Colorfest returned to Thurmont for the first time in two years this weekend.
Thousands of people came — some from hours away — to shop, eat and drink at the annual festival, which featured craft sales from hundreds of regional artists.
“I always look forward to this,” said Glen Burnie resident Debra Brewster, who has been coming to Colorfest for about seven years. “This is, like, one of my favorite places to come all year.”
When Brewster makes her calendar for the upcoming year, she said, she always marks down Colorfest straight away. Not only that — she leaves a note for herself on a day early in September, reminding her to figure out which of her friends are going, and on which days.
This year, Brewster brought her sister along. The pair of them have visited Thurmont several times for Colorfest, always returning to the same stand for apple dumplings and vanilla ice cream.
The dumplings, which are made with fresh apples wrapped in puff pastry and fried, are one of the festival’s most popular snacks. Signs in the shape of apples dotted the streets of Thurmont, directing visitors to where they could purchase some.
Lori Brown, a Thurmont resident who was born and raised in nearby Emmitsburg, worked at a stand on the town’s carnival grounds selling apple dumplings Saturday. Some dedicated fans prefered the dumplings from across town at the ambulance service building — those are the original, famous ones, Brown said, made by the volunteers. Her team bought theirs from a local Amish family.
Still, Brown said, her dumplings were extremely popular, with excited visitors lining up all afternoon.
Brown was also in charge of securing vendors for the section of the festival that sprawled across the carnival grounds. This year, there were about 60 stands in her area, which she said was significantly lower than two years ago.
The rest of the town saw fewer vendors register than usual, too, Brown said. She wondered if the coronavirus had forced some local artisans out of business.
“Because of the pandemic last year, vendors didn’t have any shows,” she said. “Maybe people gave it up.”
Plenty of vendors were there, though, selling everything from pottery to spices to bow ties for pets.
Brewster said one of her favorite things about the festival was the slow, easy pace visitors typically took. They meandered through the streets, stopping to admire the products for sale and chat with vendors.
Seth Williams came from upstate New York to meet up with family members who live in Westminster. He’d been to Colorfest before, but some of his relatives hadn’t.
“It’s good to be back,” he said.
For Josie Salley, who said she’s brought her now-adult sons to Colorfest since they were young boys, the event was nostalgic.
She recalled the days when square dancing and bluegrass music were some of the festival’s draws, and when a German dance group would perform at the old Cozy Restaurant.
In the past, Salley said, she loved to walk the length of the town and admire the arts and crafts for sale. But now, walking isn’t so easy for her.
So this year, her son brought her a folding chair. They set it up along one of the festival’s main thoroughfares, and she sat there happily for hours.
“I’m old. I like to watch people,” she said with a laugh. “I enjoy just watching everything.”