Barns in rural Frederick County are built to last.
And on Saturday, nine of them in the Thurmont and Rocky Ridge area will be on display at the 13th annual Barnstormers Tour and Plein Air Paint Out.
The event, primarily a fundraiser for the Frederick County Landmarks Foundation, is a self-guided tour paying homage to the county’s agricultural roots and “how barns were constructed to last,” said Harry Richardson, a Landmarks member and artist from New Market, via email.
Richardson said this year’s tour will kick off at 10 a.m. and last until 4 p.m. with a plein-air style art show set from 4-6 p.m. Roughly 40 artists will be painting — barns, of course — during the tour leading up to the judged show at a host barn.
In its 13th year, the barnstormers tour is well known throughout the county, with a different geographic region picked each year to make it easier for attendees to get to all the barns in one day. This year the stops are in the Thurmont and Rocky Ridge area, which took a great deal of effort and sweet talking from self-proclaimed barn selector Don Ludke to secure.
“Using a local map and google mapping I knock on doors with ‘big old barns’ and try to convince the owners that this would be a great local opportunity,” Ludke said via email. “(Sometimes) I need to use a used car salesman’s approach with some mild arm twisting to convince owners to open their barns to hundreds of guests.”
He said via phone Monday that the tours typically only have eight barns but that he decided to add an extra one this year because the confirmations for the eighth and ninth both came in at practically the same time.
“I had seven and I said, ‘The next person who calls will be barn eight and I’ll end it’. Then within 2 minutes two people called me and I said yes to both of them,” Ludke explained.
Ludke’s wife, Jennifer Ludke, is also an artist who has been involved in multiple tours over the years. He recalled a quote from her Monday that he said perfectly sums up the point of the annual event.
“She said, ‘Europe has its castles and we have our barns.’ “It’s a cultural architecture statement of our time about 19th century barns,” he said.
Richardson also pointed out that more than just barns and art attract tour goers.
“Also of interest in this area are three historic covered bridges, the Legore stone arch bridge, and three early churches,” Richardson said in his email. “Plus, there will be cows, horses, chickens and geese, goats, and baby pigs!”