By Lauren Laker, Contributor
Each year, 2,000 visitors stop in the Carroll County Visitor Center, wondering what to do in the little town of Westminster.
For Barbara Beverungen, manager of Carroll County’s tourism center, the answer is simple.
“Stroll down Main Street, window shopping (or buying), getting sidetracked, stopping in Ain’t That a Frame to check out the art gallery upstairs, or stopping by the Arts Center to see the new exhibit and then stopping in Hickory Stick and Art Works,” she said, listing her favorite local activities.
She’s also an authority on the best local cuisine. Beverungen suggested having Lunch at Harry’s for their famous chili dog and a Greek salad or O’Lordan’s for Shepherd’s pie, or Johanssons for the must-eat crab cake.
Local tourism employees like Beverungen say they really want visitors to have a good time — and enjoy suggesting just how to do it. Along with the visitor’s center, the organization also has a Web site listing the area’s events:
The visitor center, located at 210 E. Main Street in the heart of Westminster, is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sundays and most holidays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The non-profit gets money to keep the business running through hotel taxes. As part of its services, the tourism center also distributes free maps of the area and event brochures. Along with these items, they also offer complimentary tour-planning services.
At the tourism center, it’s not necessary to target options for a certain age group, since nearly everything is acceptable for anyone, employees say. Students could phone in and ask questions about where to take their family on a tour in the Westminster area. If students mention what they like, the tour guide can point them in the right direction to help create an experience of Westminster the family will not forget. Along with helping individuals, the center also fields calls from tour operators. Those group leaders phone the center and interview staff to find out what their group would be interested in.
A quick look at the tourism materials make it clear that this town really has it all, from history and tradition to modern day festivals. Antique shops are scattered down West Main Street. For anyone who loves the outdoors, there is Piney Run and Bear Nature Centers to enjoy the sounds and scenes of Mother Nature.
Another popular site in Westminster is the farm museum where the events held include fall harvest days, the fiddler’s convention, and the wine festival.
The Maryland Wine Festival is an event not to be missed. They are celebrating their 25th anniversary of the festival next year. This event attracts people from all 50 states, and only Maryland wine is served. At the festival, there is not only wine to drink, but also an educational seminar to inform people of how to enjoy wine and which type to use based on a particular menu. With wine in hand, visitors can boogie down with Jazz, Blues, and Rock music. Food is also available for purchase.
There are plenty more yearly events and festivals, all of which are all listed on the Web. For the month of October, for example, there are plenty of things to do in the community. For instance, you could go on a hayride at Bedlam in the Boro where the Lineboro Volunteer Fire Department is there to scare timid riders, or you could get lost in a hayfield at the Maizefest. Mt. Airy Fall Festival is enjoyable with family as well as the Sykesville Fall Festival and tons more, each tailored to the area’s seasonal delights.
The site also lists bed and breakfasts offering a cozy, personal option for families visiting from out of town.
The Carroll County Tourism Center is the way to go if you have relatives or friends coming to town. Instead of moping around the dorms, take charge and get together a tour or find events going on in the community.