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From Peeper Rabbit, a sugary Peep samurai costume, a Peep replica of the McDaniel College archway promoting the institution’s 150th anniversary, a globe consisting of 2,400 pieces of the marshmallow confections and even a rainbow unicorn Peep poo emoji, there is something for everyone at Carroll County’s annual Easter tradition — the PEEPshow.

What has become the Carroll County Arts Council’s signature event is now in its 11th year, opening for the public Thursday and continuing through Tuesday, April 10, at the Carroll Arts Center on W. Main St. in Westminster. Nearly 150 marshmallowy works of art are on display, primarily carefully crafted Peeps sculptures, but also mosaics, dioramas and videos inspired by the Easter treat.

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Since its inception, the event has been featured on “NBC Nightly News,” in People magazine and numerous other national media outlets, while also inspiring similar art shows from Rochester, New York, to Riverside, California, featuring the confection made by Pennsylvania’s Just Born Inc.

If you've never been, we encourage you to attend and vote for your favorite entries to support members of the community who put a lot of time, money and effort into creating these joyous pieces of art, as well as the greater art and business community in Westminster and Carroll County.

More than 26,000 visitors attended last year’s PEEPshow and, while admission is free, the event helped the Arts Council net more than $70,000 last year through the sales of voting chips, treats and merchandise. That makes up roughly 10 percent of the nonprofit’s annual budget, according to Executive Director Sandy Oxx, and that money goes right back into the community, funding scholarships, free summertime movies, arts grants, camps and classes and other cultural programs the Arts Council provides throughout the year.

Pushing their PEEPshow entry on a dolly from Peterson Hall down Westminster’s Main Street, McDaniel College professor Chloe Irla and the college’s physical plant staff took an hour to transport the replica of McDaniel’s Ward Memorial Arch and had to stop periodically to shovel snow out of the way.

With so many people descending on Carroll over the course of the next few weeks or so, it’s not just the Arts Council that stands to benefit. We hope that visitors will spend time perusing Main Street businesses in Westminster and perhaps get some lunch or dinner with their family at a local restaurant.

The Carroll Arts Center will be for PEEPshow visitors every day between now and April 10, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Voting chips are $1 each, with prize packages awarded to the five entries receiving the most in-person votes and to the five entries receiving the most online votes. The overall grand prize winner will be determined by combining the number of in-person and online votes.

If you can’t attend, or if you just want to show a little more support for your favorite Peep Picasso, you may vote for your favorites online by visiting www.carrollcountyartscouncil.org and follow the links to the online voting portal, or go to www.gogophotocontest.com/peepshow2018. (Don’t forget to click the “More” button under the top 10 to make sure you peep every entry!)

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