Jazz and flowers succeed as odd combo for festival


Sierra Hurtt came to hear the jazz. Jean Brown came to check out the hanging plants and flowers. Others wandered over to Westminster's Flower and Jazz Festival after watching a national bicycle race.

The city's Flower and Jazz Festival attracted more than 4,000 people to downtown Westminster yesterday, and fair organizers, vendors and musicians deemed the event a success.

Celebrating jazz and flowers may have given some pause, but organizers said the combination worked out well.

"People really like the combination," said Carol Donovan, one of the fair's organizers and Westminster's recreation director.

The fair drew crowds downtown to watch the third stage of the Tour Du Pont bicycle race, which began in Port Deposit and crossed through Hampstead and Westminster before veering westward to Frederick.

Spectators lined two and three deep along West Main Street and Railroad Avenue, where about 130 cyclists sped through about 1 p.m, followed by a caravan of promoters and support vehicles.

"They were all so close together," said Ken Mayr, a Westminster accountant who came downtown to see the race. "It's not every day you get to see something like this. I really thought they'd be more spread out. It went so quickly."

Because of the Tour Du Pont, the Flower and Jazz Festival was limitedto one block of East Main Street, closed to motorists. In the past, the fair, sponsored by the City of Westminster and the Downtown Merchants Association, spread over the first blocks of East Main and West Main streets.

The event had been dubbed the Westminster Flower Festival, which the city promoted to mark spring, spring planting and Mother's Day. Although music was part of the festival, organizers decided to narrow the field of music and chose to add jazz to the billing this year.

"We chose jazz because the vendors have to sit by it all day, and it had to be something pleasing to them," Ms. Donovan said.

That decision drew no complaints from Ross Snell, one of the vendors selling hanging plants and flowers on East Main Street.

"There's been a good turnout," said Mr. Snell, manager of Snell's Greenhouses in Mount Airy. "I'm really pleased. We have a better set- up this year, and you couldn't have asked for better weather."

Mr. Snell estimated he had sold half of the 150 hanging plants and 3,500 small plants that he and his staff had carted to a spot in front of

DTC the Carroll County Public Library.

Sewell's Farm also reported brisk business.

"It's been real nice," said Linda Sell, an employee of the Taneytown farm. "It's been real steady."

Mrs. Brown of Taneytown came to check out the flowers and plants from several greenhouses and to see old friends.

"I've lived in Carroll County since 1936," said Mrs. Brown, a member of two garden clubs. "So, when you come to these things, you see a lot of friends. And there's a lot of goodies."

Mrs. Brown also took in the Tour Du Pont.

L "That was an added attraction," she said. "It was an extra."

Ms. Hurtt, a Western Maryland College senior, heard the jazz from her Westminster apartment and decided to venture downtown.

"I came down to check it out," she said. "I've looked at flowers and sneezed."

Bob Coffey, owner of Coffey Music in the Winchester Exchange, said he thought the jazz went over well with fair-goers.

"I thought it was kind of an odd combination when they first told me about it," said Mr. Coffey, who performed with the Flat 5 Jazz Quintet. "But it seems to be all right."

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