Barge bash celebrates Hancock, C&O Canal history

June 23, 2005|by TONY BUDNY

HANCOCK - Larry Logan, former Hancock town manager and member of the Chamber of Commerce, had a fun idea three years ago: canal barge racing.

Logan, a former resident of Frederick, Md., thought that since the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal is a large part of Hancock history, he might bring more attention to the area if Hancock recreated a version of Frederick's Great Bathtub Race.

So began the annual Barge Bash Weekend - Saturday, June 25, this year.

Lou Close, acting town manager of Hancock, described the barge race in the canal.

"The barges start at Church Street. They are pulled by anything nonmotorized to Pennsylvania Avenue where judges stand and time the barge's trip down the canal and judge each of them," Close said. "Each barge is given an award based on several criteria. Those criteria range from uniqueness to fastest."

"There will be ice cream, all sorts of food and even flea market-type vendors," Close said.


There also will be displays. The C&O Canal National Historical Park will present a "Birds of Prey" exhibit like last year's, at which, according to Close, there were "animals like reptiles and hawks for the public to view."

Penny Pittman, president of the chamber of commerce, said there will be 10 to 12 barges participating.

"All the barges are the builders' renditions," she said. "The mayor last year did a yellow submarine, and another group built a scale model of an actual barge."

New to the "Barge Bash" this year is the mini-barge race. A wooden rendition of the C&O Canal is built for kids to create and race their own remote-controlled barges, according to Pittman.

On Sunday, a noncompetitive bike ride for the whole family will be held on the paved, 22-mile section of the Western Maryland Rail Trail.

Proceeds will benefit the Hancock Chamber of Commerce. Pittman said she hopes that funds raised will be set aside to build a replica of a barge for display at the Joseph Hancock Jr. Primitive Park.

If you go ...

What: Third annual Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Barge Bash Weekend

WHEN: Preview of barges and displays begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, June 25. Barge race begins at 1 p.m.; bike ride along Western Maryland Trail at 10:00 a.m. Sunday, June 26.

WHERE: Church Street, Hancock

COST: Free to view. $100 entry fee per barge

For more information, call 301-678-5900.

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