Nationally known psychologist Joyce Brothers will be the keynote speaker for the Carroll County Women's Fair, a daylong event with workshops ranging from shiatsu massage to understanding the difference between a bull and a bear market on Wall Street.
The fair has grown steadily since a South Carroll businesswoman started it seven years ago. It is the largest all-volunteer fair of its kind in the state, said Janet Caldwell, co-chairwoman of the 2000 event.
Initially held at Carroll Community College with an attendance of 200 the first year, the fair has moved to larger quarters at Westminster High School. About 1,000 women are expected Saturday.
"A lot of the women who have called are mothers with daughters, and they buy a ticket for themselves and one for their daughters, and they make a day of it," Caldwell said.
The fair draws from the Baltimore metropolitan area, she said. About half of the attendees live in Carroll County, and the rest come from surrounding counties and Baltimore, Caldwell said. One Baltimore woman called to sign up for a workshop on country line dancing, which she didn't find readily in her city, Caldwell said.
Brothers was chosen as speaker for broad appeal, she said.
"We wanted to make the 2000 fair special," said Caldwell, who has a background in advertising and marketing.
For $15, women can choose up to three of the 93 workshops.
Internet basics and "Computers for the Technophobic" are among the first workshops to fill up. Financial and business workshops include how to play the stock market, start a stock club, start and market a business, and buy a home.
Recreational workshops include how to plan a wedding, learn American Sign Language and make a quilt.
Personal growth workshops include one on spiritual practices for busy women (taught by a Methodist minister), and others on genealogy, grandparents raising children, auto care basics and when to call a lawyer.
Caldwell and other organizers categorize their fair as less commercial than larger events such as the women's show next month at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, and more varied than fairs in other counties that focus on business.
"We need it more in Carroll County," said Kay Garnish, an Eldersburg businesswoman who co-founded the fair in 1993 after attending a women's fair two years earlier in Frederick County.
Efforts in Carroll County to start a women's commission similar to those in other counties went nowhere during the 1990s. But at the same time, the Carroll County Women's Fair flourished.
Garnish said the difference is because the women's fair is independent of government involvement and is fueled by motivated volunteers.
All the workshop presenters are volunteering their time, said co-chairwoman Cherie Jenkins of Winfield. "Some have a business interest, but most are doing it to share," she said.
Garnish attributes the fair's success to one thing: "I think women are still more comfortable going to something geared to women, although a lot of the workshops would be appealing to men, too." Men are welcome, she said, if they don't mind being outnumbered.