MPT to highlight "Our Town" in documentary

Hagerstown-area attractions to be featured

June 06, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER |
  • John Gordon and Cynthia Gordon Millsop, owners of Gordon's Grocery, are seen at the store on Cypress Street in Hagerstown in this Dec. 6, 2010 file photo. The store is among the Hagerstown-area attractions and people to be featured in an upcoming Maryland Public Television documentary.
File photo

Hagerstown will make its way into homes across the state this month when Maryland Public Television highlights the city in its second installment of “Our Town.”

Hagerstown and its surrounding attractions will be featured in the one-hour documentary that will air June 14 at 8 p.m., said Matt Rains, coordinating producer.

The documentary will give people across Maryland an intimate look at the Hagerstown community, he said.

From landmarks like Krumpe’s Do-Nuts, Gordon’s Grocery and the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts to lesser-known parts of the area, its people and its history, the documentary will show Hagerstown’s unique flavor and culture, Rains said.

It took about a year to film, produce and edit the “Our Town-Hagerstown” episode, he said. The previous “Our Town” featured Chestertown, Md., home to Washington College.

MPT began working on the Hagerstown documentary in May 2010, Rains said.

“Our Town” is not your average documentary, he said.

“It turns the tables on the standard documentary,” Rains said. “Usually, MPT is the one in control of the story. In this, the cameras were turned over to the people who know the town best.”

The story of “Our Town” is told by community members.

About 25 Hagerstown residents participated in the documentary.

Alesia Parson-McBean said she was interviewed by MPT for the episode.

Parson-McBean, a former Hagerstown City Council member, said she was asked about her experiences growing up in Hagerstown, which she said included watching MPT and PBS.

“I was honored to be a part of it,” she said, adding that it is also an honor to know that her experiences are going to be part of history.

While some participants were interviewed for the episode, others were given camcorders.

Citizen videographers filmed more than 52 hours of footage for the episode, Rains said.

Professional musician Candice Mowbray carried a camcorder around with her for the project to show Hagerstown through her eyes.

“I went around filming an average portion of my life,” she said. “In the end, I thought it might be a little dull.”

Mowbray said she filmed her life in Hagerstown: Practicing her guitar, teaching students at Hagerstown Community College and working from home.

Focusing the lens on the community where she was born and raised created in Mowbray a new sense of pride for her home, she said.

“Any time you are around something so familiar, it is easy to take it for granted,” she said. “In a way, it made me reflect on my own experiences. It was fun to take a step back and look at not just my life but how much music is in Hagerstown.”

Neither Parson-McBean nor Mowbray knows how much, if any, of their footage will be in the final documentary.

But Rains said the documentary will not disappoint.

To promote “Our Town” locally, MPT will host two events before the show is broadcast.

Participants from the project will have an exclusive screening June 12 at HCC.  

The public is invited to a sneak-peek screening June 13 at the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown at 5:30 p.m.

Rains said about 20 minutes of the episode will be shown at the June 13 event, which is hosted by MPT and the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce. Admission to the event costs $10.

The full episode airs June 14 on MPT at 8 p.m.

Anyone who wants a copy of the documentary may buy one during the regular showing June 14 or afterward by making a $50 pledge to MPT, Rains said.

Many of the participants in the documentary will be part of the broadcast June 14 during breaks to collect pledges.

Parson-McBean said she will answer phones during the pledge breaks. Mowbray said she does not know what she will be doing, but said she was asked to bring her guitar.

Tom Riford, president and CEO of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said he also will be part of the broadcast June 14.

The episode is scheduled to be rebroadcast June 18 at 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m., Rains said.

What: Exclusive sneak-peek of “Our Town-Hagerstown” documentary
Where: University System of Maryland at Hagerstown, 32 W. Washington St.
When: June 13, 5:30 to 7 p.m.
Cost: $10 per person
Info: The event is open to the public and will feature light hors-d’oeuvres and Maryland Public Television personalities. To register for the event, visit

To see a trailer for the documentary, go to

The Herald-Mail Articles