Where: Timonium, Md.
Why: Snowball heaven, high art and hundreds of scaly-skinned critters.
How Far: About 55 miles, or an hour from Frederick.
Most folks have one of two reactions when confronted with those cold-blooded entities known as reptiles: "Ewww!" or "Kewl!" If you're in the latter camp, you'll want to slink down to next weekend's Mid-Atlantic Reptile Show, which will be crawling (or, in some cases, slithering) with snakes, lizards, frogs, geckos and turtles for exhibit and sale. (Don't expect crocs or alligators, though -- they're illegal in Maryland.) What kind of people seek out pets they can't pet? About 5 percent of all pet owners, estimates show coordinator Holli Friedland. The two-day event, at the Maryland State Fairgrounds, will feature creatures for both newbies (easy-to-care-for corn snakes and leopard geckos) and veterans (rare $1,500 albino boa constrictors). You can also attend seminars on how to care for a ball python or keep a turtle happy. Note: No animals are harmed during the making of this show -- they're all captive-bred, and money raised from sales goes to preserve rain forests in Costa Rica. Nothin' slimy about that.
Start your trip with a vintage bonanza in Frederick: A dozen or so old-timey stores make up Shab Row in the downtown historic section (East Street), including the Clock Shop and Country Harvest, which brim with 19th-century grandfather clocks, handmade holiday figurines and quirky items you'd never find in chain stores. Then, immerse yourself in agriculture culture at the Great Frederick Fair, where you can marvel as baby calves spring to life in the Birthing Center.
Got a sweet tooth? Swing into Woodstock and stop by the Snowball Stand, which lures connoisseurs of summertime treats from as far as Virginia and Delaware (the favored flavors: egg custard and taste-bud-tingling cherry). Finally, step into Lutherville's elegant Galerie Francoise et Ses Freres, displaying the ceramics, photos and paintings of Russian artist Gennadiy Gurvich through Sept. 18 and works by Baltimore street-scene painter Jerry Seaton from Sept. 19 to Oct. 2. Hey -- it never hurts to add some sophistication to the mix.
The Mid-Atlantic Reptile Show runs Sept. 18-19. For full details, see www.reptileinfo.com/mars.html.
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