The Carroll County PEEPshow


Carroll County, MD

What’s your take on sugar?

What’s your take on sugar? Just empty calories?  Or an accessible, universally delightful taste sensation that may be enjoyed without the services of a sommelier or chef de cuisine? If you picked the latter, you may be right in tune with a sweet celebration out in Westminster: the Carroll County Arts Council’s PEEPshow.

PEEPs, if you don’t know them, are marshmallow candy in the shape of tiny animals and figures, available in many colors and flavors (yes, even Pumpkin Spice), and manufactured by the Pennsylvania-based Just Born company.

11 years ago, Sandy Oxx lost a Washington Post PEEPS diorama contest. But as director of the Carroll County Arts Council, she sensed that Westminster folks would somehow get the quirkiness of making sculptures out of candy. Their Christmas-time Festival of Wreaths was spawning increasingly interesting work, and the PEEP show would be a nice way to keep the fun going during the spring months. The dioramas morphed into sculptures right away, and larger works started appearing in the celebration’s fifth year. The affinity of pop culture and little marshmallow birds sets the tone for many of the entries: in 2015, 13-year-old Sydney Blacksten gained national notice for her 6-foot tall PEEP rendition of the viral character Left Shark, of Katy Perry/Superbowl XLIX fame. That also got the attention of the Just Born people, and they and CCAC have been mutual supporters ever since.

Nowadays, the PEEPshow funds about a seventh of CCAC’s annual budget and shows no signs of letting up; the 2017 winner was Mother Of All PEEPS from the TV series Game of Thrones, and a life-size sculpture of Belle from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast made national news. The event draws around 27,000 people per year, many of whom come back for the other arts events like classes, gallery shows, CCAC’s film series, children’s attractions and more.

To learn more, visit their website. The 2018 PEEPshow will open from March 29 to April 10, and the registration information to enter the contest will be available February 1.