For the past quarter-century, the Saturday before Mother’s Day has been a special occasion for Carroll County residents. In the same way that Groundhog Day marks the transition from the chilly winter months to the more mild spring temperatures, the Westminster Flower and Jazz Festival signals the unofficial start of summer as thousands of residents flock to downtown Westminster to partake in activities and events including live music, shopping kiosks, and a 5K run/walk.

Started in 1991, the Flower and Jazz Festival takes place on Main Street in the heart of Westminster. Festivities commence with an early-morning 5K run/walk, which allows participants to get some exercise before enjoying the rest of the festival. Following the race, runners and shoppers alike can peruse the tents and stalls set up by local vendors selling everything from jewelry to clothing to beauty products. The city encourages vendors to gear their merchandise towards mothers, grandmothers, and other female family members, making the event an excellent place to purchase Mother’s Day gifts.

As the name would suggest, music is also an integral part of the Flower and Jazz Festival. The event features multiple stages at several locations along Main Street. Music acts generally include local high school ensembles and nationally recognized bands. Acts in 2015 included The Herb Shell Ensemble, Chris Vadala, and the Sunday Night Big Band, while scheduled 2016 performers include Tim Jenkins and Steve Swarn. Also scheduled to perform are ensembles from Westminster High School, Mount Airy Middle School, and Folley Quarter Middle School.

Past festivals have drawn around 7,000 people, and officials are expecting a similarly high number for the 2016 event, which will be held on May 7. Well over 100 vendors are expected to attend the festival, including Main Street staples such as art studio COB 51 and music emporium Coffey Music. Available merchandise includes candy, books, natural foods, arts & crafts, candles, gardening equipment, and much more. Of course, flowers will be available in abundance; several florists have made plans to attend and sell their colorful creations. The 5K starts promptly at 9 am, with vendors opening their businesses immediately afterwards at 10. The event is an all-day affair, with booths remaining open and bands playing until 4 pm. Though the festival is free of charge, those wishing to participate in the 5K run/walk will need to pay a $30 registration fee. All registered runners will receive a t-shirt and potted plant, and proceeds from the race will benefit local charities and organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club of Westminster and the Carroll County Youth Service Bureau.