Wine festival does well in spite of rain Attendance doesn't match last year's, but organizers are pleased


It rained intermittently on the 12th annual Maryland Wine Festival, but the weather did little to dampen attendance.

The two-day festival on Sept. 16 and 17 drew 14,216 people to the Farm Museum in Westminster, down about 6,000 from a sunnier event last year.

Still, the Saturday attendance of more than 10,000 was the second-largest since 1991, said Dottie Freeman, museum administrator. Early predictions for a rainy Sunday may have spurred the crowds to come out early.

As a result, the much needed and anticipated rain helped the farmers on Sunday and the Farm Museum on Saturday, Ms. Freeman said.

"Our numbers dropped to about 4,000 on Sunday," Ms. Freeman said. "But those who came really enjoyed the day and had elbow room. With 10,000 people, the museum grounds are really crowded."

The Sunday visitors had the benefit of walking on straw, which museum crews had spread to help people with their footing on the mud.

Competition from other, newer wine festivals also had little impact, Ms. Freeman said.

"We still had a lot of people coming into Carroll County," she said.

"Many asked if ours was the official Maryland Wine Festival."

Organizers will need about three more weeks to give an exact tally of how attendance translates into dollars, she said.

"We are already looking forward to our lucky 13th festival next year," Ms. Freeman said.

In 1996, the festival will be on the third weekend of September, as usual.

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