James Rada, Jr.
Catoctin Colorfest returned this year after having been canceled last year because of the pandemic. This year’s festival on October 9-10 brought tens of thousands of people to crowd the streets and parks in Thurmont as they shopped for unique crafts and enjoyed their favorite festival foods.
One Chinese food vendor brought 500 lbs. of chicken to use for their offerings, and it was gone by the end of the weekend. The Thurmont Ambulance Company sold 11,000 of their popular apple dumplings. Many visitors could be seen pulling camp wagons filled with items they had purchased at the show.
“It was quite successful this year,” said Colorfest President Carol Robertson. “A lot of vendors told me that Saturday was their single best day since they had been working Colorfest.”
The weather on Saturday was pleasant, which encouraged plenty of shoppers to venture out and begin their Christmas shopping early. Visitors came from all along the East Coast, and one vendor even came from California.
“Saturday was a really good day,” said Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird. “It was easily 40-50,000 people in town.”
Sunday’s weather, however, was damp and threatening rain most of the day. This lessened the number of festival visitors, particularly in the afternoon.
There were no reported problems caused by COVID. People who were worried about it stayed home. Some visitors wore masks, and Colorfest, Inc. made sure hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, and disposable face masks were available at information booths in Community Park.
Despite this, there were fewer vendors across all categories, according to the number of permits sold by the Town of Thurmont. In 2019, 720 permits were issued compared to 615 this year, and revenue from the permit fees was about $9,000 less, according to Kinnaird. Permit fees are used to pay for the shuttle buses, porta potties, and extra security needed for the festival.
The biggest drop in vendors was in the craft category. Compared to 2019, 89 fewer permits were issued. There appear to be a number of different reasons for this, depending on the vendor: family issues, retirement, unable to hire people to man a booth, and fear of COVID, to name a few.
Work has already started for Colorfest 2022, and Robertson received her first application for the event on October 14.
“I’m already getting calls from new vendors who want to be a part of next year’s Colorfest,” Robertson said.
While the festival takes over all of Thurmont during the second weekend in October, the actual Colorfest Craft Show is in Community Park, where hundreds of regional artists must be juried to have a spot. It is a popular show with artists and has been ranked in the top 35 arts and crafts shows in the country, according to the trade publication, Sunshine Artists Magazine.
Overall, Kinnaird said things went very well for the weekend and there were no glitches.
“On Monday, after the street sweepers went by, you wouldn’t have even known we had just had Colorfest, except for a couple of tents that were still up,” he said.
The 58th Annual Catoctin Colorfest will be held October 8-9, 2022.
A Colorfest shopper looks at colorful wooden flowers at the D&M Wooden Flowers booth in the official Colorfest, Inc. vending area in Thurmont Community Park. D&M vendors, Dee and Mike Miller, are long-time Colorfest vendors from Michigan.
Photo by Francis A. Tortoro, Jr.