Ellicott City’s annual Fall Fest, which has included family-friendly activities, food and shopping, will have an added bonus this year.
Make that 53 added bonuses.
This year, Fall Fest will coincide with the first Main Street Music Fest, featuring four indoor stages, four outdoor stages and 53 unsigned bands.
“We wanted it to be like a South by Southwest [sxsw] music event in town,” Jeni Porter, owner of Wind River Inc. said, referring to one of the largest music festivals in the country held annually in Austin, TX.
Porter, the event manager for the Ellicott City Business Association, said the music fest is the brainchild of two Main Street musicians, Brandon Ruth and Andy Hall. The group used an online music booking agent to find bands and received more than 400 responses.
“We had bands as far west as Oregon, as far north as Massachusetts and as far south as South Carolina,” all wanting to play Main Street, Porter said.
Four hundred bands were whittled down to 53. They’ll play on four outdoor stages–Parking lot D behind the Howard County Tourism Office; The Wine Bin lot; B&O Railroad Station Museum; and Tiber Park-and four indoor stages–The Diamondback Tavern, Cacao Lane, Phoenix Emporium and La Palapa.
The set-up is modeled after SXSW, too, with short sets indoors and longer sets on the outdoor stages.
“The outdoor bands I chose were bands who have been performing in Ellicott City for the past two and a half years,” Porter said. “Mostly for free at events like First Friday and Midnight Madness. I told them ‘if I ever get an event where I can pay you … you’re first on the list.' ”
Bands will begin between noon and 1 p.m. at the indoor stages and between noon and 12:30 p.m. outdoors. Indoor music ends at 9 p.m. and at 7 p.m. outside.
“There’s a lot of great music coming,” Porter said, from DJs to singer/songwriters, rockabilly, classic rock and jazz. “There’s something for everybody and everyone has the opportunity to find something new.”
The inaugural Main Street Music Fest will run in tandem with Fall Fest, but next year, Porter said, she hopes to bring it back as its own event.
Of course, the 12th annual Fall Fest will be an event unto itself. This year, expect plenty of family-friendly activities, including pumpkin decorating, hoola hoopers, face painting and a Moon Bounce.
Special this year is a mural-painting station; kids will have the opportunity to paint murals that will be displayed around town during the holidays and at the annual Midnight Madness celebration.
Returning to Main Street will be a favorite from last year, the Defenders of the Force, a Star Wars reenactment group that performs for charitable events.
As part of its outreach program, CSX will also have a presence at the B&O Railroad Museum. Recently, a fatal train derailment occurred on the tracks that run just behind the railroad.
“CSX wants to stay active in the community," Porter said. The company will have coloring books and safety information on-hand and will be answering questions from residents.
The shuttle, the bands, and the activities–all of it is free, Porter said. There will be food and drinks for sale and, of course, plenty of shopping along Main Street.
Ellicott City Fall Fest and the Main Street Music Fest are scheduled Saturday, Sept. 29, from noon to 7 p.m. (some bands will play later) in the Historic District.