As we approach the one-year mark of the first positive COVID-19 cases in Maryland, it is important to reflect on some of the positives in our lives. This year has not been without its challenges. We have faced illness and uncertainty, as well as new regulations and mandatory quarantines. It has been a difficult time, especially for small businesses. Despite this, the city of Frostburg has continued to thrive. Our community has adapted quickly and efficiently. Restaurants remained open with takeout, delivery, and outdoor dining. With some creative fine-tuning, we were still able to host many of our annual activities. It is all thanks to the strong sense of community here in Downtown Frostburg!
One of the great perks of living in a small town is local business! Shopping local proved to be an asset this past year. Not only do we want to support our local business owners, but shopping in smaller stores during a pandemic is safer as well. Small businesses have everything you need to help you avoid the crowded mall and supermarket. Need something for your pet? Visit Pet Wants. Looking for a new hobby to keep you busy? The General Arts Store is your next stop. Want to grab something delicious for dinner? Stop by one of the many downtown restaurants and get takeout.
Downtown Frostburg excels at offering themed events throughout the year and tries to ensure that those events benefit our businesses. Annual favorites include Storybook Holiday and the Cocoa Crawl. Last March, it was uncertain if we would be able to have any of these events. Maryland was in a state of emergency. Businesses were temporarily closed and a stay-at-home-order was issued. Downtown Frostburg persevered through these difficult times and events were reimagined in accordance with the CDC’s safety guidelines.
The Arts Walk!
Traditionally, the annual Spring and Fall Arts Walks bring the businesses and artists in our community together for an event full of art and entertainment. Downtown businesses partner with artists to display their art in their storefronts or they set up outside.
Unfortunately, the in-person aspect of the 2020 Spring Arts Walk was postponed due to the pandemic. However, FrostburgFirst found a way to virtually celebrate art and business coming together. A virtual gallery was created for local artists to share their work and informational videos that provided insights into what artists do, highlights of their work, and their creative process were featured. Despite the odds, the virtual Spring Arts Walk received a wonderful response from the community.
When Fall rolled around, FrostburgFirst was able to hold a hybrid Arts Walk. The 2020 Fall Arts Walk offered a blend of in-person and virtual activities that allowed everyone to participate. FrostburgFirst streamed virtual gallery tours, artist demonstrations, and music performances on our social media, while featured artists and businesses shared updates on inventory and specials. Events happening in-person followed social distancing and safety guidelines while still providing a chance to interact with artists and access to downtown businesses and restaurants.
Another seasonal event in Downtown Frostburg is Storybook Holiday. Each year, local organizations come together to present a festive, holiday-themed celebration of children’s literature. In 2020, the FSU Children’s Literature Centre presented “Storybook Holiday Express!” The event was held on December 5, 2020, and included both virtual and in-person activities.
One of these activities was “Deck-the-Meters,” organized by FSU’s CLC and local business P.S. Hair Design. Frostburg Decks the Meters brought Downtown Frostburg to life with holiday spirit. Businesses, groups, and individuals were given the chance to decorate a City parking meter for the holidays. Photos of the meters were showcased throughout the month of December on FrostburgFirst’s Instagram page. This activity received national attention from Main Street America and provided the community with a chance to safely get out of the house and enjoy some holiday cheer.
In 2020, FrostburgFirst launched Pop-Up Frostburg – a retail pop-up shop program for the holiday season in downtown Frostburg. This program provided opportunities for potential future business owners who have had trouble finding accessible, affordable, and flexible spaces and allowed them to create, expand, and nurture their small business with relatively low risk in downtown Frostburg.
The rotating pop-up retail shop kicked off December 1, 2020, and closed February 28, 2021, with She’s So Pretty, a store that features handcrafted fashions designed and sewn by local artist Mindy Wilkinson. Other businesses to take part in the pop-up shop were Home Before Dawn, which features hand-sewn items and work by local artists, and Wynter’s Haven, which sells natural personal and home items.
2021 marked the third annual Cocoa Crawl. This year, the Cocoa Crawl was paired with Valentine’s Day and held on February 13th. Many downtown businesses offered specials all weekend and McFarland’s made cocoa bombs to be distributed at select locations. Downtown Frostburg was bustling with activity that weekend!
It is difficult to say when we will return to “life as normal.” These are unprecedented times, but the Downtown Frostburg community continues to move forward with hope and determination. Whatever happens, we will continue to adapt and change. If this past year has proved anything, it is that where there is a will there is a way – and FrostburgFirst will always find a way to provide innovative events and community support for local businesses.
Interested in joining a FrostburgFirst event committee or donating to support our ongoing programs? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (301) 689-6900.
Olivia Howard, FrostburgFirst Spring Intern