ROCKVILLE—Rockville’s Hometown Holidays event returned for its 31st year over Memorial Day weekend.
The three-day festival included bands and musicians on multiple stages around Rockville Town Center, food vendors and family-friendly activities.
Over the course of a few months, the planning team lays out a design for the weekend-long festival and creates a schedule, according to Rockville’s special events department.
Colleen McQuitty who serves as special events manager for the city of Rockville, said that finding bands is the fun part of putting together Hometown Holidays.
“We go around to different bands, to different venues’ websites and festival websites and just start listening to all the bands,” McQuitty said. “That ends up taking us to different places and different venues that sometimes, the bands haven’t even gone to yet. It’s a fun process because we get to learn all about these different bands that are from the area and around the United States.”
McQuitty said that the budget for Hometown Holidays factors in when paying the bands for their time. The celebration has a total budget of about $200,000, according to McQuitty.
One of the popular activities over the weekend was “the beach” that was set up on Middle Lane and took up the majority of the city block with about six inches of sand.
Kids could build sandcastles, dig holes — until they reached the pavement underneath — or play without the fear of sand crabs.
Melissa Schaller, who attended, said that this year’s “beach” was her kids’ favorite activity.
“We come every year. We live nearby and, it’s always so much fun; the kids have a blast,” she said. “My favorite part this year has probably been watching my girls play in the sand here; it’s always a big hit, and it’s in the shade this year too.”
McQuitty said that the beach event has been taking place for about eight years.
The city purchased the sand a few years ago and reuses it for different events around town, according to McQuitty.
“Our public works department loads it up into their trucks and brings it out and dumps it into the street,” she said. “And then they take another front loader and kind of spread it out. Later they scoop it up at the end of the event and put it onto trucks to take it back where they got it from.”
Another major draw for the weekend festival is the Taste of Rockville.
Local food vendors set up booths filling the block between Washington Street and Maryland Avenue in Courthouse Square. Unlike the rest of Hometown Holidays, the Taste of Rockville is only open Saturday and Sunday.
The Taste of Rockville was presented by the Rockville Chamber of Commerce and included 19 food vendors from the area.
To try a Taste of Rockville, patrons could purchase food tickets for $1.25 each. Every participating restaurant could decide how many tickets their meals are worth.
Some of the participating food vendors included La Tasca, Momo’s Café and Saffron Indian Cuisine among others.
Whitney and Eric Wilson of Rockville were out enjoying the Taste of Rockville on Saturday afternoon.
Whitney explained that they were drawn to attend the festival the first time this year because it was conveniently located and near where they live.
“We’re liking the accessibility of everything so far,” she said. “The variety of things that are offered is cool, too, and the food is always a plus.”
McQuitty said that one of the challenges of putting on the Memorial Day Weekend celebration is that the location changes each year.
“Every year we have to accommodate old and new development that’s happening in the center of town. It takes a lot of hours and a lot of manpower, but it’s a great thing for our department,” she said.
She explained that Rockville keeps doing Hometown Holidays because it brings the town together.
“It’s a good way to bring the community out to an event. We offer it as a free event,” she said. “It’s also a great way to bring out the restaurants and showcase the businesses that are available here in Rockville. It’s just a way to really highlight the town center and bring the community together.”