Fall comes floating in Annual Fallfest to feature parade, hot air balloon race CENTRAL -- Union Mills * Westminster * Sandymount * Finksburg


An all-new Westminster Fallfest will arrive tomorrow when the 16th annual celebration of autumn opens with a parade at 7 p.m. from Western Maryland College down Main Street to East Middle School on Longwell Avenue.

The 10th annual parade will feature former Oriole Paul Blair as grand marshal; high school marching bands from Westminster, North Carroll, South Carroll and Francis Scott Key; the Boumi Temple Camels; clowns, costumed characters, floats and horses.

"We'll judge the floats for the first time -- the mayor will judge them," said Carol Donovan, director of recreation for the city. "Afterward, [radio personality] Jack Edwards will be doing his oldies show on the playground stage, and visitors can ride the rides all night for $6."

Friday starts with the second annual golf tournament at 8 a.m. at Western Maryland College.

Festivities downtown include old-fashioned outdoor bingo from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. (Saturday, too) run by Human Services Programs of Carroll County, which will get the proceeds.

Be prepared to rise early Saturday -- and hope it doesn't rain as it did last year -- for the hot air balloon race at 7 a.m. from East Middle School.

Thirteen balloons are scheduled to take off for parts unknown in pursuit of cash prizes.

"They'll start inflating about 6:30 a.m. and if people can get there then, it's absolutely beautiful to watch, and we have all kinds of balloons," Ms. Donovan said. "Then people can go over to the Westminster fire house for breakfast, starting at 5 a.m., and be there when the vendors open."

New at the Fallfest Saturday, local Boy Scouts and their fathers will enter baked goods in the Father/Son Bake-Off at 1 p.m.

After judging, the food goes on sale to the public.

At 2 p.m. visitors can practice their pig calling. Winners will take home a food package from Hahn's of Westminster.

"We have a little domestic pig, Stuart, we borrowed from Underwater Pets, and whoever gets the best response from him gets the prize," Ms. Donovan said. "Anybody can enter."

For those who think the King of rock 'n' roll lives, an Elvis look-alike contest starts at 7 p.m.

Michael Hoover's "Memories of Elvis" show follows at 8 p.m.

"He came highly recommended -- he's supposed to be one of the best," Ms. Donovan said. "He has costumes, lighting, backup singers, everything, so it's a real Elvis show."

Sunday's new event is Ma Baugher's Pie Eating Contest at 2 p.m.

Ten Westminster High School organizations have been invited -- the club representative finishing a cherry pie first wins a cash prize.

Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m., patrons will be able to shop the Pennsylvania Dutch Farmers' Market in the Armory compound.

For a sit-down spell away from it all, try the EnterTRAINment Line ride, but watch out for masked bandits from the 4-H Hoofbeat Saddle Club, who will be seeking donations for charity.

Trains will run at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday and at 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $7 for adults and $3 for children.

Beyond these highlights of the four-day event, downtown parking lots and the playground will be filled with commercial and craft vendors, roving performers, live stage entertainment, that purple dinosaur, pony rides, and a variety of foods and games.

Parking in city lots will be free for Fallfest.

Or, patrons can park at the County Office Building on Center Street and catch a free shuttle bus to the festival grounds every 15 minutes between noon and 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

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