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Plenty to see for visitors to Carroll County

The Baltimore Sun

Carroll County thrives on its historical attractions and tourism.

Barbara Beverungen is manager of the Carroll County Office of Tourism and is responsible for promoting the county's tourist sites and activities, which the office publishes in an annual calendar of events.

The tourism office operates a visitors center at 210 E. Main St., Westminster, at the Historical Society of Carroll County. The center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays, except for major holidays.

The all-volunteer Tourism Council of Carroll County, made up largely of businesses in the tourism industry such as lodging, restaurants and shopping, assists the Tourism Office in its efforts to promote the county. The council periodically publishes a visitors guide of places and events.

The tourism office is at 224 N. Center St., Westminster. The Web site is www.carrollcountytourism.org. Information: tourism office, 410-386-2983; visitor center, 410-848-1388.

Attractions

Carroll Arts Center: 91 W. Main St., Westminster, 410-848-7272. The Carroll County Arts Council's facility boasts a 263-seat large-screen theater, art galleries, offices and classrooms. Besides its own family-oriented activities, the Arts Council rents out the theater to other groups, such as Common Ground on the Hill and the Carroll Players. The Arts Center is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday.

Civil War sites: Few corners of Carroll were untouched by the Civil War. The Tourism Office has a driving tour, "Roads to Gettysburg," on the sites and events that occurred around the county. There also are a Corbit's Charge (Battle of Westminster) commemorative weekend June 23-24 and a walking tour of the battle site around East Main Street/Route 32.

Colleges: McDaniel College, 2 College Hill, Westminster, 410-857-2293; and Carroll Community College, 1601 Washington Road, Westminster, 410-386-8000. Both offer art exhibits, plays, concerts, films, lectures and other cultural and educational activities, most of them open to the public. Many are free. McDaniel College also is home to Common Ground on the Hill, which brings world-class concerts, an arts and music summer program and concert festival to the county.

Brethren Service Center: 500 Main St., New Windsor, 410-635-8700. Operated by the Church of the Brethren, the center is home to several disaster-response organizations that go worldwide wherever help is needed. The campus includes a conference center, hotel lodging and A Greater Gift shop, featuring crafts, home decor and clothing from throughout the world.

Cascade Lake: 3000 Snydersburg Road, Hampstead, 410-239-4708 or 410-374-9111. The privately owned 6-acre lake and park offers a swimming and water slide area, fishing and boating, playground, food stand, gift shop, various sports fields and courts, pavilion, pool and petting zoo. Admission is charged.

Church festivals: A number of churches around Carroll offer unusual festivals, some going back more than 130 years, including a Dutch Picnic, Sunday School Picnic, strawberry and peach festivals, and holiday craft shows. Some hold regular breakfasts and dinners open to the public.

Danele Shipley Memorial Arena: Carroll County Agriculture Center, Smith Avenue extended, Westminster, 410-848-6704. www.carrollcountyagcenter.com. Opened in 2004, the 52,500-square-foot building offers space for bingo, meetings, receptions and luncheons, equestrian events, dog shows, bull riding and concerts. This is in addition to horse rings and other buildings at the Ag Center that are home to the annual 4-H/FFA Fair in the summer and other events, such as tractor and truck pulls and shows, car shows, and model train shows.

Farmers' markets: The Ag Center holds several farmers' markets during the year - Easter, early spring, Mother's Day, a 10-week summer and seven-week Christmas market, with fresh produce and flowers, arts and crafts and household items. Several towns also have farmers' markets during the summer and early fall.

Fire company activities: Eleven of the 14 volunteer fire companies hold a weeklong summer carnival with nightly concerts, rides, games and food. In lieu of a carnival, Lineboro holds a popular Haunted Hayride and Haunted House over three weekends in October. Individual fire companies also have daylong festivals, holiday craft shows, bingo games, breakfasts, dinners, dances, bull and oyster roasts, car shows and other community events.

Historical Society of Carroll County: 210 E. Main St., Westminster, 410-848-6494. The society owns the Shellman House and operates a research library, exhibition gallery and museum shop. Events include a county birthday celebration every Jan. 19, monthly box lunch talks, trips and an antiques appraisal day.

The incorporated towns: Carroll's eight incorporated towns offer their own perspectives through the buildings, events and people that make up their history. Fall and spring festivals are highlights, along with other special activities through the year. A chamber of commerce or business association frequently sponsors a town's special events. Some towns have their own museums. The towns also offer antiques and other shopping at small stores that provide personal service, along with restaurants, tea rooms and coffee shops.

Railroads: Railroading was big in Carroll in the 19th and 20th centuries. All of the towns have tracks running through them and some have restored train stations. Union Bridge is home of the Western Maryland Railway Museum. Sykesville has built its tourist trade around its railroad history. Hampstead has worked for several years to completely renovate its train station. Freight trains still run in the county, including the Maryland Midland Railway based in Union Bridge.

Robert Strawbridge Country: New Windsor area, 410-635-2600. This 1760-era birthplace of American Methodism includes the house and farm where Robert Strawbridge settled and converted the first American to Methodism. A replica of the first log meeting house, visitors center, related churches and church leaders' homes are available.

Union Mills Homestead: 3311 Littlestown Pike, Union Mills, 410-848-2288: Home of the Shriver Family of Maryland. The homestead is open for guided tours from noon to 4 p.m. weekends only in May and September; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, and noon to 4 p.m. weekends, in June, July and August.

Uniontown: Uniontown Road. All of this charming village, featuring architectural styles from the late 18th century to the early 20th century, is a local historic district and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A walking tour views historic buildings.

Other historic districts: Carroll is full with historic-registered villages and downtown districts, including the incorporated towns, the villages of Lineboro and Linwood, the Warfield Complex in Sykesville, and the Whittaker Chambers Farm.

For specific information on sites and activities, contact the Tourism Office or Visitors Center.

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