Graw Days

A crowd walks up and down Washington Street in Havre de Grace during Graw Days Saturday. (Nicole Munchel | Aegis staff, Patuxent Homestead / October 13, 2012)

Jazz and ragtime music filled the streets of downtown Havre de Grace Saturday afternoon, as if the roaring '20s were coming alive for the annual Graw Days Festival.

Celebrating the city's famed horse track during its heyday, the event was more a showcase for Havre de Grace's best artisans and longtime merchants.

St. John Street was lined with vendors selling jewelry, paintings and a few horse-themed pieces of art and, at the intersection of Washington Street, a "speakeasy" sign welcomed people to a beer garden and samplings from local restaurants.

Dickie Mahoney, the youth program coordinator for local theater group Tidewater Players, looked like he could have been transported right from the days when the Graw was the hot place to be in the city, wearing a fedora and suit.


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Mahoney, who lives in Bel Air, was out spreading the word about "Buddy Bentley's Legendz," a 30-minute music review with all the famous faces in old Hollywood just for the festival.

It was Mahoney's first time at the festival and said it was "a good time." When asked what he was hoping to get from the festival, he answered, "funnel cake."

Havre de Grace Councilman Joseph Smith stood under a tent outside his business, Glyph, promoting and talking to passers-by.

He pointed out the woodcut pictures an artist did of Albert Einstein under the tent and similar portrait of Bob Dylan inside his business.

"I'm very impressed with the turnout," he said of the event. "And the weather is great."

Smith said Main Street Havre de Grace did "an excellent job" of organizing the festival and it was "just the type of thing you want to see in a city."

He added, "To draw this kind of crowd says a lot about Havre de Grace."

The festival has grown over the years in vendors and attendees, even a visible difference from 2011's Graw Days Festival.

Right across the street from the "speakeasy" were several classic cars drawing in wandering eyes.

A sign in front of a 1935 Auburn 653 Phaeten said it was owned by Donna Asher of Havre de Grace.

Next to the impressive car was an un-restored 1936 Ford with two skeletons in costumes in the driver and passenger's seat.

Down the road Bridgette Halcrombe was selling hats and headpieces.

Her business, Hats Just Hats, was a great fit for the 1920s-themed event and brought in several people trying on hats.

"I like it," Halcrombe said about the event. "I like the people, they're down to earth, friendly."

It was her second time at the festival and commented that she doesn't go back to an event unless she has a positive experience the first time around.

Halcrombe said she liked that the event was so organized and the event coordinators obviously put a lot of work and effort into it.

Mike Neeson and his wire fox terrier, Buzzy, come every year since they live just down the road.

"He loves everybody," Neeson joked as Buzzy stood on his lap and wagged his tail.

Just before taking a rest on a nearby bench, Neeson said Buzzy had his picture taken for this year's Christmas card.

The two come "just to take part in the festival" and see friends. "I like to see the people and the speakeasy's fun."