It’s time once again to break out the craft supplies and dust off old Halloween costumes. The eighth-annual Identity Crisis fundraiser—“Enchanted Masquerade: Fantasy Comes to Life”—will be held throughout Shepherdstown on Saturday, August 12.

Tara Sanders-Lowe, founder and organizer of Identity Crisis, said her goal is to “capture the amazing community spirit of Shepherdstown.” This is accomplished each summer by transforming Shepherdstown into an eclectic wonderland and calling for community members to dress the part and immerse themselves.

Over the years, the event has blossomed. After the first Identity Crisis back in 2010, the idea arose to turn a fun occasion into a fundraiser.

“I wanted to connect the community to do something meaningful together,” Sanders-Lowe said.

From then on, Identity Crisis has raised money for Breast Cancer Awareness-Cumberland Valley, and in 2015, Sanders-Lowe branched out to form the non-profit The Victory Project—based around the event.

“This event started out very small, maybe 50 participants—quite simply, an event planned to help a friend in need,” said Kathleen Hajduk, vice chair of The Victory Project. “Now we have hundreds of participants, and we’re able to raise money for many, not just one.”

This year will see more community involvement than ever. “Identity Crisis caught fire and passion the most when the event was entrenched in community,” said Wendy Baracka, board member of The Victory Project.

“This year is exciting because every participating venue will have live music or a DJ and dancing,” said Sanders-Lowe. Participating businesses include Mi Degollado, Town Run Brewing Company, The Mecklenburg Inn, Devonshire Arms and Cafe, Domestic, and the Shepherdstown Community Club. Organizers worked hard this year to help businesses develop their own specials and promotions.

“For variety, each of the participating venues will be providing their own unique event, so there will be something for everyone,” noted Hajduk. “You can find a place that perfectly suits you and settle in for a fun night, or hop from one establishment to the next.”

The focus on community involvement will be beneficial for everyone, organizers believe. “Engaging our businesses and galleries may spark new interest in those who may be visiting, or those who are willing to come out during the day for a meal or shopping trip,” added Baracka.

Aside from music and dancing, features will include a step and repeat, paparazzi, and a parade down German Street. “Another new part this year will be an art show featuring photographs of paparazzi ‘captures’ from years past,” said Sanders-Lowe.

Organizers are particularly excited about this year’s “Enchanted Masquerade” theme, as it was chosen through a survey, and allows for a “wide variety of creative expression,” according to Baracka.

“There are some people who really go all out year after year, and we love them,” she said. “We also welcome the more relaxed participant who may feel more comfortable toning down their costume with casual clothes and a simple mask.”

The fundraising aspect of the event will be showcased at the Shepherdstown Community Club, where participants can learn more about Breast Cancer Awareness-Cumberland Valley as well as The Victory Project.

“I’m inspired, on the eighth year of the event, that so many people participate, donate, and volunteer every year,” emphasized Sanders-Lowe. “Cancer touches everyone, and I’m honored to be able to help raise a tiny fraction of funds and awareness to help support those battling the disease.”

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