By Duncan Slade
A bluegrass band strums away at the Lutheran Church, a little girl shrieks with joy as her mother buys a large cotton candy, and the laughter of neighbors spending time together fills the neighborhood streets. These are the sounds of Walkersville Day, a time when residents come together to celebrate the town they love. “It reminds me of Mayberry and I love Mayberry,” said Jim Brittain, a resident of Walkersville for 13 years.
On May 20 residents celebrated the 125th anniversary of Walkersville and the 25thanniversary of Walkersville Day with a strawberry festival, historic walking tours, town wide yard sales, and much more. ”We are trying to get people to understand the history of the town,” said Town Burgess Chad Weddle. Walkersville has grown over the years but in the words of resident Bob Helimuth, “it still has a quiet community, old community feel.” On Walkersville Day this old community feel was out in full force.
Burgess Weddle was busy selling blue polos with the town’s seal on them in front of town hall. Even while doing that, he took the time to talk with resident and involved himself in their issues. Weddle has lived in the town all his life and serves as a firefighter, attorney, and now as Burgess. He said the biggest challenges facing the town ahead are keeping up with the growth and referenced the need for improvements on Rt. 194 and a new water treatment plant.
Out in front of Providence Baptist Church were a couple members of the parish, John Colby and Betty Peterson. They set out their table of homemade brownies and bottled water and handed them to anyone walking by. John accompanied the brownie with a short note on the importance of salvation. His cry of “Brownies or water,” could be heard up and down Main St. and even as we talked he would interrupt to petition passersby with his cry of “Brownies or water.” Betty said that when she moved here with her husband and children, “I thought I was moving to the boondocks!”
Some people have lived here all their life but others are returning residents. This is the case with Mrs Carpenter. She lived in the town from 1964-1996 and returned recently to live out her remaining years in her hometown even though since her childhood, she said, “Where the barns used to be there are houses!”
The town was founded by Isaac Walker in the early 1800s and incorporated in 1892, but the real history of the town began in 1724 when Lord Baltimore had 10,000 acres surveyed and divided into 80 parcels to be leased out. These parcels of land make the majority of modern day Ceresville, Mount Pleasant, and Walkersville. 1781 was a big year for the town when, following the Revolutionary War, all the land owned by Lord Baltimore was confiscated by the state of Maryland because of his loyalty to the British crown. About 58 acres of this land changed hands several time until the ownership arrived in the hands one Isaac Walker, the founder of Walkersville. He divided this land into 20 parcels and sold them to various owners. At the time of incorporation it is estimated to have around 1000 residents. That number has grown to 6000 over the past 125 years.
All in all, Walkersville hasn’t changed much. It still has its quiet streets except on Walkersville day when the town comes together to fill those streets with the noise of cheerful neighbors. In the words of Mrs. Carpenter, “If you live in Walkersville you have everything you need.”