"People drive by this place every day on their way to work and have no idea what's going on here," said Laing. "It's the president's dream to increase community awareness and church awarness. We hope to offer this as an annual event."
Successful open houses in Brazil and Russia paved the way for this event, said Assistant Vice President Charlotte McClure.
"People came because they're curious ... and it's a great bargain day," McClure said.
The Review and Herald at 55 W. Oak Ridge Dr., employs 250 Seventh-day Adventists. A publisher for 150 years, it moved from Tacoma Park, Md., to its 120-acre site in Hagerstown.
Indoors, small groups talked in the music-filled lobby. Visitors toured, viewed historical memorabilia and the Harry Anderson Art Show. They purchased books and talked with authors at the Gigantic Book Sale.
"After the tour, I have more appreciation for the time and effort that goes into publishing books," said Debra Campbell of Gaithersburg, Md. "It was visual ... great for kids."
Author Myrtle Haldeman, 73, who grew up on a farm north of Hagerstown, talked to passersby about her recently published book, "Cassie: The Girl With the Hero's Heart." It's a Civil War story about an 11-year-old girl and her family during the Battle of Antietam, she said.
Haldeman, now living in Clearville, Pa., said she was impressed that both parents and children expressed high interest in reading.
Outdoors, people bought vegetarian hot dogs and hamburgers and headed to the six yellow and white tents, one with live amphibians on display for children. Other tents displayed magazine publications like "Vibrant Life," which sponsored the association's morning FunRun/Walk 5K race, and "Listen," a teen magazine dedicated to drug education for 50 years.
"We live right down the street. We stopped on our way from church because our granddaughter wanted to," said Rose Marie Gearhart, of Oak Ridge Drive. "Since we're neighbors, we're interested in what they're doing over here."
"We always thought it was a good asset to Washington County," Carl Gearhart said.
Their granddaughter, Heather, 5, had a red heart and rainbow painted on her cheek and carried a pink balloon.
Mark Brown, 40, of Gaithersburg, Md., was one of three biblical re-enactors. Brown portrayed a Cyrenian named Simon who was forced to carry Jesus' cross to Golgotha.
"The Review and Herald is one of our main publication houses. We read a lot of their material. It's my way of supporting them," said Brown, who wore a light blue robe fastened with a black and white woven sash.
"For those who are adventists, the event will help them understand more about the publishing company. For those who are not adventists, it exposes them to more about the adventist church."