Something for everyone, even camel rides at Mountaintop Heritage Days

June 30, 2012|By ROXANN MILLER |
  • George Coyle Jr., Carl Miller, George Coyle Sr., and Brad Coyle of Cascade, Md., pose with their makeshift ice cream machine at Saturday's 7th annual Mountaintop Heritage Days.
By Roxann Miller

CASCADE, Md. — To say Mountaintop Heritage Days has something for everyone is not a stretch considering it was possible to ride a camel, visit a Civil War campsite and munch on a plate of ribbon fries while exploring the world of steam engines on Saturday.

What began as a modest festival in Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., has grown into a big two-day celebration at Fort Ritchie in Cascade that draws more than 10,000 people for the food, crafts and entertainment.

The annual event started in 2006 as a way to raise funds for the local community while bringing four counties — Franklin and Adams counties in Pennsylvania and Washington and Frederick counties in Maryland — together as one mountain community, said Nina Rouzer, secretary of the One Mountain Foundation.

“It’s grown quite a bit,” Rouzer said. “The community comes out because it’s a community event. There are so many people who were stationed (at Fort Ritchie) or had family who worked here, and they come back to reminisce. People like to come to relax, shop, watch their kids play and just have fun as a community.”

One of the weekend’s main goals is to raise money for various community organizations, including the Blue Ridge Food Bank and New Hope Shelter, as well as money for $1,000 scholarships to five high school seniors at five different area schools.

Rouzer said a petting zoo, camel rides, children’s rides, World War II re-enactors, and a car and motorcycle show were added to this year’s event.

The line was long for the camel rides, but Caleb Boswell didn’t mind waiting.

Caleb, 13, of Cascade climbed the ladder, and with a tiny bit of help from Callan Hahn of the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve & Zoo, gently climbed onto Amira’s back.

“It was bumpy,” Caleb said after his adventure.

He was thrilled that he got a chance to ride a camel.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance,” Caleb said.

His sister, Chloe, also got a chance to ride Amira.

“I thought it was fun,” said Chloe, who proclaimed herself the better camel jockey.

Susan Symonds is proof that you don’t have to be from “the mountain” to enjoy the celebration.

Eight members of her family made the trek from Williamsburg, Va., to visit her brother-in-law, Dan Symonds, and she loved the festivities.

“This is the first time I’ve seen the festival, and it’s wonderful,” Symonds said while taking a much-needed sip of ice-cold water.

Her favorite thing was watching the kids hold a snake.

“They loved it — even the little ones,” Symonds said.

While most were running for shade, one family was not.

Robert Maloy of Westminster, Md., his daughter, Sarah Gardner of Cascade, and his son-in-law, Nate Lind of Warrenton, Va., all sported kilts.

They got a few stares, but Maloy said he was cool and that’s all that mattered.

The family is of Irish descent, and they wear kilts in honor of their heritage, Gardner said.

Maloy wore an American tartan kilt.

“It’s red, white and blue, and the black is for those that died for our freedom,” he said. “So it’s an appropriate thing to wear for the Fourth of July week.”

Down by the gas and steam engine displays, George Coyle of Cascade used his late father Bobby’s old cart, a hit-and-miss engine and ice cream freezers to make homemade ice cream.

“I love how you can take a machine that's over 100 years old and it still runs perfectly,” Coyle said. “They just last and last compared to the things they make today.”

Not only has he preserved his father’s cart, but the chocolate, vanilla and black raspberry ice cream he’s making keeps ice cream lovers wanting more.

Mountaintop Heritage Days continues today from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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