Helen Xia, CHS Student Writer
As autumn arrived with lowering temperatures, beautiful crisp weather beckoned our visits to the numerous festivals held amid this breezy season! Thurmont’s Catoctin Colorfest, Sabillasville’s Mountain Fest, Rocky Ridge’s Ridgefest, Fort Ritchie’s Fall Fest, and Catoctin Furnace’s Fallfest, are only a handful of the invigorating events that filled our festival schedule in October.
This year for Colorfest, while I was excited about the lemonade, the crafts, and everything in between, I was anticipating something more: the people. To say there were a lot of people would be an understatement. It is estimated that about 100,000 people attend Colorfest each year, with over 100 vendors in the official Colorfest area alone.
Usually, I would be so eager to eat the delicious food and examine the vendors’ products that I would forget the memorable souls behind those goods. I’m proud to announce that this year marks the end of that era. I felt more fulfilled this year than in all of my past years of Colorfest after insightful conversations with the sellers. Of course, that doesn’t mean I didn’t thoroughly enjoy the artists’ creations and the enticing food stands! After strolling around the buzzing official Colorfest area in the Thurmont Community Park, I ate my annual Italian sausage, gleefully. (It’s a tradition: Colorfest Italian sausages are a must in my book.)
The people at Colorfest were lovely. As a student member of the Thurmont LEO Club, I’ve volunteered for the Lions Club booth for two years now, and it was outstanding to experience what we students are capable of contributing. I was always told that by volunteering, we are forwarding the Lions Club’s mission, which is to serve communities and the world. Despite this, this year is the first year I’ve believed it. Just inside the booth, I listened as Lions discussed donations for organizations such as Second Chances Garage, a local charity dedicated to providing affordable transportation to those in need. They have awarded nearly 300 vehicles to families in Frederick County. Wow, I thought to myself, it feels like we are a part of something much bigger than ourselves. It was a great thought to have, and I’ve found that I often crave that feeling after experiencing it: the yearning to do my part for my community.
Not only were the Lions commendable, but the beautiful inclination to be a part of something greater was rampant in other student volunteers in the Lions Club stand, too. I certainly wasn’t alone!
“I volunteer to help people in the community and to get experience in hard labor,” explained fellow LEO Club member and Catoctin High School student Jonathan Guldan.
Another admirable student, Danielle Remsburg, shared similar sentiments: community service, while beneficial for high school, is also an opportunity to have fun and better the community.
Being a leader, I’ve learned, doesn’t always mean changing the world, but rather changing your world. I encourage you to change something for the better in your world today. It could be something as simple as celebrating a loved one’s birthday or leaving a generous tip for your server. That’s enough to brighten somebody’s day, which is enough to become somebody’s hero. Consider being a hero for your community.
Communities, from what I’ve observed, seem to influence much of what we do. For instance, Laurie Hessong of LunaSea Creations—a vendor at Colorfest who specializes in unique decorative pieces—described her favorite aspects of participating in the two-day festival: spending time with her daughter, learning about so many new people, and sharing what she loves to do with the world. Other artists conveyed comparable perspectives. Specifically, they mentioned how it’s a joy to share what they’re passionate about with the rest of the community. It was thrilling to ponder the power the fleeting festival holds. Like a magnet, it draws people in and vitalizes our social circles.
Sabillasville offered its 46th Mountain Fest and Car Show on October 8 and 9. Hosted by Sabillasville Environmental School’s Parent Teacher Organization, the Mountain Fest and the Car Show attracted hundreds of visitors with over 20 vendors, book fairs, carnival games, and more. The event was a fantastic opportunity for some family fun and to support local businesses and the new Sabillasville Environmental School. Plus, the parking was free! I’ve been to car shows in the past, and even eight-year-old me was fascinated by vintage automobiles. They are “timeless.”
In Rocky Ridge, the Willing Workers sponsored Ridgefest on the weekend of October 8 and 9. Ridgefest celebrates the traditions in the Mount Tabor Church Park, the park is also known as “the home of the big wooden slide.” The apple butter boiling, home-cooked food (such as breakfast bowls and pie), set our mouths to watering, and multiple vendors displayed their wares for all to enjoy.
Fort Ritchie arranged its second annual Fall Fest on October 14 through October 16. This festival had numerous attractions, including a Farmers Market, beer and wine vendors, hayrides, a pumpkin patch, family games, and even an arm-wrestling contest. On the 15th and 16th, over 60 fall craft bazaar vendors flourished in the Fort Ritchie Community Center. There was no shortage of handmade creations, perfect holiday gifts, home decorations, children’s toys, and more!
Violet Baldwin of Baldwin’s Gallery is a local artist representative/broker who participated in Fort Ritchie’s Fall Fest. She participates in many festivals to market her artists.
“There are several aspects to my business,” Baldwin commented, “craft shows are one aspect.”
You may have seen her at the Emmitsburg Heritage Days, an annual festival in Emmitsburg at the end of June. After the festival season comes to a close, you’ll see Baldwin set up at a weekly market booth located in Gettysburg. This allows her business to “go from inconsistent to consistent” from the outdoor weather-impacted space to the indoor space. She described her close bond with her broker enterprise, which she has worked on diligently for ten years, as a “happy marriage.” “I’ve always been a salesman. It’s my ‘drug of choice’ – sales! It’s in my nature and helps artisans.”
Another artist present at Fort Ritchie’s Fall Fest, Jeanne Harshman, has done various shows and holds an open house at her studio in Wolfsville to display her artworks. Previously, she was also a vendor at the Thurmont Art & Wine Stroll. Her brothers and nephews bring her feathers to use in her intricate paintings.
In the town of Thurmont, the Catoctin Furnace hosted Fall Fest on October 7 and 8. This Fall Fest offered traditional apple butter boiling in a copper kettle over an open fire and blacksmithing demonstrations, all for free. Plus, you could tour the museum of the Ironworker and other historic buildings.
Perhaps under the smell of candles, baked goods, and smoky meats, something else lingers in the air: the invaluable sense of community, connection, and belonging. It’s apparent we love our festivals. With so many celebrations, it’s difficult to not look forward to the rest of the year!
Aaron Bittner and his father, Jim Bittner, show their Model A Ford at the Sabillasville Mountain Fest Car Show, held annually on the grounds of the Sabillasville Environmental School.
Jeanine Harshman with Middlepoint Studio shows her arts and crafts at the Fort Ritchie Community Center’s Fall Craft Show. Photos by Deb Abraham Spalding