Spread the word, get free tickets!

CFA-Winter-Festival-Ad-v1-1024x1024 (1)Have you tuned it? Have you paid attention? There’s a whole new vibe happening with the Columbia Festival of the Arts? Programs and events are now offered seasonally, each and all with a theme. The type of events offered has expanded. And ticket prices are available in a wider range (with a lot more tickets at the lower end).

HoCoBlogs and TotallyHoCo have partnered with the Columbia Festival of the Arts to provide bloggers and social media enthusiasts an opportunity to earn free tickets (up to four total) in exchange for your good work in sharing news of the CFA “Winter Beyond the Blues” season.

How to get free tickets

Take a look, below, to see the activities that will garner you a ticket. You can promote the festival as a whole, a specific event … you pick. Just make sure to include images and links … and hashtags if you have room. Then, once you’ve done your promotional activities, fill out this form and get ready to enjoy some local art and culture.

Here’s preview of the actions you can take to earn tickets.

Each checkbox is worth one ticket.

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Bonus points (not literally, but figuratively) for using local hashtags such as #HoCoEvents, #HoCoArts, #HoCoMusic, #HoCoDrama, #HoCoFilm and more!

Enjoy! And see you around town!


Who and What? Can you help build this list?

The @HoCoBlogs Twitter account, in operation for six years, has been, in my opinion, one of the best sources for local news. Why? It’s agnostic. The account retweets Dems and Republicans, the Columbia Flier and The Columbia Patch (when they were around), many businesses’ news, all sorts of events, restaurant news and specials, sports scores, blogger posts and much, much more.

About a half year ago, a volunteer took over the account management, but she is transitioning out of this role and it’s time to get another person to manage @hocoblogs. (It’s mostly retweets of local news … pretty easy and simple!)

During this time of transition, it’d be awesome to get a slew of highly local auto-retweets going. The only easy way we’ve found to do this is to associate a specific Twitter account with a specific hashtag using an IFTT recipe.

So how can you help?

Do you have recommendations of specific accounts that have a tendency to use specific local hashtags? If so, add them to this growing list and spreadsheet. You’ll notice the accounts are loosely organized by category, e.g. elected officials, organizations, bloggers, arts and culture, food and drink.

Is your favorite restaurant listed?

Is your local council member listed?

Is the organization where you volunteer listed?

You may have a quick suggestion. You may want to delve in for 30 minutes, an hour or more and add some suggestions. Your help is greatly appreciated. Make sure the account you suggest actually uses the hashtag you suggest… with some degree of frequency.


We also need someone to help set up the IFTT recipes. They’re pretty quick to do, but there are quite a few recipes to add. This is probably about a four-hour job. A great way to help your local community be that much more awesome! (PM meScreen Shot 2016-01-12 at 7.05.02 PM if you want to help!)

Please note: the tweets will ONLY auto-retweet if the account user includes the specific hashtag on the spreadsheet, so part of this research project to get more auto-RTs set up is to locate and find which orgs, people, biz and others are using hashtags. Can you help with this research and making recommendations?

Better yet, maybe it’s time to nudge some people to start using these local #hocohashtags more.

Please note #2: Hashtag abusers will be banned from the auto-RTs … and manual RTs, for what it’s worth. People who tweet, e.g. “Good morning, #HoCoMd” or who add in local hashtags to non-local info (with the intent of using the hashtags to their advantage … rather than understanding that the value in hashtags is first to the content consumer) with will also be banned. Warned first. Banned shortly thereafter if they don’t adapt. Hashtags are ultimately for helping people find information; not for orgs/businesses to spam into a community space.


New Community & Political Bloggers

As I personally prepare to wind down my involvement in HoCoBlogs and the lovely network and ecosystem of bloggers, readers, technology, hashtags and more, I’m happier than ever to a flush of new local bloggers.

While there are many other new bloggers in the food, personal, company categories, and more, I’d like to highlight new bloggers who are (I believe) in their first six months or so of blogging. I encourage you to check them out and to write an encouraging comment or two on their sites.


And then some been-around-awhile-but-updated blogs —


If you’re interested in supporting the healthy (and growing) ecosystem of HoCoBlogs and the social media energy in our community, there are many volunteer projects that can be as simple as 20 minutes twice a week to projects that take about 10 hours a month. Let’s talk! ~ Jessie, 443-794-7521, jessie@hocoblogs.com.

Local events newsletter, FIRE!!! and a party

Find out what’s happening in town!

Sign up today to receive an email highlighting upcoming HoCo events found on TotallyHoCo.com. I could really use your help to get other local people signed up for this email too. The URL to share with friends who may also wish to sign up is http://eepurl.com/bunnS9. And remember, anyone can post their Howard County events for FREE on the calendar.


The Hoco Fire Dept is having a blogger event on Monday, Aug 11th. 9 am – 12 noon. Food included.


Join the HoCo Bloggers and their readers for food, drinks, great conversation and tail wagging’ fun! We’ll be partying at Pub Dog and sponsored by Club Pooche. As always, bloggers and their readers are invited to attend this free event. Drink tickets and pizza will be available to attendees.


Pub Dog Pizza & Drafthouse opened in 2001 on Cross St. in the historic neighborhood of Federal Hill in Baltimore. It immediately became a hit with neighborhood residents, suburbanites, and tourists alike.

Pub Dog quickly became famous as Baltimore’s original gourmet pizza place. For more than a decade, Pub Dog in Federal Hill has served the city with our personal-sized thin-crust pizzas, fresh salads, and “Dog Deal” beers – 2 mugs of our own house craft beer for one low price all the time.

Pub Dog expanded outside of the city in 2007, opening a location in Columbia and has been serving up our gourmet pizzas and hand-crafted 2-for-$4.50 house draft beers ever since.

See you soon!

Your hosts,

Vince Sharps of Sir Speedy BWI and Scott Ewart of ScottE Software Development

Host and Sponsor Links

Visit Pub Dog – Columbia website at: http://www.pubdog.com/

Visit Club Pooche website at: http://www.clubpooche.com/

Visit Sir Speedy BWI – Printing / Signage / Marketing – Columbia & Baltimore website at: http://www.sirspeedy.com/columbiamd750/

Visit ScottE Software Development at http://www.scottesoftware.com/

TotallyHoCo.com — Howard County’s most comprehensive events calendar

HoCoBlogs.com — Find out who’s saying what locally.

PS – Noticing that the blog parties are hosted by other people than the regular host of late? If you have a venue in mind, a hankering to host and are willing to set up the event and help promote it, TotallyHoco and HoCoBlogs can get behind it and help promote the party to local bloggers and past party attendees. Holler: jessienewburn@gmail.com, 443-794-7521.

The HoCo Fire Dept is hosting a special blogger event! (And other hoco parties!)

HCDFRS is fired up and ready to meet you!

This should be fun … and certainly interesting! The Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) will be hosting a special blogger event to meet the Fire Chief and the Public Information team, and to get a hands-on tour of their special operations pods that contain many tools of the trade that are used during hazmat response and other technical rescues. But, first, they need to know when the best time is to host the event. Kindly fill out this super-short form and let them know. A formal invite will follow to those that sign up on the interest form with additional details.

The event will take place in late July, so please take a moment now to complete the form.

And remember …

Cirque du Umbrella – July 3rd, Centennial Park

Will you be in town for the July 4th weekend? A local networking powerhouse, The Umbrella Syndicate, is hosting a fun, outdoor party at Centennial Park called Cirque du Umbrella. Make sure to register and use the promo code TUSdiscount100 to get your FREE ticket.

Absolute Entertainment is providing the music/DJ, Mission BBQ is catering the event, La Cakerie is providing the desserts, Emperor’s Vodka is providing vodka, Linganore Winecellars is providing wine samples, Human Spirit Foto Booths is providing the photo booth, Screen Designs will be printing T-Shirts featuring sponsors, Fantasy Artz will be providing body painting and balloon artistry, and The Umbrella Syndicate will be providing the photo and social media love. Yelp is the official check in sponsor and will be blasting the event out to over 155,000+ people in the DMV area.

Reach thousands of local people for just $149/year

Does your business serve the HoCo region? Reach thousands of local viewers for only $149/year on TotallyHoco.com, HoCo’s online calendar.

Firm it up!

If you’ve got loose and/or saggy skin, Nerium Firm is a remarkable product for firming up your skin (neck, upper arms, torso, butt, upper legs, you name it). The gal behind HoCoBlogs and TotallyHoCo (me), is a Nerium Brand Partner, loves the products, uses the products and recommends the products! And I’d love your support in terms of sales and/or referrals!

The Colonel seeks thy poetry … and other bits

Colonel Gateway is having a poetry contest

The Great Gateway Poetry Battle. Check it out.

Centre Park Grill party

The Bare Midriff hosts the next HoCoBlogs/TotallyHoCo happy hour at Centre Park Grill on June 23.

Small time. Big help.

HoCoBlogs (me/us/we/it) seeks someone to post the monthly “welcome, new bloggers” post. It’s about 1.5-3 hours of work a month. Email me if interested, e.g. this.

Post*Find*Share Events

TotallyHoco.com, HoCo’s online calendar, is unlike any other we know of. Post, find and share local events there. Reach thousands of local viewers for only $149/year.

Three parties for bloggers and their readers (plus a bonus party)

There are three summer parties coming up for Hoco bloggers and their readers. (Plus a bonus party invite.)

Tonight, June 3

Secolari’s Oil & Vinegar. I can’t say enough good things about this locally owned place! I love artisinal olive oils, vinegars and salts! Yum! (We’ll have lots of tasting opportunities.)

New restaurant – June 23rd

Check out the new Centre Park Grill. The Bare Midriff blogger, Elizabeth Brunetti has been here several times and has set up this party for us. This restaurant and the party is in the location of the old Cafe de Paris off Route 108.

Goodbye, Claire! – July 23rd

Aww, man! Claire of UK Desperate Housewife is heading back to, of all places, the UK. Mickey, Candace, Kris and Claire have organized a goodbye party at locally owned Portalli’s in Historic Ellicott City. Come on by!


… And another party because this one is near and dear to me

Burning Man Friend- and Fund-raiser

My Burning Man camp, More Carrot, is awesome! We gift to others fresh fruits and vegetables in one of the harsher environments on the planet. We’re having a fun and light event on July 25th at Gogo Guru.