University welcomes the community back to Maryland Day
by: Michael Purdie
Funnel cakes and charred burgers. Families fishing foam turtles out of a fountain. Tents full of exhibits spread out on sun-drenched lawns. Seed-spitting competitions, farm animals, bee-box building demos. The University of Maryland’s (UMD) huge annual celebration, Maryland Day, was back in full force — and in person — after a two-year hiatus.
The university hosted tens of thousands at the campus-wide celebration on April 30, a perfect spring day with not a cloud in the sky. And the university’s goals for the celebration were every bit as clear, as Cynthia Martinez, who spearheaded the months-long, campus-wide planning for the event, explained.
“[Maryland Day] is a campus-wide open showcase of the work of our students, faculty, and staff, and more importantly, how this work impacts our local community, the state of Maryland, and the world,” she wrote. Martinez is senior director of brand marketing with the university’s Office of Marketing and Communication.
“The UMD community has the opportunity to learn and have fun while exploring other areas of campus and the event is a valuable tool for prospective students and their families to explore our campus and get a taste of campus life by connecting with current students and faculty,” she added.
Maryland Day, the university’s signature annual event, is known for its large audiences; as many as 65,000 people take part in the festivities. This year, organizers divided the campus into five different areas, or neighborhoods — Terp Town Center, Ag Day Avenue, Science and Tech Way, Art and Design Place, and Sports and Rec Row — to showcase an extraordinary range of opportunities and achievements at UMD. The neighborhoods were full of fun: pep bands, cheerleaders, games and prizes. And full of food, too. Lots of food.
“Maryland day is one of the most fun days on campus,” said UMD senior Riya Chaudhry, who assisted turtle-fishing families. “This Maryland day, the sun was out and the weather was gorgeous. Being in the fountain, at the center of the mall, there was tons of celebratory energy and excitement from all the kids, parents, and students who were walking around. As a volunteer this year, I felt I truly got to engage with the event and showcase all the Maryland pride I’ve developed over the past four years.”
Crowds gathered around the barn on Ag Day Avenue for livestock shows and to tour the farm. Some adventurous souls even explored the inside of a cow’s stomach. Enthusiastic crowds flocked to plant giveaways, a Maryland Day tradition.
Science and Tech Way showcased the university’s comprehensive computer science offerings and a variety of STEM demonstrations. All that food? How about making ice cream with liquid nitrogen?
The Sports and Rec Row neighborhood attracted a huge crowd to the university’s stadium for the Terrapin’s annual Red-White Spring Game. Right next door, staff with UMD’s Student and Community Development Programs (SCDP) office hosted tours of a new residence hall. Maura Canavan, a program assistant with SCDP, gave tours to more than 1,000 current and prospective students and alumni. She reported that she enjoyed “show[ing] off the benefits of on-campus living from an academic perspective.” In addition to offering fun and food, Maryland Day organizers clearly aimed to attract students to the university’s exceptional offerings.
The Arts and Design Place neighborhood featured live music, dance, and theater performances and a hands-on art workshop at The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center.
Maryland Day was canceled in 2020, due to the pandemic, and a scaled-down event was held virtually in 2021 to celebrate UMD President Dr. Darryll J. Pines’ inauguration. This year’s event was ushered in with a huge, collective sigh of relief as fans of the festival flooded back to campus. Canavan summed up the day’s success: “It was great to see everyone come together and represent themselves in the best way possible.” And the crowd put their best way front and center throughout the campus, throughout the day, with their Maryland pride on full display.