Barge Bash will be Saturday, June 23, on the C&O Canal between Pennsylvania and Church streets in Hancock. The events of the day will begin at 10 a.m. and the parade of barges will begin at 1 p.m, according to Daniel Murphy, mayor of Hancock.
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Pamela Brenner of Hancock Pet Salon participated for the first time in the Barge Bash last year. For her second year participating in the event, Brenner and Sally Bowser, along with Josie the dog, plan to float in the parade of barges dressed in swimsuits from the early 1900s on their “Bathing Beauties” barge. Stan Bowser and Winston the dog will pull their barge from the shore of the C&O Canal.
“It’s like Halloween in the middle of summer,” Brenner said.
Last year, Brenner and her barge, Under the Sea, won the Most Colorful award. Her prize was a very large spoon created by artist Mike Kligerman.
“It’s a family event,” Brenner said. “Everybody gets something. It’s just fun.”
While Brenner said she enjoys being on the float and waving to everybody, her favorite part is seeing all the other barge designs in the parade.
The Barge Bash was started 10 years ago by the Hancock Chamber of Commerce “to capture the uniqueness of our town and the canal,” Murphy said.
This year’s Barge Bash is sponsored by the Hancock Arts Council, the Town of Hancock and the C&O Canal National Historical Park. The highlight is a parade of participant-designed floating barges held on the C&O Canal.
“It’s a great, sort of unique event in Maryland,” said Sinclair Hamilton, chairman of the Hancock Arts Council.
The parade starts at the old bridge that crosses the canal, and it takes place in the rewatered section of the canal, Murphy said.
Each barge floats along the canal for about half a mile, pulled by nonmotorized power, Murphy explained.
“They have to be pulled by a team of either human or animal power,” he said.
In the past, dogs, mules, bicycles, and teams of people have been used to pull barges, he said.
Participants have taken the opportunity to make the barges as creative as possible. Some have been historic, artistic or military themes, Murphy said. They have been “anything you can imagine,” he said.
“We’ve had some incredible barges in the past, and I expect we’ll have more this year,” said Hamilton.
Murphy said he expects there to be 10 to 12 barges in this year’s parade. Barges will be judged by several guest judges, including Kevin Brandt, superintendent of the C&O Canal National Historical Park.
Winning barges will win prizes —original works painted and designed by Kligerman, said Murphy. Hamilton said Kligerman’s prizes are very unusual.
The event provides local groups with the opportunity to express their own creativity by making the barges, Hamilton said.