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Bel Air

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What once was a small almost rural community about 20 miles north of Baltimore has developed slowly but surely into a bustling suburb, with shopping centers and housing developments springing up from the old farmers' fields.

Bel Air is everything that you might expect from a upper-middle class slice of suburbia. With all the chain stores and restaurants, several gyms and an "athletic club," Bel Air appears to have been planned to cater to this audience. The town, though, has not forgotten its roots entirely and still boasts many small "Mom & Pop" style shops along Main Street, as well as an open air Farmers' Market every Tuesday and Saturday from April to November. This is the quintessence of Bel Air; it is a mash-up of the last century and the coming century, a mixing of the small rural town with all the trappings of an urbane setting. Bel Air is a town in flux, and with each passing year it grows and changes.

Bel Air features an excellent school system, something that has drawn many newcomers into the area. Many young families moving away from Baltimore have settled in Harford County thanks to an educational system that is touted as one of the best in the state. To that effect, Harford Community College, which opened in 1957, now occupies more than 300 acres and is affiliated with two four-year universities -- Towson and Villa Julie.

Although Bel Air has become increasingly urbane, it still shows its rural roots every July with the Harford County Farm Fair. This event is run by local 4-H organizers and shows off farm equipment and livestock along with live music, tractor pulls and games. The Farm Fair is just one of the outdoor activities that take place around Bel Air, with many outdoor trails, Rockfield Park and the nearby Rocks State Park.

In Bel Air, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Location: Harford County

Schools: Harford Community College, Bel Air High School, C. Milton Wright High School, Bel Air Middle School, Southampton Middle School, Bel Air Elementary School, Hickory Elementary School, Homestead/Wakefield Elementary School, Prospect Mill Elementary School, Ring Factory Elementary School, The John Carroll School, St. Margaret's School

Highlights/Landmarks: Bel Air Farmers' Market, Liriodendron Mansion, Harford County Farm Fair, Main Street, Rockfield Park

Trivia: John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln, was a Bel Air native.

Ice skating champion Kimmie Meisner is also a Bel Air native and attended Fallston High School.
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