From unicorn facepaint to historic demonstrations to even a bunch of live bees, the activities at the Carroll County Farm Museum Fourth of July were more than just a prelude for the night’s fireworks.
Dark clouds and scattered rain threatened during the day, but the event organizers decided the fireworks show must go one, even if they had to fire them off between raindrops, said Farm Museum Manager Joanne Weant.
Food vendors lined the grounds near crafts and kids activities. The sounds of live music and the smoky smells of carnival-style food rifted over everything, even over to the historic Hoff Barn where families could visit for a more historical bent on the day.
Volunteer Scott Carr has been donning his straw hat and antique-style white shirt for several years as a volunteer at the barn. Weant says he is one of several volunteers who give up their Fourth to volunteer so others can spend family-time.
But for Carr, 84, his connection to the property that is now a museum goes back much further. He remembers coming with his family bringing food to those that lived in the farmhouse when it served as the county almshouse.
A lot of children go wide-eyed, he said, when he tells them that growing up on a dairy farm he had to get up and milk the cows in the morning before school every morning.
After a few years giving the tours, it’s easy to tell which kids are interested, and which are not paying much attention, he said with amusement.
The volunteers ask kids questions to help them connect the barn back to their own lives, said Carr’s niece Rose Freberthauser, who also volunteered at the barn that day.
“What did you have for lunch?” or “How many sets of clothes do you have?” for example. When they answer something like pizza, it helps them realize just how many ingredients – eggs, milk, grain, meat—go into making just one modern-day dish.
The best groups, Carr said, are those that ask their own questions.
The free kids crafts and activities were what drew first-timers Samantha Lawson and her family to the Farm Museum this year. Their family of five were all dressed up in patriotic gear and were eagerly awaiting the fireworks later.
Another draw was the fact that they could bring their own lawn chairs, blankets and cooler of food at no additional cost.
The crafts were also a draw for sisters Maya and Maleah Dixon who were busy in the afternoon blowing bubbles on the lawn decked out in glittery face paint.
“There’s just so much for them here,” said their mother Melanie. “They love the arts and crafts.”
The newest addition to the Independence Day festivities were the Carroll County Beekeeper’s association, who brought about 6,000 of their fuzzy golden friends with them in an observation hive.
They visit events to bring attention to the importance of pollinators, said Secretary Monica Schmidt. It’s also a good way to connect with potential new beekeepers to bring into the fold.
Carroll is a place where you can find a lot of backyard beekeepers, member Emily Gannon said. It doesn’t require a lot of space.
Monthly, they have an event informally called the hive dive, where people at any experience level, kids included, are invited to come out to Hashawha Environmental Center to get hands-on with the bees there.
For Sherry Thomas, the day was a three-generation affair for her and her family. They went to the event before many previous years, but this was the first time they’d returned in a while after spending several July 4ths at the beach.
“It’s kind of nice to come back,” she said. For her grandchildren, the most exciting thing was getting to see the animals, she said.
These included the week-old Angus cross calves in the petting zoo. Members of the Kiwanis Club of Westminster could be found working the beer garden.
“We’re blessed,” he said of the collaboration between the Carroll County Office of Tourism, the Kiwanis Club and the local fire companies and law enforcement agencies for the event.
“One of the biggest challenges is traffic,” said Art Riley, a member of the Kiwanis Club of Westminster who just finished up a one-year term as vice-president of Kiwanis International. The fireworks draw large crowds to the rural roads around the farm museum.