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Sharpsburg festival draws travelers for its crafts - and eats

September 13, 1997

By TERRY TALBERT

Staff Writer

SHARPSBURG - The past met the present at the Sharpsburg Heritage Festival on Saturday, as Union and Confederate soldiers and ladies in antebellum dresses intermingled with tourists in Mickey Mouse and Harley-Davidson T-shirts.

Even President Abraham Lincoln showed up. He sat on Main Street in front of the Sharpsburg Arsenal store, making small talk with soldiers and citizens alike.

Sharpsburg found itself in the midst of the Civil War during the Battle of Antietam, and the two-day festival that continues today dovetails perfectly with activities surrounding the 135th commemoration of the battle.

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On Saturday, Civil War music could be heard in the background as re-enactors and visitors from around the country visited the town's historical museums and living history campsites, and strolled through rows of arts and crafts displays and food booths.

Jessica Mary Buck was walking down Main Street in a Civil War-era dress fit for a party. A student of history, she moved to the Harpers Ferry, W.Va., area from Syracuse, N.Y., last fall.

"It's great. It's wonderful," she said of Sharpsburg and the festival. "I just wish they had gas street lights. These modern lights just don't go with the atmosphere."

John and Lisa Bohorfoush, of Harford County, Md., had visited the battlefield and Sharpsburg in past years, and were impressed enough to come back. The couple said they showed up mainly for the "beautiful crafts."

Roy LeBlanc, who lives near Shepherdstown, W.Va., was at the festival with 5-year-old family friend Tyler Gibson.

LeBlanc said he's an eclectic collector who had his eye on some wooden cannons made by a crafts person, but probably wouldn't buy one. "Being a pack rat, I'm looking to get rid of some things," he said.

As for young Gibson, he said he was most impressed "with the hats and swords and everything."

Norm Kunkel and his family came up from North Carolina "on a whim" to take in the Antietam re-enactment. "We didn't know anything about this," he said of the festival. "We were looking for a place to eat, and ended up here. `This is it,' we said."

Nearby on West Antietam Street, two women in antebellum dress stopped at a lemonade stand run by Seth Marvil, 7. The ladies stopped to get drinks - one in her tin cup - and asked where an automatic teller machine was.

Town resident Sherry Houser thought the re-enactment increased the size of the crowd in Sharpsburg this year. She was glad town streets, which had been torn up, were finally repaved.

Houser, who said she saw the event as a boon to the town, held a yard sale in the morning, and was on her way to find something to eat.

At the Lion's Club information booth, workers said people were primarily asking two questions - "Where's the food?" and "Where's the re-enactment?" Many of them were from out of town, they said.

The festival continues today with more of the same, along with a ceremony at noon in which descendants of those who fought in the Civil War and those who were freed by the war will be made honorary citizens of the town.

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