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Patrons enjoy heritage dance, music and 140 vendors during Sharpsburg Heritage Festival

September 15, 2012|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com
  • Stephanie and Orion Taylor take to the streets of Sharpsburg in their period clothes at the annual Sharpsburg Heritage Festival on Saturday.
by Yvette May/Staff Photographer

SHARPSBURG, Md. — Karen Taylor’s front porch at 317 N. Main St. was filled with baby clothes and other porch-sale stuff Saturday morning.

She thought business would be brisk with the Sharpsburg Heritage Festival and all of the excitement surrounding the 150th anniversary re-enactment of the Battle of Antietam.

It wasn’t.

“It’s slow,” Taylor said Saturday morning.

By afternoon, business had not improved.

“It’s slower and slower,” she said. “I thought I would do better since they had both things together. Anyway, I gave it a shot.”

This year, nearly 140 vendors lined both sides of Main Street, “the most we’ve ever had,” said Cathy Hull, festival committee president. “This is the first time in some years that we’re having the festival two days. We’ll have it two days next year, too, because that will be Sharpsburg’s 250th anniversary.”

Hull had no estimate on the number of people in town Saturday.

“I believe there are a lot more than we usually have with all that’s going on,” she said.

New to the festival this year was a community heritage dance held Saturday night on the town square. Music was provided by Lydia Sylvia and Friends and their blend of old-time Appalachian, Irish and Colonial music. The dance was called by David Giusti.

Patrons enjoyed music Saturday from the Rohrersville Community Band, Second Maryland Fifes & Drums, Hancock Arts Council Civil War String Band and John Durant, an old-world troubadour who walked around singing and strumming his guitar.

Sunday, patrons can hear some of the same groups plus the Springs Chamber Ensemble from Berkeley Springs, W.Va., and Mercersburg, Pa., and their specialties — classical, Celtic and folk music. Sharpsburg resident and singer/songwriter Jennie Avila will perform at noon.

Historic programs Saturday included Cornelia Peake McDonald of Winchester, Va., who spoke on “A Woman’s Civil War,” and a presentation by Dr. J.M. Bowen on “Horses in the Civil War” at Holy Trinity Church.

Bowen will repeat his presentation Sunday at 1:30 p.m. and Avila has a noon program on “The Confederate Army in Sharpsburg: Hunger, Cowardice and What to Do With All Those Bodies?”

The festival opens Sunday at 8 a.m. and closes at 7 p.m.

Winnie, a 4-year-old smooth coat fox terrier, was sitting on a corner near the music with her owner, Ed Setzer of Sellarsville, Pa.

He came to Sharpsburg for the weekend with his wife and daughter to follow his granddaughter, Chelseda Setzer, 22, as she participated in the re-enactment of the Battle of Antietam in a farm field outside town.

“She does it all year long and we follow her,” Ed Setzer said.

On Main Street, Joe Lane was working at Dot and Eva’s cranberry and pecan fruitcake booth.

Eva was Lane’s mother. She and her friend, Dot, started a bakery under their names in York, Pa., in the late 1940s so they could market their exclusive cranberry and pecan fruit cakes. Their recipe and baking process, which predates the Civil War, is “as secret as the formula for Coca Cola.”

It’s the company’s sole product, Lane said.

He passed out samples to all who would take one Saturday. 

Lane said he didn’t expect any real business this weekend. His presence at the festival was just a trial, he said.

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