SMITHSBURG — Coming out of its 17th year, organizers of Smithsburg Pride Days feared the event was losing steam.
Tonya Meadows, general coordinator of Pride Days, said vendors were reporting slow sales. With the event traditionally held the third weekend in July, they blamed not only the struggling economy, but heat.
“A lot of the vendors said if it was so hot, they would not come back,” Meadows said.
The Pride Days committee responded by surveying vendors and community members about participation. Feedback was unanimous — it would be better when the weather was cooler. So for the 18th annual event, Pride Days was moved to May.
The event kicked off Saturday morning with an all-you-can-eat breakfast at the Smithsburg Volunteer Fire Department, yard sales at the Smithsburg Library and a parade beginning at the high school and ending in Veterans Park.
Before the activities were even under way, Meadows said, benefits of changing the date were obvious. With school still in session, administration, staff and students were able to offer support and participation.
Principals from Smithsburg schools grand marshaled the parade. The high-school and middle-school bands played. Members of student government and the Parent Teacher Association marched, as well as award winners from Pride Days coloring and essay contests.
“We had more than 400 people just participating in the parade alone,” parade coordinator Nancy Walzl said.
Vendors — about 45 of them — reported “pretty steady” sales, Meadows said, especially following the parade.
Mary Ann Turner, 55, of Falling Waters, W.Va. perused the vendor booths at the park Saturday afternoon. She was excited to find a wide-brimmed, rhinestone-sequinned hat.
“I like shopping the stands,” Turner said. “They have some things here you don’t find other places. And it’s such a wide-open area and such a pretty small-town atmosphere.”
Mindy Cawley, 43, of Smithsburg, was happy to find Smithsburg-based Waltz Family Farm among the vendors. Cawley said she prefers to buy local meat, but has trouble finding it.
“I bought hot dogs this morning, went home and had them for lunch, and came back for more,” Cawley said. “My son said they were the best hot dogs ever.”
Brittany Clopper, 22, of Smithsburg, had lunch with her daughter, Remie, 3 months, and her mother, Jeanne Semler, 42, also of Smithsburg. They had spent the morning with extended family — about 15 to 20 people — and planned to meet up with them again.
A street dance and fireworks rounded out the activities Saturday night.