Crafts, scarecrows and pumpkins highlight Harvest Hoedown
Many people who head out to Fairgrounds Park on Saturday, Oct. 12, will go home looking as if they have picked up a new family member. There will be straw-stuffed bodies clad in jeans and flannel shirts slung over shoulders, on the backs, and in the strollers of attendees as they head home from Hagerstown Parks and Recreation’s Harvest Hoedown.
Amy Riley, recreation coordinator for the City of Hagerstown, said one of the highlights of the free event is the scarecrow-making area, where 500 kits are distributed for crafting the festive creations.
“The kits have a shirt, pants and pantyhose to stuff with hay. It’s a great time for families and friends to sit on a big bale of hay and work together as a team to make something to take home,” she said. “It’s a great way to kick off the Halloween season and to take home a memory of the event. Families really enjoy it.”
Organizers partnered with Salvation Army workers who pulled pieces of clothing for the kits during the past six months in children and adult sizes to offer a variety of options for scarecrows.
“People carry scarecrows around throughout the day. You see little kids in their strollers with scarecrows sitting on their laps. It’s a lot of fun and a nice takeaway,” Riley said.
The event has been going on for at least 20 years, formerly under the auspices of the Community Development Department, with Parks and Recreation taking it over four years ago, Riley said.
The first 1,000 children ages 12 and younger to enter this year will receive an apple, compliments of the Maryland Apple Promotion Board, as well as a pumpkin provided by the city.
D&D Pony Rides draw lines all day long.
Attendance typically is robust with roughly 2,000 participants in recent years, Riley said. Organizers expanded the traditional event times of 1 to 3 p.m. until 4 p.m. this year.
“We hope people will stay and enjoy themselves a little longer and that this will help with (shortening) lines for activities,” she said.
Harvest Hoedown began as a celebration of community in the area around Fairgrounds Park.
“A lot of folks walk to the event from their homes,” Riley said. “It’s been a great way for downtown and the surrounding streets to develop that sense of community. It brings a lot of folks together so we continue to try to offer new and fun activities.”
Last year, laser tag was added and it will return again this year. There also will be inflatables and a petting zoo. Washington County Antique Tractor Club provides barrel cart rides, and a tractor-pulled hay ride around the park.
The hoedown at Fairgrounds Park, along with fireworks at the park in July, have become community staples, Riley said.
“A lot of folks in the area really look forward to these two big events. They have just become such a part of the community,” she said.
Recreation assistant Cassie Hershberger said there will be food vendors including Camille’s Chimney Cakes, which peddles fall-flavored pastries topped with Nutella or butterscotch spreads and soft-serve ice cream. Chick-fil-A will offer chicken sandwiches and individual bottles of tea. Crab dip, pretzel bites, fried nachos, and other novelties will also be available for purchase.
Craft vendors will sell seasonal wreaths and centerpieces, dog bandanas, sore muscle “ouch pouches,” and more.
Finally, Hershberger said, community organizations such as the Hagerstown Area Youth Soccer League and Head Start of Washington County will be on hand to provide resources and information. Each group also will offer a fall-themed craft for kids.
In addition to Maryland Apple Promotion Board and The Salvation Army, Riley said, Fulton Bank and Community Free Clinic have partnered as sponsors for the event.
“We truly appreciate our sponsors because this event serves so many people and builds such a sense of community,” she said. “We are thankful for these strong partnerships and for all they do to bring in a celebration of the fall season here in Hagerstown.”
Top photo: Making scarecrows is a popular activity at the annual Harvest Hoedown at Fairgrounds Park. (Submitted photo)