With tongs in one hand and a brush in the other, Phil Bowers grilled up turkey legs under the September sun.
The Brewer’s Alley owner hoped to sell 700 legs on the day that marked the return of Frederick’s In The Streets festival, and the crowd was looking pretty good mid-Saturday afternoon. Last year’s event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s busy,” Bowers said, turning legs over the smokey grill, but “it’s not totally back to where it was.”
Thousands of locals and visitors, many of them walking dogs, bustled up and down Market Street. Couples sipped beer as they dined outside restaurants, children clutched balloon animals, and a few people bobbed to the music ringing from live bands.
“It’s very lively,” Emma Hong said as she and her friends munched on turkey legs.
The event usually draws between 60,000 and 70,000 people, according to Jennifer Martin, executive director of Celebrate Frederick, the event’s organizer. Though the official crowd estimate wasn’t in yet Saturday evening, Martin was thrilled with the turnout.
“We weren’t sure what to expect in terms of turnout, but the Frederick community came out to support every part of the event,” Martin said, “from the Market Street Mile and Craft Beverage Experience to the blocks and blocks of nonprofits, downtown businesses and sponsors.”
At A Lit’le Irish, Too, co-owner Emily Warren greeted customers under a tent outside the storefront. Fuzzy sweaters, jewelry, hats, Irish snacks and more drew the eyes of passersby. It was the local business’s first time participating in the festival, Warren said, as they opened a little over two years ago on Saint Patrick’s Day.
Warren was pleased at the turnout, considering she thought fear of the COVID-19 delta variant might deter people from attending.
“Everyone’s super friendly,” Warren said, who owns the shop with her mother Tory. “It’s nice to actually see people out and about.”
Hagerstown friends Brittany Strope and Kristin Banas brought their 5-year-old daughters to the event. Fiona Strope and Ella Banas picked up some bracelets from A Lit’le Irish, Too.
“I like all the shops,” Brittany Strope said, affixing the bracelet to her daughter’s arm.
Fiona was a fan of the basketball setup she found down the street.
Watching over everyone were members of the Frederick Police Department. Among those on foot patrol was Officer First Class Scott Shepardson, working his final shift before retirement. After 22 years with FPD, he said the day felt surreal.
“This is literally what I’ve known every day,” Shepardson said.
The officer grinned at friends he recognized and was quick to offer directions or business recommendations to visitors. Though Frederick is a city of more than 70,000, Shepardson said it has a “hometown feel.”
“I’m extremely proud to say I’m retiring from FPD,” he said.
Shepherdstown, West Virginia, residents Patty Bain Bachner and John Bachner chatted with Shepardson. Bain Bachner was especially excited about her purchase from a local vendor, an ornate bar of green soap.
“It’s a work of art,” she said gleefully.
Though Bain Bachner said she and her husband had been to Frederick before, this was their first time attending In The Streets. She was a big fan.
“This is the community coming out,” she said, remarking over the variety of vendors. “It’s a great piece of diversity.”