Choose your brew at annual Montpelier festival in Laurel

Laurel's Jailbreak Brewing joins this annual festival in South Laurel Saturday

Nearly two decades ago, the Festival of Herbs, Teas and the Arts at Montpelier Mansion replaced the long-running Montpelier Spring Festival, shifting the focus from informational booths and live performances of local music and dance groups to a more arts and history-focused event. The revamped festival also offered plants for sale and an opportunity to take tea inside the historic mansion

This year's festival, on Saturday, April 25 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., offers a second brew to taste. Jailbreak Brewing Co., Howard County's only production brewery when it opened last year in North Laurel, will be offering tastings of its cilantro and jalapeño pepper-infused Welcome to Scoville, an artisanal IPA beer, at a booth on the mansion grounds.

The festival's information booth will have free festival "passports" that can be stamped by vendors in a contest to win prizes. Montpelier historian/museum educator Holly Burnham said the passport program encourages people to see more vendors and also provides a list of what is available at the festival.

"A lot of vendors donate things and all the prizes will be on display," Burnham said. Among the prizes are beeswax candles, pottery, herbs and raw honey.

The mansion's Blast-In-The-Past playground will be open during the festival and kids can find out, through costumes and role playing, what it might have been like to be a farmer, milliner or town crier in the 18th century. Kids can also learn to plant corn and make a basket at the Children's Tent.

As a membership incentive, the Friends of Montpelier will add $10 to a raffle drawing for each member that joins their group at the festival. One new member's name will be drawn to win the pot.

Guided walks will be led on the 70 acres surrounding the historic site, and speakers will offer insight on composting and summer crops and how to grow therapeutic herbs.

Other vendors will offer specialty bath products, fabric arts, jewelry, toys and books.

The Montpelier Arts Center will be open for tours with art demos and a noon concert by soprano Keesun Kwon.

The Afternoon Tea Sampler is a ticketed event and is offered in four seatings (see highlights) inside Montpelier Mansion's east wing. The menu includes finger sandwiches; sweets; scone with jam and clotted cream; and a pot of tea.

Highlights

The Montpelier Festival of Herbs, Teas and the Arts is Saturday, April 25 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Montpelier Mansion, 9650 Muirkirk Road.

10 a.m.-1 p.m. Walk with the Freestate Happy Wanderers Volksmarching group, beginning at the Education Tent. Walks finish by 4 p.m.

11 a.m., noon, 1 and 2 p.m. Afternoon tea served in the mansion's east wing. Tickets are $13; purchased online through Friday, April 24 at midnight at pgparks.com. Limited tickets also available at festival.

11 a.m. Andrew Pengelly, of the Maryland University of Integrative Health, leads a medicinal herb walk. Meet at the Education Tent;

11 a.m. Francis Gouin, creator of the Maryland Master Gardener's program and regular contributor to Bay Weekly's "Bay Gardener," will speak on composting, summer crops and more at the Lecture Tent.

Noon Laurel resident Donna Koczaja of the Prince George's Master Gardeners gives a talk, "Growing therapeutic herbs in your back yard," in the Lecture Tent

Noon Naturalist Tim Wasserman leads a nature walk; meet at the Education Tent

Noon Soprano Keesun Kwon performs at the Montpelier Arts Center

1 p.m. Montgomery County Master Gardener Donna Almquist gives a talk, "The herbal salad garden," in the Lecture Tent.

2-4 p.m. CAISO steel drum band performs calypso and Caribbean music.

Festival season

The Montpelier Festival of Herbs, Teas and the Arts marks the opening of the unofficial festival season in Laurel. Other special events include:

Lakefest: Saturday, May 2, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Granville Gude Park, 8300 Mulberry St. The city's boating operations open for the season at Laurel Lake with a full day of entertainment, including games, food, hayrides, dance demos and a DJ. cityoflaurel.org

Main Street Festival: Saturday, May 9, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Main Street between Seventh Street and Route 1. Parade begins at 9 a.m. laurelboardoftrade.net

Independence Day: Saturday, July 4. Parade begins 11 a.m. at Sixth and Montgomery streets, follows Montgomery Street east to Fourth Street and continues on Fourth to Cherry Lane. Events at Granville Gude Park include a car show from noon to 4 p.m.; field games in the afternoon; live entertainment on the park's stage; and fireworks at dusk. laurel4th.org

Emancipation Day: Saturday, Sept. 5 at Emancipation Community Park on Eighth Street. Held the first Saturday in September and hosted by St. Mark's United Methodist Church, Laurel's oldest continuing festival celebrates the freeing of slaves in America and dates back to the early 1900s. The day begins at 8 a.m. with a USATF-certified 5k run/walk and 1-mile walk to benefit the University of Maryland Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology Midtown, at McCullough Field and Eighth Street; and continues with a parade in Old Town, food and entertainment at the park and ball games. stmarkslmd.org

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