There'll be a little something new and a lot of something old at this year's Baltimore City Fair, which begins at noon today and runs through Sunday night.
What's new is the site: After years of nomadic wandering at various locations around the Inner Harbor and downtown, the City Fair is being held in the parking lot across from Memorial Stadium next to the vacant Eastern High School building.
What's old is the 22nd annual event's emphasis on neighborhoods, a focus that fueled the first years of the fair's existence but one that critics feel had been sorely lacking in recent years.
"We've re-dedicated ourselves to our original values," says City Fair executive director Mark Quackenbush, whose mother, Hope Quackenbush, helped plan the first event in 1970.
The fair's renewed stress on the importance on neighborhoods is reflected in several ways, he said. The literal as well as metaphoric centerpiece of the event will be a 20,000-square foot tent in the middle of the exhibits housing booths representing more than 60 different communities. In addition, there will be a large section of the fair devoted to education, which Mr. Quackenbush says is "primarily a neighborhood issue."
Even the fair's location in an area of strong communities -- albeit one that is due to undergo a change when the Orioles move to their new stadium in Camden Yards next season -- can also be seen as symbolic of the event's return to its roots, he says.
As for the Orioles, there will be a number of booths on baseball and other sports, while a tent exhibit will focus on the future of Memorial Stadium.
The highlighting of neighborhoods does not mean the fair is scrimping on fun, Mr. Quackenbush promises.
A fireworks display is scheduled for 10 tonight, and the always-popular section of carnival games and rides is back again. Also, there will be two separate stages featuring live entertainment, one geared to families and children and the other featuring local groups ranging from big band to rap. Among those scheduled to perform are the Trinidad and Tobago Baltimore Steel Orchestra, Fat Tuesday and Exit 17.
FAMILY AND CHILDREN'S STAGE
Noon: Martial arts demonstration
p.m.: To be announced
2:15 p.m.: Stop the Violence Movement
4 p.m.: Darryl Matarozza
4:30 p.m.: Wild Geese (Irish trio with dancers)
p.m.: Club Tempo (rap)
7:15 p.m.: Jazz Is
8 p.m.: TBA.
9:30 p.m.: R'Oasis (progressive jazz)
Noon: Movement Unlimited (children's dance
1 p.m.: TBA.
2:30 p.m.: Visions (a cappella).
3 p.m.: Internal Affairs, Girls Can Rock (dance).
p.m.: Mayhem (rap).
4 p.m.: Sheri Andrews (vocalist).
5 p.m.: Heartbeat Production (fashion show).
6 p.m.: Liberia Association of Maryland (dance
7 p.m.: TBA.
8 p.m.: Emperors.
9:30 p.m.: B.U.M. (Baltimore Urban Movement).
Noon: Latin American Dance Troupe.
p.m.: George Spicker (contemporary jazz).
2:30 p.m.: Vonda & First Love (gospel).
3:45 p.m.: Friends (gospel).
5 p.m.: City Limits (rock and roll, R&B)
p.m.: True Affections (female vocalists).
7:30 p.m.: Priority (R&B).
CAFE STAGE Friday
Noon: T & T Baltimore Steel Orchestra.
3 p.m.: Wolfpack (contemporary classical jazz).
5 p.m.: Cubic Feet (pop/rock).
6:30 p.m.: THD (progressive).
8 p.m.: Experience Wheeler (contemporary jazz).
9:30 p.m.: UPI (pop/soul).
Noon: James & Andre (contemporary classical
1:30 p.m.: Blast Paris (progressive).
3 p.m.: Shea Welch (jazz fusion).
5 p.m.: Restored (gospel)
6:30 p.m.: One Step Beyond (R&B, jazz)
8 p.m.: Exit 17 (jazz fusion).
9:45 p.m.: Fat Tuesday (New Orleans
Noon: Synkofa Dance Theatre
p.m.: Hearsay (progressive rock)
2:30 p.m.: Restored (gospel).
4 p.m.: Area dance performers (presented by
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre)
6 p.m.: Cold Fusion (jazz fusion).
7:15 p.m.: Gene Walker's Big Band Orchestra
NEIGHBORHOOD STAGE Friday
2 p.m.: Chocolate Chip Cookie Contest
2 p.m.: Decorated Cake Contest
2 p.m.: Apple Pie Contest
About the fair . . .
When: Sept. 20, noon to 11 p.m.; Sept. 21, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sept. 22, noon to 8 p.m.
Where: The parking lot next to the old Eastern High School on 33rd Street across from Memorial Stadium
Admission: $3; $2 for seniors 62 and over; children under 5 free
Parking: free parking in the Memorial Stadium lot across 33rd Street from the fair site.