While it may not seem like the cool or hip thing to do, and something City Paper readers may particularly be avoiding, you'll be kicking yourself if you don't check out the festivities surrounding the Star-Spangled Spectacular going on right now and through the weekend. Yes, it's a pain in the ass to get down there (grab your bike, there's ample bike parking) and yes it's "touristy," but it's only happening once and it's actually pretty bad ass.
I went for a run through the festivities today and couldn't help but notice the vibrancy surrounding the Fells Point/Inner Harbor/Fort McHenry area—you could feel it. Tall ships from all over the world are scattered around the harbor and there's a huge family kid fun zone with a great Ferris wheel and stage. Best of all: there are TWO OUTDOOR BEER GARDENS (featuring Union, Brewer's Art, and Flying Dog for $5) and you can drink outside in public (something we always love and think should happen more often). There's also bands playing on two separate stages, lots of history exhibits for us nerds out there, and a slew of activities scheduled.
The Blue Angels thundered over my head as people oohed and ahhed and I stumbled onto a cooking demonstration by Spike Gjerde where he talked about sustainability in the Bay while cooking up and serving free mini crab cakes and Natty Boh-fried blue catfish (that catfish was awesome, which he made sure to remind us was available at Shoo Fly). Bryan Voltaggio was set to go on next and there will be cooking demos from local chefs all day today and tomorrow.
Woodberry Kitchen is putting on a fried chicken dinner tonight (6-9 p.m.) as well as a pancake breakfast Sunday morning (10 a.m.-1 p.m.). The fried chicken dinner is $12 and includes chicken, corn on the cob, watermelon, tomato, and coleslaw (add $2 for a slice of peach cake) and the breakfast is $9 for buckwheat pancakes, Parts & Labor sausage, griddled apples, and maple syrup—better than that soggy corn dog that's been sitting under a heat lamp all day.
But Saturday is bound to be the big day as the Blue Angels are set to put on one of their two planned air shows from 2-4 p.m. (the other is on Sunday). After that, at 7 p.m., there's a huge, genre-spanning concert at Pier Six hosted by John Lithgow and Jordin Sparks and featuring Kristin Chenoweth, Melissa Etheridge, Denyce Graves-Montgomery, Little Big Town, Pentatonix, Smokey Robinson, Kenny Rogers, Train, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (OK, we're not as wild about Train, but still). From 6-10 p.m. at Fort McHenry there will be demonstrations and performances by the United States Marine Band, Morgan State University Choir, and others. Then, starting at 9 p.m., Maryland's biggest fireworks display ever will cap off the night, launching pyrotechnics from six barges floating in the Inner Harbor, near the Domino Sugar factory, and surrounding the fort.
So grab your bike, swallow your cooler-than-thou attitude, and get out there and show all the tourists that Baltimore isn't just full of Yankee fans (who, it should be noted, didn't even know the score of the game when I asked). Did I mention you can drink outside?