See the future for Westminster

September 22, 1994

With marching bands, majorettes and floats parading down Main Street, Westminster will kick off its 18th annual Fallfest at 7 this evening.

The four-day event, which falls during the autumnal equinox, reminds us that the seasons are changing and that we'd better take advantage of this glorious weather while we can. It also serves to demonstrate that plenty of family-oriented entertainment enlivens Carroll County's largest town. As in past years, a passel of activities will captivate the thousands of people attending Westminster's Fallfest.

There will be train rides, a golf tournament, hot air balloon races, contests for pig-calling and blueberry-pie eating, to name a few. Longwell Park will contain a carnival replete with stomach-churning rides, tasty food and challenging games. In addition, the town will host a craft show, a Pennsylvania Dutch farmers' market and an antique car show this weekend. Rock bands, cloggers, Caribbean steel bands and square dancers will provide entertainment on outdoor stages.

This extravaganza of activity is a good reminder that enclosed shopping malls on the outskirts of town are not the only places people can find entertainment.

Fallfest demonstrates Westminster's potential as a magnet for people looking for a bite to eat, games to amuse or music to tap to. Many of the town's Main Street merchants are also hoping that people who venture out to this event will also notice their shops and return in the future as regular customers.

It would be impossible to stage a Fallfest every weekend, but the architects of Westminster's current redevelopment effort should focus their energies on creating a permanent festival atmosphere downtown. Baltimore's Harborplace is, of course, one of the nation's best illustrations of how a mix of establishments -- stores, restaurants, pubs, arcades -- can attract crowds and enliven what had been a lifeless downtown.

Smaller towns have been doing much the same thing through revitalization programs with guidance from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. With proper planning and execution, Westminster's Main Street possesses the history, aesthetics and timeless feel to be such a magnet.

Pay a visit to Westminster during this weekend's Fallfest. See the possibilities that could be in store there and in towns throughout the region, if redevelopment is done right.

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