Immerse yourself in Washington County culture

January 01, 2011|BY CHRIS COPLEY |
  • Price's bridge is a five-arch stone bridge built in 1822 over the Conococheague Creek. It is among 21 stone bridges in Washington County.
File photo

"Expose yourself to culture" — that's what they say. It's supposed to be good for you. Makes you a well-rounded person.

Not "expose" as in "The Full Monty" or anything. This is more of a discussion of how to become a well-rounded citizen of your local area.

Over the past 40 years, the United States has suffered a serious attack of mallification. Every city looks like every other city, with the same fast-food restaurants, the same big-box stores, the same service stations, the same pharmacies, etc.

So, say you knew a family who had just moved to Washington County. What whould they do to take in the culture of the place? Which places should they visit? Which annual events should they see? Which seasonal natural phenomena should you look for?

What should they know about their new hometown to qualify as a legitimate local?  What sort of cultural activities — from museums to monster trucks — should a Washington County resident experience to be a well-rounded local citizen?

So how well-rounded a citizen are you? Check out this list and see if you're a real Washington Countian. And if you want to expand your horizons, we've spread out events and activities over a year, so there's something to try every month.

For some of these events, dates are subject to change. As always, as more information fleshes out we will have these events available in our Weekend Entertainment Guide on Thursdays and online at


  •  See an exhibit opening at Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, City Park, Hagerstown, 301-739-5727, There's a reception for the 78th Cumberland Valley Photography Salon on Jan. 23.
  •  Even in winter, shop for locally made baked goods, dairy products and limited produce Saturdays at the City Farmers Market, 25 W. Church St., downtown Hagerstown, 301-739-8577, ext. 190,
  •  Local community theater Potomac Playmakers opens "Forbidden Broadway" with shows on Jan. 28, 29 and 30 and Feb. 4, 5 and 6. The Playmakers perform at Academy Theatre Banquet & Conference Center, 58 E. Washington St., downtown Hagerstown, 301-797-8182.
  •  See the period furnishings, research library and doll collection of the Miller House, the museum of the Washington County Historical Society, at 135 W. Washington St., downtown Hagerstown, 301-797-8782, or go to


  •  Attend a concert featuring a Moller organ, made by the M.P. Moller Organ Co., once the world's largest pipe organ maker. Several churches in the area have Moller organs, including St. Johns Episcopal Church, 101 S. Prospect St., Hagerstown, 301-733-2560, which plans an organ recital on Feb. 6.
  •  Local community theater Washington County Playhouse opens "Nunsense" with shows on weekends in February. The theater is at 44 N. Potomac St., Hagerstown, 301-739-7469.
  •  Attend a concert by the Maryland Symphony Orchestra, Western Maryland's premier professional orchestra, based at The Maryland Theatre, 21 S. Potomac St., downtown Hagerstown. The 27-year-old MSO performs its Masterworks 3 concert Feb. 12 and 13. Call 301-797-4000, or go to
  •  Interstate 68 cuts through Sideling Hill west of Hancock. Pull into the parking lot and check out the 340-foot-deep road cut. The U-shaped layers of rock at the top of the ridge are 320 to 250 million years old.
  •  Cheer for your favorite pro wrestler at the House of Pain Wrestling Federation, 237 E. Franklin St., Hagerstown, 301-797-0627.


  •  Hike a portion of the roughly 40 miles of Appalachian Trail in Maryland as plants bud and bloom. Park your vehicle and access the trail near the U.S. 40 bridge over Interstate 70 just west of Greenbrier State Park. Go to
  •  Visit the Washington Monument off Alternate U.S. 40 east of Boonsboro; the Appalachian Trail passes within a few feet of the monument, the first memorial in the nation to commemorate President George Washington.
  •  Take a driving tour to see a half-dozen of Washington County's 21 stone bridges. The oldest, Wilson's Bridge over Conococheague Creek near Hagerstown Speedway, west of Hagerstown, is 191 years old and 210 feet long. For a map, go to or call the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau at 301-791-3246.
  •  Racing season opens at Mason Dixon Dragway on March 5 and at Hagerstown Speedway on March 26. Mason Dixon Dragway has a 1/4-mile drag strip at 21344 National Pike, east of Hagerstown. Call 301-791-5193 or go to Hagerstown Speedway is a 1/2-mile dirt oval track at 15112 National Pike, west of Hagerstown. Call 301-582-0640 or go to


  •  Catch a Hagerstown Suns baseball game at Municipal Stadium, 274 E. Memorial Blvd., Hagerstown. The home opener for the Suns, a Washington Nationals Single-A affiliate, is April 15. Call 301-791-6266 or go to
  •  See costumed re-enactors, vendors and entertainment at the 18th Century Market Fair on April 28 through May 1 at Fort Frederick State Park near Interstate 70 exit 12. Fort Frederick is a renovated 1758 stone fort built to defend Maryland's western frontier during the French and Indian War. Go to
  •  See Nora Roberts and other romance book authors at a book signing April 29 at Roberts' bookstore, Turn the Page Bookstore in Boonsboro. Go to
  •  Visit Funkstown for antique shopping along Baltimore Street. Also, read historical markers about the National Road, which passed through Funkstown two centuries ago.
  •  Family Recreation Park opens to the public the last weekend of April. The seasonal, family-oriented facility on U.S. 40 east of Hagerstown offers miniature golf, batting cages, go carts, bumper boats and more. Call 301-733-2333 or go to
  •  Take in a country music concert. "Nashville Star" winner Buddy Jewell performs April 1 at The Maryland Theatre. Go to


  •  Gather friends and family and bike the virtually level C&O Canal towpath. There are several access points in Washington County. A good place to start is Cushwa Basin Visitors Center, 205 W. Potomac St. in Williamsport, which has parking, historical exhibits and trail information.
  •  The Boonesborough Museum of History opens for the season. This private museum, 113 N. Main St. in Boonsboro features a densely packed, eclectic collection of artifacts and oddities covering local history and military history. Call 301-432-6969.
  •  See the National Pike Festival Wagon Train on May 20 through 22. The horse-drawn wagon train rolls along U.S. 40 and Alternate U.S. 40, stopping at various sites in Clear Spring, Hagerstown and Boonsboro to commemorate the 210-year-old National Pike. Go to
  •  Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum hosts Railroad Heritage Days on May 21 and 22. The museum presents artifacts, photos, railroad art and model railroads to show the pivotal role of railroads in Hagerstown's history. Go to


  •  Take in top blues musicians at the Western Maryland Blues Fest on June 3 through 5 in downtown Hagerstown. Or spend Sunday afternoon at a free, family-oriented blues concert at Peter Buys Band Shell in City Park, Hagerstown. Call 301-739-8577, ext. 116, or go to
  •  Attend a concert by an up-and-coming country music star at Cancun Cantina West, 901 Dual Highway, Hagerstown, 301-797-4422. In addition to concerts, the country-western entertainment facility also offers corn hole tournaments and line dancing.
  •  One local group of re-enactors — the Society for Creative Anachronism — aims to re-create the dress, food and customs of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. The local SCA chapter will host  massed battles on June 3 through 5 on the grounds of Little Orleans Campground west of Hancock. E-mail
  •  Go fishing, canoeing, boating or white-water rafting on the Potomac River. If you want to rent a canoe or take your family white-water rafting, go to River Trail Outfitters, 604 Valley Road, Knoxville. Call 301-695-5177 or go to
  •  Pen Mar Park in Cascade, a thriving amusement park a century ago, has lost its roller coaster and miniature train. But there's a dance hall, and every year from May through September ballroom dancers meet on Sundays to dance to live music. Go to
  •  Greenbrier State Park, off U.S. 40 near Boonsboro, is a favorite destination for local families. There is a 42-acre artificial lake with a beach. The park offers swimming, canoeing, hiking, picnicking and fishing. Go to


  •  See Civil War re-enactors re-create the Battle of Funkstown on July 16 and 17 in downtown Funkstown. Go to
  •  The Maryland Symphony Orchestra's Salute to Independence, a symphonic celebration of American's Independence Day, will be July 2. This free concert takes place on a hillside at Antietam National Battlefield near Sharpsburg and draws tens of thousands of spectators. Go to
  •  The Mile-Long Yard Sale, a huge, neighborhood-wide yard sale, takes place July 4 on and near Longmeadow Road, north of Hagerstown.


  •  Monster Jam brings a batch of big-wheeled trucks to Hagerstown Speedway, 15112 National Pike, west of Hagerstown. The event will be July 22 through 24. Call 301-582-0640.
  •  Washington County Ag Expo & Fair celebrates the county's agricultural heritage in a week of exhibits, demonstrations and contests. The event will be July 22 through 28 at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center, 7313 Sharpsburg Pike, south of Hagerstown. Call 240-313-2807, or go to


  •  Celebrate Hagerstown's German heritage at Augustoberfest on Aug. 27 and 28. Under a huge tent in the downtown parking lot, German beer will be served and music will be performed onstage. Go to
  •  The Leiterburg Ruritan Club hosts the annual Leitersburg Peach Festival on Aug. 13 and 14, with peaches, crafts, peach products and oodles of small-town charm.
  •  Smithsburg and Cavetown are known for peach and apple orchards. From midsummer through mid-autumn, purchase fruit from roadside stands along two-lane highways and byways.


  •  Many Washington County towns have local festivals, but Boonesborough Days in Boonsboro is among the best. The event will be Sept. 10 and 11 at Shafer Park and features crafters demonstrating historic arts and crafts. Call 301-432-5889.
  •  Celebrate a part of Washington County's history and have a bit of fun at Canal Apple Days in Hancock. The festival, on Sept. 17 and 18, celebrates the local apple harvest and also recalls the canal boats that worked the C&O Canal for a century. Call 301-678-5622.
  •  Owning to Maryland's unique geography, you can literally walk across the state in half an hour near Hancock. This year's walk will take place Sept. 17. Call 301-678-7007.
  •  Take in a community band concert in Hagerstown, Williamsport or Rohrersville. Hagerstown Municipal Band performs Sunday evenings from June 12 through Aug. 28 at Peter Buys Band Shell in City Park, Hagerstown; go to Williamsport Community Band performs throughout the year at a variety of venues; go to The Rohrersville Cornet Band performs from May through December at a variety of venues; go to
  • Hagerstown's role in America's aviation industry dates back to the 1920s. Celebrating that, and inviting newcomers to get a taste of flying, the local chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association will hold its annual fly-in in late summer, usually in September, at Hagerstown Regional Airport. Look for a schedule at


  •  Alsatia Mummers Parade, one of Hagerstown's premier events, will be Oct. 29. The nighttime parade features marching bands, floats and costumed marchers. Come early and find a spot on the curb.
  •  Step back into the 1940s and see re-enactors, military vehicles and period movies during Williamsport's World War II Weekend Encampment on Oct. 7, 8 and 9. Call 301-223-7711 or go to
  •  Get a taste of Pennsylvania Dutch food and crafts at Martins Farm Market, 13613 Pennsylvania Ave., in Maugansville. The market's website is
  •  C&O Canal National Park at Cushwa Basin in Williamsport will host its annual Canal Family Reunion on Oct. 1. Descendants of canal boat workers are invited to tell handed-down stories. The public is invited to listen.


  •  One of the nation's oldest, longest ultra-marathons is the JFK 50-mile run. The first race was organized in spring 1963 in response to a call from President John F. Kennedy for Americans to become more physically fit. The 49th annual run will be Nov. 19 with as many as 1,000 runners. Go to
  •  Join the partisan Hagerstown crowd and cheer for your side in the annual high school football game between North Hagerstown High and South Hagerstown High, traditionally held in November.
  •  Underground, the air is a constant 55 degrees. So winter is a perfect time to visit Crystal Grotto, 19821 Shepherdstown Pike, near Boonsboro. It's a modest cave with plenty of formations. Call 240-217-7623 or go to
  •  For an architectural treat, walk the two blocks of South Prospect Street from Washington Street to Park Circle in Hagerstown. This National Historical neighborhood features mansions and modest homes with balconies, towers, columns, carved wood and stone and architecture in a variety of late 19th-century styles and colors.


  •  The line to get in is hugely long, but driving through Antietam National Battlefield's annual memorial illumination is a sublime experience, with the landscape lit only with 23,000 luminarias. This year's illumination is on Dec. 3. Go to
  •  Rest Haven Cemetery in Hagerstown will host its annual Festival of Lights in mid-December, with a bagpiper playing during the lighting of 9,000 luminarias.
  •  Rose Hill Cemetery at the corner of South Potomac Street and Memorial Boulevard, Hagerstown, will host a candle lighting and memorial walk in mid-December.

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