Jones Falls celebration offers active, fun weekend


This weekend's third annual Jones Falls Valley Celebration features some of the activities that have drawn visitors in the past: strolling and bicycling on the partially closed expressway, canoeing and kayaking on the waterway below.

Organizers, however, have made some changes.

The River Festival, the centerpiece of the celebration, will be held on Falls Road in front of the Baltimore Streetcar Museum instead of at Wyman Park, to ensure sufficient parking.

Also, for the first time, Sunday's race along the expressway will serve as the Maryland State 8K Championship Race.

Organizers also have designed the walking and biking courses as a loop so that participants can easily return to the festival.

Sandy Sparks, co-founder of the Jones Falls Watershed Association, said the goal is to make the event more accessible. "The loop is a big deal," she said. "We always had people who didn't know where they were going. People weren't finding the celebration."

The festival will begin today at 9 a.m., with canoeing and kayaking down the Jones Falls. Participants can bring or rent boats. The course begins below the Lake Roland dam and ends at Meadow Mill.

This year, most of the activities will begin at the University of Baltimore/Bolton Yard parking lot on Mount Royal Avenue. Among those events are the Stroll, Bike and Skate, which will take place on the Jones Falls Expressway tomorrow between 9 a.m. and noon, and the walking tour of the Jones Falls Valley, scheduled from 9 a.m. to 11.30 a.m. tomorrow.

Walkers, bikers and skaters will be accompanied by three mobile sculptures from the American Visionary Art Museum. Each piece is attached to a car or vehicle, said Eileen Gillan, one of the event's organizers.

The northbound lanes of the Jones Falls Expressway, from Fayette Street to Cold Spring Lane, will be closed tomorrow from 7:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. Southbound traffic will not be affected.

The Jones Falls 8K Express run, sanctioned by the Road Runners Club of America, will start at 8:30 a.m. today at Western High School on Cold Spring Lane. Runners can register before the race. The $20 fee includes a T-shirt; water at several points along the race course; split times at four points; and a post-race party.

After the run, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., an expanded River Festival will be open to the public. The number of exhibits has more than doubled to 60, said Sparks, and include presentations about the history of the Jones Falls, as well as food vendors and live music.

For information, check online at

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