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Organizers hope to get more residents involved in National Pike

May event marks 20th anniversary of county's participation

May event marks 20th anniversary of county's participation

February 12, 2008

This year marks Washington County's 20th year of participation in the National Pike Festival and organizers are already working hard to plan this year's celebration.

The festival begins Friday, May 16, and continues through Sunday, May 18. While several counties in Pennsylvania and Ohio have special events during the festival, Washington County is singularly well-known as the Maryland county which celebrates the 300-mile route.

National Pike Festival organizers are looking to area residents to contribute to the festival by conducting old-fashioned activities in towns that the wagon train passes through.

"We'd love to see townspeople organize a special event reminiscent of the early 19th-century, such as a marble tournament or a taffy pull," said event organizer Laura Bowman. "Any event related to the time period would be a welcome addition to our festival and it's a great way to involve the local communities."

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The National Pike Festival begins on Friday evening at the historic Plumb Grove Mansion in Clear Spring. The wagon train encampment is open to the public. On Saturday the wagon train travels east on U.S. 40 from Clear Spring to the Ag Implement Center on Wilson Boulevard.

It makes several stops along the way at Wilson's Store, Wilson's Bridge, and Huyett's Crossroads.

The wagon train passes through Public Square in Hagerstown and the Hagers-town City Park. On Sunday, the wagon train makes its way along Alternate U.S. 40 with stops at Ravenwood Lutheran Village and the Boonsboro Auction Square Complex. The final destination is Boonsboro's Shafer Memorial Park.

The Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau is a financial sponsor of the National Pike Festival and Wagon Train.

According to Convention and Visitors Bureau President Tom Riford, "This will be the 20th year of this marquee event in Washington County. It has made national news over the years, and brought tremendous publicity and positive renown for our community. The Convention and Visitors Bureau is pleased to again this year be a major sponsor of this annual event."

Riford pointed out that the wagon train last year had nearly 30 wagons, and dozens of teams of horses.

"This event is such a unique way to revisit the roots of our heritage," said Bowman. "The wagon train gives a glimpse a how things were 200 years ago, and it's something that people of all ages enjoy. We hope to expand upon that and involve more people in the festival."

Anyone interested in organizing an old-fashioned activity should contact Jack Pinnell at 240-420-6503 or the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention & Visitors Bureau at 301-791-3246.

The National Pike Festival is part of what's been come to be known as the "World's Longest Festival." It stretches some 300-miles, from Ohio through Maryland, celebrating what has been historically referred to as "The Road That Made The Nation." In 1806, President Thomas Jefferson signed into law an act authorizing federal funds to build a road from Maryland to Ohio. This act set the stage for federal support of our transportation system as we know it today.

For more information, go to www.nationalpikefestival.org. For more information about Hagerstown-Washington County, go to www.marylandmemories.org.

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