The Magic Ingredient: A Commitment to Culture

Aside from traditional municipal services like road paving, police protection, and zoning regulation, what makes a place truly a City and not just a random collection of houses and businesses?  One key ingredient to that quality of life we enjoy is a robust set of cultural programs and resources, and indeed that is one of the most important ways that Gaithersburg is special.  It was evident this past week as we dedicated the new Observatory Park to commemorate the historical and scientific significance of the Gaithersburg Latitude Observatory and the connection it created between our City and the city of Mizusawa, Japan.  It was evident again on Monday as our intrepid Multicultural Affairs Committee hosted another public celebration attended by representatives of the Japanese Embassy, where kimono-clad musicians strummed expertly on ancient-looking Japanese instruments while City officials appealed for donations to the Red Cross to help rebuild Japan after the earthquake and tsunami.

And it will be on full display in all its glory come this Saturday, where the cultural component that beats at the heart of a vibrant and lovely City will blossom during the 2nd Annual Gaithersburg Book Festival.  This free all-day event — the brainchild of my friend and colleague Jud Ashman — brings together a stunning array of highly accomplished national and local authors,  all converging on the grounds of Gaithersburg City Hall to share with us their insights and to celebrate literary excellence.

There will be something for everyone — book-signings, children’s activities, poetry readings, college essay writing workshops — and every genre imaginable will be represented, from histories to mysteries, romances, business how-to books, and much much more.  I strongly encourage  you to bring your family and friends to join in this festival of all things literary, a true crown jewel in our impressive collection of artistic and cultural events provided, supported, or co-sponsored by the City throughout the year.  Is it any wonder Money Magazine/CNN named Gaithersburg one of the 25 Best Places to Live in America?

The Book Festival is rapidly becoming a premier event in the region, as reflected in the fact that C-SPAN will be broadcasting it live all day.   After you’ve returned from the Festival on Saturday and are still awestruck by how wonderful it was, check out our long list of other terrific cultural events and programs in the City of Gaithersburg.  There are several free summer concerts, Shakespeare in the Park, art gallery receptions at the Kentlands Mansion and the Arts Barn, plays at the Arts Barn,  signature events like Celebrate Gaithersburg, Oktoberfest, the Labor Day Parade, Independence Day fireworks, recreation classes for children and adults, regular receptions to honor various ethnic and geographic heritages, and so much more.  We also team up regularly with schools, business groups, and other organizations to provide even more special programming.  You can learn more at the City’s website.

As a City Council member, I have consistently supported artistic and cultural programming and sought creative ways to preserve such a critical element of our quality of life even when budgets are tight.  The free outdoor movie nights that have become a staple of our summer programming were my idea.  I am a frequent audience member at performances throughout the city, and I am proud to say that my wife Rachael was a featured artist at an Arts Barn gallery showing.  With your support, I will keep working to protect and expand the tremendous cultural opportunities that make Gaithersburg what it is — a wonderful place to work, live, play, and raise a family.

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