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Block party and art sale to benefit arabbers' stables in Baltimore set for Saturday

"Banannnaaaaaaaaaaaas! Waaaatermelloooooooooooooooon!"

The call of the Arabber and the clopping of horse hooves on pavement are quintessentially Baltimore sounds.

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This Saturday, people curious about the centuries-old tradition — produce vendors who travel neighborhoods with a horse-drawn cart — can learn more about the three remaining stables in the city.

The "block party for Arabbers and horse lovers," from noon to 5 p.m., will feature a Q&A with Arabbers as well as an exhibition of Arabbing-inspired artwork, including photographs by organizer Robert Sullivan.

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Part of the proceeds from all the art sold will benefit the stables.

"This is my payback," Sullivan said of the event. Though the fruit vendors frequently attract the attention of filmmakers and photographers like himself, Sullivan said the Arabbers usually "see nothing in return."

Sullivan hopes the event will help preserve the craft by raising money and awareness for Baltimore's storied street vendors.

"They want to work," Sullivan said. "If we can help make that happen that would be something good."

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Money raised will help the Carlton Street stable put two more wagons on the streets. Additionally, another stable in West Baltimore needs help paying its water bill.

Another goal, he says, is to give Arabbers a chance to speak for themselves about their history and current challenges.

"It's dwindled down to almost nothing," Sullivan said. In recent years, several Arabbers have had their horses confiscated by city authorities. Charges were later dropped.

Given that they serve low-income neighborhoods, they could be a possible solution to the problem of food deserts, Sullivan says.

"That's an argument for continuing Arabbing," he said.

The block party for Arabbers and horse lovers will be held noon to 5 p.m. at 126 N. Madeira Street. Admission is free but pony rides will be offered for a fee, weather permitting. The event will also feature food for sale, a crankie show and live music.

Note: an earlier version of this story misidentified the location of this event. It has been corrected here. The Sun regrets the error

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