James Rada, Jr.
The incessant rain on Saturday morning, October 11, 2014, gave way to a cloudy day in the afternoon, transitioning into a sunny, more pleasant day on Sunday for the 51st Annual Colorfest weekend in Thurmont.
The crowds picked up as people turned out for unusual food like Southern-fried Snickers and one-of-a-kind gifts like robot sculptures made from scrap metal by Don Rea. In between, they browsed yard sales or listened to live music being played in front of the town office.
“The crowd started out light because of the rain, but people still came carrying their umbrellas and wearing their ponchos,” said Carol Robertson with Catoctin Colorfest.
The heart of the festival is the 240 juried exhibitors in the Community Park, although booths and vendors could be found throughout Thurmont, along roads, at the carnival grounds, around the American Legion, among others.
Janet Randall and her friend, Rusty, each pulled a collapsible wagon through Community Park looking to fill them with gifts. Randall’s big purchase had been an antique sewing machine that was decorated so that it was more of a craft item than an antique.
Randall said she comes to Colorfest from West River, Maryland, because of all the different crafters who display their goods. She calls all of the craft shows near her home “yard sales” in comparison.
“We’ll have to sneak all this stuff into the house so our husbands won’t see,” Randall said.
While Colorfest was a destination for Randall, Greg Teague and his wife, Beth, just happened to stop in.
“We were going to Gettysburg and were passing by and my wife said that it didn’t look too crowded,” Teague said.
So they parked and began shopping. For Teague, who lives in Frederick, it was his first visit to the festival.
“They have a lot of stuff here,” he said. “It’s a lot bigger than it looks.”
Beth added, “You can get visual overload from everything there is to see.”
It was author Bob O’Connor’s first time at the festival, too, and he was selling his historical novels and history books in Community Park.
“It’s a big crowd here, and they seem like they’re in a spending mood,” O’Connor said. “I mean when you see people walking around with wagons and carts, they are obviously looking to buy.”
Sharon Dustin is a regular visitor to Colorfest. Although she lives in Bowie, she’s been visiting each year for thirty years. It’s a family outing for them. In fact, her granddaughter, Alexis, first came to Colorfest when she was only three weeks old.
“I really like looking at all the stuff that people make,” Dustin said.
Set up for Colorfest begins during the week leading up to the event, with much of it taking place on the Friday before.
“It’s like a little city gets built here in a couple days,” Robertson said. “There are banks with ATMs. The post office is here. The food vendors are restaurants and the other vendors are the businesses.
On average, about 100,000 people visit Colorfest each year.
“The atmosphere of the quaint town of Thurmont, with a population of 6,000 residents, changes every year during the second weekend of October when the festivities of the annual Catoctin Colorfest take place,” states the Catoctin Colorfest website.