For its 16th year, Carroll County's Festival of Wreaths is shaking things up a little. Once held on the first floor of the Carroll Arts Center, the popular fundraiser is moving to the second floor, allowing the center to open its annual Gallery of Gifts earlier.
This year, there will also be daily themed events, from Ornament Swap Day to Wine Wednesday and Ugly Sweater Friday. The festival runs from Nov. 30 through Dec. 8, when bidding closes at 4 p.m.
"I feel it is really, really important to do something fresh every year," said Sandy Oxx, executive director of the Arts Center. "We did Ugly Sweater Night last year. It was a great hit. People definitely got it."
There will be about 160 wreaths in the silent auction this year, Oxx said.
The number is smaller than years past, Oxx said, noting there were 229 wreaths in 2009. But space is limited upstairs.
"It is a huge change for us not to have the wreaths downstairs," Oxx said. "I think there is enough (wreaths). The bids might even go higher."
The Tuesday before its opening, there was already a variety of wreaths on display. One was made of used coffee filters, another had a Scrabble theme and another featured a piece of framed turf from the 2013 Super Bowl along with three tickets to a Ravens game. Individuals, businesses, non-profits and other groups donated wreaths to the event, which opened Nov. 30.
"This is the fourth year I've made a wreath for the Film Lovers in Carroll County," said Dori Batavick, a volunteer at the Arts Center. "It has a movie theme. They're a little over the top. It's fun."
The Gallery of Gifts on the center's first floor will offer the works of 35 local artists. In the past, the gallery opened after the festival closed.
The decision to open it early, on Nov. 21, was a good one, Oxx said.
"We had a bang up opening. We had two artists almost sold out," Oxx said. "People are getting to come and enjoy the wreaths and do holiday shopping. It's a good combination."
In 1998, its first year, the Festival of Wreaths raised $5,375. In 2006, sales reached $29,860. Last year, the fundraiser raised $20,210.
"The Festival of Wreaths is always one of the great events at the Arts Center," said Bonnie Staub, manager of Carroll County Office of Tourism, "This is the first time they've done it with the Gallery of Gifts. It should be a little bit bigger of a draw."
The festival has come a long way from its beginnings in the Winchester Building, where the wreaths were hung in the hallways and had to be removed every night since it was public building. Now, Oxx hopes to keep people coming back to check on their bids and enjoy the various events planned throughout the week.
"It's a fun event," Oxx said. "It always brings out the best in Carroll County."
Sunday, Dec. 1: Free movie screenings: 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.: "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation." 1 and 5 p.m.: "Elf".
Monday, Dec. 2: Members Monday — Current members enjoy 10 percent discount in Gallery of Gifts.
Tuesday, Dec. 3: Ornament Swap Day
Wednesday, Dec. 4: Wine Wednesday
Thursday, Dec. 5: Sounds of the Season Student Recital featuring performances by students from Coffey Music.
Friday, Dec. 6: Ugly Sweater
Saturday, Dec. 7: Kids Day
Sunday, Dec. 8: Purple Pride Day.
For information, call 410-848-7272.
The Carroll County Arts Center is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, and is located at 91 W. Main St. in Westminster.