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Festival puts history to good use Proceeds benefit nonprofit agencies


Before the modern fanny pack was invented, says Don Chapman, men wore leather pouches strung around their waists. He prefers the pouch, which he used for his money and other personal effects while he walked about the second annual Carroll County Renaissance Festival over the weekend.

Mr. Chapman and his wife, Cindy, both 31, attended the festival Saturday and came back for more Sunday.

"We love the Renaissance period," the Westminster resident said. "It's a way to step out of the 20th century and go back . . . to a simpler time."

The festival, at the Winchester Country Inn, is the brainchild of volunteers and staff at Carroll Hospice, in partnership with Target Inc.

The hospice provides volunteers who help people through the last months of a terminal illness. Target provides residential and job services for people who are mentally disabled.

Proceeds will benefit the two private, nonprofit agencies, which hoped to raise $8,000 between them, said Donald Rabush, Target's executive director.

Last year's festival was plagued by cold and rain. Exhibitor Sandra Bottomley of Waynesboro, Pa., recalled she had on three skirts just to keep warm. Except for an occasional sprinkle yesterday, the weather this weekend was warm and dry.

Mrs. Bottomley was selling gargoyles and grotesques made by her husband, John.

The Bottomleys said the Carroll festival is full of entertainers, games, crafts and food, but does not have the long waiting list of the Crownsville festival or the high exhibitor fees of some festivals in Pennsylvania.

As the Carroll Players performed skits on a barn stage with bales of hay for seats, actors from that troupe and other companies wandered through the festival in character.

The Chapmans listened to Kathleen Ulmen of Rockville sing an old English melody at one point. Afterward, Ms. Ulmen tried to sell the couple a colorful feather fan, saying how effective it was.

Mr. Chapman countered that a dunk in a pond would be equally effective.

"Ah, yes, but the fan you could take with you, and the pond you could not," Ms. Ulmen countered.

Jesters, musicians, fire jugglers and jousters were among the entertainment.

The Chapmans were especially amused by a man walking around dressed as a beggar and carrying a large bag, asking for donations to the two agencies. They didn't realize the man was Dr. Rabush.

Known for his boisterousness even when he isn't at a Renaissance festival, Dr. Rabush caused two women to blush after they forked over a donation, Mr. Chapman said.

"He jumped up on the table and said, 'Cheap! Cheap! These ladies are cheap!' " Mr. Chapman said, chuckling.

Food at the festival ranged from old-world lunch baskets of meat pastry, fruit, bread and cheese, served in a wooden basket, to pit beef, ribs and pizza.

James High, a Middle River caterer, offered giant barbecued turkey legs, which looked like something King Henry VIII would have waved around between royal bites.

Few festivalgoers dressed for the period, but Leigh Anne Reger, 18, of Finksburg, came resplendent in a green velvet dress with leather lacing up the front and a gold and white brocaded cape.

She had an inside track on the vestments: She works at The Costume Shoppe on East Main Street.

"Yesterday, a lot of people came in at the last minute" looking for something appropriate to wear to the festival, Ms. Reger said.

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