Football festival brings Baltimore Ravens back to Carroll

While they won't be here for training camp anymore, some Ravens players will be on hand in Carroll for the inaugural Baltimore Summer Football Festival.

The festival, which will be held Aug. 18 at the Carroll County Ag Center Shipley Arena, will bring Ravens players back to town after the team announced last year it would move its training camp from McDaniel College to a facility in Owings Mills.

The festival was organized by LGC Sports Marketing in partnership with the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce.

Phil Walls, owner and president of LGC Sports Marketing, said he was approached by members of the chamber of commerce to create a new event for the many Ravens fans in the area, now that training camp has been relocated.

The result was the inaugural Baltimore Summer Football Festival.

"As a fan you're kind of disappointed about the training camp leaving Westminster, but from a business stand point you understand why it was done," Walls said. "I definitely think it certainly isn't going to replace training camp, but this is going to be an annual event that will bring the Ravens back."

He said he hopes the event draws fans to Carroll County from all over Maryland and the surrounding states, just like training camp did for years.

"I think it will be cool to do something else in the area," he said. "Fans have definitely shown the ability to come out for the team in the past."

Walls said he wanted to find a way for fans to interact with their favorite team, so he decided to make the main attraction at the festival the players themselves.

Admission to the event, which runs from 2-10 p.m., is $5 per person, or free for children 17 or younger. A portion of admission proceeds will be donated to various charities, including the Toys For Tots Foundation, Walls said.

Ray Lewis will be on hand at 9 p.m. to sign autographs for anyone who purchases a special Ray Lewis autograph ticket for $80, in addition to general admission tickets, Walls said, although he won't be able to pose for any photographs.

Walls said he recommends purchasing Ray Lewis autograph tickets in advance, because tickets might sell out.

More than a dozen current and former Ravens players, as well as Baltimore Colts alumni, will also be at the event signing autographs and taking pictures free of charge, he said.

Some of the players featured at the event will be Terrence Cody, Kelechi Osemele, Cary Williams, Tandon Doss, Christian Thompson, Curtis Painter, Danny Gorrer, and Baltimore Colts alumni Tom Matte and Stan White.

Walls said the player's autograph signings will be on a first come, first serve basis. Each player will sign for approximately 45 minutes, and will then mingle with the crowd at the festival, he said.

Attendees and players will take part in interactive games, and there will be a kid zone, with activities specifically for children.

Adults 21 and older will be able to enjoy a beer garden sponsored by The Greene Turtle of Westminster.

Lee Nardyz, general manager of The Greene Turtle Westminster, said the beer garden will feature a variety of beer selections, as well as orange crushes and grapefruit crushes.

The restaurant will also be among several vendors selling food at the festival.

There will be a silent auction and several local businesses will be on display at the event.

Mike McMullen, president of the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce, said he thinks the event will have a positive impact on the community.

"I do think it's something that could just help to bring the linkage of Westminster and the Ravens back, if even for one day," he said. "It should be a really fun time to get ready for football to start and be able to network with each other and have a great time."