The walk-up to Preakness 2019 begins in earnest May 10 with this three-day celebration at the Howard County Fairgrounds, 2210 Fairgrounds Road in West Friendship. With midway rides and games (including a Ferris wheel), a beer and wine garden, live music, helicopter tours and (weather permitting) a skydiving team and the ever-majestic hot air balloons, offering tethered balloon rides for those eager to ascend to the heights. There’s even a first-ever hot dog-eating contest, for those for whom lunch is simply not enough. 4 p.m.-9 p.m. May 10 and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. May 11, with morning balloon viewing and rides set for 6:15 a.m.-9 a.m. May 10-11, 6:15 a.m.-7:45 a.m. May 12. Free admission, $20 parking. preaknessfestival.com.
Maryland Film Festival
Baltimore’s annual cinematic bacchanal runs May 8-12, offering all sorts of chances to see the kind of movies that rarely make it to the multiplex — entertaining, thoughtful and risk-taking filmic ventures that are as captivating as they are rewarding. Opens at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Niarchos Foundation Parkway with the traditional Opening Night Shorts program ($100, includes post-film reception). Other highlights include May 10’s John Waters pick — “Mom and Dad,” a black comedy starring Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair as parents with murderous intent (7 p.m. at the Parkway, $25); May 11’s program of “Balti-Shorts,” five shorts (three documentaries and two narratives) from Baltimore filmmakers (4:30 p.m. at the Maryland Institute College of Art’s Brown Center, 1301 Mount Royal Ave.); and May 12’s “Gospel According to Al Green,” a visit with one of the rock era’s greatest and most inspirational singers (1:30 p.m. at the Parkway). Dozens of other possibilities will be playing as well, assuredly something for everybody. Most tickets are $11-$15. mdfilmfest.com.
‘Queens Girl in the World’ and ‘Queens Girl in Africa’
Through her alter ego, Jacqueline Marie Butler, American University theater professor Caleen Sinnette Jennings reflects on her experiences as a teenage black girl in the 1960s, first in the U.S. (“Queens Girl in the World”) and then in Nigeria, after her parents move there during the country’s civil war (“Queens Girl in Africa”). Both plays were introduced during D.C.’s annual Women’s Voices Theater Festival. The plays run May 7-June 23 (“Queens Girl in the World”) and May 14-June 23 (“Queens Girl in Africa”) at Everyman Theatre, 315 W. Fayette St. $25-$65. everymantheatre.org.
Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto
Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra perform Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben, “A Hero’s Life,” as well as Tchaikovsky’s “dashing and elegant” Violin Concerto, with acclaimed violinist James Ehnes. 8 p.m. May 10-11 at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St. $25-$80. Also 8 p.m. May 9 at the Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane in North Bethesda. $35-$90. bsomusic.org.
Cylburn Market Day
A plant festival (ah, spring!) featuring vendors from all over the area, with plants, crafts, garden-related gifts and jewelry. Kids’ activities and food trucks, too. 8 a.m.-2 p.m. May 11 at Cylburn Arboretum, 4915 Greenspring Ave. Free ($10 for parking). cylburn.org.
AC2: An Intimate Evening With Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen
The CNN correspondent and the host of Bravo’s “Watch What Happens: Live” interview each other, offer their takes on what’s going on and take questions. 8 p.m. May 11 at the Hippodrome Theatre, 12 N. Eutaw St. $93.50-$400. baltimorehippodrome.com.
The Christian Sands Trio
Baltimore Chamber Jazz wraps its season with a concert featuring “one of the most in-demand pianists in jazz,” accompanied by Yasushi Nakamura on bass and Jerome Jennings on drums. 5 p.m. May 5 at the Baltimore Museum of Art, 10 Art Museum Drive. $10-$45. baltimorechamberjazz.org.
The Louisville-based indie rockers, in support of their latest album, the space-western opera “The Other Shore,” take to the stage at the Ottobar, 2549 N. Howard St. 9 p.m. May 10. $22-$25. theottobar.com.
Shuttered: Images From the Fall of Bethlehem Steel
Longtime Baltimore photographer J.M. Giordano spent 15 years capturing the effect of the decline and eventual closure of the Beth Steel plant at Sparrows Point on the people who worked there and called the area home. This exhibit of his photographs goes on display May 9 at the Baltimore Museum of Industry, 1415 Key Highway, where it will remain through April 2020. $7-$12 museum admission. thebmi.org.