Racing waiters bearing cups full of water and roving historic re-enactors will greet visitors at this weekend's sixth annual Millfest in historic Ellicott City.
"Millfest celebrates Ellicott City as a mill town," said Nancy Gibson, promotional coordinator of the three-day event that begins Friday. "It's a combination of good music, good food and fun stuff."
Stores will be open until midnight Friday, and some merchants are expected to wear Colonial garb in honor of the festival. A dunking booth will provide cool entertainment, and children can toss horseshoes and bean bags near the reconstructed log cabin at Main Street and Ellicott Mills Drive.
About 30 waiters and waitresses will participate in Sunday's Mill Race, in which competitors try to carry cups full of water down Main Street without wasting a drop. This year, WJZ-TV weather reporter Bob Turk will preside over the event.
"They're judged on speed and how much they can carry on their trays," Ms. Gibson said.
The winner will get $250 in cash. The second- and third-place contestants will receive $100 and $50, respectively.
Festival-goers also can take a bus tour of historic buildings in the area. As many as six tours will be offered from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Each tour lasts 25 minutes and will include the Patapsco Female Institute, Main Street, and Maryland's only grist mill, the Wilkens Rogers Co., on Frederick Road. Tickets are $4 for adults and $2 for children under 12. They can be purchased at the log cabin.
Event organizers expect about 10,000 people to attend this year's festival. Because of the heat, only half that number showed up last year, Ms. Gibson said.
To avoid the heat, this year's festival will include more evening activities.
Millfest evolved from a similar event called Christmas in July, in
which some stores stayed open until midnight. But few merchants participated in that event.
"They wanted to do something a little more old-fashioned," Ms. Gibson said. "Christmas in July wasn't unique anymore."
Millfest runs from 6 p.m. to midnight Friday, and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.