A winning recipe: One beautiful sunny day. 7 food trucks. A beer garden. 20 other vendors. Signal 13 Band. Games including basketball, corn hole, a moon bounce, face painting, arts and crafts, and more. Enthusiastic small businesses. 25+ dedicated volunteers. A focused event organizer.
Center Place in the Historic Dundalk Town Center was bustling with activity on Saturday June 1st for what Dundalk Renaissance expects will be an annual event to kick off the Summer season. Over 1500 people spent a part of their afternoon sampling delicious food from BricknFire Pizza company, B’more Greek Grill, Flew the Coop, 2 Bold Chefs & a Mediterranean Truck, and Sushi-Go Fusion. For dessert? Charm City Smoothies and Rolling Rita’s ice cream and snow balls.
“At the Food Truck Festival in Dundalk. It’s awesome everyone should come check It out. Lots of good food and vendors!!” posted Crystal Carpenter on Facebook. Chris Pineda, Business Development Manager for Dundalk Renaissance and the event’s organizer, noted with satisfaction that “many people were enthusiastically posting on social media about their food and the event and noting that this is what we need more of in downtown Dundalk.”
Tables were set up in the street and on the sidewalk for people to enjoy eating while they listened to the energetic rock of Signal 13. A beer garden offered shaded seating under the trees along the stucco wall on the side of M&T bank in a decidedly civilized atmosphere. Old neighbors and new residents chatted while shopping for specialty pickled vegetables and jams from Yummie Bunnie Gourmet, premium rum and spirits from Montgomery County-based Twin Valley Distillers, and Chocolate and Fudge from Coco Couture, among other vendors.
A major goal of the event for its organizers, Dundalk Renaissance, and its sponsors, Blue Ocean Realty, MD Department of Housing and Community Development, and Baltimore County, was to draw more people to the Historic Dundalk Town Center. “The crowd was younger, and they showed that they are willing to spend money,” Pineda noted. The pizza vendor, for example, sold over 140 pizzas at $12 each, and there is already interest from some of the food trucks in future events. Good business at an event helps demonstrate the viability of future events and, ultimately, more permanent businesses in the Town Center.
Current Town Center businesses saw many new faces among their shoppers on Saturday, and they did well thanks to the increased foot traffic. Zallie’s Boutique had a tent outside in front of their shop promoting their bows, headbands, and childrens’ clothing. Little Crystal Bijoux co-owner Cary Quintana was demonstrating his custom leather work and inviting passersby to make a leather keyring with his guidance. To maximize exposure with new visitors and encourage return shoppers, Blue Breeze Bath Boutique, Dude’s Snack Attack, Little Crystal Bijoux, and Zallie’s Boutique collaborated on a commemorative reusable shopping bag offered as a gift with purchase, filled with coupons and giveaways to encourage return customers.
What’s next? Like everyone else, Dundalk Renaissance will be attending the Dundalk Heritage Fair later in June and the Heritage Parade on July 4th, thankfully organized by other amazing people, the Heritage Association of Dundalk and the Optimist Club. And Pineda is already busy preparing for Dundalk Renaissance Fall events and talking with prospective businesses and giving tours of spaces in the Town Center. He is also working with current businesses to implement more façade improvements in the commercial district this Summer funded by a State grant.