More than 200 wreaths up for bids


Nancy Gregg took time out from her holiday shopping last week to deliver a wreath filled with child-sized paper hands and grinning foam-board faces to the Carroll County Arts Council.

Preschoolers in Gregg's care at the Child Development Center at Carroll Community College fashioned the wreath and dubbed it "Festive Faces." It is one of more than 200 entries in a five-day silent auction during the council's eighth annual Festival of Wreaths, opening Wednesday at the Carroll Arts Center in downtown Westminster.

"This one is decorated by our littlest learners with little hands and faces that they made," Gregg said. "When you know the children, you can guess who made each face."

For bidders interested in something a bit less whimsical, the festival will have traditional, floral and even a few feathered wreaths. The Carroll County Artists Guild created a "Tawa" wreath of clay with adobe houses and bright sunflowers surrounding a painted-desert scene. The guild borrowed the Hopi Indians' word for sun god as the title.

Some contributors went outside the wreath format. One framed a collage of paper crafts and another painted a flock of Canada geese lining up along a flour mill. Joanne Blye, arts council board member, entered a tinsel painting on glass. The highest bidder on Sally Matthews' entry can wear the wreath home. Matthews, mother of arts council director Sandy Oxx, knitted a soft green scarf, added peppermint candy buttons and circled it to look like a wreath.

Council members expect lively bidding on a rather plain wreath that circles a football, because of what comes with it. The winner will have use of the arts center theater to watch the Super Bowl, with catering from a Main Street restaurateur.

The council is also offering a Mardi Gras wreath. Several ingredients for a pre-Lenten festival are attached.

Gift certificates from area merchants and artists accompany many of the wreaths. Successful bidders can win things such as a tea party and perennials from the Good Thyme Gals Garden Club. The 2005 festival has added a category called Stocking Stuffers for the additional donated gifts and merchandise

"We have a lot of philanthropic people in the county," Blye said.

The council's 8-foot-tall "tree of jewels" will adorn the main lobby, glimmering with more than 1,000 hand-beaded ornaments by Sykesville artist Fran Mickel. Proceeds from sale of the ornaments benefit Camp Joy, a nonprofit organization for children and adults with special needs.

Last year's festival featured 200 wreaths and raised more than $16,000 for the arts council. With more wreaths, stockings and ornaments, this year's event promises to be even more profitable, organizers said.

On Saturday afternoon, the council, relying on the votes of visitors, will award prizes to wreath designers in several categories. Bidding ends at 4 p.m. Sunday. High bidders need not be present at the auction's close to claim their prize.

Festival hours are from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at 91 W. Main St., Westminster.

During the festival, the arts center will show favorite holiday films and classic cartoons in the big-screen theater through Sunday. Screenings are free, and include the following:

Thursday: 2 p.m., White Christmas; 4:30 p.m., Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer; 6 p.m., It's a Wonderful Life.

Friday: 2 p.m., Holiday Inn; 4 p.m., Frosty the Snowman.

Saturday: 10:15 a.m., George Balanchine's The Nutcracker; noon, A Charlie Brown Christmas; 12:45 p.m., How the Grinch Stole Christmas; 2 p.m., Miracle on 34th Street; 4 p.m., Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Information: 410-848-7272.

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