When the calendar turned to January, I sat and thought about the things I thought would happen in 2020. One of those things I thought would happen is experiencing my first Dundalk Heritage Fair.

This year would have been the 44th Annual Dundalk Heritage Fair. This is an event that survived some horrendous natural disasters, the kind that humans can’t control. It recently survived a severe thunderstorm. It has forged ahead through tragedies and the elements.

The Dundalk Heritage Association suffered its own tragedy, the sudden and unexpected passing of beloved president Joe Falbo, but still had plans to move forward with this year’s heritage fair. That was, until the pandemic made its way to Dundalk.

The Dundalk Heritage Association waited until it couldn’t wait any longer to announce a decision on the fair. The announcement came just over a month before the fair was to actually take place. Traditionally taking place on the weekend before July 4, the fair would have fallen on a July 4 weekend with Independence Day smackdab in the middle. It was the perfect weekend.

COVID-19 seemed determined to end the heritage fair’s 43-year streak. No rides. No aroma of carnival food filling the air. No concerts. No tributes to the memory of Joe Falbo. The coronavirus seemed determined to put everything on hold this year.

We at the Eagle felt it would be a disservice to not attempt to do SOMETHING this year in place of a traditional heritage fair. This event has too much history, with too many great people who have been involved, and means too much to the community to not give Dundalk an alternative. We did not want to leave Dundalk with nothing this Fourth of July.

In partnership with the Dundalk Heritage Association, and with the help of some very talented people who work behind the scenes at APG Chesapeake, we are presenting the first, and hopefully only, Dundalk Virtual Heritage Fair. We mean it when we say we hope this is the only time. While we can say we are offering an alternative, we know deep down that nothing could ever replace the Dundalk Heritage Fair.

This project has several moving parts, and we have many people we would like to thank. First and foremost, we would like to thank our readers who submitted photos from past years to us. This was a vital part. Not only did all of you help us put this together, but you let us know that there is community interest. We wouldn’t be able to do anything if it wasn’t for our readers. Thank you.

We would like to thank Eric Davis and Mark Krysiack, the president and vice president of the Dundalk Heritage Association, respectively. We worked closely alongside these two men throughout this entire process, from start to finish. We would not have been able to make this happen without their blessing or their help in planning and executing this.

We have asked prominent members of our community, such as our elected officials, members of the Dundalk Renaissance Corporation and other community representatives to submit videos of themselves sharing their favorite heritage fair memories. We know it wasn’t easy to pick just one. The Dundalk Heritage Fair is embedded in the fabric of this community. Many special memories are made each and every year.

We wish to thank Tradepoint Atlantic for sponsoring the 2020 Dundalk Virtual Heritage Fair. We are grateful for their generous contribution that allowed APG Chesapeake to produce this digital product for the Dundalk Community.

Our hope is that this virtual fair runs smoothly. We don’t mean to make excuses before the fair begins, but this is the first time any of us have tried something like this. This pandemic has forced people to adapt and find creative ways to enjoy life despite the fact a deadly virus that you can’t see is running free around the globe. Our state has made great strides in combating this coronavirus, but many hurdles still remain.

We are eagerly anticipating this running without any glitches. Humans remain at the mercy of technology, but we have good people working behind the scenes. I am confident everything will go smoothly.

We ask you to go to our website, www.virtualheritagefair.com, and take a look around. Go to the main stage to watch the bands perform. These are bands that normally perform at the Dundalk Heritage Fair. We brought in some old favorites for you to enjoy.

Did you miss a band’s performance that you really wanted to see? You can catch the replay. You can also take a look at the photo carousel we have made, consisting of the photos all of you sent in to us. Our virtual fair will end with a video of a fireworks display. Fireworks in Dundalk are canceled this year, so we wanted to give you a fireworks display.

This year has been rough on everyone. The little things we take for granted have been taken away from us. We have had to find virtual ways to adapt to do the things we once did without a worry or concern. The virus is still very much a threat, and our nation is suffering through yet another bout of racial tension. As if this couldn’t already be bad enough, this is all happening during an election year.

We hope the Dundalk VIrtual Heritage Fair helps take your mind off the stresses this world has to offer, even if only for a few hours. We hope you can spend this weekend looking back on your own favorite memories while you watch the performances. We hope the worries all melt away.

Above all else, we hope everyone has a safe and happy Independence Day. It is not recommended to physically come together and celebrate this weekend, but let us all be united in knowing that despite a pandemic, we can enjoy the basic freedoms we are guaranteed in this nation.

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” – Nelson Mandela

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