82, yes, 82 #HoCoEvents are listed this weekend alone!

This is a record-breaker for us, and may it portend a trend that will only grow. Eighty-two, yes, 82 #HoCoEvents are listed for this weekend alone.

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 4.21.42 PM.pngYou, me, I, we and us* live in a place with a lot going on, though for me it has not always been that easy to find out what’s happening locally. That’s why I’ve put together TotallyHoco.com, an online calendar. There you can find many local events (many of which are free, to boot). Also, I think the calendar helps people have a sense of where they live, which can, I hope, engender even more appreciation for this great community where you, I and us live. You did see the Happiest Places in America results, right?

So, I encourage you to check out the TotallyHoCo calendar this week! From farmers markets, to local theater, to free outdoor bootcamps, to beer tastings and art shows, there is so much happening locally.

silk road stories - columbia festival of the artsTake note, too, of the upcoming Columbia Festival of the Arts’ schedule. There’s new leadership and a new vibe with the festival. So, so much more is happening in the local arts scene in the past couple-few years. This summer’s festival is themed Stories from the Silk Road. There’s some world-class, top-notch talent coming through. For example, check out this promotional video of Mystic India! Get your tickets now!

Weekend in the Woods - Columbia Festival of the ArtsIf simple and easy, free and relaxed is more your style, check out the Howard County Rec and Parks’ FREE Sunset Serenades at Centennial Park. And tune in the Rec-n-Park’s Traveling Bands concerts, too! The FREE Weekend in the Woods event is  another one of the many Columbia Festival of the Arts events you can enjoy.

Looking to get into better shape? There’s a huge free family wellness day this Saturday at Centennial Park. And check out the free boot camp each Saturday morning.

Well, I could go on, but you get the picture …

See you around!

Jessie Newburn

PS — Big thanks to the team at Beth Allen Enterprises, a local accounting and admin support company, for helping out with event approval and communications. Each and every event is manually approved to ensure that it is indeed a #HoCoEvent. Beth is also seeking a 30 hours/week administrative assistant to work during school hours at her local office.

PPS — Here’s how you can help the calendar be even better, if you feel so inclined–

  1. Encourage friends and neighbors to sign up for the TotallyHoco weekly updates.
  2. Follow TotallyHoCo on Twitter.
  3. Post events! It’s free, easy and DIY to post!
  4. Write reviews. Give some love to local venues and groups. Write reviews on FB, Google Places, Yelp and more.
  5. And when you engage on social media, add local hashtags, e.g. #HoCoEvents, #HoCoArts, #HoCoFood, #HoCoFitness … you get the drift.

It takes a village and then some: HoCoBlogs and TotallyHoCo

Earlier this afternoon, I was looking for something online and — BAM! There was a picture of me. Wow! That was an unexpected find. It was an article that will be published in the May Howard MagazineIt’s titled, Meet the woman behind Howard County’s thriving online community, and it’s about the robust ‪#‎HoCoMd‬ social media scene.

With any accolade or recognition, there is always the story behind the story. The short version is this: a community website is an ecosystem with many players. In my case, hundreds. I can’t thank everyone but I can say this:

Shout outs aplenty to Robin Abello for his help and support with Hocoblogs these many years, for being the quiet behind-the-scenes person who made our technology work.

Shout outs, too, to Bradley Roulston, my stalwart, steady and dedicated support at http://time.ly/. (Get a time.ly calendar, loves, for your biz, org, church, group, etc. Time.ly is the best!)

And thanks to the many bloggers– past, present and future; the many blog readers and commenters; and the many HoCo social media enthusiasts who participate in our thriving online (and IRL) community. Most importantly, big thanks to Cherie Beck, whom in 2006 sat me down at her kitchen table and said, “we can do this; we can figure this blogging thing out;” and for her continued behind-the-scenes support to hold the vision of what was possible.

jessie newburn howard county blogs hocoblogs

Jessie Newburn. Photo credit: Nate Pesce / Baltimore Sun Media Group

Many thanks to Scott Ewart, Summer Romack, Jinal Contractor, Julie Brown, Rida Allen, Sana Waheed, Annie Rie, Duane StClair, Elizabeth Brunetti and everyone else who has helped HoCoBlogs behind the scenes and helped promote the parties.

Thanks to The White Oak Tavern, Secolari Artisan Oils and VinegarsWaxuality, Second Chance Saloon, Nalley Fresh Columbia, Nottingham’s,Stanford Grill, Petit Louis Bistro – Columbia, Seasons 52, Still Life Gallery Fine Art & Custom Framing, Alexandra’s American Fusion, Union Jack’s of Columbia, Rams Head Tavern Savage Mill, Pure Wine Cafe and more for hosting our many parties.

REMEMBER TO USE YOUR ‪#‎HoCoHashtags‬! Use them well and wisely without being spammy. http://ow.ly/4nsTha

noodles and company, columbia mall, party

#HoCoFood Sunday Social at Noodles & Co in The Mall in Columbia

Calling all #HoCoFood lovers!

Help us spread the word about Howard County’s newest Noodles & Company — coming to the food court at The Mall in Columbia (opening April 25th).

We are inviting #HoCoFood bloggers and social media enthusiasts to try us out before we we open, with an invitation-only SNEAK PREVIEW Sunday Social on SUNDAY, APRIL 24TH featuring FREE lunch (includes any entrée and a drink). Check out our globally-inspired menu at http://www.noodles.com to start thinking about what sounds good.

Families and #futurefoodies welcome! RSVP is required (See link below.EVENT CODE: HoCoFood) and only a limited number of spots are available. For faster check-in, please make sure to bring your registration confirmation when you attend.

Guests are encouraged to share their #HoCoFood comments and photos with @noodlescompany on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or post a review to Yelp, Google, and http://www.noodlescustform.com

See you soon and thank you for helping us welcome our newest restaurant to Howard County!

Register here – You MUST RSVP!

And for the love of all that is respectful to business owners, SHOW UP if you RSVP! Taking a spot that someone else could use (and enjoy!) is not, imo, the best cause for creating an effect. 🙂


PS – Check out TotallyHoCo.com for hundreds of upcoming local events. And add your own local events, too! It’s free, easy and DIY to post events.

PPS – Know any other restaurants that would like to host a hocoblogs party for hoco bloggers, readers and social media enthusiasts? Contact jessie@hocoblogs.com for details.

See you Sunday!

Welcome, new bloggers

Welcome, new bloggers

April showers have brought May showers! When you can’t make it outside due to the weather, curl up with these new blogs.


Totally HoCo Events

Want to see what’s going on in Howard County, rain or shine? Have an event you’d like to promote? Visit TotallyHoco.com. If you’d like to be informed regularly about other local events, sign up for the weekly update.

Welcome, new bloggers

Welcome, new bloggers

The calendar says April and the weather is gloriously unpredictable!  Welcome spring by checking out these new blogs. And check out the volunteer opportunity below.


Volunteer needed!

Have about 4 hours to spare? HoCoBlogs needs some help for a one-off project that involves collecting and renaming about 30 photos of local politicians for the website http://scottetech.com/hocopolitics/. If you are interested, contact jessie@hocoblogs.com.

Tix to the show – 10 available

Hello! Join me and ten others as a free guest of the upcoming Columbia Festival of the Arts spring season show, Dos Por Uno. Get one ticket and see two bands on Saturday, April 16th: Las Cafeteras and La Santa Cecilia. Both of these bands are sell-outs across the country. Plus, not only do you get two shows for one ticket, but Whole Foods will be providing some food at the intermission. Come listen, come mingle and come enjoy some high-calibre entertainment locally in your home zone. You might even find yourself dancing spontaneously.

wendy columbia festival of the artsHere’s how to get your free CFA Dos-Por-Uno ticket —

  1. Write a short blog post or a lengthy Facebook post about the upcoming concert and/or the Columbia Festival of the Arts spring shows.
  2. Include at least one photo with your post.
  3. Include at least one link to the CFA website
  4. For Facebook posts, 1) tag CFA and 2) send a screen shot of your post.
  5. Send a link to your blog post to robert@columbiafestival.com  with a cc to jessie@hocoblogs.com.
  6. Do all this before April 12th.

Tickets will be held at will call. One ticket per person. But feel free to encourage a spouse, SO, friend or family member to do their own social media promotion and receive their own ticket.

Interested in buying tickets to this or other events, as a member of the HoCoBlogs and TotallyHoCo network, you can use totallyhoco as a promo code to get 20 percent off your ticket price.

Remember: The next hocoblogs party is at HorseSpirit Arts Gallery on April 15th. RSVPs appreciated.

And check out TotallyHoCo for local events. New events are added almost daily. Speaking of which, YOU can add events. Yes, you. It’s free, easy and DIY to add events to the calendar. Have you signed up to get our weekly update of local events?

Hope to see you April 15th and/or April 16th!


PS – Wendy Scherer, you’re already in! A ticket awaits you (at will call, that is.)




Letter to the Editor – Much candor and perspective found on local blogs


A portion of my letter to the editor regarding the uptick in blogger activity re the BOE and sup was published in the Howard County Times.  I’m publishing the full letter here. The lopped off part is italicized. Notice, if you will, the institutional fear of directing their readers to another source of information.

I’ve managed HoCoBlogs.com, a Howard County bloggers website, for over eight years now. Frankly, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen as much activity and conversation on a topic as I’ve seen on the current issues surrounding the Board of Education (BOE), the upcoming elections and the current superintendent.

Traditional media publications and journalists provide researched, balanced and vetted information. Blogs, typically, do not; instead, they provide personal perspective on a platform that allows for the individual blogger’s voice and thoughts to be expressed. And they provide a comments section where anyone in the community can participate in the conversation, if they so choose.

With the current frustration and conversation surrounding the BOE, bloggers are taking on civic journalism roles such as interviewing school board candidates on podcasts, developing matrices tracking candidates’ social media activity, reviewing candidates’ history and policies, discussing the issues at hand in length, and, in some cases, providing endorsements. There are also plans for a blogger-run BOE candidates forum to be held before the general election.

If the upcoming BOE election (or other local matters) has your interest, I encourage you to check out the vibrant conversation HoCoBlogs.com.

And please remember to use, and follow, #HoCoBOE on Twitter and in other social media tools.


Jessie Newburn

Oakland Mills