Hancock plans fun on the C&O Canal with 10th annual Barge Bash

June 20, 2012|By LAURA BELL | Special to The Herald-Mail
  • Sally Bowser, from left, Pamela Brenner and Stan Bowser work on their entry in this weekends Barge Bash parade. The trio plans to enter a castle-style design with Brenner and Sally Bowser riding the barge wearing vintage swimming suits.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

HANCOCK Ã?¿ — The Barge Bash has been a celebration of what summer is about — playing in water and having fun with friends and family.

Barge Bash will be Saturday, June 23, on the C&O Canal between Pennsylvania and Church streets in Hancock. The events of the day will begin at 10 a.m. and the parade of barges will begin at 1 p.m, according to Daniel Murphy, mayor of Hancock.

Pamela Brenner of Hancock Pet Salon participated for the first time in the Barge Bash last year. For her second year participating in the event, Brenner and Sally Bowser, along with Josie the dog, plan to float in the parade of barges dressed in swimsuits from the early 1900s on their “Bathing Beauties” barge. Stan Bowser and Winston the dog will pull their barge from the shore of the C&O Canal.

“It’s like Halloween in the middle of summer,” Brenner said.

Last year, Brenner and her barge, Under the Sea, won the Most Colorful award. Her prize was a very large spoon created by artist Mike Kligerman.

“It’s a family event,” Brenner said. “Everybody gets something. It’s just fun.”

While Brenner said she enjoys being on the float and waving to everybody, her favorite part is seeing all the other barge designs in the parade.

The Barge Bash was started 10 years ago by the Hancock Chamber of Commerce “to capture the uniqueness of our town and the canal,” Murphy said.

This year’s Barge Bash is sponsored by the Hancock Arts Council, the Town of Hancock and the C&O Canal National Historical Park. The highlight is a parade of participant-designed floating barges held on the C&O Canal.

“It’s a great, sort of unique event in Maryland,” said Sinclair Hamilton, chairman of the Hancock Arts Council.

The parade starts at the old bridge that crosses the canal, and it takes place in the rewatered section of the canal, Murphy said.

Each barge floats along the canal for about half a mile, pulled by nonmotorized power, Murphy explained.

“They have to be pulled by a team of either human or animal power,” he said.

In the past, dogs, mules, bicycles, and teams of people have been used to pull barges, he said.

Participants have taken the opportunity to make the barges as creative as possible. Some have been historic, artistic or military themes, Murphy said. They have been “anything you can imagine,” he said.

“We’ve had some incredible barges in the past, and I expect we’ll have more this year,” said Hamilton.

 Murphy said he expects there to be 10 to 12 barges in this year’s parade. Barges will be judged by several guest judges, including Kevin Brandt, superintendent of the C&O Canal National Historical Park.

Winning barges will win prizes —original works painted and designed by Kligerman, said Murphy. Hamilton said Kligerman’s prizes are very unusual.

The event provides local groups with the opportunity to express their own creativity by making the barges, Hamilton said.

Murphy said he expects several hundred people at this year’s Barge Bash. The day’s festivities include food venders, mule-drawn wagon rides and live music by The Flashbacks band.

In addition to the entertainment and festivities provided during the Barge Bash, historic information about the C&O Canal will also be represented at the event.

“It’s a nice family affair,” Hamilton said.

If you go ...       

WHAT: Hancock Barge Bash

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 23

WHERE: C&O Canal at the Western Maryland Rail Trail Parking Lot in downtown Hancock

COST: Free to attend

CONTACT: Call 301-678-6635

If you go ...       

WHAT: C&O Canal Family Reunion

WHEN: 11 a.m. to noon Saturday, June 23

WHERE: Along the rewatered portion of the C&O Canal between Pennsylvania and Church streets, Hancock

CONTACT: Call the C&O Canal Williamsport Visitor Center at 301-582-0813.

If you go ...       

WHAT: Barge Bash Ball

WHEN: 8 p.m. to 10. p.m. Saturday, June 23

WHERE: Hancock Performing Arts Center, 126 W. High St., Hancock

COST: Admission is by donation to benefit the Hancock Arts Council

CONTACT: Call Sinclair Hamilton at 301-678-5719 

If you go ...       

WHAT: Bash Dash, a one-mile run coordinated by the Potomac Highlands Distance Club

WHEN: Saturday, June 23. Registration at 9 a.m. Race starts at 10 a.m.

WHERE: Register at Hancock Middle-Senior High School. Starts on Md. 144 in front of the high school.

COST: $5 per person

CONTACT: Go to or email

Schedule fopr Barge Bash

Hancock will host several other activities on Saturday, June 23, during the Barge Bash.

• Hancock C&O Canal Family Reunion — 11 a.m. to noon on the C&O Canal.

The Canal Family Reunion is an opportunity for anyone with family history associated with the C&O Canal to hear stories from other families who are connected with the canal.

The Family Reunion is intended “to reconnect the community back to the canal and the fact that the canal was real people whose decedents still live in the area,” said Lisa Dittman, park ranger with the C&O Canal National Historical Park.

“We realized that there were people who still remembered life on the canal and wanted to keep those stories and history alive,” Dittman said.

The festival is a fun event for children and families, and as it brings people down to the canal it also brings them closer to the history, explained Daniel Murphy, Hancock mayor.

• The Bash Dash — begins at 9 a.m. at Hancock Middle-Senior High School

The race, a one-mile run coordinated by the Potomac Highlands Distance Club, begins at Hancock Middle-Senior High School and ends at the Barge Bash location on the C&O Canal.

• Barge Bash Ball — 8 to 10 p.m. at the Hancock Performing Arts Center at Town Hall

The Barge Bash Ball is sponsored by the Hancock Arts Council. The music for the ball will be provided by Russ and Donna Miller, who perform as Take Two Variety Band. Admission is by donation.

“They’re a really, great, local group,” Hamilton said.

The concert and dance is family-oriented and open to all ages, Hamilton said.

— Laura Bell

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