Combining city's light and book festivals not such a bright idea

I have to wonder if the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts really thought through their decision to combine two successful festivals and move them to early November ("Light City, book festival moving to November in '19," Nov. 2). First, these festivals are great successes in their own right. Currently, with each having separate dates (Light City in March and the book festival in late September) tens of thousands come to Baltimore to enjoy two totally different experiences. They are coming twice, not once, to take in all that the city has to offer.

Secondly, while BOPA may have a point about moving Light City from March to November (a more intense and earlier dark as they say), their rationale for moving the Baltimore Book Festival from late September to early November overlooks several things. First and foremost, this festival's success is helped by being a daylight, warm weather experience. It allows the thousands of visitors to leisurely wander and browse among the many book stalls, listen to talks, grab a bite, and lounge in the late summer sun to enjoy their latest purchases. Since festival hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., I know from experience (our organization has rented a table for the past three years) that even in late September, by 7, it is starting to get dark and there is a chill in the air. Changing the book festival to early November increases the likelihood of cold weather and darkness begins around 5 p.m. Neither circumstance is conducive to comfortable or pleasant conditions for the book-loving public. These factors far outweigh any "benefit" BOPA claims that a later festival will better coincide with publishers' book release dates moving to later in the fall or taking advantage of promotional budgets. These factors, to me, play a very minor role in drawing large crowds.

These two successful festivals deserve to be kept separate and the book festival should be kept where it is — when warm weather and daylight prevail. Merging the two events dilutes and diminishes the uniqueness and value of each.

Donald T. Torres, Ellicott City

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