Mountain Top Heritage Days brings together area communities

June 26, 2011|By C.J. LOVELACE |
  • Brad Coyle of Cascade stands next to the antique ice cream-making equipment that he and his father, George, used over the weekend at Mountain Top Heritage Days. They operate under the name Pappy's Antique Creamery.
By C.J. Lovelace/Staff Writer

BLUE RIDGE SUMMIT, Pa. — A decommissioned military base came alive with local culture this past weekend for the Mountain Top Heritage Days festival.

The two-day event started with a parade Saturday morning, and featured 60 craft and business vendors, 15 food vendors and lots to do for the whole family at the former Fort Ritchie Army base.

Bill Carter, chairman of the One Mountain Foundation, which is the umbrella organization for the festival, said the event typically draws 10,000 to 15,000 people from four intersecting counties — Washington and Frederick in Maryland and Adams and Franklin in Pennsylvania — at the top of Blue Ridge Summit each year.

“The event is to help nonprofits,” Carter said Sunday. “There are four different churches, two fire companies and the Sons of the American Legion … they set up food wares and whatever they make is theirs to keep.

“The churches, especially, make more money in these two days than they can through any fundraiser throughout the year, so the whole purpose is to give the nonprofits a boost,” he said.

Jeff Mitchell, president of Blue Ridge Summit Fire and Rescue Squad, said the company has been participating since the event began right on its front lawn at the corner of Pa. 16 and Monterey Lane.

“I think it’s a good thing for the communities to get together and come out, have a social time with one another and just have good fellowship,” Mitchell said, taking a break from flipping hamburgers at the squad’s food stand. “We enjoy coming over here. It’s good public relations for us.”

The Smithsburg Volunteer Fire Department also benefits from the event.

The event has expanded each year and has been held at Fort Ritchie the past three years, Carter said. It started on the front lawn of Blue Ridge Summit Fire and moved to its carnival grounds before coming to the former military base.

“We simply had nowhere else to have it,” he said.

Standing with his wife, Chris, and 11-year-old son, Nick, Brian Eberhart of Hagerstown visited the event with his family on a whim.

“It was a good find,” he said as his other son, Ethan, 8, jumped around on a children’s inflatable bounce.

Numerous inflatables were set up near the center of the grounds with craft and food vendors around the outside. Also near the center was a stage, where numerous bands entertained crowds throughout the weekend.

George Coyle and his son, Brad, of Cascade, were making old-fashioned ice cream at their vendor stand Sunday. The duo, operating under the name Pappy’s Antique Creamery, uses machines from the early 1900s to create an old-timey feel.

“We started making ice cream at the house and a couple people said it was so good, so we decided to come out here,” Coyle said. “It’s a pretty nice event.”

Standing in the craft vendor area, Swan Reynolds of Sabillasville, Md., stood by as Jenna Proffitt, 5, got her face painted.

“It’s great,” Reynolds said of the festival. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Another attraction in the vendor area was the work of Chain Effect, a local chainsaw art and creative signs company that had custom sculptures on display. Jason Stoner of Fairfield, Pa., was standing by as his co-worker, Joe Stebbing of Frederick, Md., worked on a wood-sculpted eagle.

Stoner said he enjoys sculpting things out of wood, adding that it’s just like any other type of artwork.

“Instead of using a pencil, you’re using a chainsaw on a chunk of wood,” he said.

Other attractions included an authentic Civil War encampment with re-enactors, as well as boat and canoe rides on Fort Ritchie’s lake. The highlight of the entire weekend was the fireworks show Saturday night that drew around 7,000 people, Carter said.

“The show was fabulous,” he said.

Also on Saturday, visitors got the chance to go on helicopter rides, which were a big hit.

A church service was held Sunday morning, which about 200 people attended, Carter said.

Above everything else though, Carter thanked his sponsors — Pen Mar Development Corp., Corporate Offices Property Trust, ISP Minerals, Inc., Hagerstown-Washington County Visitors Bureau, McGlaughlin’s Heating and LP Gas and Mountain Gate restaurant — as well as the more than 100 volunteers who helped make the event a success once again.

“We could not do this without the support of our volunteers,” he said.


Editor's note: This story was edited June 27, 2011, to correct George Coyle's first name.

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