After a two-year hiatus, the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) has partnered with Maryland First Lady Yumi Hogan to bring back the Neighborhood Spring Festival. The annual festival brings a beautiful mix of arts, culture, community and springtime fun to the Poppleton neighborhood in West Baltimore.
“It’s amazing to be back here after the COVID pandemic prevented us from hosting the festival for the past two years,” said Brian Sturdivant, MSW, Director of Strategic Initiatives and Community Partnerships for UMB’s Office of Community Engagement. “We love having face-to-face contact and we’ve missed it so much. All of our staff are here and ready to be with our neighbors again.
The festival was held on May 7 on a cloudy and rainy day, but that didn’t stop dozens of neighbors from coming out and enjoying the food, entertainment and entertainment. At the corner of Poppleton and Baltimore streets stood a huge tent big enough to keep the rain out and the excitement out.
During the festival, many activity stalls were set up, including hat making by The Tattered Hatter, face painting by Sparkles the Clown, and reptile petting by Scales and Tales. Poe, the Oriole Bird and Ravens mascot, was also there to build excitement and take photos with guests.
There was also free food and drink from local vendors and dance performances from local studios. The performances included several groups of young people performing traditional Korean dances like the flower crown dance, a sword dance, and Samulnori, a form of Korean drumming music. The festival also featured a special showcase of cadet martial arts and fitness students.
Community member Shawmain Wilson was thrilled to see her daughter performing in the karate showcase.
“I can’t wait to see what they’ll do because they’ve been training for hours,” she said. “I don’t live very far away, so being here together and seeing her perform in person is really good.”
In addition to fun activities, games and performances, there were also several health and wellness kiosks, including one where neighbors could sign up and receive a COVID-19 shot or booster shot.
This festival was not only an opportunity for neighbors to spend a fun afternoon together, but it was also an opportunity to build camaraderie and community within the neighborhood.
“Looking around at what’s happening around the country, around the world and around Baltimore, it means a lot to see smiles and groups coming together to have a good time regardless,” said Marc Glasco, a neighbor of Baltimore whose son performed a karate routine at the festival. “Coming out of two years of a pandemic and being with community and family over Mother’s Day weekend feels very appropriate.”
This sense of community and support is exactly why UMB partners with First Lady Yumi Hogan to host the Neighborhood Spring Festival each year. The organizers look forward to continuing this event every year and adding more community.
“We’re all neighbors here,” Sturdivant said. “UMB is an anchor institution in West Baltimore and everything we do is done in partnership with our neighbors in West Baltimore and that is why it is important that we are here today as one community. “