29th Westminster Fallfest to begin Tuesday

The Baltimore Sun

Food, a fun run, a parade, rides, crafts, cars, music, contests, shopping madness, autumn activities, bingo and a little magic will mark the 29th annual Westminster Fallfest that kicks off Tuesday with the Dine Out fundraiser.

Local restaurants have agreed to give 10 percent of their profits -- from 4 p.m. to closing that day -- to Fallfest. Participants include Legends Cafe, KFC, Frisco Family Pub, Buffalo Wild Wings, Paradiso and Papa John's Pizza. Restaurants are still registering and will have a Fallfest sign in their window, said Chairwoman Karen Black.

Fallfest is the county's largest charitable fundraiser, earning $41,500 last year for its four adopted local charities, plus several others. This year's designated charities are Carroll Hospice, Kiwanis Club, Mission of Mercy and the Historical Society of Carroll County.

"It's Carroll County's largest community event -- it is the place where the community comes together," said Tom Canon, Fallfest chairman.

Volunteers, businesses, churches, craft vendors, service clubs, nonprofits and government agencies come together for an event that brings in thousands for three evenings and four days of family activities in downtown Westminster.

Festival activities kick off Wednesday. After competing with the Maryland Wine Festival for the past several years, the Fallfest parade has been moved to 7 p.m. Wednesday, said Lori Graham, chairwoman of the marketing committee.

Before the parade, the Fallfest Mile Run is held at 6:30 p.m. for anyone who can run a mile in 15 minutes or less. The route is from Monroe Street at Pennsylvania Avenue, down Pennsylvania to Main Street to the Westminster City Recreation Family Center on Longwell Avenue. Registration with an entry fee of $10 is required.

Proceeds from the race benefit Voices for Children of Carroll County, the Fallfest charities and Westminster Road Runners Club.

The parade follows from Dutterer Family Park, finishing up at East Middle School.

Rides, games, food vendors and music open Fallfest on Thursday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the city playground off Longwell Avenue. The Crawdaddies are scheduled to offer spicy New Orleans Cajun music all evening.

Bingo will be held Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Besides 25 cents a game or 5 for $1 for a 50/50 split pot, there's also instant bingo ($1).

The fun continues Friday at the same time, with rock music by Spiral, in addition to Midnight Madness along Main Street. Westminster shops will stay open until midnight, many offering specials to lure customers who can also listen to live music and check out classic cars.

The Locust Lane Stage will feature the music of the Jumble Caper from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.; the sounds of Bo Hek from 6:45 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.; Tri-Star Martial Arts at 9 p.m.; and Kim Hall and Jodi "with an I" Harman from 9:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., said Stan Ruchlewicz, Westminster administrator of economic development.

In addition, In Fellowship will perform from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., and Christopher James will perform from 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. in front of Giulianova Groceria & Italian Deli. A drum circle will be held at 6 p.m., jugglers will perform at 25 Liberty St., and a skateboard competition will be held at 73 W. Main St.

The weekend festivities continue from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday with the Magic of Roger Lindsay at 10:30 a.m., a karaoke contest from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., the Celebrity (or not) Pie Eating Contest at 4:30 p.m., and country music by Scotty Williams from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

"You can register up until noon Saturday for karaoke," said Graham. "It's amazing the talent -- there really is some wonderful talent in Carroll County."

The entry fee to perform is $3 for adults and $2 for children. A committee will draw 20 contestants from the entries and judges will choose six finalists (three adults and three children), who will re-sing their song at 3 p.m. to determine a grand prize winner.

Pie lovers can register for the pie eating contest, or nominate a favorite well-known personality to eat pie by e-mailing Graham at lgraham@westminsterfall fest.com.

Graham asked that contestants register by Friday night "so that we can put enough plastic down and also have enough pies."

Those who love carnival rides can buy an arm band for $15 and ride all they want for that day. Arm bands are good 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday and noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sept. 30.

Also on Saturday and Sept. 30, the Longwell parking lot will be filled with more than 100 craft and commercial vendors, along with about 50 community nonprofit vendors promoting their services.

Family activities during the weekend include scarecrow-making by the Historical Society ($10 to make your own, or $15 pre-made), and the Kids Court ($1 donation for kids 10 and younger) featuring a Moon Bounce, scooters, face painting, crafts and games.

Saturday's entertainment line-up features "Take the Lead Dog Training" at 11 a.m., Boot Scooters at noon, Tristar Martial Arts at 1 p.m., State of the Arts Westminster Ballet at 2 p.m., Selah Steppers at 3 p.m., Desiree Rivera Belly Dancers at 4 p.m. and Sonrise Church at 5 p.m.

The festival's last day, scheduled from noon to 6 p.m. Sept. 30, features entertainment by Westminster Ballet at noon, Tristar at 1 p.m., Cruise playing oldies music from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Westminster Municipal Band at 2 p.m., Westminster Optimist cheerleading at 3 p.m., Carroll County Cloggers at 4 p.m. and Take the Lead at 5 p.m.

Fallfest President Ron Schroers said this year's event promises to continue the past eight years' trend of raising more money for charities than the previous year.

"There's no question about it -- it always proves to exceed and excel higher than it did the year before," Schroers said. "You have to remember Fallfest isn't just the September event, but the gala, and separate car shows, and Dine Out. It's a year-round event."


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