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Laurel festivals preview: A day for businesses and bees

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Posted on: May 2, 2024

By HAYDEN SMITH

Laurel is going to be busy on May 11 as two festivals — one a beloved tradition and one new — are scheduled to take place. With the right planning, here’s hoping you can enjoy both.

Wild Bee &  Flower Festival

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Friends of Patuxent are teaming up to host the inaugural Wild Bee & Flower Festival, a free event that aims to educate the public about the critical role native bees play in the local ecosystem.

“There’s a lot to learn about our native ecosystem here, and I just encourage people to kind of be astounded and to come and discover,” said Liz Humes, a board member and volunteer with Friends of Patuxent. “There’s always more things to learn about native plants.”

Courtesy of Friends of the Patuxent.

The festival will include exhibits and an array of activities, including some led by USGS scientists and representatives from the University of Maryland.

Sam Droege, a wildlife biologist with the USGS Eastern Ecological Science Center, will lead a guided bee walk, while university faculty and staff will host native plant giveaways and talk about incorporating native plants in traditional landscaping. Additional native plants will be available for purchase, and the festival will feature a book and nature shop, as well. Food vendors will be onsite throughout the day. 

Visitors can learn about ongoing conservation efforts at the refuge and explore volunteer opportunities with the Friends of the Patuxent.

“We have a lot of experts and a lot of opportunities to learn, play and connect with nature,” Humes said.

Wild Bee & Flower Festival takes place rain or shine on May 11 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the National Wildlife Visitor Center, 10901 Scarlet Tanager Loop.

Main Street Festival

The Laurel Board of Trade is gearing up for its 43rd annual Main Street Festival. Offering a mix of new attractions and returning favorites, the festival celebrates the best of the community’s local businesses.

Jim Cross, director of The Laurel Board of Trade, emphasized the value of the many businesses and organizations that call Laurel’s Main Street home. Local businesses will have booths where visitors can explore their offerings and discover hidden gems.

“It’s really good for the Main Street merchants to get people to look at them and see who they are,” Cross said. “It’s a really good thing.”

The Laurel Mill Playhouse has participated in the festival since purchasing its building on Main Street in 2001. The playhouse directly benefits from participating in the festival.

“Every year, even to this point, we’ve experienced people who say, ‘Well I didn’t know this was here, and I’ve lived in Laurel for many years’,” Marvin Rogers, the theater’s president, said. “It’s been an extremely beneficial activity for us as a theater.”

This year, the playhouse plans to stick with its successful formula of keeping the doors open and welcoming visitors in to explore the theater.

“We look forward to the new vendors as well as some old friends that we’ve known for years,” Rogers said. “It’s a community event for sure.”

Main Street will be closed between Route 1 South and 7th Street during the festival. Cross said there will also be a heavy police and fire presence at the festival to ensure attendees’ safety.

The Main Street Festival Parade kicks off at 9 a.m. Three stages will feature live music, performances, poetry readings and artwork displays. There will also be interactive arts and crafts demonstrations for children.

“There’s just an incredible amount of stuff going on here. The parade, the vendors, all the bands, I mean, it’s just a fantastic day,” Cross said.

The Main Street Festival takes place May 11, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

 

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