Bratwurst, Oompah and Blob's Park

May 13, 1994

Among Anne Arundel County's more peculiar treasures is Blob's Park, which is beginning its 66th season in Jessup, serving bratwurst, oompah music and pitchers of beer.

At least that's what it does during events catering to German-Americans, who are no longer even a majority of the 150,000 visitors each year.

When Max Blob, a Bavarian who had immigrated to the United States at age 12, opened a small frame pavilion on the family farm in 1928, his purpose was to invite some fellow Germans over on weekends and public holidays.

Five years later, after Prohibition was repealed, the wooden dance floor of Blob's Park was opened to the general public, which found it a pleasant place to do some polkas and waltzes to the music of an accordion or an occasional brass band.

These days, Blob's Park may have lost much of its ethnic flavor but none of its popularity. Accessible from Route 175 and visible from the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, the park's repeatedly enlarged pavilion is a weekend destination for thousands of merrymakers throughout the region. (Much of its clientele comes from Northern Virginia these days.)

Blob's Park is the last relic of a number of similar privately owned recreation facilities that once existed throughout Anne Arundel County.

Perhaps one reason for its longevity is that, unlike most of the others, it was not a shoreline facility. Thus, it survived rivalry from air-conditioning and swimming pools, while such recreation centers as Boucher's on Spa Creek and Carr's and Sparrow's beaches, oriented to a black clientele, are fading as memories.

Blob's Park, we must say, is quite wonderful in this world of constant and rapid changes. Its survival is even more remarkable because commercial parks and housing developments have been going up all around it in recent years.

Five years ago, the owners of Blob's Park tried to change the zoning of their 260-acre property. While they promised to retain the park, they wanted to be able to build up to 3 million square of office, research and light industrial space on land covered by zoning for one home per five acres.

Nothing came of their request five years ago -- and the recession deflated the issue. Yet we say: Enjoy Blob's Park while you can. Good things like this won't last forever, especially in Anne Arundel, a county anticipating a 25-percent growth rate in the next half-century.

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