Two long-standing festivals kick-off the fall season in Carroll County this week.
Westminster's Fall Fest, now in its 35th year, opens on Thursday and will run through the weekend, while Piney Run Park will host the 26th annual Apple Festival on Saturday.
Westminster's four-day fall festival has proven to be a successful mix of live entertainment, vendors and community involvement that typically attracts about 40,000 people, according to Ken Horak, president of Fall Fest.
All festival proceeds benefit local non-profits. This year's recipients are Special Olympics Maryland — Carroll County; Stacey Davis Breast Cancer Fund and Good News Jail and Prison Ministry.
"Dealing with the charities is what I enjoy most," Horak said. "They are most grateful. It is a great opportunity for our charities for several reasons: the monetary benefits, the recognition they get and the publicity we provide to people who might not have heard of them before."
Festivities kick-off on Sept. 26 with the Fun Run at 6:45 p.m. followed by the parade down Main Street at 7 p.m.
A local high school band, Foggy May Music, will perform, according to Robin Cherney, program specialist for the City of Westminster and a Fall Fest board member.
"Typically, we don't have younger groups performing," Cherney said. "They are a great group. There is a younger crowd with a lot of families on Thursday night and I thought it was a way to showcase them."
Midnight Madness on Friday night will also offer live music, an historic car show as well as late night shopping deals as stores on Main Street will remain open. A shuttle bus will be provided. Saturday and Sunday will feature rides, vendors and all the activities associated with a fall festival, including scarecrow making, bingo and a pie eating contest.
"Everybody looks forward to it," Cherney said. "It gets larger every year."
The festival takes place rain or shine, though it will close if thunderstorms threaten.
For information, go to http://www.westminsterfallfest.com
Apples at core of annual festival
While 300 apple dumplings and 80 apple pies, along with apple fritters, apples with caramel and apple cider are the stars of Piney Run Park's Apple Festival, there will be plenty of other fun events to enjoy, according to Max Bukowitz, a naturalist with the park.
There will also be scarecrow making, pumpkin painting, story telling, live music, food and vendors selling handcrafted goods at the Sept. 28 event.
"It is a really good time," Bukowitz said. ""It is a nice, wholesome activity to do. Families can become unplugged."
Depending on the weather, the event draws between 2,000 and 4,000 people, according to Sandy Buterbaugh, park supervisor.
"It's a great money maker for the park," Buterbaugh said. "It is our only festival. We see kids of all ages here."
Piney Run Park's Apple Festival will take place on Sept. 28, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Piney Run Park, 30 Martz Road, Sykesville.
For information, call 410-795-5165.