Flowers, vendors, authors, idols

The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore's Flower Mart goes into the second day of its two-day festival today.

The streets of the Mount Vernon neighborhood will be filled with colorful floral displays, crazy hats, music, dance, kids' activities, vendor booths and more.

Today's highlights include a talent contest, author signings, wellness demonstrations, a pet parade, a mascot contest and more.

Actor John Astin of The Addams Family fame is expected to judge the Flower Mart's own version of American Idol at 1 p.m. Those not blessed with singing talent but who do possess a pet can enter that pet in a mascot contest or bypass competition altogether and walk in the pet parade at 12:30 p.m.

Another featured event and a first for this year is the Authors' Niche. Writers including Johns Hopkins professor Jean McGarry, blogger Lizzie Skurnick and chef Kerry Dunnington will appear in the South Park throughout the day to answer questions and sign copies of their books.

Children will have plenty of hands-on activities to keep them entertained. Flower Mart executive director Carol Purcell invites children and their families to "Pots for Tots," where children will be able to decorate a pot and plant either herbs or a small flower just in time for Mother's Day at 11 a.m.

Purcell also said master gardeners will be available to answer questions about sick plants.

A full roster of music and dance acts will entertain visitors throughout the day. Among them will be a Baltimore Improv performance at 5 p.m. that lets the audience get in on the act.

Wellness vendors will also be on hand, performing demonstrations of their services. Purcell said visitors will be offered reflexology demonstrations, 10-minute massages, blood-pressure checks and more.

One of the features continuing from yesterday is the Urban Forest. Purcell said its goal is to show Baltimore City dwellers how to sustain the green spaces in their neighborhoods. The forest depicts rain barrels, innovative schoolyard flower boxes and an urban stream.

"We have so much park land in the city. People don't realize the acreage we really have here," Purcell said. "We're trying to get people in neighborhoods to step up to the plate and take care of the green areas in their neighborhoods."

Baltimore's Flower Mart dates to 1911. It didn't take place a few years because of wars and riots, Purcell said. It was a one-day event for its first 88 years. This year marks its second year as a two-day festival.

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