The Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts is combining two of the city’s biggest events, the three-year-old Light City festival and the 23-year-old Baltimore Book Festival, into one, into one 10-day stretch during fall of 2019.
Tag: baltimore book festival
Thousands came to the Inner Harbor over the weekend for the Baltimore Book Festival, where authors (including Baltimore Fishbowl‘s Marion Winik) and poets spoke or signed their published work, and vendors sold stacks and stacks of books. Check out our photos from the three-day festival.
Reading remains the big focus of the Baltimore Book Festival. But in settling into its home at Inner Harbor, the festival is taking the long view that books are a vehicle to unlock the whole world — or, being a local festival, the world of Baltimore and Maryland. Page through a few new features this year:
After trying out the Inner Harbor last year, the Baltimore Book Festival is moving into its new home permanently for 2015. Last year, we saw what the increased space offers with features like a life-size version of Words With Friends, and increased programming. It’s only getting bigger this year, which also happens to be the festival’s 20th edition.
Sure, we love books. We love reading. Really. But if you’ve ever pored over a gorgeously photographed and well-written cook book, you know that a great book about food can be just as page turning as a juicy novel. The folks behind this year’s book festival know that, and so they’ve invited a slew of amazing chefs from around the country to discuss their books, their recipes, and even to give cooking demonstrations. It’s all happening at the Food for Thought Stage, which is certainly where we’ll be planted all weekend.
Now that the Star-Spangled Spectacular has folded up, the Inner Harbor will have to buckle down and get its nose back in the books. The annual Baltimore Book Festival offers a new way to thumb through the city’s best-known destination from Sept. 26-28, boasting new programming for kids, more than 200 author appearances and…free samples!
“I’ve figured out a solution for the drought in Texas,” CityLit Project founder Gregg Wilhelm quipped on Friday night, amidst the last trickles of a day-long downpour. “We’ll just move the Baltimore Book Festival there…” Since the city’s annual celebration of all things literary always seems to arrive with a giant rain cloud hanging over its head, he might be on to something.
But after a soggy Friday came a clear and muggy weekend, perfect for wandering around the be-tented Mt. Vernon Place. Did anyone else think that the crowd had a higher-than-average proportion of glasses-wearers? Our picks for festival highlights (and a few low points) below:
- Sherman Alexie. Okay, this guy is just a ringer. Besides being brilliant, he’s also totally charming and funny. Swoon. Alexie penned The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, a novelized account of growing up Native American, which is this year’s pick for One Maryland One Book. Read it.
- The Peabody Library. We stopped in to look at the naturalist illustration exhibit, but mostly just gaped at how beautiful the building is. How do we always manage to forget that a building this lovely exists in Baltimore? And that we can stop by for free (during opening hours, of course)?
- The Maryland Romance Writers. One of the most cohesive and intense subcultures we’ve had a chance to run across in a long while. They hosted their own readings tent at the festival, and pretty much every time we came by, it was packed. They wore feathered fascinators. They knew about e-book marketing. They raffled away a “romance bandits-themed gift basket.” We are impressed.
- Why Do We Kill?: The Pathology of Murder in Baltimore discussion. A homicide detective (Kelvin Sewell) meets an investigative journalist (Stephen Janis) in a city plagued by crime and corruption. And then they write a book together. It’s like a real-life version of The Wire! (Which is something these guys are probably tired of hearing.) Two good talkers, each with a lifetime of good stories and a fervent belief that things in our city should be better than they are.
- The Zine Bazaar. While we love the internet as much as the next web-based publication, sometimes it’s nice to get your hands on something that’s been hand-stapled. It’s the most independent that publishing can get, and the DIY spirit is infectious.
- The Friday Night Literature Party at the Metro Gallery. The book fair officially ended at 8pm, which seems like a waste. So a bunch of local literary luminaries hosted a reading/dance party at the Metro Gallery. The readers were funny, the outfits were top-notch, the dancing was enthusiastic.
And, alas, a few low points:
- People who take up 25 percent of the Q&A time with an inane “question” that is actually just their personal opinion, with a slight upward inflection at the end. Look, there’s a reason you’re in the audience and not on stage.
- The frantic forced cheer of the cooking demonstrators in their fake IKEA kitchen set up. Trying to field questions, chop onions, keep up a helpful patter, and not knock anything over is just too much to expect of one person. There’s a reason cooking TV shows are pre-recorded.
- $8 sausage. That’s just ridiculous.
As you make your plans for the weekend to come, here are some events you might want to consider penciling in:
The Baltimore Book Festival: This weekend, hundreds of authors, exhibitors, and booksellers will come to Baltimore to participate in book signings, poetry readings, workshops, and more. Notable acts include presentations by Sherman Alexie, Common, and Jacquelyn Mitchard; Friday’s Happy Hour, which includes tips on beer, cocktails, and hosting; the Food For Thought stage, where celebrity chefs will demonstrate dishes, and more. To top it off, it’s all free! When: September 23-25, 2011. Friday & Saturday, noon-8pm, Sunday noon-7pm. Where: Mt. Vernon Place, centered on 600 N. Charles St. Attire: Come as you are. Admission: Free
Ladew Gardens 40th Anniversary Gala: Ladew Gardens, the renowned topiary garden, is celebrating its 40th anniversary with its “Beneath the Arabian Moon,” Gala, featuring music by The NightLife Band, exotic fare by Lindwoods, and specialty cocktails. When: Friday, September 23, 2011, 7pm. Where: Ladew Gardens. Attire: Black tie. Admission: $350 per ticket. Tickets available by phone at 410.557.9570, ext 224.
Picnic in the Park: The Parks & People Foundation is hosting an elegant picnic benefit in the gardens of the Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory. Fare will include selections from local farmers and beers and wine from top notch breweries and vineyards. When: Saturday, September 24, 6-9pm. Where: The Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, 3100 Swann Dr., Druid Hill Park. Attire: Picnic chic. Admission: $75 per ticket, available through Paypal.
Betascape: Betascape is a weekend-long celebration of the convergence of art and technology. The event, which kicks off Friday night and runs through Sunday evening, will feature exhibitions of artwork, lectures, food, and live music. The idea is to celebrate Baltimore’s local tech and art communities. When: 6pm on Friday, September 23, 2011, through 5pm Sunday, September 25, 2011. Where: Station North Arts and Entertainment District, 1800 N. Charles Street, Suite 810. Attire: Casual. Admission: $30 registration.
And a heads up for next weekend…
Pumpkins on the Green: The Irvine Nature Center is putting on their annual “blue jean” fundraiser featuring live music, live and silent auctions, and seasonal tastes from a local “green” caterer. Adding to the fun, the event’s honorary chair, recent Emmy-winner Julie Bowen, will participate in a meet-and-greet VIP cocktail reception before the event. When: Fundraiser: Saturday, October 1, 2011, 7-11pm. VIP Cocktail Reception: Saturday, October 1, 2011, 6pm. Where: The Irvine Nature Center. Attire: Blue jean casual. Admission: $95 per ticket for the fundraiser, $500 for two tickets to the VIP reception and fundraiser. Tickets available through MissionTix.
Have a good weekend.
This week on Facebook, we noticed some favorite friends posting a line from their current leisure read, in response to National Book Week, and thought it sounded like fun. Well, first, we thought, “How did we miss National Book Week?” Quick clicking informed us that, in fact, next week, August 20-26th, is the official NBW; too, it’s not happening here, but in Australia–sponsored by the Children’s Book Council. Who knew? Now we do. So, anyway, we love the idea of, as the Council directs, flipping to page 56 of the book we’re reading (or the closest book at hand), quoting the fifth line from the top, and letting this random text float as our status update on Facebook–without citing the book’s title, incidentally.
Okay, good–now we get the Baltimore Book Festival every September, the festive CityLit activities come spring, and our new-found Australian celebration, not to mention oodles more book-centric to-dos we can no doubt tap into via Facebook, Twitter, and la interweb, if we take the time to surf. Will these sorts of bookish networking “parties”–whether virtual or live–get more people reading? Maybe not. But they may give the already converted a better idea which cover to flip open next.
From the Baltimore Fishbowl staff now, a few examples of line five, page 56, with titles included (and please add yours below!):
“My attention was now called off my Miss Smith desiring me to hold a skein of thread: While she was winding it, she talked to me from time to time, asking whether I had ever been at school before, whether I could mark, stitch, knit, etc.; till she dismissed me, I could not pursue my observations on Miss Scatcherd’s movements.” (Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte) –Kristin Hughes
“Bossypants by Tina Fey. Page 56 is blank.” –Susan Dunn
“Luke was appalled that this was Sasha’s idea of suitable company for their daughter and her friends–she, after all, had set up the table, which Luke had paid for.” (The Good Life by Jay McInerny) –Marion Winik
“The likely dating of Jubilees, its apparent opposition to Hasmonean control, and the placing of the total prohibition of warfare at the very end of the entire Book of Jubilees incline me to think otherwise.” (A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus Volume IV by John P. Meier) –Robert M. O’Brien
“After the commission of horror-story crimes, forgetting blood happens more often than not.” (Crossed Over by Beverly Lowry) –Betsy Boyd
“The captain, imagining matters to be considerably worse than they were, immediately took measures to remove his provisions into the second mate’s boat and mine, in order to lighten his own.” (The Wreck of the Whaleship Essex by Owen Chase, Iola Haverstick, and Betty Shepard) –Sara Lynn Michener