- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 6, 2000

On any given summer weekend at Rose Hill Manor Park, a host of activities could be going on.

Perhaps the Frederick County Farm Museum is displaying old tractors and other farm equipment. Maybe the Children's Museum of Rose Hill Manor Park is holding another tour of Colonial-era houses and life. Maybe the Frederick County Department of Parks and Recreation is holding a history camp. Or some special event might be under way, such as a quilt show.

That's the magic of Rose Hill Manor Park. The 43-acre park is used by several organizations, so every day brings a new flurry of activity.

"What we really strive for is good, clean, wholesome family fun that's based on history and that's affordable," says Nancy Sweet of the Department of Parks and Recreation. "We always try to have something here that's interesting for everyone in the family."

The crown jewel of Rose Hill is the 200-year-old Georgian manor that served as the retirement home for Thomas Johnson, Maryland's first elected governor. The Children's Museum of Rose Hill Manor Park holds hands-on tours daily for families and school groups. On the tours, children can play with replicas of Colonial-era doll houses, toys and clothes. They also can operate a table loom and Colonial fireplace and even cook popcorn the old-fashioned way.

The house tour includes stops at the icehouse; smokehouse; herb, vegetable and rose gardens; and blacksmith shop.

"Children are surprised at how many expressions we have that came from this time in history," says Pat Vallandingham, a tour guide for the Department of Parks and Recreation. "As we go along the tour, they learn how we got expressions like 'Don't let the bedbugs bite,' 'Don't throw the baby out with the bath water' and 'chairman of the board.' And they love to play with the toy replicas upstairs."

For its recent spring festival, Rose Hill staged a number of Colonial children's games, such as hoop rolling, horseshoe pitching and a form of tug of war in which a contestant must stand on square wood patches and try to pull the other contestant off his patch. Colonial crafts also were featured. Most of the activities cost a quarter.

There also was a demonstration by a local kennel club and an opportunity to meet a rare alpaca, a llamalike animal native to the Andes mountains that is prized for its luxurious wool.

"We try to make things as affordable as possible," Mrs. Sweet says. "We want children to try as many things as possible."

The summer schedule includes a quilt show in June; history camps in July and August; and an antique car show, road rally and ice cream social on Aug. 20. The farm museum will hold its fall festival Oct. 7 and 8, and a campfire and hayride will be held later that month.

"We're planning on candle-dipping and building log cabins with milk cartons," Mrs. Sweet says. "We had 2,500 people at the fall festival last year and 750 the year before, so we're hoping for a really big turnout this fall. But we have lots of things planned this summer, too, to build up to it."

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