As folks string up giant cobwebs, prepare witch's brews and start planning gourd-based decorations in advance of the spookiest night of the year, Carroll community organizations are planning a host of harvest and Halloween-themed family activities.
Sunday, Oct. 19, Taneytown will celebrate the emergence of fall with the eighth annual Fall Harvest Fest. The event will feature live music, pumpkin painting, crafts, a hay ride and a tractor show.
Nancy McCormick, economic development director with the city, said this is the second year they have combined the Fall Harvest Fest with the Tails of Taneytown pet parade.
"We've been trying to do a lot of different things downtown, so last year we brought together the pet parade with the harvest festival," McCormick said. "It seemed to be a major hit, and people responded very well, so we knew we had to bring it back this year."
The pet competition features awards for best tail wagger, best kisser, best pet lookalike and best costume. McCormick said last year they had dogs, cats, bunnies, ferrets and even an alpaca participate in the pet parade. To tie the pet show into the harvest and Halloween themes, there will also be a best costume category for pets and their owners to compete in.
At the Harvest festival, canned food and toiletries will be collected for area church pantries, and pet parade registration costs will support the Humane Society of Carroll County.
Families looking for a more historical and agricultural celebration of the harvest would do well to visit the Carroll County Farm Museum's Fall Harvest Days Oct. 18 and 19. The museum has hosted a harvest festival since the museum's establishment in 1966. The event was first developed as a way to showcase historical farm harvest practices as well as celebrate the modern harvest. Today, the museum continues its educational mission during the Harvest Days with threshing demonstrations and museum tours.
In addition, the event has expanded to feature live bluegrass, folk and country music, food and craft vendors, scarecrow making, old-fashioned games and a children's costume parade.
Uniontown will host a ghost tour for the first time this year as a fundraiser for Historic Uniontown Inc., according to Kit Bloom, of the organization. Ticket sales will go specifically to aid in the restoration of the Academy, a one-room schoolhouse in Uniontown, which will also serve as the beginning of the tour.
Bloom said she and other members of Historic Uniontown Inc. attended a ghost tour last year which developed the idea for the fundraising.
"I think it's the storytelling people like. They like to hear the history; well, this isn't really history, but it's what could be out there," Bloom said. "It's fun and entertaining and a little educational."
The ghost tour will begin at the Academy, take guests through the cemetery and tour through four homes whose owners claim they have experienced supernatural phenomena.
Organization members reached out to Uniontown residents to discover the spooky stories in their past, Bloom said, then cross-referenced the supernatural stories with historical records to find the previous owners of the "haunted" properties to discover the potentially chilling backstories.
The following Tuesday, Oct. 21, the Westminster branch of the Carroll County Public Library will host the Ghost Walk of Westminster. The tour takes guests on a 1.5-mile walk throughout downtown Westminster to visit prominent locations with possible ghostly connections, including the Opera House Printing Company, the Courthouse and Cockey's Tavern. The Ghost Walk is free, but requires registration at http://www.library.carr.org.
For those looking for a more horrifying experience, families can check out the annual Lineboro volunteer fire company fundraiser, Bedlam in the Boro.
The event features a haunted hayride with costumed actors waiting in the dark to leap out and frighten unsuspecting riders, as well as a House of Horror, a child-friendly Bedlam Bypass hayride and live music.
The event began in early October, and continues every Friday and Saturday through Oct. 25 in Lineboro.
For those who would rather be on the other end of the scaring, Westminster will host its annual Halloween parade Saturday, Oct. 25. Folks can dress in their Vincent Price best and attempt to take home first prize in a series of categories that includes most gruesome, most comical and best group.
Preceding the parade is a haunted house at the Westminster branch of the Carroll County Public Library, a Spooky Sprint fun run and trick-or-treating among the Main Street businesses.
Reach staff writer Jacob deNobel at 410-857-7890 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If You Go
What: Taneytown Harvest Festival
When: 10 a.m-3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 19
Where: Taneytown Memorial Park, West Baltimore Street, Taneytown
For more information: Visit http://www.taneytown.org or call 410-751-1100
What: Carroll County Farm Museum Fall Harvest Days
When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 18 and 19
Where: 500 S. Center St., Westminster
Cost: $5 adults, $4 ages 10 to 18 and 60 and older, 9 and younger free with adult
For more information: Visit http://www.carrollcountyfarmmuseum.org or call 410-386-3880
What: Uniontown Ghost Tour
When: 6:30-9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 18. Tours depart every half hour.
Where: Uniontown Academy, Uniontown Road, Uniontown
Cost: $10 adults, $5 for children younger than 13, $25 for family of three or more
For more information: Visit http://www.historicuniontown.org or call 443-929-0042
What: Ghost Walk of Westminster
When: 6:30 p.m. Oct. 21
Where: Westminster branch of the Carroll County Public Library, 50 E. Main St., Westminster
For more information: Visit http://www.library.carr.org or call 410-286-4488.
What: Bedlam in the Boro
When: 7:30-10:30 p.m. Oct. 17, 18, 24, 25
Where: 4224 Main St., Lineboro
Cost: $14 adult hayride and haunted house, $12 adult hayride, $10 adult haunted house. $10 child hayride and haunted house, $8 child hayride, $8 child haunted house.
For more information: Visit http://www.lineborovfd.org or call 410-239-4467.
What: Halloween Parade
When: 7 p.m. Oct. 25
Where: Monroe Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, Westminster
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For more information: Visit http://www.westgov.com or call 410-751-5501.