Carroll County Times

‘Art is for everyone’: Carroll County’s biggest tourism event, PEEPshow, opens to viewers Friday

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The 16th annual PEEPshow, showcasing dozens of larger-than-life art exhibits constructed using PEEPs marshmallow candies, returns Friday to the TownMall of Westminster at 400 N. Center St.

There will be 123 confectionary art offerings on display in the mall’s center court next to Boscov’s, from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday and from noon to 5:30 p.m. on Sundays (including Easter) until April 10.

The 14th Annual PEEPshow in 2021 was held for the first time at the TownMall of Westminster.

New to the PEEPshow this year is a 30-minute compilation of video entrants that will be shown on a loop Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Carroll Arts Center, 91 W. Main St., Westminster. Lynne Griffith, executive director of the Carroll County Arts Council, said the mall display is likely to be visited by more than 20,000 people.

“PEEPshow is free and everyone is welcome, and we hope to see everybody there,” Griffith said. “We have everything from PEEP sculptures to actual paintings and other sorts of crafts that are homages to the PEEP.”


In addition to engaging Carroll with community art, PEEPshow is a major fundraiser for the Carroll County Arts Council and affiliated Carroll Arts Center programming each year. The event is sponsored by several local entities, as well as the company that makes PEEPs, Just Born Inc. The space is donated by TownMall of Westminster.

Last year’s PEEPshow raised more than $50,000 for the arts, with more than $33,000 of that from sales of chips that allow attendees to cast votes for their favorite displays. Top vote-getters will be displayed at the Just Born Inc. PEEP factory in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

So far this year, the Carroll Arts Center has provided more than $15,000 worth of free family programing, Griffith said, as well as thousands of dollars in community art grants and scholarships.

“The PEEPshow is the perfect example of what a community art center provides to the community,” Griffith said. “Anybody can participate in PEEPshow. We have professional artists, and we have moms and dads and grandmas working with their kids. It shows that art is for everyone and everyone can participate. You don’t need to have formal training, you don’t have to have expensive materials, you just have to have imagination. That’s what PEEPshow is all about. It’s the perfect example of how art is for all of us and we all get something out of it.”

The PEEPshow is held at TownMall of Westminster.

The TownMall location for PEEPshow offers more space for longer viewing of each piece and better disability accessibility than the previous Carroll Arts Center location, Griffith said. The space also has a designated photo area and a store selling PEEPs merchandise, with a portion of the proceeds going to the arts council.

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New designs on T-shirts and bags, created by local artist and Carroll County Arts Council education and visual arts coordinator Moriah Tyler, show classic art with a PEEPs twist. PEEPshow visitors can also adopt stuffed PEEPs for the first time this year.

Also new this year, a PEEPs passport will allow attendees to receive 10 free voting chips if they can find the hidden plush PEEPs in eight participating downtown Westminster businesses before April 8. Griffith said the arts council wants to support Westminster businesses, especially since the Carroll Arts Center PEEPshow location used to drive foot traffic downtown.

Those interested in completing a PEEPs passport can visit the art center, Ain’t That a Frame, American Ice Co. Cafe, JeannieBird Baking Co., Rafael’s Steak and Oyster, Westminster New and Used Furniture, Run Moore, Off Track Art, Heart Made Collaborative, Cultivated, Rudolph Girl Books, Flourish Beauty Studio, Carroll County Public Library Exploration Commons, Rare Opportunity Bakehouse or Maggie’s Restaurant.


“It means a lot of things to a lot of different people,” Griffith said, “and we’re gonna do it forever. As long as PEEPs exists, there will be a PEEPshow.”

The idea for the PEEPshow began when former Carroll County Arts Council Executive Director Sandy Oxx entered a Washington Post contest for PEEPs-based art, Griffith said. Oxx lost the contest, but was inspired to bring a PEEPs art event to Carroll County.

Carroll’s arts council frequently provides advice to other towns and cities interested in starting their own PEEPshow, and similar events have sprung up around the country. Griffith said Carroll County’s PEEPshow is among the oldest and biggest in the country.

“It’s been 16 years and it gets bigger and better every year,” Griffith said, “and we owe it all to Sandy Oxx.”