Currently viewing the tag: "Catoctin Colorfest"

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

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

Theresa Pryor

The mountain may not have been showing her bountiful fall petticoats October 12 and 13, but Thurmont’s annual Catoctin Colorfest event was an artist’s palette of colors and hues.

I was born here in this beautiful part of the country and recently moved back home to Thurmont, so this was my first Colorfest. I had been warned by some that it was “crazy busy.” Well, I just had to see what it was all about, so with camera and notebook in hand, I set off to see for myself.

I was fortunate enough to be able to walk everywhere from my home, so no traffic problems got in my way, though the stream of never-ending vehicles on U.S. Route 15 was astounding. Walking downtown on Friday, I felt the expectancy and excitement in the air. Shopkeepers seemed ready, though some were more jaded than others in what they were ready for, but for the most part, anticipation was in the air.

Down at Thurmont’s Community Park, vendors were putting up their tents and tables, readying them with a plethora of wares that, come Saturday, would hopefully be purchased. I could only get a peek at some so I enjoyed greeting other walkers out nosing around. At the park’s entrance, I stopped and chatted with Betty Burdock and Diana Lewis who were efficiently directing vendors to their assigned spaces. They seemed old hands at this and we chatted about how great the weather looked for the weekend. When I left the park later in the afternoon, closed white tents filled with yet to be discovered goodies, sat like friendly ghosts in waiting.

Saturday proved to be the reason that Colorfest is often called an experience rather than an event. Hitting Main street, I was immediately caught up in the flow of foot traffic and while one might feel a bit out of control in this sea of humanity situation, countless strollers, dogs, and wagons, I felt part of something exciting transforming Thurmont’s everyday life. It was an energetic synthesis! And there was definitely a mission mentality emanating from those who know just how to shop.

Established in 1963, Colorfest has come a long way. What started as a nature walk has evolved into a juried arts and crafts festival featuring well-known and respected artisans from across the United States. It is one of the largest outdoor craft show events on the East Coast.

As I traversed the park, more colors blossomed as handmade candles, silk flower arrangements, Christmas ornaments, jewelry glittering in the sunlight, prism fan pulls and even a small field of Blue Heron yard art that swayed and bobbed in the breeze; there were amazingly innovative crafts, beautiful art and clothing, not to mention the delicious food options whose smells beckoned half way across the park before you even saw the booth. Everything you could ever ask for on a beautiful fall day was all there in one, compact slice of retail heaven. Crazy busy? Yes. Crazy beautiful, too!

One must be quick when interviewing someone working. Their focus is on their customers and that is as it should be, so finding a vendor freed up for a few minutes was a challenge. I lucked out when I ventured into a booth that displayed countless USB Port Lamps. Looking like little r2d2’s ready to do your bidding, this was one of the most innovative items I had seen that day. Owners, Kate and Steve Imes, were happy to answer my questions, the most pressing being, “What in the world made you think to create this?”

Why, necessity being the mother of invention, of course! Their son had gone off to college a number of years ago and called home to complain that the dorm room he shared had one outlet per side. Plugging in a lamp and one other item was less than efficient, so Steve went to work inventing his USB Port Lamp, which was selling like proverbial hotcakes in this, their 5th year at Colorfest. Kate makes the shades and they come in a variety of colors and themes. As I thanked them and left, another group entered the tent and I overheard someone ask…. “What in the world made you think to create this?”

I spoke with other vendors that day and the two overriding themes about this year’s Colorfest was the weather (perfect!) and that it was the busiest year, ever (perfect!). “It doesn’t get any better than this”, one vendor commented.

Over on the back side of the park I was intrigued to see an American Flag made from shotgun shells positioned front and center in a booth. A lovely, smiling young woman greeted me as I entered. In asking Janelle James where the idea came from, she explained that she was a military wife who loved to craft. She and her husband, Zach, create designs from shells and use their Etsy Shop to promote pride and patriotism. This was their 6th Colorfest and they love coming here.

I wrapped up my day with an order of French fries with vinegar and salt and sat on a bale of hay watching people, dogs and kids. My overall opinion of Colorfest? It was fabulous and I am going to do it again next year.

What does a military wife do when her husband is serving the country? Ready, Aim, Craft! And that is just what Janelle and Zach James named their company, a craft shop comprised of products celebrating American pride and patriotism. Their sixth year at Colorfest was a huge success!

This year, Carol and Steve Newmann, of Chapel Crafts, celebrated their 47th year at Colorfest. The Newmann’s craft leather belts continue to please new as well as repeat customers.

Catoctin Colorfest, Inc. provides three scholarships each year in the amount of $1,000 and one scholarship in the amount of $1,500, to be awarded to Catoctin area high school graduates who are continuing their education.

Catoctin Colorfest, Inc. held its annual banquet in November at Simply Asia in Thurmont. This yearly meeting serves as a wrap-up for the Colorfest annual festival.

The weather for the festival was not optimum this year, with cold temperatures on Sunday, some rain, and plenty of mud. Crowds still turned out in large numbers to enjoy the offerings from hundreds of vendors. The festival was also able to avoid the power outages that plagued last year’s event.

During the meeting, annual donations are made to various organizations in Thurmont, in an effort to give back to the community. This year, Catoctin Colorfest, Inc. donated $20,339.22 to the following organizations:

  • $5,100 to Town of Thurmont
  • $4,500 to Catoctin High Scholarships
  • $3,500 to Thurmont Food Bank
  • $1,500 to Guardian Hose Company
  • $1,500 to Thurmont Ambulance Company
  • $1,500 to Thurmont Police Department
  • $696 to Catoctin High School FFA
  • $500 to local victims of a fire
  • $500 to Thurmont Ambulance Company (value of two vendor spaces at the festival used by the company at no cost)
  • $383.22 to Town gardens
  • $225 to Thurmont Library Fun Day
  • $190 to Town of Thurmont for flag lighting
  • $150 to Family Christmas meals
  • $75 to Mechanicstown Park Christmas decorations
  • $20 to American Heart Association

The Town of Thurmont issued 798 vendor permits for the event this year, of which 244 were for the Colorfest, Inc. vendors in Community Park. Among the other stats Catoctin Colorfest, Inc. listed were: 5,120 pounds of trash were generated in Community Park during the event; 72 bales of straw were delivered to combat the mud; and 9,600 apple dumplings were sold by the Thurmont Ambulance Company.

The 56th Annual Catoctin Colorfest will be held on October 12 and 13, 2019.


by Valerie Nusbaum

This column is for the November issue, so it should be about Thanksgiving and/or being grateful for what we have. In truth, I’m writing this in early October and Thanksgiving is just a blip on my radar at this point.

I’m in the middle of getting things ready for Randy’s and my 24th wedding anniversary (October 15), and I’m hoping the weather will cooperate enough for us to get away for overnight or at least for a day trip. I’ve bought a couple of things for Randy and I got him a nice card, but remembering where I’ve put them is something else entirely, and I fear that the hunt will involve me cleaning up my studio.

Writing this column, I know Catoctin Colorfest is coming up and the town is busting loose, so I need to be aware that I can’t come and go as usual for the next few days.

I’m planning a Halloween get-together for my cousins and extended family, and we’re also preparing for trick or treat. Trick or treat would be a no-brainer for most people, but we have between 300-400 little goblins that descend upon us each year and that takes a lot of candy, not to mention that we try to do some yard decorating and that Randy wears a costume while he passes out treats and takes abuse from the little darlings.

It’s been a crazy week, and I haven’t had much time to get things done at home. Mom, Randy, and I have all had doctor’s appointments this week. I also made a pilgrimage to a new dentist because I will most likely need a root canal. The exterminator was here on Tuesday and the air conditioner repairman came on Wednesday. In between all of this, there was work, the yard guy was here, and I took Mom to Walmart. If the mailman is Randy’s nemesis, Walmart is mine.

Maybe that’s why I was thrown for a loop when I ordered a Southwest salad at the McDonald’s in Brunswick and was given a spoon for eating it. Seriously? The store was out of knives and forks. The kid at the cash register couldn’t think to tell me that when I ordered my salad? Needless to say, this didn’t end well and I can’t go back to that McDonald’s.

Sensing that I was gearing up for a meltdown, Randy thought he’d distract me with an episode of the Halloween Baking Championship on the Food Network. I love those shows. One of this season’s contestants is a young man with a lovely Carribbean accent. As we watched this guy bake, Randy looked over at me and said, “Well, that makes no sense at all.”

I asked what he meant, and he said that he’d been sure this particular contestant was from Jamaica. I still didn’t understand what he was getting at, so he explained. “The guy just said, ‘We don’t do dat in Ireland.’”

The guy actually said, “We don’t do that on our island.” And this is how we watch television at our house. One of us interprets for the other, and we take turns doing it.

Now, I wouldn’t want you to think that I’m not even contemplating Thanksgiving. I have given it some thought. In fact, I posed a question to my Facebook friends and asked them to tell me their preferred way to cook a turkey. More than one person responded that they prefer their turkey to be cooked by someone else. A few offered up smoking as a method of choice, but most people told me that they’ll do a turkey the traditional way by roasting it in the oven with something stuffed in the cavity. A lot of us do a covered roaster method to make broth for use in gravy and dressing.

I also asked people to name their favorite Thanksgiving side dish. A surprising number of people said sweet potatoes. I like sweet potatoes done many different ways, but my favorite way is mashed up in a casserole with a crunchy, sweet pecan topping. Randy prefers them on someone else’s plate, but he’ll eat them if I go to the trouble of making them. The sweet potato casserole I like best takes two days to make from scratch, or I can buy a very similar one for $3.49 at Aldi.  It fits perfectly in my fancy white casserole dish, and no one knows the difference.

We had a debate over the difference between dressing and stuffing. Dressing wins out at our house. I don’t stuff my turkey.  Randy and I like dressing with lots of celery and onions. If you’re in a pinch and can’t make your own, Mountain Gate has a delicious stuffing/dressing.

Also, I can’t stress enough that a fresh turkey tastes best.  For us, part of the tradition of Thanksgiving is standing in line on the Wednesday before the holiday at Hillside Turkey Farms to pick up our fresh bird. I have nothing against a frozen turkey. I’ve cooked my share of them, but once a year I like to go for broke.

No matter what your food preferences are or how frantic or unsettling your lives have been recently, I hope you’ll join me in taking a few minutes to realize that we all have things for which we are grateful. For me, it’s family, friends, and all of you who read my words each month.

Happy Thanksgiving!

P.S.  Thank you, Barb, for the delicious banana crème pie!


Grace Eyler

Friday, October 13, 2017, marked the beginning of the 54th Catoctin Colorfest weekend in Thurmont. On this morning, the streets were busy with locals snagging a great deal at the yard sales that were set up all over town. The town had started to bustle. Some locals were preparing for the busy weekend by getting their errands done early to avoid the clog of crowds expected to attend the festivities beginning early Saturday morning. Vendors were seen throughout town setting up their own temporary storefronts. Some even set up camp. After a few rainy days leading up to the weekend, the forecast was showing sun.

By Saturday morning, the crisp fall air and overcast skies snuggled the area, still with no chance of rain. By 9:00 a.m., the sidewalks were busy on Church Street with families and their children, or groups of friends, walking purposefully in the same direction—towards the center of town. Individual people disappeared and many became a crowd as they swarmed in search of great finds like hand-crafted items, gifts, and home decor, or delicious food from diverse vendors.

For some ladies, Colorest is a chance for a “girls day” while they carried wooden tables, bags and carts of home decor down the street. Children passed by with colorful painted faces while indulging in funnel cakes. Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird cruised the streets, kindly offering a ride on his red “Mayor Mobile” golf cart to those walking a distance.

By the time visitors had passed the square, the aromas of the unique food vendors filled the air. Just around the turn, on Frederick Road, area local Scott Haines beamed with excitement for the first day of the festival. In the spot that was once occupied by “Gertie’s Hot Sauce Pretzels,” he and his dad, Allen, sold wooden handmade Maryland flags. “I still flip the Gertie’s neon sign on, just to have people come up and ask (his dad Allen) about the pretzels,” Scott laughed.

Across from the park, the Stebbing Family displayed a wooden forest of beautiful handmade sculptures. Locals Mandy Stebbing and her daughter, Sophia, busily answered questions about the carvings from intrigued customers. As she enjoyed an oversized snow cone, Sophia exclaimed, “I love Colorfest! I love seeing all of the different vendors and what they have to offer…and the snow cones across the street are delicious,” she added, pointing to the trailer.

At the entrance of the grand Catoctin Colorfest at the Thurmont Community Park, people waited patiently for one of the Thurmont Community Ambulance Company’s famous apple dumplings. Some attendees make it their single goal to purchase one of these fresh desserts. “Every year I’ve come to Colorfest, I don’t leave until I’ve had a dumpling,” explained Brittney Wivell, as she enjoyed her dumpling while touring the craft tents.

In the middle of the park, Scott Hornbaker, a craftsman from St. Mary’s, Georgia, displayed his wrought iron hummingbird feeder hooks. He said he looks forward to Colorfest every year, “It’s great, I can even camp out behind my booth.”

Right down the path, local writer and author, Jim Rada, and his son, Sam Rada, sold Jim’s books. By mid-Sunday, Diaries of Catoctin had sold out. Jim took the opportunity to sneak off and do a little shopping of his own while Sam (age fifteen), manned the booth and greeted the interested customers. “I love the fact that everything is handmade. You can see some really beautiful stuff here,” Sam reflected, as he showed his appreciation for a steampunk style necklace he purchased earlier in the day. It’s like early Christmas for Jim. He returned with a new small metal figurine of a time machine that was made by a neighboring vendor. Even though the Radas have only been setting up for three years at Colorfest, they’ve been attending for nine years. Jim makes sure he gets a new little metal robot for his collection every year.

Criswell Auto made space for a variety of vendors, while also taking the opportunity to display the best of their new vehicles. As husbands would gather around the decked-out trucks, their wives would meander into the nearby craft tents. You’d even hear a few razz their husbands, “We aren’t here to buy a new truck,” as they moved on to the next place.

Away from the main Colorfest drag, crowds traveled around Thurmont’s Memorial Park over to East Main Street. Hobb’s Hardware housed several vendors, including locals John and Kathy Dowling of Old Field Woodworking. Brenda Rigby, an enthused Colorfest attendee, makes it a point to visit their display every year. She said, “It’s a great chance to get friends together; we’ve made a tradition of attending.” On Sunday, the Thurmont Historical Society’s Beer Garden provided a shaded oasis on the eighty-degree afternoon. Adults took the opportunity to enjoy a cold beer and try Josh Bollinger’s Uncle Dirty’s BBQ. Robert Eyler and other Historical Society volunteers were upbeat about the outcome of the weekend, and look forward to bartending again next year. Silas Phillips, Megan Setlock, and Timothy and Brittany Renoylds stopped by the beer garden to take a break on the busy afternoon. Megan claimed that they look forward to the Colorfest activities every year as an opportunity to get together with their friends.

As five o’clock neared on Sunday afternoon, crowds began to dissipate, and the Town of Thurmont rejoiced and reclaimed its streets. Vendors packed up. Buses delivered tired shoppers back to parking lots that were now sparse with vehicles.

Life started to return to normal in the town, as the work to remove the rubbish from thousands of people began. While cleaning up, the plans began for the 55th Annual Catoctin Colorfest.

Photo by Grace Eyler

Mandy and Sophia Stebbing proudly display wood carvings at their Joe Stebbing Sculptures booth during Colorfest.

Thurmont’s Scott and Allen Haines are shown at their Colorfest display.

Sam Rada shows one of his father’s book covers at their James Rada, Jr. Book Sale booth at Colorest.

Neighbors Skeeter and Willie watch the crowds of people come and go during Colorfest in Thurmont.

Local Artist Yemi Fagbohn announced in spring 2017 that he would be completing the mural project on Main Street, on the former electric building, after the Thurmont Commissioners approved the project to proceed. The current Main Street murals depict Thurmont’s historical buildings, natural resources, and trolley history, which were completed in collaboration with the Thurmont Lions Club, Yemi, and the town of Thurmont. There are four panels left to complete on the building, and Artist Yemi’s aspiration has always been to ensure every empty panel is framed with a mural!

“Thurmont is one of the most beautiful places in the USA! The Catoctin Mountains are the backdrop, with tall majestic trees, the beachfront lake at Cunningham Falls State Park, wildlife, clean air, cycling, hiking, fishing, Catoctin Colorfest, and Camp David! Not too many communities can say they live or recreate with the president of the United States!” expressed Yemi.

The Main Street mural project will be completely financed by donations and grants. Dr. Jon Moles of Gateway Orthodontics is leading the mural project journey, and serves as general project chairperson and sponsor. Dr. Jon Moles and Artist Yemi are pleased to announce, “We are getting close to reaching 50 percent of our funding needs for the Thurmont Celebration Murals!”

In addition to Chairperson Dr. Jon Moles, the following associates have engaged their efforts to assist with the Thurmont Celebration Mural Project:

  • Dan Ryan Builders in Thurmont—major project partner and sponsor and will participate in unveiling activities.
  • Ausherman Family Foundation—signed on early as a matching grant sponsor.
  • George Delaplaine—signed on as a major sponsor.
  • Marlene and Mike Young—signed on as advisors and sponsors.
  • Catoctin Colorfest—signed on as advisors and sponsors.
  • Several anonymous donors have signed on to the project so far.

The Main Street murals are a celebration of the scenic beauty and tapestry of history for a picturesque town, located at the foothills of the Catoctin Mountains in Northern Frederick County.

“My goal is to have the viewers of the completed murals come away appreciating Thurmont as the jewel it is, and, hopefully, come to visit us often while rejuvenating their spirits in the mountains—relax, shop, dine, worship, and enjoy!” exclaimed Yemi.

Yemi Fagbohn was born in Ibadan Nigeria to S. I. Fagbohun and J. T. Fagbohun. His father was a well-known custom men’s tailor, his mother a wedding dress maker. Yemi came to New York, where he attended Pratt Institute and received both a Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Science in Art and Communications Design. For the years he has been an artist, he has done drawings for more than one hundred of the Fortune 500 companies.

For more information on the Thurmont Celebration Murals, you can contact Yemi at or 240-409-5728.

Tis the Season

by Valerie Nusbaum

It’s September as I’m writing this column. The kids have gone back to school, and summer is pretty much over. I can hardly wrap my mind around those facts. Thanksgiving is only two months away, Christmas is closer than I care to imagine, and Halloween is almost upon us.

September and October used to be very busy months for Randy and me because early autumn is the time when all the fall festivals and outdoor arts and crafts shows are held. Back in the day, we used to participate in at least four or five festivals and shows annually.  It was a fun way for us to spend time together, as we sat in our tent and sold our handmade wood items, watercolor prints, potpourri, jewelry, candles and floral arrangements. Over the years, we’ve handcrafted everything from holiday ornaments to wall hangings and yard decorations. Christmas trees, crab mallets, greeting cards—you name it, we’ve made it.

Last year, we more or less retired from the arts and crafts business. The work involved in setting up and tearing down for a two-day show is very hard on our old joints. Not to mention that two or three days of dealing with people wears a body out.

I don’t know how those of you who work in retail manage it.  Shoppers and lookers can be very rude, sometimes without meaning to. Plus, the weather doesn’t always cooperate, and it’s no fun in the rain.

In November, Randy and I said goodbye to Catoctin Colorfest, after many years of setting up our tent in the Community Park. Yes, we’ll miss all the shows and our friends, but we will still be able to attend and do some shopping, and we’ll finally be able to get something to eat! Who knows? We might miss it so much that we’ll find ourselves wanting to get back into it. Maybe when Randy actually retires, and we have some time on our hands.

If you’re a person who enjoys getting out in the beautiful fall weather and looking at all the interesting items for sale, I’m giving you a helpful list to make your craft show experience a happy one. Read on.


Eleven Things You Should Never Say to an Artist or a Craftsperson


“I/My husband/My kid could make that.” FYI: We don’t care.


“I saw one of those at Walmart, and it was cheaper there.” Good for you. Chances are the item you saw at Walmart wasn’t handmade. That’s probably why it cost less.

“Did you make/paint/draw that?” Most juried craft shows or art fairs require that the items for sale be handmade and that the person who actually did the making be the one selling. So, yes, I made it. Duh.

“Will you give me a discount or take less for it?” Craft shows are not flea markets. Most of us vendors never get paid for the amount of time we spend making our art. We can’t afford to give discounts or offer sales. The really good shows prohibit price haggling or sales.

“Can you give me directions for making that?” Sure, but why would I do that? I have a whole table full of things I’m trying to sell.

“That’s very nice, but I don’t know where I’d put it.” On Saturday morning, I might respond with a “thank you,” but by Sunday afternoon, I might have a few suggestions for where you could put it.

“Would you make one for me?”  See #5.

“You remind me of my grandmother.” Unless your grandmother was Georgia O’Keeffe or Frida Kahlo, I might be a little offended by that statement.

“I really need to start selling my own work.” Please do, so I can come by your booth and make you feel bad.

“I don’t have the time to craft/paint/sew.” Then what, pray tell, do you do with all that free time? Sleep?

“Yes, but this isn’t, like, a real job.” No, it isn’t. I work much longer hours for lots less money and even less appreciation.

So, as you can see, I really did need a little break from the business. I’m still selling online and doing an occasional exhibit or small indoor show, and I’ll probably always paint or make some crafts for the sheer pleasure it gives me. I just found selling it in-person is too exhausting. Randy has had so many other things going on in his life in recent years that he, too, needs some time to regroup.

We’ll carry with us many pleasant memories of our vending days. One, in particular, still makes me smile. It was during Catoctin Colorfest, and it had been a long day. A young father came into our tent with his small son. The little boy was looking at some of my prints and seeming to enjoy himself. The father came over and whispered that his son loved to draw and paint, and asked if the boy could ask me a question.

“Sure,” I said.

The boy was about five years old, and he very seriously asked, “How do you stay inside the lines so good?”

I answered him honestly when I said, “I don’t always, and that’s OK.”

Happy Fall, y’all!

One weekend, every year, Thurmont is taken over by crafters, vendors, visitors, and shoppers during the Catoctin Colorfest. The show promotes “artisans and craftsman who are hard-working individuals putting their hearts and souls into their craft.” While it seems like a temporary small-town take-over, it is nice to know that the show generates a significant financial benefit to our community.

Catoctin Colorfest’s president, Carol Robertson, and Colorfest Committee members hosted a banquet on November 14, 2016 to thank event volunteers and distribute donations. A total of $18,044.08 was distributed to various organizations of Thurmont. Highlights included that the Guardian Hose Company, Thurmont Ambulance Company, and Thurmont Police Department were each given $1,500, Catoctin High School Scholarships totalled $3,500, $2,500 was given to the Town of Thurmont towards the reforestation of the Community Park, and the Thurmont Food Bank received $3,000. The Town of Thurmont issued 694 permits for the weekend, with 34 being food vendors, and Catoctin Colorfest paid the town $14,420 for official Colorfest vendors. Robertson extended sincere thanks to event volunteers, town staff, and the Thurmont community.


Some of those who attended the 2016 Colorfest Banquest are shown.

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 photo - taken by Traci SolichThe crowds have gone now, Colorfest 2015 is over, and life in Thurmont is back to normal. Many local non-profit organizations got their annual boost of funding from the estimated 125,000 people that crowded into Thurmont for the event that was held during the second weekend of October.

Although Colorfest started out as a nature walk fifty-two years ago, it has now grown into Maryland’s largest craft festival. It boasts 240 juried exhibits, plus many more vendors in and around the town. You could find original paintings, metal sculptures, hand-sewn quilts, homemade soaps, unique jewelry, and much more. Each year, there seems to be a new trend in which crafts are popular.

At one time, Colorfest had four juried areas: the Thurmont Community Park, Thurmont Middle School, the Guardian Hose Company Carnival Grounds, and the American Legion. Though the festival is as large as ever, Community Park remains the only juried area with 240 vendors.

Outside of the park, yard sales and non-juried craft shows have sprung up everywhere throughout the town. The town closes off parts of South Water Street and Frederick Road to accommodate the masses of people. The town government provides buses to shuttle visitors from various parking areas around town, including the schools.

The weather for this year’s Colorfest was near perfect, which brought out tens of thousands of visitors who clogged the streets throughout Thurmont. As a first-time vendor this year, but having attended many previous Colorfest festivals, I can tell you that the crowds this year were incredible. It was my best weekend ever for a festival.

The food vendors seemed to do particularly well with lines that seemed to stay steady with a dozen or more people in them. Colorfest represents the largest fundraiser of the year for many community organizations. The local school PTAs park cars at the schools and can raise around $4,000 in a weekend. The American Legion and Guardian Hose Company rent vendor spaces on their properties.

Over the years, Colorfest has donated more than $110,000 in scholarships to the local schools, made annual donations to the Guardian Hose Company and Thurmont Community Ambulance Company, purchased the town’s Christmas decorations, purchased playground equipment for town parks, sponsored family and children’s events, paid for the redecoration of the town office meeting room, and many more functions in support of the community.


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.