“When many area families think of the end of the summer and family fun they think of the Caroline Summerfest in downtown Denton. This free family festival started from modest beginnings as a one-block, one-night celebration with one stage, one band and a handful of non-profit street vendors. The event was created simply to entertain 600 touring bicyclists who were participating in the 600-mile, inaugural Cycle Across Maryland event. And as they say, the rest is history – 20 years of it!
Since its 1989 beginning, the event has expanded to three stages, 25 entertainment acts, and more than 100 community and corporate sponsor vendors. As the festival expanded so have the crowds. “In our first year we only really expected the cyclists, but more than 1,500 showed up,” says Sue Simmons, director of Caroline County Recreation & Parks. “Over the past few years we have consistently drawn about 12,500 festival goers all looking to have fun with their families without having to spend lots of money. Summerfest has truly become a family tradition for many people in the area,” she adds.
In years past, the event has been produced with a variety of themes – from “Summerfest Goes Hollywood” to “Planet Caroline.” The 2008 event simply focuses on the 20th Anniversary. Vendors are invited to recreate their favorite theme and decorate their booths to compete for the $100 cash prize for the best dressed booth.
Festival highlights include:
• Five, one hour cruises aboard the Choptank River Queen, a reproduction of an authentic 80-foot turn-of-the-century paddlewheel riverboat. Themed cruises will depart from G. Daniel Crouse Memorial Park between 2:30 and 7 p.m. on Saturday;
• A non-competitive classic and custom car cruise-in on Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. on the 100 block of Market Street and a car show from 2 to 8 p.m. on Saturday on Market Street between the 200 and 300 blocks and Third Street;
• Pedestrian and mini-wagon parade led by the international African drumming and dance troupe Farafina Kan and Caroline County’s own NCHS Band of Blue, stepping off at Third and Market streets at 7 p.m. on Friday. The 2008 parade marshal will be Mrs. Mary Ann Horsey, in honor of former Mayor J. Bradford Horsey.
• A performance by the acclaimed U.S. Navy’s premier jazz ensemble, the “”Commodores”” at 8:45 p.m. on Saturday. A specialty unit of the United States Navy Band, the group features 18 of the Navy’s top jazz and “”big band”” musicians under the leadership of Senior Chief Musician Philip M. Burlin.
• Fireworks display at 10 p.m. on Saturday on Market Street.
• Big Tent Teen Adventures at Crouse Park from 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday where participants can make their own tie-dye creations. Bring your own or buy a t-shirt from the pile for a modest price.
Lots of free kids events
Unique to Summerfest is the extensive selection of kid-friendly activities. Featured entertainers include magicians and street performers. The kids can also get their own creative juices flowing at KidZart, a free arts and crafts zone located at the entrance green of G. Daniel Crouse Memorial Park. The 20th anniversary edition of KidZart will feature 20 different construction materials, 20 creative project ideas, 20 minutes-minimum of crafting magic all under the cool shade-tent that is bigger than 20 feet!!!
Other kids programs include Boxtown U.S.A. Here kids create cities, forts, tents, hiding places and adventure with appliance boxes, chalk and plenty of imagination. Volunteers will be on hand to cut the windows door and escape hatches to each child’s specification. In addition, slides, rides and games, bounces, a rock wall, face painting, sand sculpting and other activities will keep the kids busy for hours.
For more information, call (410) 479-8120 or toll-free (888) SUNFEST (786-3378) or visit www.carolinesummerfest.com.
Caroline Summerfest is supported in part by a grant from the Caroline County Council of Arts, the Maryland State Arts Council and the Maryland Tourism Development Board. The Town of Denton and Caroline County Recreation & Parks produce the event with the volunteer support of hundreds of citizens and local non-profit organizations. More than 100 area businesses support the festival through donations and in-kind gifts.