I've been thinking about … Fallfest.
Nothing announces the end of summer and the beginning of a new season like Fallfest. The event has been around since 1978 and began as the community's effort to revitalize downtown Westminster. Thirty-eight years later, toward the end of September, the City of Westminster still turns itself into one gigantic party. Fallfest 2016, which begins tonight, Sept. 22 and goes through Sunday, Sept. 25, will be no exception.
Fallfest will still be located at Westminster City Park and the parking lot behind Main Street but things will look quite different. The rides will be on the parking lot and the vendors will be in the park. We will still have the fun of watching the Fallfest Parade down Main Street at 7 p.m. Thursday, Midnight Madness in downtown Westminster on Friday, carnival rides all weekend as well as the Scarecrow Making, Dime Pitch, Bingo, Kid's Court and Karaoke, all managed by this year's nonprofit beneficiaries — the Westminster Lion's Club, Westminster Rescue Mission, Carroll County Therapeutic Recreation, Kiwanis of Westminster and the Carroll County Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
The Community Foundation of Carroll County has been given the opportunity to manage the Information Booth where we will greet the public, give directions and answer questions for Fallfest revelers. Stop by and say hello and pick up one of our annual reports. We are also lining up singers for the National Anthem, which will include the Old Line Statesmen, our local barbershop chorus. I will take the first singing slot on Thursday just before the parade, so come on down, put your hand over your heart and sing with me.
The Fallfest Board of Directors and their committee have some new attractions for us this year. There will be a beer garden, cornhole tournament and roller derby all managed by Westminster Kiwanis. There will be a cheerleading exposition and the ever-popular karaoke contest for both adults and youth. A local Farm Marketplace is another new feature this year.
No description of Fallfest would be complete without mention of the wonderful food vendors who present an extraordinary variety of fun foods for our enjoyment. I particularly enjoy the breakfast sandwiches provided by the Lion's Club for the early morning set up on Saturday. There is also a huge variety of commercial vendors who offer merchandise, often locally made. It's not too early to use this opportunity to start your Christmas shopping or to pick up a piece of art that catches your eye.
Saturday and Sunday many of our Carroll County nonprofit organizations set up booths at Fallfest and present the services they offer to the community. You will see a wide range of services from a Great Dane rescue to voter information in the upcoming election and everything in between. But just as importantly, they present a wide variety of volunteer opportunities for community service hours for Carroll County Public School students to complete their required hours for graduation. And while I believe that the community service requirement for graduation is a good thing, there is nothing like the good example of a parent or other significant adult (read that as grandparent) to teach a child that volunteerism is a big and important part of living in a community. I think of community service as a habit that needs to be developed early and practiced your whole life long.
Come out this weekend and start a new family tradition.
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Audrey Cimino is executive director of The Community Foundation of Carroll County. She writes from Westminster.