Improv, Vans Warped Tour and Howard County fair: The best things to do in the Baltimore area this week

Howard County Fair

For the 73rd time, Howard County celebrates the best parts of itself, with eight days of music (including a different concert every night at 7:30 p.m.), food, carnival rides, bingo, magic shows, pony and pig races, a kids and critters barn and (for $10-$15 extra) demolition derbies at 7 p.m. Aug. 8 and 11. Don’t forget Aug. 5’s Miss Howard County Farm Bureau Contest, set for 2:30 p.m. And we haven’t even mentioned all the agricultural exhibits and livestock! Opens Aug. 4 and runs 8 a.m.-11 p.m. daily through Aug. 11 at the Howard County Fairgrounds, 2210 Fairgrounds Road in West Friendship. $2-$5, free for kids under 10.


Chris Robinson Brotherhood

Continuing to prove there’s plenty of life after the Black Crowes, Robinson and company will be happily rocking out at Rams Head Live, 20 Market Place in Power Plant Live. 8 p.m. July 31. $21.50-$25.


Baltimore Improv Festival

Seven nights of “world-class comedy shows,” plus workshops for those who aspire to such heights. You’d have to try not to laugh. Shows at 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. July 30-Aug. 2; 6 p.m., 7 p.m., 8:30 p.m. and 11:15 p.m. Aug. 3; on the hour from 3 p.m.-6 p.m. Aug. 4-5; 7 p.m., 8:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. Aug. 4; 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. Aug. 5 at either the BIG Theater, 1727 N. Charles St., or Joe Squared, 33 W. North Ave. Workshops daily at the BIG Theater. $10 for show tickets, $15-$50 for workshops.

Vans Warped Tour

A day-long “punk rock summer camp,” featuring 50 bands, from The Amity Affliction to With Confidence. Organizers say this is the last cross-country tour for the festival, which began in 1995. So enjoy this final go-round. The show starts at 11 a.m. July 29 at Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway in Columbia. $39-$55.

‘Variations on Sacrifice’

Local talent gets some serious chances to shine beginning Aug. 3, as this year’s Variations Project presents 11 world-premiere 10-minute works from area playwrights, followed by a staged reading of eight more short plays. 8 p.m. Aug. 3-4 and 9-11, 3 p.m. Aug. 4-5 and 11-12 ($20-$21), with the readings set for 8 p.m. Aug. 16-18, 3 p.m. Aug. 18-19 ($10-$11) at Baltimore Theatre Project, 45 W. Preston St.

Amanda Shires

The singer-songwriter (she cites Leonard Cohen and John Prine as influences, which is all good) and Thrift Store Cowboy set up shop at Rams Head On Stage, 33 West St. in Annapolis, where she’ll hopefully be showcasing songs from her upcoming “To the Sunset” album, due out Aug. 3. 8 p.m. Aug. 1. $32.50.


‘Aida the Musical’

Weekend Watch

Weekend Watch


Plan your weekend with our picks for the best events, restaurant and movie reviews, TV shows and more. Delivered every Thursday.

An Ethiopian princess is loved by one of her Egyptian captors, who must choose between loyalty to her and to the king he serves in the Elton John and Tim Rice adaptation of Verdi’s opera. Presented by Baltimore’s ArtsCentric theater company. Opens at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 3, then runs daily through Aug. 26 at Motor House Baltimore, 120 W. North Ave. $30.

‘Remembering Sparrows Point’

The heyday of Baltimore’s steel-making prowess is recalled through models and a talk from labor historian Bill Barry. 1:30 p.m.-3 p.m. July 29 at the Baltimore Museum of Industry, 1415 Key Highway. $7-$12 museum admission, free for kids 6 and under.

’Rebel Without a Cause’ and ‘Badlands’

Sissy Spacek’s Holly Sargis in “Badlands” is a big fan of “Rebel” star James Dean (one reason she’s attracted to Martin Sheen’s Kit Carruthers), and both these landmark films deal with troubled teens (although “Badlands” offers far more fatal consequences). Should make for an interesting double feature. 7 p.m. Aug. 1 at The Senator, 5904 York Road. $9-$10.


Annapolis Strong Benefit

Music from Timmie Metz, Danny Burns & Aine O’Doherty, Long Time Coming, Rhythm Bandits and Pretty Big Deal, plus food, a silent auction and door prizes. Proceeds benefit the Capital Gazette Family Fund. 2 p.m.-8 p.m. July 29 at Fado Irish Pub, 1 Park Place in Annapolis. $10. Tickets through