But with vacations and kids sports leagues and other family activities, even important events can be forgotten.
So The Herald-Mail has compiled a list of a dozen of the biggest events this year in Washington County and the surrounding area. These are events everyone should put on their calendar.
Some of these events are subject to weather or other last-minute changes. Contact event organizers to confirm dates, performers and other particulars. For up-to-date information, check out our daily calendar in The Herald-Mail Sunday through Friday or our online calendar at AllHagerstown.net. And submit your own events and activities at AllHagerstown.net, the area's most complete calendar
— By Chris Copley
Jan. 26 to 29 — IceFest celebrates cold weather and local history in downtown Chambersburg, Pa. Activities include exhibits of printmaking and photography, an ice slide, a cake-decorating contest, fireworks and ice-carving demonstrations. Admission is free, plus there is free popcorn, hot chocolate and coffee. Call 717-264-6883 or go to IceFestPa.com.
Feb. 26 — The 20th annual Potter's Bowl will raise money for the Community Free Clinic in Hagerstown. A ticket gets patrons a handmade ceramic bowl and homemade soups and breads. The fundraiser will be at the Hagerstown Elks Lodge, 11063 Robinwood Drive, east of Hagerstown. Tickets cost $50 and usually sell out early. Call Carol Mendelsohn at 301-797-1585.
April 26 to 29 — This area is a hotbed of Civil War-sesquicentennial celebrations, but there was another war that took place a century earlier, when Maryland was still a colony. The massive, stone-walled Fort Frederick, near Big Pool, was built by the British to protect the region from the French and their allies. Fort Frederick State Park will host its 18th Century Market Fair, with French and Indian War re-enactors, period food and entertainment, demonstrations of military and civilian life from the mid-1700s, and vendors in period dress known as sutlers. Admission to the fort is $5; $3 for children. Go to www.friendsoffortfrederick.info or call 301-842-2155.
April 27 — Romance author Nora Roberts hosts more than a dozen other prominent authors at a book signing at Roberts' book store, Turn The Page Bookstore, 18 N. Main St., in Boonsboro. Roberts will also host her annual hardcover book signing on April 14. Free, limited tickets are available the morning of each event. Go to www.ttpbooks.com or call 301-432-4588.
May 18 to 20 — The National Pike Festival wagon train will roll across Washington County, celebrating the creation of the first federally funded road in the United States. The wagon train will start on Friday, May 18, in Clear Spring, camp overnight in Hagerstown on Saturday, May 19, and end on Sunday, May 20, in Boonsboro. Visitors can see covered wagons and riders on horseback and listen to music and stories from the pioneer days of early America. Call 301-791-3246 or www.nationalpikefestival.org.
May 31 to June 3 —The region's biggest festival is Western Maryland Blues Fest in early June. Thousands of people will hear blues music on two stages on June 1 and 2 in downtown Hagerstown, plus there will be a free concert on June 3 at the band shell in City Park. And Cabin Fever Blues Bash, a preview concert and fundraiser, will be Thursday, March 1, at The Maryland Theatre. For updated information, go to www.blues-fest.org or follow the festival on Facebook.
July 6 — The Contemporary American Theater Festival presents new American plays and musicals in a three-week season. This year's festival runs from July 6 to 29 on the campus of Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, W.Va. The titles of this year's featured plays have not been released. For more information, call 800-999-2283 or 304-876-3473 or go to CATF.org.
July 7 — The Maryland Symphony Orchestra's Salute to Independence, a free concert celebrating American's Independence Day, will take place on a hillside at Antietam National Battlefield near Sharpsburg. Tens of thousands of spectators will picnic and play, then hear patriotic music. The concert wraps up with Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture," complete with live artillery fire. Fireworks follow the concert. Go to www.marylandsymphony.org or call 301-797-4000.
July 20 — Feel the Earth shake as Monster Jam rumbles into the Hagerstown Speedway on U.S. 40, west of Hagerstown. Monster trucks smash junk cars, jump, spin and do giant wheelies, and sometimes they roll upside-down. The Jam will be July 20 through 22. Call 301-582-0640 or go to www.hagerstownspeedway.com.
Aug. 25 and 26 — Visitors will sip German beer and take in traditional Bavarian music and dance at Augustoberfest, the annual celebration of Hagerstown's German heritage. The event will be held under a huge blue and white striped tent in the downtown parking lot. Go to www.augustoberfest.org or call 301-739-8577, ext. 116.
Oct. 27 — More than 100 floats, marching bands and groups of costumed residents will march down Potomac Street on Saturday, Oct. 27 in the 87th Alsatia Mummers Parade. The nighttime parade is a Halloween tradition in Hagerstown, with tens of thousands of spectators lining North and South Potomac Street. Reserved seating is available. Call 301-739-2044 or go to www.alsatiaclubinc.com.
Dec. 1 — The line to get in is long, but driving through Antietam National Battlefield's annual memorial illumination is a moving experience, with the landscape lit with more than 23,000 luminarias, one for each of the dead, injured or missing from America's bloodiest one-day battle. Vehicles line up on the westbound shoulder of Md. 34 for the five-mile tour through the park. Go to www.nps.gov/anti or call 301-432-5124.