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Your guide to free summer fun

Jacob deNobel
Contact ReporterCarroll County Times

With children soon to be home from school, it can be hard to fill those long summer days to keep the kids from getting bored. Even with ideas of things to do, frequent trips to the movies and pool can soon add up and become as expensive as sending the kids to summer camp. To help stay occupied without breaking the bank, the Times has assembled some of the best options for free entertainment this summer.


If nearly $50 for a family of four to catch the latest Hollywood blockbuster seems a little steep, the Carroll Arts Center is hosting a free children's movie series on Tuesdays starting June 20. Movies in the series include, "Finding Dory," "An American Tail," "Kubo and the Two Strings," "Babe: Pig in the City," "Sing," "The Secret of Nimh" and "The LEGO Batman Movie." Each screening is held at 7 p.m. at the Carroll Arts Center, 91 W. Main St., Westminster. No tickets are required.

For those who would rather relive the days of catching a movie under the stars, Saturday, June 10 Sykesville will bring back their outdoor summer movie series with a free screening of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" at Millard Cooper Park.


The Carroll County Ramblers will host a free concert Sunday, June 11 at Springfield Presbyterian Church, 7300 Spout Hill Road. The band has been performing in Carroll since 1961 and is currently carried on by the children of the original founders. The show begins at 3 p.m.

Each community's fire carnivals will host free concerts throughout the week they run, with many bands traveling from town to town. For a list of all the performances at each carnival, visit

For those who can't make it out to the Common Ground on the Hill Roots Music festival or the concerts at McDaniel College, the organization is bringing their style of bluegrass and roots music to the public with their free Common Ground on the Town music series, starting 9 p.m. Saturday, July 1. The series will feature Henry's Big Sleazy performing at Johanssons Dining House, Wherligig at O'Lordan's Irish Pub, the Harry Orlove Band at Maggie's Restaurant, the Christopher James Band at Rafael's and the Eastman String Band at the Westminster branch of the Carroll County Public Library.


For an educational day, visit Strawbridge Shrine on their second annual Colonial Day held at the surviving colonial-era site, 2650 Strawbridge Lane. The event will feature original colonial crafts and music as well as costumed guides who will lead visitors through two colonial-era houses and a replicated meetinghouse of the 1760s. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 17.

Each year, the Pipe Creek Roundtable commemorates Corbit's Charge, a Civil War battle which took place in the heart of Westminster. The event will take place the weekend of June 24 and will feature live period music, guided tours, speeches as well as costumed reenactments and encampments in the downtown area.

Outdoor Activities

If playing in the backyard has begun to lose its luster, Carroll has a number of free outdoor options for families and children to play in. Westminster's Camp Hashawha features a selection of activities, from three trails adding up to a 5-mile journey on foot or on mountain bike. The location is also home to the raptor mews, where non-releasable birds of prey live. Visit Hashawha's collection of owls, hawks, kestrels, vultures and bald eagles.

The camp is also home to Lake Hashawha, a restored wetland area which features the opportunity to spot birds, including great blue heron and red-winged blackbirds. Fishing is also permitted on the lake. Another popular outdoor park is Piney Run located in Sykesville. The park features a 300-acre lake, hiking trails, tennis courts, playgrounds, climbing rock, picnic tables and more. For a list of all the county-run trails visit under places to go.

For families without pool memberships, local creeks and streams have become popular gathering spots for those looking to cool off after a hot day in the sun. Popular swimming holes include Big Pipe Creek at Union Mills, Morgan Run, south of Westminster, the stream off of Henryton Road in Woodbine, Patapsco State Park and rivers off of Hughes Road in Finksburg.


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