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43rd Towsontown Spring Festival brings success by the thousands

The organizers of the 43rd annual Towsontown Spring Festival did everything they could to ensure this weekend's celebration went well. Mother Nature did the rest.

The streets of downtown Towson were lined with vendors and refreshments of all kinds Saturday morning, preparing for the heavy afternoon crowd that was to follow.

"It doesn't get any better than this," Nancy Hafford, executive director of the Towson Chamber of Commerce, said after leading an opening ceremony that featured County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and a host of other elected officials. "We have two days of wonderful sunshine here."

Although clouds threatened to produce thundestorms later in the afternoon, the morning and mid-day sun was universally appreciated by the thousands on hand at an event that boasts just about something for everyone.

For some in attendance, like Robyn McCray of Towson, this year's event was enjoyed from a different perspective. Her nephews, Gabriel, 5, and Gavin, 3, traveled from the Eastern Shore for the festival, and they spent the early afternoon feeding the baby goats in the children's play area.

Likewise, Michelle Chrisakis of Parkville, who has been attending the event since she was a little girl, couldn't remember if the pony rides that her daughter, Mia, was looking forward to were always a festival feature.

Nevertheless, Mia will have memories of the annual May celebration to last a long time.

"Mia's been here every year," Chrisakis said. "It's tradition."

For others, like Bill Norman, it's nostalgia that keeps him returning year after year. He grew up in Towson and now lives in Harford County, although he and his wife, Sandy, return to his old stomping grounds every year for the festival.

"It's kind of like coming home," Bill Norman said.

Still, everyone has a first time at the festival, and Saturday was that day for Towson artist Vernon Hampton.

Clutching a cheeseburger and fries, he said he was enjoying the event and could maybe see himself running a booth in the future.

While Hampton may not have been cognizant of all that goes into staging the event, 5th District Councilman David Marks, acknowledged the work of the countless volunteers who made things happen.

One of those volunteers, Margo Madsen, a 22-year-old Towson University student, was working in the children's area as a ticket taker for the inflatable slide. The chamber of commerce was paying her student group, Students Helping Honduras, to staff the event, with all the money the club received going to their various projects.

She said it was easy work except for when kids were stuck up top, which happened just once Saturday morning.

Even then, there was always something — crafts, candy, or cuisine— just around the corner to bring a smile back to their faces.

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