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Wagon train to lead National Pike Festival

May 15, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

CLEAR SPRING -- It didn't take long Friday for the grounds of the Plumb Grove mansion in Clear Spring to be transformed into a scene from the Old West.

Campers tied their horses to wagons and prepared to sleep under the stars in preparation for the 20th annual National Pike Festival.

"We just love to come together and have fun," said Hedgesville, W.Va., resident Joy Campbell, who has participated in the event for the last five years. "We have a really, really good time."

About 25 horse-drawn wagons and 150 people will participate in this year's festival, wagon master Norman Mason said. The wagon train will travel along U.S. 40 today and Sunday from Clear Spring to Boonsboro.

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Mason said the procession is to make a brief stop today at 2 p.m. in Hagerstown City Park.

"I enjoy it," Mason said. "If I put you on that wagon, you'll be out there next year with a team of horses."

Mason said riders on horses will travel behind and to the front of the wagon train to help ensure that motorists drive at safe speeds.

People from as far as Pittsburgh and Findlay, Ohio, visited Plumb Grove on Friday to catch a glimpse of the festivities.

Findlay resident Robert Koontz said he was in town with his wife, Susan, to watch their daughter graduate today from Hagerstown Community College.

The Koontzes said they heard about the National Pike Festival while they were shopping at a country store and decided to stop by.

"They told us to come down here," Robert said. "It's interesting. We just like old antiques."

Robert said the atmosphere was of particular interest to him because his father used draft horses on the family farm.

"Change was not my father's style," Robert said. "We farmed with (the horses) until I was 10 years old. He finally bought a tractor."

Lillian McHugh of Pittsburgh said she and her sister, Clear Spring resident Elizabeth Boyer, attended Friday's events primarily to listen to a bluegrass band that was scheduled to play later that evening.

The sisters said it was interesting to watch the teamsters assemble the wagons.

"I like the horses," Lillian said. "(But) I wouldn't get on one."

Jamie Baker of Big Pool said he has participated in eight National Pike Festivals.

"It's like a family reunion," Baker said. "You haven't seen Route 40 until you're seeing it at 3 mph."

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