Cumberland, Maryland is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, artists and tourists tucked in the Allegheny Mountains about 135 northwest of Washington, DC and about a 2 hour drive from Baltimore, MD, Washington, DC and Pittsburgh, PA. Surrounded by forested hills and resting on the Potomac River, the Cumberland area offers more than just a few spectacular vistas, great fishing spots, cycling trails and events to bring the community together. Here, in chronological order, are the top four summer events worth the drive to Cumberland, Maryland.
1 – Friday After Five
Dates: Every Friday from May 11th – September 28th
Times: 5 pm to 10 pm
Location: Historic Downtown Cumberland Mall
One of the best weekly, open-air, free music festivals around, Friday After Five has been bringing the greater Cumberland community out to see and be seen every Friday for over a dozen years. Local music acts from high school ensembles (like Frankfort High’s steel drum group Teal Steel) to classic and alternative rock cover bands on three stages along historic Baltimore Street bring locals and tourists together for dancing, getting out and catching up with friends and neighbors. The many shops and boutiques along the mall are open late, as are the popular art galleries and museums. High school reunions make FAF a weekly homecoming event and special dates dot the FAF calendar throughout the summer. Car and motorcycle enthusiasts look forward to “Hogs on the Mall”, a motorcycle cruise-in (Aug. 17th this year) and the biggest night every year, “Mustangs on the Mall” (July 6th) and “Trucks & Corvettes on the Mall” (July 27th). With great music and lots of people out and about every week, Friday After Five is definitely worth the drive – at least once this year.
2 – DelFest
Dates: May 24th – 27th, Memorial Day Weekend
Location: Allegany County Fairgrounds (3 miles from Cumberland)
Times: (see schedule on website)
In its 5th year at the Allegany County Fairgrounds, DelFest has become a national, and is becoming an international, attraction for music lovers. Bluegrass legend Del McCoury picked this spot on the banks of the Potomac River, with high, stony cliffs as a background, to fulfill a dream and host an annual 3-day bluegrass & music festival. Now the full-fledged 4-day festival kicks off every year on the Thursday before Memorial Day and hosts over 10,000 fans before it closes Sunday evening. The 2012 festival boasts what those who know are calling the best line up of performers in the festival’s history. Music legend Bela Fleck will be performing with two acts and the lineup includes Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers (yes, THAT Steve Martin), Yonder Mountain String Band, Railroad Earth, Preservation Hall Jazz Band and – ofcourse – The Del McCoury Band. With fantastic performances all weekend long, great people and all the trimmings of big-time music festivals, DelFest is an event music lovers of any age or inclination will find worth the trip to Cumberland.
Cost: Adult passes: Single-day $55 ($25 for Thursday), 3-day $140, 4-day $155 (teens and kids rates vary)
Parking: cars: $10/day, $30 weekend, RV Dry: $75, (hook-up passes sold out).
3 – Heritage Days
Dates: June 9th & 10th
Location: Washington & Baltimore Streets, Cumberland
Time: Sat 10 am — 6pm, Sun 11 am — 5 pm
If Cumberland has one thing of which to be proud, it is the town’s rich history and heritage and both are celebrated every second weekend of June at the annual Heritage Days Festival. The street festival lines historic Washington Street on the city’s West Side which highlights landmarks such as the Allegany County Court House, a Richardson Romanesque style structure built in 1893, and Emmanuel Parish of the Episcopal Church, constructed around 1850 and featuring stained glass windows designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany. Both of these landmarks sit on the footprint of old Fort Cumberland on a site surveyed by a young George Washington. The fort saw the one-time Virginia militia colonel set off with British General Edward Braddock to face the French in 1754. During the festival Washington and Baltimore Streets are lined with local artisans, craftsmen, food vendors, musical performers and activities for kids. Tours are offered of Emmanuel Episcopal and the Fort Cumberland tunnels underneath the church, George Washington’s reconstructed headquarters, the Court House and the C & O Canal Museum in the old Western Maryland Railway Station. Heritage Days is always one of Cumberland’s biggest weekends and draws festival goers from the local region and out-of-town tourists. For a great weekend or one-day event, Heritage Days is definitely worth the trip.
4 – Jaycees Tri-State Wing-off
Date: June 23rd
Location: Canal Place Festival Grounds, downtown Cumberland
Time: 12 noon — 8 pm
Wings, wings, wings, beer, music and more wings is the theme of this one-day event that, after its first year in 2011, has become one of the most talked about events in town. The Western Maryland Jaycees organizes the festival which pits area wings joints and caterers against each other for the title of Wing-off Champion. Wings chefs from a 4-county area descend on the Canal Place Festival Grounds and cook chicken wings on-site for patrons to sample. The stage is busy all day long with a line-up of music acts playing rock, jazz and bluegrass. Plus, it’s affordable! Wings are just 50 cents from each vendor and cans of beer cost just $3. There is a $7 admission at the gate, but advance tickets are only $5 and kids 12 & under get in free, so a family of four can get advance tickets for $10 and enjoy the activities and music all day. It’s also a fundraiser, so we can all feel good that while we overindulge on fried food and beer, we’re helping the Jaycees help the community. For a great time eating, drinking, chillin’ and rockin’ the Jaycees’ Tri-State Wing-off is definitely worth the drive to Cumberland.
Cost: $7 at the gate, $5 in advance (kids 12 & under free)