There will be no escape to Artscape until next fall. Light City Baltimore has been dimmed until 2024. And for now, the covers have shut on the Baltimore Book Festival.
But fear not, fervent festival fans. Two new and free — though admittedly smaller — public celebrations in Baltimore will help local art lovers get through the spring and summer.
Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott announced Friday that “Baltimore by Baltimore,” a waterfront music and maker festival series, will begin May 7 at the Inner Harbor Amphitheater and run on the first Saturday of every month through October.
“This is how we support our shared vision for an Inner Harbor that highlights the best of Charm City,” Scott said, “small-, women- and minority-owned businesses, a vibrant arts scene, music and cultural diversity that residents and visitors can’t find anywhere else.”
In addition, a three-day literary festival, “The Lost Weekend,” debuts May 13-15 and is being sponsored by the Greedy Reads bookshop at its Remington store.
“Since opening the original Fells Point store four years ago, I’ve been blown away by the literary community I found here,” said Julia Fleischaker, who owns both Greedy Reads locations, in a news release. “With COVID-19, in-person literary events mostly disappeared. Part of our mission with the Lost Weekend is to help reignite that spark of excitement that happens when our book-loving community is able to gather together.”
The one-day “Baltimore by Baltimore” events will feature crafts, music, art and food from noon to 8 p.m. Each event will be organized by a different local artist who will select a family-friendly acts for that day. Preference for vendors will be given to businesses owned by women and minorities.
The first event on May 7 will be produced by the musician and visual artist Terrell Brown, who has put together a schedule that includes the entertainers John Tyler, founder of the Love Groove Music Festival; spoken word artist Kish the Lioness and the Poetry Party; the indie-hip-hop-rock-soul Eat the Cake Band and deejay April Watts.
“For me, it’s all about leveraging our creative economy to show how abundant these spaces can be while representing all of Baltimore,” Brown said.
He anticipates that the new festival series will “bring positive energy to the Harbor and showcase the authentic culture and internationally known artists who are from here, but many people may not know.”
Details for some of the monthly events still are being finalized. But the June 4 event is being overseen by the comic and actor “Big Fred” Watkins; the Aug. 6 event will be guided by the Native American visual artist Keith Colston and the Sept. 3 festival is being organized by the Media Rhythm Institute, which aims to teach science, technology, engineering and math skills through a hip-hop lens. For more details, go to waterfrontpartnership.org.
“By relinquishing some control and working with a new local event producer each month, we’re hoping to create a festival series that is more authentically Baltimore,” said Leanna Wetmore, director of events and programs for the Waterfront Partnership. “By digging deeper and expanding beyond our traditional networks, we’re able to discover new talent and music that represents the diversity of our city.”
Visits to the Inner Harbor dropped off precipitously during the pandemic, so Waterfront Partnership officials hope its new festival will reintroduce residents to such area attractions as newly remade Rash Field Park and weekly kayak tours that will operate Saturdays in the Inner Harbor beginning May 1.
“We’re excited to welcome the foot traffic of these attendees,” said Shelonda Stokes, president of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore. “We encourage them to stay a while to explore and support the many amazing businesses who call downtown Baltimore home.”
Highlighting the city’s deep talent pool is also the goal of the literary festival.
“Baltimore’s historic literary contributions are well known,” said a Greedy Reads news release announcing The Lost Weekend festival. “It remains a city overflowing with creativity from social and cultural commentary to poetry to award-winning fiction. The city’s literary talent is matched by a community of readers who are insatiably curious, hungry for stories, and unapologetically politically and culturally engaged.”
Though the festival is a scant three days long, it is filled with 17 panel discussions, lectures, workshops and demonstrations in addition to a small press fair and makers’ market.
The lineup includes a drag queen story hour, in which the performer known as “D’Manda Martini” will read a series of inclusive children’s books (9 a.m. May 14.)
Hernan Diaz, a 2018 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in fiction, will discuss his highly anticipated new novel, “Trust” with the Baltimore novelist Barbara Bourland (4 p.m. May 14). And Toni Tipton-Martin, editor-in-chief of Cook’s Country, the America’s Test Kitchen magazine, will bite into the meaty topic of the future of restaurants with the blogger Simone Phillips, founder and CEO of Charm City Table (10:30 a.m. May 15.)
All that talk of food is likely to make festivalgoers hungry, so The Lost Weekend will have munchies for sale from such area favorites as Cocina Luchadores, Ekiben, Sporty Dog Creations, and Lola And Mimi. R bar will serve drinks on-site, including a special Lost Weekend Beer from Ministry of Brewing.
Events are available on a first-come, first-served basis. To register or to view the full lineup visit thelostweekendbaltimore.com.