Olney Days, one of the most anticipated weekends of the year for many area residents, takes place Saturday and Sunday.
While many of the favorite events return, including the fireworks and parade, this year features a new attraction with a grown-up flavor — a beer garden at the Rock the Lot block party on Sunday afternoon.
The weekend offers two full days of family-friendly activities, coordinated by a committee led by Helene Rosenheim, who has spearheaded Olney Days for more than two decades.
“It’s grown a lot over the years, and we continue to try new events,” she said. “We are again hoping for good weather and good turnout.”
Olney Days is coordinated by the Greater Olney Civic Association and the new Olney Civic Fund.
“Olney days is a great way for residents and families to get out and enjoy the weekend, really build community spirit, and share in Olney’s history, traditions and identity,” said John Webster, GOCA’s president. “This weekend defines us as a community.”
This year’s Olney Days is being funded through the Olney Civic Fund, a nonprofit organization. The fund was established last year, with the support of the GOCA, to raise public awareness of Olney charitable, educational, civic, and cultural activities. It also is meant to raise money to support Olney charitable projects and civic events through the involvement of volunteers and business sponsors.
Webster said the organization has accomplished what it set out to do — to get nonprofit status and to raise enough money to pay for Olney Days through donations.
Olney Days was draining GOCA’s resources, Webster said. Costs have continued to escalate, with last year’s event costing about $15,000.
So far, the Olney Civic Fund has raised about $20,000. Any extra money raised will go toward supporting a worthy nonprofit or a community project or event.
Rosenheim said that through the fund, local businesses are taking a more active role in Olney Days.
“The creation of the Olney Civic Fund has been a great asset,” she said. “Its committee has done a great job of adding corporate sponsors, which strengthens the whole event.”
When Helene Rosenheim took over as Olney Days chairwoman, the parade was in its 10th year and was the single Olney Days event. Now, the parade is in its 31st year and is just one part of an entire weekend full of activities.
Saturday’s schedule includes Joe’s Ride and Stride, a free paper shred event, The Olney Idol competition, and the Fun Fair and fireworks. Sunday’s events include the 19th Annual Car and Truck Show, the parade, and Rock the Lot.
Joe’s Ride and Stride offers a physical activity for participants of all ages and abilities. Cyclists can choose from 45K, 30K, and a family-friendly 10K ride. Walkers can take a leisurely stroll in the 5K event. Joe’s Ride offers food, entertainment, and a touching balloon release ceremony to remember Joe Sanford and other area children who have died.
Olney Idol features 20 contestants from five different schools, ranging in age from 8 to 14.
The U.S. Armed Forces Color Guard and the Fife and Drum band will lead the parade, which travels along Georgia Avenue from Prince Philip Drive to Spartan Road. It will include a variety of entries, including local businesses, school groups, Scout troops, dance groups, animals, and fire department vehicles.
Rock the Lot will take place on Hillcrest Drive. In addition to four local bands performing, there will be inflatables, other activities and food vendors.
For those 21 and older, there will be a beer garden, a fenced-off area adjacent to the stage, where they can purchase beer, served in a souvenir cup. The beers will be Heavy Seas Loose Cannon, Yeungling and Miller Lite.
“The leadership of Olney Days and Olney Civic Fund has given thought to how to integrate the beer garden into the event in the right way,” organizer Jim Smith said. “While parents will be allowed in the beer garden area with their kids, only those 21 and over will get wrist bands to purchase beer.”
No beer will be allowed outside the beer garden area and no other alcoholic beverages are allowed to be carried onto the premises of the Rock the Lot event.
“We’re also being careful not to compete with the other exhibitors or vendors on food sales,” he said.
Proceeds from Rock the Lot and the beer garden will benefit the Olney Civic Fund and Project Change, an Olney-based nonprofit, youth/adult partnership organization dedicated to promoting positive youth development through leadership experience, quality community service, and safe social activities.