James Rada, Jr.

Thurmont recently recognized its business all-stars with the “You Make Thurmont Proud” Awards. The awards recognized businesses and individuals who “exceeded or excelled at a county, state, or national level,” Thurmont Economic Development Manager Vickie Grinder told the Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners.

The first set of awardees came from the Frederick County Office of Economic Development that recognized the top 50 young professionals under 40. Thurmont had two representatives on the list: Alex Uphold with State Farm Insurance; and Amber Seiss with Gateway Candyland, Gateway Liquors, and Farmhouse Exchange.

Seiss told the commissioners that people had told her that she was too young, that she was a bad person, and/or that she wouldn’t make it in business. She said that she considers the naysayers “white noise.”

“It’s a distraction, something that is a waste of energy,” Seiss said.

She focuses on the positive and surrounds herself with people who build her up rather than tear her down.

The next pair of awardees were businesses that received national recognition: Kountry Kitchen was named the Best Chicken in Maryland in 2021 by MSN;          Playground Specialist’s Tim Boyle was named the National Playworld Representative of the Year.

Grinder then listed the various Thurmont businesses that were finalists in the Frederick News Post’s Best of the Best awards:

Best Festival—Catoctin Colorfest (2nd).

Best Company to Work For—Kountry Kitchen (2nd), Woodsboro Bank (3rd). “Two of the three best places to work for are right here in Thurmont,” Grinder said. “That needs to be duly noted.”

Best Barbeque—Bollinger’s Restaurant (2nd).

Best Buffet—Mountain Gate Family Restaurant (3rd).

Best Place to Camp (Regional)—Ole Mink Farm Recreation Resort (2nd).

Best Lodging—Springfield Manor (2nd).

Best Butcher Shop—Hill Side Turkey Farm (2nd).

Best Electric Contractor—G&S Electric (2nd).

Best Bingo—Thurmont Event Complex (3rd).

Best Chicken—Kountry Kitchen (2nd).

Best Local Band—5.5 Men (3rd).

Best Small Town—Thurmont (3rd). Grinder said she and some other municipalities complained to the Frederick News Post because Frederick was considered a small town for this category when it is clearly not. Frederick also took second place, so Grinder said in her mind, Thurmont was actually second.

Next, Grinder went through the local businesses that actually won their categories and were named Frederick’s Best of the Best:

•    Best Tree Service—Baker’s Tree Service (four years in a row).

•    Best Pick-Your-Own Farm/Orchard—Catoctin Mountain Orchard.

•    Best Winery, Distillery, Brewery—Springfield Manor.

•    Best Wedding Venue—Springfield Manor.

•    Best Wine Drink—Springfield Manor’s Farmhouse White.

•    Best Candy Shop—Gateway Candyland.

•    Best Orthodontist (Individual) —Dr. Jon Moles.

•    Best Funeral Home—Stauffer Funeral Homes.

•    Best Landscaping—Hawkins Landscaping (seven years in a row).

•      Best Place to Camp—Cunningham Falls State Park (four years in a row). Park Manager Mark Spurrier told the commissioners, “It’s your park. It’s our park, and everything we do in it is for you in the community and visitors that come to us.”

•      Best Bank—Woodsboro Bank.

Finally, Grinder made a special award called the Community Heart Award. It was given to Kountry Kitchen for their work in providing area students meals while the schools were closed.

The Kountry Kitchen restaurant was providing between 125 and 175 meals a day during the pandemic lockdown.

You Make Thurmont Proud Award recipients (from left): (front row) Mark Spurrier—Cunningham Falls State Park; Sherry and Rob Myers—Thurmont Kountry Kitchen; Alex Uphold—State Farm Insurance; David Hawkins—Hawkins Landscaping; Amber Seiss—Gateway Candyland; Angie Simmons, Stephen Heine, Hannah Smith—Woodsboro Bank; Commissioner Wes Hamrick from Stauffer Funeral Homes; (second row) Thurmont Commissioners Bill Buehrer and Wayne Hooper; Mayor John Kinnaird; and Commissioner Bill Blakeslee.

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