BERLIN — Peaches, baseball and open air painting have Berlin gearing up for an All-American summer weekend.
Stretching from Friday through Sunday, the town of Berlin will be hosting a marathon of four events: the 3rd Annual Peach Festival, a sidewalk sale, a “Paint Berlin” plein air painting contest and the first ever Berlin All-Stars Little League Championship Parade.
The parade, which will begin at 11 a.m. Sunday on Tripoli St, is meant to celebrate the 9-10-year-old Berlin All-Star team’s first-ever state championship. And, though they fell to New York in the finals for the Mid-Atlantic title last Friday, the town is still incredibly proud of the players and their season.
“It was a precedent setting season for Berlin Little League,” said Mayor Gee Williams. “They certainly set the bar high.”
Williams pointed out that the team was successful “right to the final game” and that, even though it lost, the players did so with integrity and sportsmanship. According to the mayor, that attitude spanned the entire season.
“When they won, they won with humility … when they lost, they lost with dignity,” said Williams. “They showed a lot of character.”
In recognition of that, and the Maryland state title, something Berlin Little League has never accomplished before, the parade will weave through Berlin, culminating in an award ceremony in front of the Calvin B. Taylor House Museum on North Main St. where all players will be acknowledged before family, friends and fans.
Though the season is over for now, Williams was confident that this year’s team and the others that make up the Little League will remain competitive and could make a splash at the state and regional level again in the future.
At noon on Sunday, the 3rd Annual Berlin Peach Festival will kick off where the parade left off. Lasting until 6 p.m., the festival will include contests, activities and exhibits, including information on peaches and their history on the Eastern Shore.
After the festival, Peter’s Voice, a Salisbury-based band with ties to folk, rock, swing and traditional choir music, will hold a concert on the lawn of the museum.
Besides those two one-day events, there will be additional special events that run Friday through Sunday.
The Worcester County Arts Council will be hosting Paint Berlin, a plein air (open air) painting contest where artists will work outside within the Berlin’s Historic District. After painting Friday and Saturday, art will be placed on display Sunday in front of the Atlantic Hotel where much of it will be available for sale.
Paintings will be judged by Ernest Satchell, a retired University of Maryland Eastern Shore Fine Art professor. Prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place finishers as well as a “People’s Choice” category.
The fourth and final event will be the town’s traditional “Sidewalk Sale.” Also lasting the entire weekend, the sale will give local businesses an opportunity to display their wares and conduct business outside. According to Economic Development Director Mike Day, the sale has been part of Berlin for decades.
“It’s been a long time,” he said.
Due to the size of the sale, sections of Main St. will be closed Friday and Saturday, though only Commerce St will be closed Sunday. Hours for the sale are 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday and noon-4 p.m. on Sunday.
Originally, the sidewalk sale was just another way to pass a Sunday. However, the event has grown to become an attraction in its own right. Combined with the parade, festival, and Paint Berlin, the sale marks what town officials are calling one of the busiest weekends in Berlin all year.
“It’s absolutely the busiest Sunday of the season,” said Day.
Williams highlighted that, even though there will be a lot happening this weekend, none of the events should trip any of the others up.
“Everything compliments each other,” he said.
Williams added that, between the four events, every demographic from young to old will have activities catered to them.
“It brings out all different age groups … It’s sort of a mix of old and new here,” said Williams. “This is the last summer celebration before the fall activities.”
Both Williams and Day are predicting big crowds for the weekend, despite the fact that there will be the custom car show at the Ocean City Convention Center on Saturday and the conclusion of the White Marlin Open. Day doesn’t expect to have to fight Ocean City for business.
“We never worry about what’s going on in Ocean City,” said Day, saying that the two communities always work with each other to encourage consumer crossover.
Day stressed that Berlin would neither want nor be able to handle the massive number of people the neighboring beachside resort brought in every summer. However, he did say that “spillover” from Ocean City, that is, visitors looking to escape the hustle and bustle for a quieter, more laid back area like Berlin, is always welcome.
“Somebody [from Ocean City] always stumbles in here and discovers us,” said Day.
The crowds that will likely roam Berlin this weekend are indicative of a recent trend of growth, according to Williams.
Only within the last decade or so, said Williams, has the town picked up and begun attracting business and visitors at the rate it is today. He remarked that Berlin used to all but shut down during certain periods over the year. Now, though, Williams asserted that the town has become relevant on a perennial basis.
“It’s Berlin’s season now,” he joked, explaining that the town engages locals and visitors beginning in the spring all the way through its Victorian Christmas celebrations. And with the addition of a New Year’s Eve ball drop last winter, the season expanded another week.
Williams attributed the “evolution” of Berlin to town employees, residents, volunteers and community organizations.
“It’s everybody,” he said. “Berlin shows what happens when people work together.”