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Plenty of family-friendly options at Artscape

With a kiddy Grand Prix race, a gathering of videogame programmers and artists, and plenty of hands-on arts and crafts, this year's Artscape will offer plenty of family-friendly activities.

In fact, Artscape director Kathy Hornig has made it a mission to offer families plenty of free options at the three-day event.

"They've evolved over the years," Hornig said about the offerings. "When I first started, there were things for kids to do, but they cost money. We've worked very hard to make sure that parents can come down and have something the whole family can do for free."

Although there will be a slew of family-friendly activities throughout the three-day event, Horning suggests that families visit Artscape on Friday from noon to 4 p.m., when the crowds haven't swelled.

"We definitely make a push to make the festival family-friendly and a great time," Horning said. "But we see a lot of Moms and strollers on Friday."

Hornig, who challenges her son to enjoy a new aspect of Artscape each year, said there will be plenty of new activities available to satisfy a wide range of tastes.

Junk, an acrobatic dance troupe from Philadelphia, will perform at noon, 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday. The group gets its name from its eco-friendly mission of using repurposed and recycled materials in its act, Hornig said.

Target Make It at Artscape has moved from Pearlstone Park to Cohen Plaza, which is in front of the Brown Center. The area will feature: storytelling, where readers will engage the audience origami and puppets; arts and crafts projects, where children can create art using markers, crayons, stickers and stamps; and large building blocks with which children can create structures.

The Rabbit Hole, which will be located in Pearlstone Park on Preston Street (between Cathedral Street and Howard Street), is a place where "nature, whimsy and art installations coexist in a surprising outdoor sculpture garden and fantasy environment," according to Artscape literature.

In a nod to the city's inaugural Grand Prix racing event later this summer, Artscape will host a "Mini Prix," where younger festival-goers will be able to race against each other. The racing will be held throughout the weekend at The Rabbit Hole.

"This is a great place to take kids," Hornig said.

Hornig also suggests that families check out the Street Theater, located at the MICA main building steps (Mount Royal Avenue and West Lanvale Street), where jugglers, magicians and acrobats perform; and Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, where the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will perform works by Mozart, Vaughan Williams and Haydn during a free concert at 2 p.m. Saturday.

"Things will be different this year, but hopefully parents will be able to use the website as a tool and see all the cool things there are for kids to do," Hornig said.

Not a fan of the heat? Hornig suggests that families pick up tickets at Guest Services, which will be located in the air-conditioned lobby of The Patricia and Arthur Modell Performing Arts Center at The Lyric, 140 W. Mt. Royal Ave.

"You don't have to wait outside in the heat to get free tickets to some of the more popular events for kids," she said.

john-john.williams@baltsun.com

If you go

The 30th Artscape is noon-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon-8 p.m. Sunday, held along Mount Royal Avenue from North Avenue to St. Paul Street. Additional attractions along Charles Street. For more information, call 410-752-8632 or go to artscape.org.

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