Eager to leave your house – not to mention the cold weather and the coronavirus – behind? Here’s a preview of spring and summer events and places to visit to have fun and support local small businesses.

Clarksville Commons:  A fruit with a view

Movie night at Clarksville Commons.

The farmers market is returning to Clarksville Commons every Saturday beginning May 1 with increased participation from local famers and several local bakers, too.

“In addition, we have added more than a dozen half-time and monthly local food and craft vendors to participate throughout the season,” said Anastasia MacDonald, director of Community Relations for Clarksville Commons.

Clarksville Commons is also the first and only market in Howard County to offer “Maryland Market Money.”

The program allows Clarksville Commons to match up to $5 per household, per market day, for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-eligible foods.

“Having easy access to local, fresh, healthy food is so important. We hope that being part of this program allows members of our community greater access to not just the food, but the farmers that grow it,” shared Holly Stone, who along with her husband George Stone, are the principal developers of Clarksville Commons.

Also in May, Clarksville Commons is bringing back its free weekly Friday night live music concerts and its free outdoor family movie every Wednesday evening in July and August.

“Our community’s safety is a priority so we will continue to adhere to the CDC and Howard County guidelines to offer events that we believe can provide the proper distancing,” said MacDonald.

The businesses at the Commons have received tremendous support from their clients and customers over the past year and all the business owners are grateful and encouraged by that, MacDonald added.

“The local government, chamber of commerce, and Howard County Tourism support of small businesses has also been critical,” she said. “While emergency funds have been key to keeping many doors open, access to advertising and information has helped many to reach a larger audience without additional expense.”

Blossoms of Hope:  A bloomin’ good cause

The traditional Blossoms of Hope array of activities to raise awareness and money for cancer has a new twist this year: a Scavenger Hunt that begins April 5 and runs through May 5.

“Spring is finally here and most of us are ready to get out of the house but not ready to immerse ourselves back into the crowds,” said Vera Simmons, director of Community Outreach and Events.

She said, “The Scavenger Hunt is a great way to get out, explore our beautiful groves, and spend time with your family in a COIVD-friendly way while hunting for clues.”

The hunt is scheduled for when the local kwanzan cherry blossom trees will be in bloom.

“Just registering puts you in the drawing for some great prizes from Blossoms including a visit from Santa, a Power of the Purse lottery ticket and much more,” said Simmons.

Also coming up: two traditional Blossoms events, the Pink Greens Golf Classic on May 13 at Waverly Woods, and Power of the Purse. Now deemed “Power of the Purse v 2.1,” it’s a designer purse lottery based on Maryland Pick 3.

“You buy lottery numbers and, if your number comes up anytime in the month of June, you win a purse bundle,” said Simmons.

African Art Museum:  41 in ’21

In a quiet but determined fashion, the African Art Museum of Maryland, located in the Long Reach Village Center, has reopened its doors Thursdays through Saturdays.

Co-founder Doris Ligon has a favorite African saying: “One will tell one hundred.”

That’s why she’s grateful when one or two people drop by the museum, and she can show them around.

“If you can make a difference in just one person’s day, and they’re treated well, they’re going to tell 100 other people,” she said. “They’ll bring friends. They’ll bring relatives.”

Whenever anyone comes into the museum, Ligon considers it an opportunity to demonstrate hospitality.

“If you understand what people have created, you have a better understanding of the people who created it,” she said. “You’ll find that there are more similarities than differences regardless of what scholarly journals say.”

After canceling events including Grandparent’s Day, jazz music, fundraisers, and special exhibits – many of them planned around the museum’s 40th anniversary – the museum is moving ahead with the slogan “41 in ’21.”

Ligon hopes to plan some small, in-person events during 2021, along with an important milestone:

“I haven’t been able to hug my grandchildren since August,” she said. “I’m going to do just that.”

Old Ellicott City:  Walkable and paintable

The sidewalks of Old Ellicott City are starting to teem with people out for a stroll, ducking into the many small shops or grabbing a bite to eat.

Always a center for creative thinking, if you stroll down those sidewalks on June 10-13, you’ll see artists at work, easels at the ready, and the creative process in action.

Paint It! Ellicott City is open to juried and other painters who want to capture the picturesque mill town and all its charms.

And, as we all process the past year of unprecedented suffering for so many people, artists are even more important in our lives, said Elli Hernandez, gallery and programs coordinator for the Howard County Arts Council.

“Artists in general are wonderful at expressing complex emotions and thoughts through their work,” said Hernandez. “At a time when so many of us experiencing mental and physical strain from isolation and the pandemic, our local artists help us stay connected to one another. They remind us to stay positive and look for the beauty in everyday life.”

By Susan Kim | Staff Writer | The Business Monthly | April 2021 Issue