by Valerie and Randy Nusbaum
The Catoctin Colorfest started in 1963 as a nature walk led by Thurmont’s own John Brown to view the beautiful fall colors , but Catoctin Colorfest has grown into a nationally-recognized juried arts and crafts show. Artists, vendors and shoppers from all over the country flock to Thurmont on the second weekend in October each year to sell, browse, shop and eat.
This year, on October 12 and 13, Catoctin Colorfest will celebrate its 50th anniversary. Commemorative 50th anniversary wooden ornaments will be available for purchase at the Colorfest information booths located in the Community Park. The ornaments were designed and hand-made by Colorfest board member Mac Ancarrow.
Catoctin Colorfest has proudly served the Thurmont community for the past fifty years by awarding scholarships to graduating students at Catoctin High School. Scholarship donations total more than $140,000 since the scholarships were established. In addition, Colorfest regularly donates funds to the Guardian Hose Company, Thurmont Community Ambulance, the Thurmont Police Department, the Thurmont Public Library, and the Thurmont Food Bank. Colorfest has furnished holiday decorations to the town of Thurmont, and purchased benches and the flag pole for the Community Park, as well as sponsoring the Family Movie Night in the summer, and participating in the children’s Halloween party in October. The new sign at the Thurmont town office was donated by Catoctin Colorfest.
Each year, the event is organized and executed by a team of volunteers, headed by current Colorfest President, Carol Robertson. The group begins preparations for the next year’s show as soon as the current show ends, and works throughout the year processing and jurying applications, preparing advertising materials, and readying the Community Park for the show. Donations and gifts are awarded annually at the Catoctin Colorfest banquet held in November, but Colorfest continues to help out both the town of Thurmont and individuals or organizations in need throughout the year. Cash and food donations to the Thurmont Food Bank have totaled more than $13,000 over the last two years. For some local churches, and for the Thurmont Community Ambulance Company, Colorfest is their biggest fundraiser. The Ambulance Company reported sales of over 4,000 apple dumplings last year.
Current President Carol Robertson has been with the organization for more than twenty years. She joined the organization when Beverly Zienda was President, and the two of them worked together to build Colorfest into the event it is today. For Carol, the best part of being involved with Colorfest is being in a position to fill a need in the community, whatever that need may be. Officers and Directors of Catoctin Colorfest for the 2013 season are Thurmont-area residents Mac Ancarrow, Randy Falchick, Kathy Myrick, Randy Nusbaum, Nancy Mooney, Ted Zimmerman, John Corkran, and Terri Bouchillon.
Robertson says, “On Saturday morning, after all the vendors are set up and opening their tents it’s as though a whole village is coming to life. I look around the park and I think ‘Well, we made it through another year.’” Many Colorfest vendors come back year after year, with one couple, Carol & Steve Newman, recently celebrating their 40th consecutive year of selling at the popular outdoor festival.
Whether your taste runs to fine art or needlework, woodworking or candles, or if you enjoy sniffing potpourri or sampling food items, Catoctin Colorfest has something for you. Stained glass, tole painting, hand-made soaps – if you can imagine it, it’s probably being sold at Colorfest. This year, as you’re attending Catoctin Colorfest and munching on something fried on a stick, we hope you’ll remember all the work that goes into this show, and all the good that comes out of it. As Carol Robertson says, “When I look out into the street and see that crowd, I know we’ve thrown one heck of a party and everybody came!