The Garrett County Arts Council and the Grantsville Arts & Entertainment District are collaborating with the Grantsville business community and artists to host the National Road Festival and Townwide Yard Sale on May 21 and 22. After a year of very little activity, the two-day event is a promising return to at least some sense of “normal life.”

The event is being heralded in early May with a Public Art Project featuring a range of area artists who are creating artworks to be displayed outside of participating businesses. The works will include photography, painting, and other media, and will be placed in A-frame signs throughout the town.

An Old Time String Jam will open the weekend on Friday, May 21, featuring the Smooth Valley Rollers band. This will be held from 6 to 8 along the Casselman River behind the Cornucopia Café. All are invited to attend this free event. If you want to play along, bring your instrument or your voice. If you’d like to just listen, feel free to sit back and enjoy the evening around a campfire with live music in the tradition of wagon trains that once traversed the National Road.

The A&E District is also working alongside the Grantsville Elementary School in an art project with the students. The goal is to display the children’s work on the Cornucopia Café back deck during the two-day celebration.

A Plein Air Sketching and Journaling Workshop is being hosted by the Garrett County Arts Council and facilitated by the A&E District. This four-hour, plein air session will be led by Susan S. Johnston. Whether you are an artist, historian, scientist or just interested in learning how to draw and paint, this workshop will be beneficial to you, designed to help the student learn from the environment to record details in architecture and nature, and to gather visual information.

“En Plein Air” is a French term for painting outside or on site. In our technological world where so many artists and students rely on photography and the computer, simple observation skills and work habits are not as widely used and developed. This workshop is designed to help the viewer become more observant, to make choices for a composition, to draw a scene proportionately and correctly, and use light and dark values. An historic section of the Old National Road awaits students to rediscover details of interest and beauty.

The workshop will take place on Saturday, May 22, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Students will gather at Cornucopia Café between 9:30 and 10. Each participant should bring a lightweight stool or folding/camp chair and a small jar for paint water. Small easels are also allowed but not required. The $35 fee will provide each participant with a watercolor sketchbook, a small round brush (No. 8), one black water soluble Tombow pen, and a boxed lunch and bottle of water from the Cornucopia Café.

Persons may buy workshop tickets online at or at The Gallery Shop at 108 S. Second Street, Oakland, MD 21550. Contact or 301-334-6580 for more information!

As the plein air class is taking place, artists will be set up on the Little Crossings Campus with artwork for sale, and several cottages of the Spruce Forest Artisan Village will be open as well, with artists on site creating their signature pieces as passersby watch. The town-wide yard sale will be underway as well, with many local families taking part in the popular event.

While the Covid-19 dangers are lessened, the GCAC, A&E District, and other organizers will continue to encourage mask wearing in crowds and when inside buildings. All are asked to keep socially distant from other guests as much as possible, and to encounter one another with proper precautions.

We hope you will come out and celebrate the National Road, the arts, the local businesses, and the beautiful and historic town of Grantsville!

For more information or to join the Garrett County Arts council, please visit today.

By Mary McEwen of The Garrett County Arts Council