Damascus Community Fair features popcorn, old friends and fun -- Gazette.Net


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Volunteers with the Damascus Lions Club handed out more than 2,000 bags of free popcorn at the Damascus Community Fair Friday, continuing a 20-year tradition.

Getting a free bag of freshly popped popcorn at the 67th annual event which ran from Friday to Sunday this year at the Damascus Fire Department Activity Center, at 10211 Lewis Drive, is a decade-long community tradition, according to Mary Frances Gosnell, chairwoman of the Damascus Lions Club popcorn booth.

“Everybody loves it,” Gosnell said “The aroma goes throughout the fair grounds and makes everybody happy.”

Gosnell said that there has been free popcorn at the fair for more than 20 years, but the Lions Club has provided it for the last 10.

“It’s our way of telling the community ‘thank you’ for supporting us,” she said.

Last year, the group passed out 2,200 bags of popcorn at the fair.

The fair, which began in the 1920s at Damascus High School, featured live animal displays, children’s activities, and food and community vendors — including the Damascus Heritage Society.

Linda Olsen, president of the society, has gone to the fair for about six years and said it’s a great way to catch up with old friends.

“When we first started at the fair we didn’t have our building yet, we were just drumming up business,” she said. “Now, we just renew old acquaintances.”

Pam Giganti, of Damascus, said that she’s been coming to the fair off and on for about 10 years.

“I love to support the fair because it’s a great thing to have in the community,” she said. “Every year it’s fun.... It’s nice to spend time with people.”

Proceeds from the fair go back into the event, which also included a royalty competition. Anna Linthicum, of Laytonsville, and Jonathan Bjorson, of Damascus, were crowned queen and king of the fair during a ceremony on Friday.

“It’s a wonderful community event,” said Edna Searles, regent of the Pleasant Plains of the Damascus Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution.

In honor of the 225th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution, the local chapter gave fair-goers the opportunity to be a part of history by letting them sign a copy of the historic document.

“Everybody has been excited [to sign it],” Searles said.

As of 4:30 p.m. Friday about 300 fair visitors had signed the document. The activity is part of the group’s efforts to celebrate Constitution Week, which runs from Sept. 17-23 and commemorates its signing. In addition to the signing, the group also sold specialty items, including apple butter made for them by McCutcheon Apple Products Inc. in Frederick.

Searles said part of the proceeds from the apple butter sales will go to supporting group projects, including passing out American flags at community events.

While attendance at the free event is difficult to track, Mark Adkins, president of the Damascus Community Fair board, said that 3,000 people were expected to come to the event over the three-day period. Adkins said the fair allows visitors to connect with the Damascus community’s past and present.

“[The fair] is really a community event involving a lot of different people…[The community] really enjoys it,” he said. “To a certain extent it has a touch of the past.”

myoung@gazette.net