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Founder's Day celebrates history of Sharpsburg

Founder's Day celebrates history of Sharpsburg

Many people who live in and around Sharpsburg have some knowledge of the area’s role in the Civil War and the Battle of Antietam. Not as many, perhaps, are aware of its history during the years prior to that.

Ed Beeler, chairman of Founder’s Day in Sharpsburg, said the event from Friday, July 5 to Sunday, July 7, is meant to provide education and celebrate that history.

“We just wanted to get more people down here to show them and tell the real story. Sharpsburg wasn’t just a Civil War battle at Antietam. It goes back to the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War too,” Beeler said.

The three-day festival will kick off Friday evening with music by Rumours and food from Bentwood Smokers BBQ and Catering at Antietam Creek Vineyards.

Joan Larrea, who owns Antietam Creek Vineyards with her husband George Warmenhoven, said the business has been open as a winery since 2017 and first got involved with Founder’s Day last year.

“Founder’s Day definitely got reinvigorated last year. I got the feeling that it was dusted off and revamped last year, and this year, organizers are redoubling that effort,” Larrea said.

Beeler said a heritage festival used to take place around the Sept. 17 anniversary of the Battle of Sharpsburg, also known as the Battle of Antietam. That event was not receiving a lot of support, so organizers decided to combine it with Founder’s Day which takes place in July, as Sharpsburg was founded on July 9, 1763.

“We kind of wanted to get something going like the Heritage Festival. We decided to combine it with Founder’s Day and make it bigger. Last year was the first time we did that. That was successful and this year, it is twice as big,” Beeler said. “We about doubled in size and vendors.”

Roughly 2,000 people attended last year and this year he anticipates even more.

Saturday activities include a scavenger hunt, speakers, open houses and tours of historical buildings, living history encampments and firing demonstrations, all of which will wind down in plenty of time for visitors to head to Maryland Symphony Orchestra’s Salute to Independence concert at Antietam National Battlefield at 7:30 p.m. with fireworks to follow.

Around 30,000 people attend Salute to Independence each year, and Founder’s Day will give those people options for activities throughout the day, Beeler said.

Sunday will feature a homecoming service and tour of Sharpsburg Church of the Brethren and a free concert by New Horizons Band and the Rohrersville Band at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn.

Beeler said Sharpsburg founder Joseph Chapline, who led a militia unit during the French and Indian War, was friends with Horatio Sharpe, a provincial governor for Maryland colony.

“Joseph Chapline gave money to the governor to help build Fort Frederick. The governor gave Chapline acres of land around the area,” Beeler said.

Demonstrations during Founder’s Day will include spinning wheels, weaving, blacksmithing, musket firing and other skills, trades and activities that would have taken place in the town’s early days.

Local singer/songwriter/musician Jeff Taulton and American folk and acoustic Irish and Scottish band Sligo Creek will provide live music.

Mark Brugh will speak on “Aaron Good, The National Cemetery and the Bowie List.” John Schildt will present “Doctors of Sharpsburg” and Karen Gray will discuss “Sharpsburg and C&O Canal Historical Connections.” Edie Wallace will round out the speaker series with “Sharpsburg Storefront: The Legacy of a Rural Market Town.”

“People are excited because there is not a lot that goes on in Sharpsburg besides the (Memorial Day Parade). A lot of people like to come and find out what happened in Sharpsburg besides just the Battle (of Antietam),” Beeler said. “This event helps people find out more about Sharpsburg history and about what’s happening now.”

Top photo: The three-day Founder’s Day festival will kick off Friday evening with music and barbecue at Antietam Creek Vineyards (Submitted photo)

If you go ...

WHAT: Sharpsburg Founder's Day 2019
  • Friday, July 5, 6 to 9 p.m. — music by Rumours and barbecue vendor at Antietam Creek Vineyard, 4835 Branch Ave., Sharpsburg 
  • Saturday, July 6, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — various activities at locations around Sharpsburg and 8:15 p.m. fireworks; Ghost Tour of Sharpsburg
  • Sunday, July 7, at 10 a.m. — homecoming service and tour at Sharpsburg Church of the Brethren, 123 E. Main St., Sharpsburg; 1 to 3 p.m. — free concert by New Horizons Band and Rohrersville Band at The Jacob Rohrbach Inn.
COST: Most activities are free. Prices vary for vendor items.
CONTACT: For more information, visit
Additional information: Parking will be available at the Sharpsburg Little League field on High Street. Shuttle bus will run every 15 minutes from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 6.

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