Carroll County offers the best of both worlds—it’s conveniently located to both Baltimore and D.C. while successfully retaining its rural charms. The county’s rolling hills and picturesque farmland still offer a quick escape from the nearby urban and suburban areas. Building on its rural history and heritage, the county’s thriving community today offers a rich array of historical events, arts and culture, recreation, dining, shopping and more—and the area is continually evolving.
One of the exciting events going on this year is Carroll County Farm Museum turning 50.
“It was founded in 1966 by residents looking to preserve the county’s agricultural heritage,” says the museum’s manager, Joanne Weant. Just in time for the historic anniversary, the museum has updated its mission statement for the first time in its 50-year existence: “Connecting our community through the preservation of our rural heritage.” There is a new slogan as well: “Promote. Preserve. Educate.”
Once an almshouse, the museum now offers live artisan demonstrations ofhistoric arts like blacksmithing, broom-making, weaving, quilting and basket- making. Weant emphasizes the importance of preservation and educating the visitors on these long lost skills that were once common in Carroll County.
The museum’s annual Fall Harvest Days on October 15 and 16 will be part of the celebration. For the first time, the event will feature a parade through downtown Westminster and a car show, as well as live entertainment, delicious food, and fun autumn activities for children and families. The Maryland Wine Festival, now in its 33rd year, also calls the Carroll County Farm Museum home. This year, the festival will take place on September 17 and 18, and visitors will have a chance to sample wines from more than 30 Maryland wineries.
Carroll County Arts Council, located in downtown Westminster, also presents a wide variety of arts opportunities.
“We offer concerts, films, classes, art exhibits, live theater and three galleries,” says JoAnna Crone, the council’s communication coordinator. “Our fall exhibit is going to be our 14th member show, and it runs from September 1 to November 4. Any current members of the arts council are invited to enter one piece into the show. It’s usually a very popular exhibit because there’s such a wide variety of different media and subject matter—there is no real theme. It includes sculpture, photography, drawing, fiber arts and pretty much any fine craft.”
On September 10, the Arts Council will host The Eric Byrd Trio: Brother Ray Band, inspired by the music of Ray Charles.
“We actually have The Eric Byrd Trio here regularly,” says Crone. “Every Christmas they do a Charlie Brown jazz Christmas, where we play the movie and they perform the music from the movie live.”
Another noteworthy event at the Carroll County Arts Council, An Evening with Victoria Wyeth, takes place on October 26. The granddaughter of artist Andrew Wyeth and an accomplished photographer herself, Victoria Wyeth will be speaking about the art of the Wyeth family, sharing personal memories and family stories.
Located in Sykesville, Carroll County Dance Center and Ballet Conservatory offers classes from ages 2 to adult.
“Our program offers ballet pointe, also modern, jazz, tap and hip-hop,” says Becky Eckrote, the center’s executive director and co-owner. “Our Conservatory Program is for those dedicated students that are looking to pursue a little bit more in the ballet program,” adds Eckrote. “We have an annual ‘Nutcracker’ performance. It is a full-length ‘Nutcracker’ held at the Carroll Community College theater in Westminster. This is a community event. We have an open audition for ages 6 to adult, and you don’t have to be a student at the studio to audition and be cast,” says Eckrote.
With such a wide variety of fun events celebrating the area’s rural roots, as well as its thriving arts and culture, it’s no wonder the community welcomes more visitors all the time.
Fall Events in Carroll County
9/10 Harvest Festival. Historic Downtown Sykesville; 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
9/24 11th Maryland Microbrewery Festival. Union Mills Homestead, Westminster; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. This fun-packed festival celebrates and promotes the best of Maryland’s handcrafted and distinctive microbrews.
10/28-10/30 Halloween Tea “Quoth the Raven.” Carroll County Farm Museum, Westminster; Friday and Saturday seatings 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.; Sunday seating 2 p.m. Featuring and Edgar Allen Poe reading on Friday and Saturday, and featuring a special children’s activity on Sunday. All teas include a guided tour of the farmhouse.
10/29 Westminster Halloween Parade. Historic Downtown Main Street; 7 p.m.
11/5 Sykesville Chili & Beer Festival. Historic Downtown; noon-5 p.m.
11/12 Carroll County Farmers Market “Artists Guild Show.” Carroll County Agriculture Center, Westminster; 8 a.m.-2 p.m. All local handmade crafts, fine arts, home baked goods, seasonal plants and decorations.
11/19 Carroll County Christmas Farmers Market “Open House.” Carroll County Agriculture Center, Westminster; 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Free refreshments. Acoustic entertainment. 75-100 vendors. Crafts. Gourmet foods, eggs, organic meats, honey, nuts, baked goods. Breakfast and lunch served.
11/26 Miracle on Main Street Holiday Events. Historic Downtown Westminster. Jingle Bell Run at 4:45 p.m. and Miracle on Main Electric Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony at 5 p.m. Enjoy the seasonal sounds of the Westminster Municipal Band, sing carols and await Santa. Santa’s Treat 6 p.m.-8:30 p.m. at the Westminster Library.
12/1-12/21 Holiday Tour “Home and Fireside: Christmas on the Farm.” Carroll County Farm Museum, Westminster; 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
12/3 & 12/4 Carroll County Artists Studio Tour. Individual studios throughout the county; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Annual studio tour featuring a variety of talented artists and craftsmen throughout picturesque Carroll County. Each working studio will feature one or more professional artisans selling fine crafts.