Just as Labor Day traditionally marks the start of September, Westminster's annual Fallfest marks the end with a celebration that offers something for all ages and benefits local charities.
Kicking off on Sept. 22 with a parade, the festival will run through Sept. 25. Traditions continue as Fallfest will feature Midnight Madness shopping, the annual Buffalo Wild Wings challenge, the Fallfest mile run and rides and musical entertainment every night.
Fallfest is a communitywide celebration, but at its heart is an effort to help local charitable organizations.
"This is our third year as a (Fallfest) charity," said Lynn Davis, executive director Carroll County Youth Services Bureau.
Youth Services, Access Carroll, Boys and Girls Club of Westminster and Carroll Hospice are the four charities selected earlier in the year by the Fallfest board to benefit from festival proceeds. Every year groups submit a proposal and are interviewed. Once selected, each charity is given the responsibility of running an activity throughout the festival.
"This year, we're responsible for the bingo tent," Davis said. "We're looking forward to it. It is a chance to connect with people."
Bingo will be available every day but Sunday (when gambling is not allowed in the county). On that day, the group will offer pumpkin projects instead, Davis said. One side of the tent will be for youngsters and filled with various craft materials. The other side will be for adults and feature glitter glue and spray paint.
The Boys and Girls Club of Westminster is pleased to be part of this year's Fallfest, said Tiffany Gill, executive director.
"It is important to our organization to raise its awareness and the identify of the club," Gill said. "We'll have access to great people and help folks learn more about the club."
The Clubs will be responsible for the scarecrow making tent.
"We'll have a' best dressed' and 'most innovative' contest and prizes," Gill said, of the scarecrow making. "Everyone of our club members love Fallfest and are excited to be a part of it."
Both groups, along with bands and floats, will feature members in Thursday's parade, too.
"We always appreciate it when we get the check in December," Davis said of the proceeds the group will receive later in the year. Davis is also appreciative of all the work the Fallfest board does to make the festival happen.
"After really watching them work for three years, they are just amazing at what they do," she said of board members. "Their organization, attention to detail … they spend the entire weekend there running Fallfest and pretty much work with a smile on their faces."
Fallfest hours are 6 to 10 p.m. on Thursday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday; and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Fallfest will feature rides by Snyder's Amusements, with $15 armband ride specials all night on Thursday, Sept. 22; $18 armband specials on Friday, Sept. 23; $20 specials all day Saturday, Sept. 24; and $15 specials Sunday, Sept. 25.
Throughout the festival there will also be food vendors, crafts and commercial products, as well as non-profits promoting their organizations.
The following are some of the day-specific highlights. For more details, go to http://www.westminsterfallfest.com.
Thursday, Sept. 22
While the midway and rides open in Westminster City Park at 6 p.m., Westminster Fallfest truly begins with the Fallfest Parade at 7 p.m., from Dutterer's Park down Pennsylvania Avenue and Main Street to Longwell Avenue and East Middle School.