The Country Fair = Fun & Friends

It’s somewhat uncertain when Pickersgill Retirement Community held the very first Country Fair. According to seasoned board member, Jinx Barton (46 years), and veteran admissions director, Janice Harris (25 years), one thing is for certain: the Country Fair is an annual social occasion not to be missed! It is speculated that perhaps the fair began in 1959 when Pickersgill moved to Towson.  Mrs. Barton recalls it was originally a resident-run play-day for grandchildren, and sometime prior to 1971 the Pickersgill’s board of directors adopted the event planning and operations.  Best guess —

The Annual Pickersgill Country Fair has been a delightful local “happening” for about 5 decades, rain or shine!


Fast forward:

It was a huge turnout at Pickersgill’s Country Fair 2017!  Nearly 400 guests, including residents, family members, neighbors and volunteers of all ages, who flocked to Chestnut Avenue on a beautiful autumn Saturday. There was much to enjoy; music, food, fun and shopping!  The bluegrass sound of the Satyr Hill Band and the a cappella harmony of Port of Call Barbershop Quartet delighted the crowd from 10 in the morning until 2 in the afternoon.  Classic carnival fare was in abundance; hot dogs, snacks and a bounty of bake sale confections. There was perpetual amusement for the young and young at heart; Cowboy Joe the balloon sculptor, the Oriole Bird!, a petting zoo, face painting, pony rides, as well as a $1-a-ticket raffle for a pair of Raven’s tickets.  For those who like to treasure hunt – Pickersgill’s famous jewelry sale, flea market, book tables and white elephant shop were major attractions.  Guests lined up an hour before the fair opened in anticipation of finding a special piece of furniture, a perfect knicknack or maybe a beautiful bauble to take home.

Mr. Chuck Daniels, winner of the Ravens tickets, came to the Country Fair with his wife to shop at the White Elephant Sale. He said ” I’ve never really won anything before!” What a happy surprise , congratulations Mr. Daniels.

What would a fair at Pickersgill Retirement Community be without a visit from Mary Pickersgill’s great-grand nieces!   Jacquie Myers and Marylin Melton arrived from out of state on Thursday in time to host an afternoon tea for all Assisted Living residents who moved to Pickersgill in the past year. On Friday they visited new residents in the Decker Center where they gave out handmade blankets and pretty ditty bags stuffed with soaps and lotions.  And at the fair on Saturday it was easy to spot the sisters despite the crowd as they were dressed in period costumes (circa 1812) complete with sun bonnets.

The fun-filled day would not have been possible without help from volunteers and sponsors who made The Pickersgill Country Fair a success!

Many thanks to:  GOLD SPONSORS: BB&T Bank  &  Remedi Pharmacy Services   SILVER SPONSOR: PNC Bank   BRONZE SPONSOR: Sodexo   PATRON SPONSORS: Brightview Landscaping & Bollinger Energy Supply   FRIEND SPONSOR: Harlan/Barnes  VOLUNTEERS: Chatty Crafters, Towson University National Speech Language Hearing Association students (resident escorts), Maryvale Preparatory School students (face painting), University of Maryland School of Pharmacy students (resident escorts)   BOARD MEMBERS: Karen Auwaerter, Jinx, Barton, Rosemary Berry, Ann Brooke, Jana Burch, Marsha Carroll, Jane Croft, Fran Finnegan, Nancy Flower,  Jane Heill, Ellen Hennessy, Carol Long, Ann Mengels, Sandra Ortwein, Jean Smith, Faye Tully   COMMUNITY VOLUNTEERS: Pat Blake, Don & Nancy Campbell, Catherine & Edward Cronin, Lenore D’Adamo, Dick & Elinore Davidson, Peggy Eck, Patricia Gates, Al & Margaret Hayes, Nancy Hess, Don Howard, Bill Hoyt, Paul Iliff,  Helen Kemp, Jean Lilliquist, Bill Mangles, Bill & Trena Peters, Jack Smith, Mae Strom, Bobbi Trammell, Sally Tullis, Marylin VanTassell, Bill West

Although the fair is first and foremost a friend-raiser, we are happy to announce that this year’s Country Fair raised nearly $9,000 to benefit the Pickersgill Benevolent Care Fund.

A Pickersgill Retrospective

Board member, Jinx Barton, recalls more than 45 years of Pickersgill

Pickersgill is unique in many ways, from its historical namesake and 200+-year heritage to its all-female board of directors. Most unique of all is one of these board members who is now in her 46th year of service to the Pickersgill community.


When Jinx Barton joined the board in 1971 only the name was the same as it is today: Pickersgill Retirement Community.  The “home side” (assisted living) was the sole facility and housed 150 residents.  There was one director, one secretary, and a head nurse. Prior to Mrs. Barton joining the board, there was also a “housemother” who lived at Pickersgill full time and was the main person in charge.  Residents had their own bedrooms and two bedrooms shared a powder room with a common shower room in the hall.  What is now the Willard Auditorium was an open patio with a fountain in the middle.  At the insistence of the residents the fountain was moved to Towson from the garden of Pickersgill’s downtown Mens’ Home.  Legend has it that after only one night the fountain was turned off – apparently the sound of the water had too many people running to the bathroom!

Board members’ roles were far different forty-plus years ago.  When residents were accepted into Pickersgill they had to turn over all their possessions. The practice was that a board member would conduct a home visit to assist new residents in selecting personal items to furnish their new accommodations. Everything else became property of Pickersgill; which is why today pretty antiques grace every hallway and sitting area.  In the past board members had a myriad of tasks: one rode a tractor and cut the grass; a board member doled out money to the residents from their social security checks; others took the residents shopping for clothes and necessities.  During a strike in the 1970s board members and other volunteers worked in the kitchen, helped clean, and even helped bathe and dress the residents.  Mrs. Barton mended and sometimes remade residents’ clothes and made walker bags. She also helped with decorating, hanging artwork and sponsored the residents’ Garden Club, which went on regular outings.

Mrs. Barton has served on many board committees over the years and was president from 1975-1980. She has seen significant changes to the facility in her four and a half decades with the board.  Pickersgill has grown into a community that accommodates residents who live independently with additional levels of care that extend to residents who need 24-hour assistance.  Although board members are no longer mowing the lawn or working in the kitchen they are vital to the operation of Pickersgill Retirement Community and set a high standard of excellence as strategic, long-term visionaries.

Mrs. Barton remains committed to the place and to the residents.  She says Pickersgill “offers more to people than they can get anywhere else: companionship, friendship, comfort, good food, and many activities.  That’s why I’m still on the board, I just love Pickersgill.”

Summer Time at Pickersgill

Nothing says summer time in Baltimore like a crab feast.

If you love Maryland crabs, there was no better place to be than the annual Pickersgill Crab Feast right here on Chestnut Avenue. On a simply beautiful evening, residents gathered around paper-topped tables outside on the patios and inside in the activity room. Not only were the banquet tables piled high with spicy steamed crabs that have been a Maryland favorite for centuries, the feast also featured Maryland crab soup, sweet Maryland corn on the cob, classic crab cake sandwiches and creamy crunchy slaw, followed by delicious chilled watermelon and enormous chocolate chip cookies to finish the feast.  Hailed as one of Pickersgill’s great events, the crab feast is arguably one of the most anticipated occasions on the calendar.



Our Resident Artists

Too good to miss!

The Art Gallery is a must-see destination at Pickersgill Retirement Community.  Located in a nook at the junction of  two busy corridors outside the Willard Auditorium, Pickersgill’s Art Gallery is a space where examples of fine art created by resident artists are on display for everyone to enjoy for their imaginative, aesthetic and intellectual content.

The revolving exhibits, which feature art on loan from the artists’ private collections, are curated collaboratively by the Gallery Committee (board members:  Jean Smith, Jean Heill, Carol Mackay and community volunteer Jean Lillquist) in consultation with the artists.  There are many talented artists among Pickersgill’s residents which means that the pieces selected for display in the Art Gallery change several times a year. Each new exhibit creates a high level of interest among our resident community as well as our visitors. Be sure to stop by the gallery next time you visit.

Read on to learn about some of our featured artists.

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Hula Hoopla

Pickersgill’s annual luau themed happy hour took place took place in the Willard Auditorium and featured music, dance performance, food and more! The room was bright and festive and filled with the distinct harmony of the ukulele, steel guitar and drums which blended with song to echo the sound of the islands. Guests were treated to a spectacular and exciting luau show that included dances from the islands of Hawaii, New Zealand, Samoa and Tahiti and the dancers wore exotic, authentic costumes. Many Pickersgill residents and guests dressed in tropical style for the event, including one resident who said she purchased her hibiscus patterned dress on the big Island of Hawaii in 1970.  Pineapple punch, fruit kabobs and macadamia nut cookies were some of the tasty treats served for the occasion. Residents were further amused when the current class of Pickersgill Red Cross interns were cajoled into joining the dancers on stage to learn a classic hula dance.  At the end of the party everyone universally agreed, “Hana Hou!”  (Let’s do it again!)