Currently viewing the tag: "Carol Robertson"

James Rada, Jr.

With its draw of 100,000 visitors annually and the generosity of the Catoctin Colorfest organization, Colorfest has greatly benefitted the Thurmont community. Its cancellation for 2020 will undoubtedly impact those organizations moving forward.

“This has been a difficult decision,” Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird said in the town press release announcing the event’s cancellation. “The commissioners and I fully realize that all of the local non-profit organizations rely on Colorfest as their largest fundraising event each year. However, with this current public health emergency and the unknown impacts that lie ahead, we feel that public health and safety must be our highest priority.”

One way the organizations fundraise is to run a booth during Colorfest. Other organizations earn money through an associated service like offering parking or package check. Then, after the event is over, Catoctin Colorfest not only makes donations to organizations, but it supports community events and scholarships.

Chris Kinnaird with the Guardian Hose Company said, “Yes, we like to make money. We are in a financial crisis like everybody else is, but I think there are a lot of unknowns, and there are too many unknowns for us to decide today or know what is going to happen two, three, four, or five months from now.”

He told the commissioners that the company would have to raise prices on the food they sell at the festival because food prices had risen. The department also didn’t know whether the health department would place additional requirements on food vendors. There was also the question if the event happened, whether attendance would be way down, leaving them with unsold food that would reduce their earnings from the event.

Lowman Keeney with the Thurmont Ambulance Company echoed Kinnaird’s concerns. He expected attendance to drop with social distancing and other restrictions if the event continued.

“We do understand that this is our biggest fundraiser we have, but we too have to look out for the safety and well-being of everyone,” Keeney said.

The Thurmont American Legion earns money during Colorfest by renting 146 vendor spaces on Legion property. Gary Spiegel said the consensus among the post leadership was that if the event was canceled, the vendor fees would either be applied to the 2021 event or refunded.

However, he said that although the town needed to make a decision early enough to receive bids for the buses, sanitation, and police protection it provides for the event, “We are five months out, and I don’t think we need to say yes or no right now.”

Connie Masser with Deerfield United Methodist Church, which earns money from offering parking during Colorfest, told the commissioners during their meeting about Colorfest that there were people on either side of the issue. Some were scared about spreading the disease and others wondered how the lost income would be made up since just about every event has been canceled. She said the church would support whatever decision was made.

Catoctin Colorfest President Carol Robertson said that although some Catoctin High seniors had submitted scholarship applications, none will be awarded this year because of the lack of funds. However, Catoctin Colorfest will still purchase an FFA pig from their annual sale. This is usually done at the annual Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show, but that event was also canceled. The pig is then resold with the proceeds being donated to the Thurmont Food Bank.

Some of the organizations that receive direct donations or support from Catoctin Colorfest will see a reduction this year, if Catoctin Colorfest, Inc. is even able to make a donation. These contributions were approaching $20,000 a year. The organizations include: Guardian Hose Company, Thurmont Ambulance Company, Thurmont Police Department, Catoctin High FFA, Catoctin High scholarships, Town of Thurmont for various events and projects, Thurmont Food Bank, Thurmont Regional Library, and Thurmont Main Street.

Catoctin Colorfest 2021 will be held on October 9-10, 2021.

Ai (Sam) Fing, Owner of Simply Asia, wanted to give back to the community that welcomed him over eight years ago. His idea was to run a lunch special for $10.00 an entree and to provide all of the profits to the Thurmont Food Bank.

With the help of two of Thurmont’s biggest supporters, Carol Robertson of Catoctin Colorfest, Inc. and Karen Simundson of Senior Benefit Services, Inc., all 120 tickets for the restaurant’s fundraiser were quickly sold.

Simply Asia also found support through fellow Thurmont businesses, including 1st Look Properties, who printed all of the fundraiser’s tickets.

After seeing such an incredible response, Sam decided to donate the entire amount—100 percent of the sales—as a nod to the community that supported his restaurant through the coronavirus crisis.

A big round of applause for all who purchased tickets for this fundraiser to benefit the Thurmont Food Bank! Thanks to Sam for his generosity and to Karen Simundson and Barb Plovok from Senior Benefits, Carol Robertson from Catoctin Colorfest, and Sandi Jo Reed-Burns of 1st Look Properties for coming together to make this a great fundraiser.

Pictured are Ai (Sam) Fing, Carol Robertson, and Karen Simundson

Anita DiGregory

colorfest-photo-by-georgiAs in year’s past, the metamorphosis began slowly early in the week. With steady deliveries of port-o-potties, new tents being constructed, and signs going up around town, the temporary makeover was gradually taking shape. By the morning of October 8, 2016, the conversion was complete.  Thurmont’s quaint and quiet Community Park, and surrounding areas, were recreated into a bustling hub of fun and festivities, as residents, vendors, and guests celebrated the 53rd Annual Catoctin Colorfest.

This year’s Colorfest took place on October 8 and 9. It was a rainy, dreary day on Saturday, but the overall mood of crafters, vendors, presenters, and visitors could not be dampened.  With talk of Hurricane Matthew in the air, vendors and visitors alike happily ventured out on Saturday looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones.  Suited up with umbrellas, raincoats, and boots, friends and guests visited Thurmont’s Community Park on Frederick Road and surrounding areas to find delicious treats, creative crafts, and unique, one-of-a-kind finds, and they were not disappointed.

Carol Robertson, Catoctin Colorfest, Inc., president, was very pleased with the turnout.  “The crowd has been steady and all the vendors have been very happy.  In spite of the weather, everyone who has been coming out is in a good mood and wants to be here,” Robertson added.

The crowds on Saturday seemed a little less than years past due to the weather, but everyone was very happy to be there despite the rain.  Penny Jurchak, organizer and volunteer of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St. Anthony’s Shrine’s Crab and Sausage Stand, agreed.  “Business is good. We have been constant probably because we have a pavilion, but also because our food is awesome and we have great volunteers!” Jurchak stated.  In spite of the rain, sales seemed to be steady as pleased Colorfest visitors filled their tummies with delicious treats and their carts and wagons with their prized purchases wrapped in bags to protect from the weather.

On Sunday, Thurmont saw the return of the sun and the cheerful and excited crowds. Vendors were happy to visit with returning customers, some of whom have been loyal patrons for years, and meet new ones.  “Every year, people come to the Colorfest…year after year.  It is always fun to get reacquainted with those individuals.  They are usually the first customers,” stated Robertson.  Organizers of the Colorfest were happy to see many returning vendors, as well as several new faces.  Many vendors have been very happy with the turnout, friendly customers, and inviting community that the Colorfest offers.  “As soon as the show is over, vendors turn in their applications for next year!” Robertson added.

More than 200 hand crafters were located within the community park area.  Additionally, there were several vendor demonstrations such as broom-making and decorative candle-designing.  The Colorfest committee worked year-round to make the event a success; while the Town of Thurmont worked hard to help facilitate the event.  “We appreciate the support from the town and the guys with Parks and Electric.  They are all terrific!” stated Robertson.  Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird was happy to be among those helping out and in attendance. “It was an amazing weekend.  Everyone enjoyed themselves, and we enjoyed having them here,” Kinnaird enthusiastically stated.

Originally started in 1963 as a nature walk, the Colorfest has grown immensely from its humble beginnings and historically has been a very popular event, with vendors and visitors from near and far attending.  It has become one of the largest arts and crafts festivals on the east coast.  Attendance has been noted to reach well over 100,000 earning the event quite a favorable reputation.  In 2005, Sunshine Artists Magazine named the Catoctin Colorfest as one of the top 35 arts and crafts shows in the United States.

Photos by Anita DiGregory


(above) Carol Robertson stands outside her booth at Colorfest on Saturday.


Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird gives a “thumbs up” at Colorfest on Sunday, sitting on his “Think Pink” mobile.


Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and St. Anthony Shrine’s Crab and Sausage stand organizer and volunteer, Penny Jurchak (right)is shown with her granddaughter, Harley Ruttinger.

James Rada, Jr.

colorfest 7The incessant rain on Saturday morning, October 11, 2014, gave way to a cloudy day in the afternoon, transitioning into a sunny, more pleasant day on Sunday for the 51st Annual Colorfest weekend in Thurmont.

The crowds picked up as people turned out for unusual food like Southern-fried Snickers and one-of-a-kind gifts like robot sculptures made from scrap metal by Don Rea. In between, they browsed yard sales or listened to live music being played in front of the town office.

“The crowd started out light because of the rain, but people still came carrying their umbrellas and wearing their ponchos,” said Carol Robertson with Catoctin Colorfest.

The heart of the festival is the 240 juried exhibitors in the Community Park, although booths and vendors could be found throughout Thurmont, along roads, at the carnival grounds, around the American Legion, among others.

Janet Randall and her friend, Rusty, each pulled a collapsible wagon through Community Park looking to fill them with gifts. Randall’s big purchase had been an antique sewing machine that was decorated so that it was more of a craft item than an antique.

Randall said she comes to Colorfest from West River, Maryland, because of all the different crafters who display their goods. She calls all of the craft shows near her home “yard sales” in comparison.

colorfest 4“We’ll have to sneak all this stuff into the house so our husbands won’t see,” Randall said.

While Colorfest was a destination for Randall, Greg Teague and his wife, Beth, just happened to stop in.

“We were going to Gettysburg and were passing by and my wife said that it didn’t look too crowded,” Teague said.

So they parked and began shopping. For Teague, who lives in Frederick, it was his first visit to the festival.

“They have a lot of stuff here,” he said. “It’s a lot bigger than it looks.”

Beth added, “You can get visual overload from everything there is to see.”

It was author Bob O’Connor’s first time at the festival, too, and he was selling his historical novels and history books in Community Park.

colorfest 2“It’s a big crowd here, and they seem like they’re in a spending mood,” O’Connor said. “I mean when you see people walking around with wagons and carts, they are obviously looking to buy.”

Sharon Dustin is a regular visitor to Colorfest. Although she lives in Bowie, she’s been visiting each year for thirty years. It’s a family outing for them. In fact, her granddaughter, Alexis, first came to Colorfest when she was only three weeks old.

“I really like looking at all the stuff that people make,” Dustin said.

Set up for Colorfest begins during the week leading up to the event, with much of it taking place on the Friday before.

“It’s like a little city gets built here in a couple days,” Robertson said. “There are banks with ATMs. The post office is here. The food vendors are restaurants and the other vendors are the businesses.

On average, about 100,000 people visit Colorfest each year.

“The atmosphere of the quaint town of Thurmont, with a population of 6,000 residents, changes every year during the second weekend of October when the festivities of the annual Catoctin Colorfest take place,” states the Catoctin Colorfest website.