community Clean Up, 8-10 a.m. at Olney Manor Park, 16601 Georgia Ave.; 26th Olney Days Car and Truck Show,
10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Fletcher’s Service Center, 18001 Georgia Ave.; Pre-parade Performance by Olney Concert Band, 1:30 to 2 p.m. at Spartan Road, just east of Georgia Avenue near the Reviewing Stand; and 38th Olney Days Parade, 2 p.m., starting at Prince Phillip Drive, traveling north on Georgia Avenue and ending on Spartan Road.
Parade applications are due by April 18 and are available at www.OlneyCivicFund.org.
A centerpiece of Olney Days 2022 is the Party in the Park, which consists of family-friendly activities including live music from local bands, carnival games benefiting local nonprofit organizations, fire truck rides, tug-of-war and other contests. A jazz concert by Olney Big Band will begin at 7:30 p.m., followed by a fireworks display. Local food trucks will be on hand and adults aged 21 and over can enjoy the popular Beer & Wine Garden.
Sandy Spring Museum will not wait for June to celebrate the Strawberry Festival’s 40th anniversary, Downie said.
“We expect all of the same fabulous features that we have seen in the past, with some surprises in store,” he said.
He said a “few amazing special events” will be held.
A virtual exhibit of historic Strawberry Festival posters will open at the end of February.
An outdoor family event, Beer & Berries, will feature local Maryland craft beers, outdoor games, food trucks, ax throwing, live music and more will be held April 23.
The Strawberry Village at the Olney Farmers Market will be held May 22, featuring Strawberry products, desserts and artwork from local artisans.

Local businesses and residents interested in learning how to support OCF though a financial donation or by volunteering for a leadership role can visit www.OlneyCivicFund.org. The OCF website also includes a current schedule of all Olney Days activities and events.

For more on Sandy Spring Museum’s Strawberry Festival and related events, visit www.sandyspringmuseum.org or call 301-774-0022.

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