25 And Counting Fells Point Fun Festival Has Grown From Humble Beginnings

October 04, 1991|By Mike Giuliano

Most of the people attending the 25th annual Fells Point Fun Festival tomorrow and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. will be just looking for the promised fun. But plenty of Fells Point residents will recall the event's origins as a way of calling attention to a historic community that was threatened by a proposed highway in the 1960s.

The highway was never built, Fells Point was saved and gentrified, and the festival itself went on in the years ahead to welcome many thousands of visitors. From its modest beginning -- 30 vendors and an estimated crowd of 30,000 -- the free festival has become a huge affair with 300 vendors and crowds of more than 200,000.

All that shoulder-to-shoulder, bumper-to-bumper contact means you should dress comfortably and expect tight quarters along lower Broadway. And if parking is tough on a typical Fells Point weekend, it seems nearly impossible for this event. Festival coordinator Bea Haskins advises parking in Canton and either walking or taking the water taxi over.

Festival old-timers have mixed feelings about how big the fair has become, but that won't stop them from claiming a few square feet of cobblestoned turf for themselves.

"It has become really commercialized, but at least it has stayed in the community and with the involvement of the people who live here," says Bob Blackburn, who has lived in Fells Point since 1972. His wife Diana runs Unicorn Studio & Frame Shop in the neighborhood.

Himself the owner of a downtown investigative and security firm, Mr. Blackburn will be setting up a festival booth for an unusual sideline business he runs, No Taboo Tattoos, which sells removable tattoos that rub off in about a week.

Mr. Blackburn recalls placing heart, butterfly and dragon tattoos on "high upper thighs, buttocks and all portions of the breasts" of customers. This year he will set up a tent in a nod to social taboos about exposed flesh in public.

Besides 200 arts and crafts exhibitors and an ethnically diverse range of food booths, the festival features entertainment that includes the Olympic Trials Tumblers, the New Age music of Jeff Order & Company, the Chesapeake-themed folk music of Crab Alley, and the loud happiness of the Trinidad & Tobago Steel Band.

About the festival. . .

When: Oct. 5-6, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

Where: Fell's Point, at the foot of Broadway.

Admission: Free.

Parking: Organizers suggest parking in Canton and walking or taking the water taxi to the festival.

Call: 675-6756.

SCHEDULE SATURDAY

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Market Square Stage 11 a.m.: Marge Calhoun and the New Heartaches

p.m.: Appaloosa

2:45 p.m.: Courtney Jaine

5 p.m.: Trinidad & Tobago Steel Band

4:15 p.m.: Olympic Trials Tumblers on the Square

Frigate Stage (Thames and Bond streets) 11 a.m.: Kevin Hayes Group

p.m.: Gazze

5 p.m.: Bing Miller

Clipper Stage (Thames and Ann streets) 11 a.m.: Baltimore Brass

p.m.: Bavarian Brass

3 p.m.: Barry Dove Jazz

5 p.m.: Jackstraw

Tiny Tug Stage (Thames Street Park) Noon: Juan Orta (masks)

p.m.: Bosco Puppet Theatre

1 p.m.: Baltimore Vaudeville Theatre

1:30 p.m.: Juan Orta

2 p.m.: Rebounders (gymnasts)

2:30 p.m.: Bosco Puppet Theatre

3 p.m.: Baltimore Vaudeville Theatre

3:30 p.m.: Juan Orta

4 p.m.: Bosco Puppet Theatre

4:30 p.m.: Baltimore Vaudeville Theatre

6 p.m.: Gillis Memorial Church Choir

SUNDAY

Market Square Stage 11 a.m.: Crab Alley

p.m.: Tony Berry and new Money

2:45 p.m.: Pat McGuire

5 p.m.: Jeff Order and Company

Frigate Stage (Thames and Bond) 11 a.m.: Baltimore Express

p.m.: Legendary Orioles

5 p.m.: Bob Barrett

Clipper Stage (Thames and Ann) 11 a.m.: Stan Rouse Jazz

p.m.: Totally Confused

3 p.m.: Mark Desrochers

5 p.m.: Satyr Hill

Tiny Tug Stage (Thames Street Park) Noon: Juan Orta (masks)

p.m.: Bosco Puppet Theatre

1 p.m.: Don Martin (magic)

1:30 p.m.: Juan Orta

2 p.m.: Rebounders (gymnasts)

2:30 p.m.: Bosco Puppet Theatre

3 p.m.: Crab Alley (stories)

3:30 p.m.: Juan Orta

4 p.m.: Bosco Puppet Theatre

4:30 p.m.: Crab Alley

6 p.m. To be announced

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