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Boonesboro Days draw crowds

August 06, 2002|by Liz Boch

lizb@herald-mail.com

As a resident of a town with a population of 2,803, Wanda Heuer said she was shocked when more than three times that many visitors came to the first Boonesborough Days in 1971.

As president of the Boonsboro Historical Society, Heuer, 77, said she expects 10,000 visitors for this year's Boonesborough Days on Saturday, Sept. 7, and Sunday, Sept. 8, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Shafer Park.

Heuer and Boonesborough Days Coordinator Lori Perkins were wrapping up the schedule for the weekend famous for bringing traffic to a halt.

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"We have vendors come from Florida to showcase jewelry and a North Carolina guy who does woodworking," said Perkins, also of Boonsboro.

Boonesborough Days began as a lazy Sunday afternoon event 31 years ago, Heuer said.

"The society was looking for a way to promote Early American history, and it happened," she said. "There was absolutely nothing like it in this area. We're the original."

Visitors from around the Tri-State area drive to Boonsboro to watch demonstrations, sample food and purchase crafts, Perkins said.

Heuer said the first Boonesborough Days only featured display tables and no crafts for purchase or instructional demonstrations.

"It was a pretty fall day, and I remember one lady who brought all of her crystal to display. People came from everywhere," Heuer said. "We had no advertising, just paper hand signs and we blocked traffic. Every road coming into Boonsboro was just jammed."

Perkins and Heuer said they learned to alert police to the impending traffic because they now know what will happen.

"We get people who can't get out of town, so they stop and park," Perkins said.

This year, hundreds of applications were sorted through before the women settled on the vendors and crafters, Perkins said.

"Now we have demonstrations for apple butter, candle-making, a grist mill and a blacksmith," Heuer said. "You can even learn how to make wood shingles."

Perkins said 30 crafters will demonstrate their talents in September. Representatives from the C&O Canal National Historical Park will showcase artifacts and distribute literature and photos at their new booth. In addition to the usual pony rides, a bottle-fed lamb will be available for children. An antique car show will feature a Ford Model T and a 1904 Pope Tribune.

The Washington County Historical Trust will have a booth to promote a new book, "Architectural and Historic Treasures of Washington County, Maryland" by Patricia Schooley. The proceeds from the 400-page book will help preserve endangered property in Washington County, Perkins said.

Both women have used the weekend to purchase gifts and add a historical touch to their homes. Perkins plans to buy a second earring, pin and necklace set made from antique china and surrounded in sterling silver. In the past, she purchased an antique dresser and wooden crates.

Heuer has bought copper crafts for a wedding gift and three-faced dolls for herself.

"It's very affordable, but not at all cheap in quality," Heuer said.

Heuer said it has become slightly harder to find vendors who specialize in Early American crafts, but she plans to stick to that era as long as possible.

"A lot of the vendors are getting old," she said. "We have people trying to sell carnival-looking stuffed animals and we're trying to stay Early American focused. We don't want tie-dyed T-shirts, either. The day that's what we have left is the day this is over."

Perkins agreed that Boonesborough Days sets an example about the importance of local history.

"It promotes community and all the things we want to hang on to," she said.

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