Keedysville man will demonstrate red-hot hobby at Boonesborough Days

September 05, 2012|By MEG TULLY | Special to the Herald-Mail
  • Joe Scheerer of Keedysville is owner of Moonshine Forge Blacksmith Shop. He will demonstrate blacksmithing at Boonesborough Days on Saturday, Sept. 8, and Sunday, Sept. 9.
Photo courtesy of Paul Smith

BOONSBORO -- — Joe Scheerer of Keedysville has a hobby that fits best in another century.

A graphic artist by day, Scheerer taught himself blacksmithing as a new interest in 2007. He will be demonstrating at Boonesborough Days Saturday, Sept. 8, and Sunday, Sept. 9.

“It’s important we not lose our manual skills,” Scheerer said. “I’m not ready to give up my iPod or anything. I’m not anti-technology. I think it’s just important to remember how to do things.”

The festival is the oldest continuously operating arts and crafts festival in Washington County, according to the Boonsboro Historical Society, which organizes the event.

The festival is intended to “preserve for posterity the heritage of the Boonsboro area,” according to a press release from Boonsboro Historical Society. The event will include several other craft demonstrators practicing trades typical of the 18th and 19th centuries, such as a broommaker, a soap maker, potters, colonial beeswax candle maker and folk artists.

Under his shingle, Moonshine Forge Blacksmith Shop, Scheerer now produces objects such as collectible knives made from a railroad spike, S-hooks and J-hooks, decorative pieces like an intricate copper rose, pot racks, garden trellises and gates. At Boonesborough Days, he will be selling pieces that range in price from $3 to $100, though most are on the lower end.

Scheerer majored in history and fine arts in college, a perfect combination for his new trade. But it wasn’t until years later that he started thinking about pursuing blacksmithing.

He didn’t know anyone to teach him, so he began to teach himself. He built a coal-fueled forge in his backyard. He made some mistakes along the way — including forgetting that metal can be hot, even if it’s not red, and completely melting metal as he was working on it.

One challenge he faces is finding the right tools, because they aren’t used too often nowadays. Many of them he makes himself.

“You’ve got a real creative element there that I find particularly appealing,” Scheerer said. “It’s an interesting challenge (to make the tools I need for a task).”

Starting this fall, Scheerer will demonstrate his skills on a regular basis at the Washington County Rural Heritage Museum, which is developing a blacksmith shop and forge. Until then, Scheerer limits his demonstrations to craft shows like Boonesborough Days.

He is also involved with the Western Maryland Blacksmith Guild, which was founded early last year. The group has about 30 to 50 people that have come to meetings, and Scheerer said he’s enjoyed learning and sharing techniques within the community.

Scheerer makes an effort to only take breaks while demonstrating at festivals if no one is watching him at that moment — even if it means working for most of the time from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In 2009, a young teen sat outside his booth and asked him questions for about two hours. Last year, Scheerer was happy to see that the same young man had joined the Western Maryland Blacksmith Guild and was in their booth practicing his skills.

“We’re the kind of thing that brings people there,” Scheerer said. “They come over and there’s something for them to see and do, and that’s an important part of the event.”

If you go ...       

WHAT: 41st annual Boonesborough Days, an arts and crafts festival

WHEN: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 8 and Sunday, Sept. 9

WHERE: Shafer Memorial Park, Boonsboro

COST:  The festival is free

CONTACT: Wanda Heuer, coordinator of Boonesborough Days, 301-432-7030.

MORE: Visitors will need to find parking in town. There will be no trolley running from the Boonsboro school campus this year.

The Blue and Gray Model T Ford Car Club will host an antique car show on Sunday. The car club contact is Ron Ford at 301-432-6508. The first 50 cars registered will be given a commemorative plaque. Doug Bast and Tim Doyle, authors of “Images of America: Boonsboro,” will conduct book signings at the Boonsboro Museum, 113 N. Main St. from noon to 5 p.m. both days. Bast can be reached at 301-432-6969.

ALSO: To learn more about Joe Scheerer’s work, visit his Facebook page at

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