Record crowds jam the festivals in Towson, at Hampton estate Nearly 300,000 at Towsontown, 5,000 at estate.


The traffic jam in Towson involved people not cars as what was said to be record crowds visited the Towsontown Spring Festival over the weekend.

Happy for a respite, Annette Libercci and her husband, Joe, sat on a bench yesterday eating food bought at the festival.

"There were people trudging all over my feet and someone spilled ketchup all over his shirt -- but besides that, it's fine," Annette Libercci said of the crowd.

Susan K. DiLonardo, executive director of the Towson Business Association which sponsored the festival, said the turnout -- estimated at nearly 300,000 for the event's two days -- was the largest in the festival's 24-year history.

Music stands, 375 food stands and other outdoor vending equipment lined streets leading from the old Baltimore County courthouse.

"It was packed," said John Richards, a security guard.

Proceeds from the festival will be used for community activities like landscaping projects, said DiLonardo.

"It's a community event that brings together lots of community businesses," DiLonardo said. "The proceeds will go back into the community."

The Hampton Heritage Festival was another Towson-area event that attracted a record crowd.

The event, staged along Hampton Drive, commemorates the history of the Colonial-era Hampton Estate, an agricultural and industrial center where 400 people are believed to have lived at one time.

Yesterday, the festival attracted 5,000 people, twice as many as last year, said Adam Karalius, site manager and National Park Ranger.

"We were expecting larger than average crowds, but this went beyond our expectations," Karalius said.

The Hampton Heritage Festival featured a petting zoo, black songs and dances and Colonial-era industries such as doll-making and the manufacture of musical instruments. There also was a tour of the Hampton Mansion and farm.

Alex Bready, 9, a fourth-grader at Rogers Forge Elementary School, saw a notice for the heritage fesitval in the school library. He urged his mother to take him to the festival.

"He thought the festival would fit in well with the things he learned" during his school's Colonial theme day, said his mother, Ann Bready.

"Oh, man, look at all that stuff!" Alex exclaimed as looked at a pasture dotted with cows, horses and people dressed in colonial garb.

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