Last week, a life-size standing suit of armor appeared on Main Street in Hampstead.
This week, there's a 250-pound folk art-style sleigh for children and a team of huskies -- and a carousel-sized rocking horse large and sturdy enough to ride.
The place where all this is happening is The ?, Hampstead's newest bric-a-brac shop on Main Street, opposite the Hampstead Fire Company.
"I want people to be curious," said shop owner Mark Rudolph, who figured the question mark would draw people with a broad range of interests.
"I carry a lot of unique and real different articles, some old, some new reproductions," he said, weaving between collections of glassware, costume jewelry, a 1970s doll collection and lots of usable furniture. "These items are, I'd say, more gift quality. Not upscale, but not junk, either."
So if you need, say, a Victorian-style bird cage, here you will find a floor model, 4 feet high.
Another, smaller house for birds is shaped like a hot air balloon.
There's a tiny child's microscope, still in its box from the 1940s; a reproduction cobalt-blue glass vanity set; Civil War-era glass goblets; an enormous paperweight shaped like a bottle stopper' and a cast iron tea cart.
In the window is a tricycle with a tiny horse for a seat, a toy reproduced from long ago.
"I've seen the original. I can get the original. But it doesn't look as good," Mr. Rudolph says.
With the mix of authentic items and reproductions, Mr. Rudolph doesn't hesitate to show which is which.
"People don't care, if you're honest," whether something is very old or just looks that way, he says.
For seven years, Mr. Rudolph operated Jessica's Pride, a used furniture and junk store in Reisterstown. For his Hampstead store, he decided to offer more small collectible items.
"I wanted to add to the community, but didn't want to do the same as Queen's Collectibles or King's Antiques," he said. He said he was delighted to be visited by some local merchants who welcomed his store to Main Street.
Mr. Rudolph finds goods for his shop at auctions and on jaunts to New Jersey. Oak items sell in Maryland, he says, but not mahogany ones. So he takes his mahogany finds north and returns with oak.
His "Oriental connection" supplies the shop with reproduced 17th-century, rose, medallion-style plates and ginger jars.
He also stocks a number of reproduction cast-iron penny banks and doorstops made in the United States and Canada.
Visitors to Hampstead just might enjoy a melon-sized Humpty Dumpty made of blown glass for the Christmas tree. Or perhaps original English plates showing the wedding of Charles and Diana. They're at The ?.
The ? is open from noon to 6 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays; and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays. It is closed Wednesdays.
Information: Mark Rudolph, 833-3980.
The Lineboro Volunteer Fire Company won several top honors last month at the annual Maryland State Firemen's Convention in Ocean City. Awards were presented for fire prevention activities within the community and hours of individual training completed by each firefighter.
A video scrapbook of the company's activities during the past year won first place in a category of fire companies throughout Maryland that serve populations of 1,500 to 2,500.
"Our historian and PR man, Jim Buckley, dabbles with video for weddings and such, and he put our video together, edited it and put music to it," said Lineboro Fire Chief John Krebs. "He also narrated it to describe what we did."
Mr. Buckley's camera filmed the annual open house, when fire and emergency stations were manned by fire company volunteers. The camera went into schools and day care centers when the firemen showed equipment and gave talks on fire prevention and emergency care. The video showed the company's year-round efforts to educate the community.
The Lineboro open house, a one-day event, also was portrayed in a paper scrapbook, for which the company earned another first-place honor.
The Lineboro Fire Company earned fourth place in a run-off competition that compared all the year-round activity videos and scrapbooks from companies serving communities of all sizes.
"We received a $75 check, which we'll put into fire prevention activities," Chief Krebs said. "We also received a pretty nice plaque to hang on the wall."
Lineboro also won the competition three years ago.
Each volunteer member of the Lineboro fire company received 47 hours of training last year. The company ranked fifth against all other fire companies in Maryland and won an award plaque. Last year, the company placed first for hours of training and took home a 4-foot trophy, which it relinquished this year.
Chief Krebs said he enjoyed seeing his company bring awards home to Carroll County. "It lets the members get recognition for their work," he said.
Spend Labor Day riding a bicycle with the Hanover Cyclers, who have scheduled their 17th annual Labor Day ride for Sept. 4. You can choose to pedal a route of 100, 62, 50 or 25 miles.
Cyclists who have ridden with the Hanover club say these rides are well-marked and easily followed, on lightly traveled roads originating at the South Street Recreation Park in McSherrystown, Pa.
Trail mix is offered before the ride, food stops are scheduled along the longer routes, and drinks and snacks are provided after the ride.
Registration before Aug. 25 is encouraged, and a must if you want to purchase a commemorative T-shirt. Riders also may register starting at 6:30 a.m. at the event. Fees before Aug. 25 are $9 per rider and after Aug. 25, $11. There is no charge for children under age 16.
Information: Hanover Cyclers, c/o Jim Kappes, 17 Briberry Lane, Hanover, Pa. 17331.