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A new wrinkle this year for Carroll County Arts Council’s Festival of Wreaths

Merry Chickmas, by Wendy Miller, is one of the wreaths on display and up for virtual auction at this year's Festival of Wreaths hosted by Carroll County Arts Council.
Merry Chickmas, by Wendy Miller, is one of the wreaths on display and up for virtual auction at this year's Festival of Wreaths hosted by Carroll County Arts Council. (Courtesy Photo)

Carroll County Arts Council’s signature event of the holiday season is nearly here, and officials say their Westminster facility will be ready to host amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The annual Festival of Wreaths is set to take place Nov. 27 through Dec. 6 at Carroll Arts Center from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Bidding on wreaths closes at 4 p.m. Dec. 6.

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Wreaths hang on the walls in an upstairs gallery for during the 22nd Festival of Wreaths at the Carroll County Arts Center on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019.
Wreaths hang on the walls in an upstairs gallery for during the 22nd Festival of Wreaths at the Carroll County Arts Center on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019. (Brian Krista/Carroll County Times)

Judy Morley, CAC’s executive director, said the Festival of Wreaths is set to go on regardless of whether the state tightens its restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus during the holidays. The fundraising event, now in its 23rd year, is a display of decorative wreaths ranging from wacky to whimsical to wondrous.

Those walking through the gallery are likely to see wreaths made or adorned with household items, such as thumb tacks, duct tape, or toilet paper rolls, as well as painted crab shells uses auto parts, and wine corks. Many also come with special items like gift cards to local businesses or tickets to local and regional attractions, according to a CAC news release.

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Morley said Carroll Arts Center is properly marked for social distance guidelines, and volunteers will be on hand to help limit the amount of two-way traffic flowing through the gallery. Wreaths will be spaced out to allow for more room around the gallery, she said.

Kaiya Parthree, 7, of Hanover, Pa.,smiles for a picture being taken by her mother, Samantha Schlitzer, while sitting gently on the edge of a truck tire wreath called "Country Christmas" by Mona Becker, during the 22nd Festival of Wreaths at the Carroll County Arts Center on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019.
Kaiya Parthree, 7, of Hanover, Pa.,smiles for a picture being taken by her mother, Samantha Schlitzer, while sitting gently on the edge of a truck tire wreath called "Country Christmas" by Mona Becker, during the 22nd Festival of Wreaths at the Carroll County Arts Center on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019. (Brian Krista/Carroll County Times)

The silent auction is also on schedule, and Morley said it’s moving online this year as well. Doing so removes the process of people using pens and clipboards when making a bid as they peruse the wreaths, she said.

Plus, customers this year can use an app called Handbid to complete the bidding process from their cellphones.

This way, Morley said, “If we do have to shut down at the last minute ... we’ll still be able to have it because everything’s photographed and online.”

Last year’s Festival of Wreaths raised more than $20,000 for Carroll County Arts Council, and this year’s event is expected to feature more than 100 wreaths up for auction. CAC will also be awarding 10 audience choice prizes. The public can vote for their favorites through an album that will be posted on the Carroll Arts Center’s Facebook page, where the most reactions will decide the winners.

Carol Piechowiak makes her way through rows of wreaths during the 22nd Festival of Wreaths at the Carroll County Arts Center on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019.
Carol Piechowiak makes her way through rows of wreaths during the 22nd Festival of Wreaths at the Carroll County Arts Center on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019. (Brian Krista/Carroll County Times)

Morley said Carroll Arts Center staff has doubled its cleaning efforts to ensure the Festival of Lights goes as planned.

“If we have it in-person, we feel really confident that we can keep people as safe as [possible],” Morley said. “If for some reason we aren’t allowed to have it in-person, then we can still have it ready to go online and we won’t skip a beat.”

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