Waterfront expo, festival mix education and entertainment


The city's Middle Branch and Canton waterfronts become a classroom and a party site, respectively, as the seventh annual Harbor Expo and Waterfront Festival gets under way today.

The Expo, which runs through Saturday, features instructional tents for city students, water sport activities, crafts and exhibits and the unveiling of the first section of personalized bricks that will make up a 7 1/2 -mile-long promenade around the harbor.

The Waterfront Festival is scheduled for noon to 9 p.m. Saturday (rain date Sunday) at the Canton Waterfront Park. Featured will be craft exhibits, Maryland seafood, storytelling and live music by Crab Alley, the Barry Dove Quartet and the Baltimore Express. Demonstrations of windsurfing, sailing and rowing will be featured and there will be crew and motorboat races.

TC "The most important thing is to promote the harbor," said Jim Pomfret, events committee chairman for the sponsoring organization, the Baltimore Harbor Endowment. "But personally, I wanted to get the children involved. I wanted to use the resources of the endowment to reach out to the children and get them out of the classroom and into a new environment."

About 1,000 city students will participate today through Friday in "Teaching Tents '91," an instructional seminar at Middle Branch Park that will teach students about the harbor environment. Students can participate in a shark dissection carried out by National Aquarium staff; the Science Center will demonstrate water quality testing; and the Lady Maryland Foundation will teach kids about the maritime industry.

Students, formerly encouraged not to go poking around the waters of the harbor to see what they can find, will do exactly that when a boat from the Echo Hill Outdoor School in Wharton dredges up muck from the bottom of the harbor. Working with members of the school, students will sift through the material to determine which parts of it are pollution and which parts are natural.

On Thursday at Belt's Landing in Fells Point, the Endowment will host a "Brick Bash," a 5:30 p.m. unveiling of the first section of the Baltimore Waterfront Promenade, which will extend from Canton to the Museum of Industry in South Baltimore, hooking up with the existing Inner Harbor walkway in between. More than 2,000 personalized bricks have been paid for so far by individuals or companies. Bricks may be "purchased" ($50 each) at the unveiling ceremony, where an engraver will personalize them.

"Baltimore is a city known for its neighborhoods," said the Endowment's executive director, Roxanne Ward Zaghab, "but when people come to visit, they don't see the neighborhoods. The promenade really ties them together."

The 20-foot-wide walkway (12 feet of brick and eight of landscaping) will feature signs that point out neighborhood attractions and bits of Baltimore history. The Endowment's goal is to sell 100,000 personalized bricks in the next three years to complete the project.

At Saturday's festival, 40-minute cruises on the historic skipjack, Half Shell, will leave the park every hour and visitors will also have the chance to take hour-long cruises on the Lady Zelma, a side-wheel paddle boat.

Tickets to the festival are $1 in advance, $2 at the gate. For information, call 732-8157.

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