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Autumn Arts Festival is a community celebration

September 14, 2008|By MARIE GILBERT

HAGERSTOWN - It's not every day that you see an Indian regaled in feathers and war paint walking through Hagerstown's City Park.

But Saturday was the exception.

It was even more interesting to see that he had arrived in a Chevy Malibu.

The young man was a member of a living history group that portrays life in the 18th century.

With spear in hand, he headed to the grounds of the Jonathan Hager House where he joined other French and Indian War re-enactors for a day of entertainment and education.

The interpretive encampment is just one of the many offerings of the second annual Autumn Arts Festival.

John Bryan, historic sites facilitator, said the event has replaced Jonathan Hager Frontier Craft Days, one of the city's longest-running craft fairs.

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"Traditionally, the festival was held the first week of August when it was either hot or rainy," he said. "But last year, after 34 years, we decided to move it to September, taking advantage of the fall climate."

Organizers also decided to expand the event to encompass the entire City Park, Bryan said. In addition to the Jonathan Hager House, venues are offered at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, the Mansion House Art Gallery and the Railroad Museum.

"Things went so well last year," he said, "we've added activities at the park's band shell."

Bryan said organizers expect about 7,000 people to attend the festival, which continues today.

"There's something for everyone," he said. "There are traditional crafts at the Hager House, art at the museum and Mansion House, exhibits at the Railroad Museum and music throughout the park."

There are also numerous children's activities, including balloon sculpting, storytelling, barrel cart rides, pony rides and a petting zoo.

Bryan said the festival "allows people to see what City Park has to offer."

"This is more than an arts festival," he said. "It's a community celebration - a City Park celebration."

The festival is free and a hay wagon will shuttle visitors from each venue within the park.

Among the festival-goers were Mike and Carol Polansky of Hagerstown, who were working their way across the park from the Railroad Museum.

"There is so much to see and do," said Carol Polansky. "I think it's a great way to showcase the park. I liked Frontier Craft Days, but this is even better."

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