Within Reach. If you live in the Baltimore area, or the DC area, Columbia is within reach. It's close enough to the things you need already, your job, the people you know and hang out with. It would be easy to make the move. And now's the time, because a lot is happening in Columbia and it's a really cool place that you want to be a part of.
I think that was the message of the Within Reach festival, put on Saturday byHoward Hughes and the Downtown Partnership. Let's have a party, with great music, and food, and amazing beer, and let's have it right on the Lakefront, in the heart of where everything is happening. Let's reach out, especially to a younger demographic. Let's just get them here and they'll see how awesome it is. They'll see that living in Columbia is a real possibility.
I got there early, because, well, that's just me. Everyone I came in contact with was friendly and helpful. The area was well laid out and everything showed signs of a high level of professional organization. I won my tickets in an online contest sponsored by the Downtown Partnership, and I was thrilled that the VIP beer-tasting privilege was included. Score!
I loved all the beers I tasted. My favorite was the Manor Hill offering. I tasted everything on offer but the Chocolate Stout. (I'm just not a stout fancier.) There's a listing here of which breweries participated, but I'm not sure it's complete, because Heavy Seas was definitely there, but they're not included on the site. The folks working the craft beer tents were chatty and wonderful and I would have been quite happy hanging out there the whole time. Great brand ambassadors. Tasty beer.
People were steadily arriving, including some friends of mine. We had an interesting discussion about the point of the festival--was it really for us or for out of towners? What age group was targeted? I noticed that parents with very young children had come, "the stroller crowd", as my friend dubbed them. It was cool see toddlers dancing to the music. But were they the people the festival organizers were hoping to draw? Did it matter?
Yes, it's true. You get a bunch of hocolocals who are intensely Bubble-conscious at a Saturday festival and we can't merely enjoy the experience. We need to analyze it.
As for the music, I hadn't expected to like it, but I really did. And it was great to hear live music in that space. It livened up all the concrete and 1960's architecture. I felt sorry for the musicians because it was a good deal colder than anyone had expected and that makes it harder to perform. But they were managing quite well.
I had some tacos from Clyde's which were delicious. By that point the sun had come out from behind the clouds and it was actually warming up a little bit. A fair crowd of people was accumulating. I easily could have stayed and bought more tickets for the Beer Garden but I had really used up all my "social event energy" at that point.
A big shout-out to Howard Hughes and the Downtown Partnership for being willing to reach out and invite people in. Sometimes we raise our eyebrows or talk behind our hands when people try something new. What were they thinking? But I'm all for people taking risks and trying something new if it's in aid of growing and nourishing our community's future. That's why I wanted to be there.
That's why I'm glad I went.
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