Carroll offers variety of sites and attractions

Tourism: Carroll County offers historical sites and contemporary happenings for residents and tourists alike.

April 25, 2004|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,SUN STAFF

Carroll County offers visitors and residents of all ages a variety of historical sites and contemporary activities they can attend year-round.

From the Carroll County Farm Museum and Union Mills Homestead to the Carroll County Arts Council and Piney Run Park, there is something for everyone.

Activities abound, from church dinners, art exhibits and family film shows to firemen's carnivals, strawberry festivals and Christmas house tours and craft shows.

It is the job of Barbara Beverungen and Heather Johnson - manager and marketing assistant, respectively, at the Carroll County Tourism Office - to promote the attractions and events.

"Our overall mission is to promote Carroll County," Beverungen said. "We're the marketing arm for the government. We bring visitors here to have a good time and a good experience, and spend their money. We also help the local economy and businesses, especially those connected to tourism - hotels, restaurants, shops, the malls."

The tourism office is responsible for numerous projects designed to bring people to the county: It publishes an annual calendar of events; has a Web site; distributes brochures and calendars countywide and statewide; advertises events and activities, locally and statewide, through a media campaign; attends various regional travel shows; promotes the county to its residents; and promotes the towns.

Beverungen also does a tourism show on radio station WTTR (1470 AM) every Saturday.

The tourism office operates a visitors center at 210 E. Main St., Westminster, the Historical Society of Carroll County. The center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays. It is closed on major holidays.

At the center, visitors can pick up brochures and information about the county and ask questions of the staff, Beverungen said.

Additional promotional help comes from the all-volunteer Tourism Council of Carroll County. It is made up of local businesses, most of them in the tourism industry, such as lodging places, restaurants and shops. The council published in fall of 2002 a small guide that featured advertising and information about county activities and sites.

Although the county has no figures for tourist visits, Beverungen said the Maryland Office of Tourism estimates that Carroll County receives $57 million annually in tourism. That figure includes tourist spending and such things as entertainment taxes the county gets back.

The county tourism office tracks 20 major annual events in Carroll, including the Maryland Wine Festival, Westminster Fallfest, Union Mills Spring Flower Mart, Theater on the Hill, the Carroll County Farm Museum's Fall Harvest Days, Sykesville Fall Festival, the 4-H/FFA Fair and the Fiddlers' Convention.

Those 20 events attracted a total attendance of 225,000 people in 2002, Beverungen said. The visitors center receives about 4,000 phone calls and as many visitors each year, and the tourism Web site draws 2,200 hits a month, she added.

A major draw to Carroll, Beverungen said, is the history behind so many sites.

"The Historical Society has its BLT [Box Lunch Talk)] discussions, the Shellman House its gallery - they're preserving our history," she said. "It's an authentic experience that I think people want - they want a real Main Street, not a plastic copy."

"The Union Mills Homestead is the home of six generations of Shrivers, ... and the furnishings are theirs - not just pieces bought somewhere else," Beverungen added. "The house is a menagerie of Shriver possessions. That's highly unusual in the museum world."

The tourism office is at 224 N. Center St., Westminster. Its Web site is www.carr.org/tourism, and the e-mail address is cctourism@ccg.carr.org.

Information: tourism office, 410-386-2983; visitor center, 410- 848-1388.

Major attractions

Here is a list of the major tourist attractions in Carroll County: (Call the site or the tourism office for information on hours of operation and activities.)

The Carroll County Farm Museum, 500 S. Center St., Westminster, 410-848-7775. The 140-acre farm offers a dozen events during the year and educational programs on farming in the mid- to late 1800s.

Union Mills Homestead, 3311 Littlestown Pike, 410-848- 2288. This 1797 home of the Shriver family features period furnishings and outbuildings, including a functioning grist mill and blacksmith shop.

Historical Society of Carroll County, 210 E. Main St., Westminster, 410-848-6494. The society owns the historic Shellman House and operates a research library, exhibition gallery and museum shop and holds special events.

The Carroll County Arts Council and Carroll Arts Center, 91 W. Main St., Westminster, 410-848-7272. The newly renovated art deco building boasts a 264-seat theater, galleries and offices. The council shows movies, holds concerts, art exhibits and discussions and offers classes and trips.

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