Read St. fair to return as downtown booster

July 26, 1992|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,Staff Writer

After a six-year hiatus, the Read Street Festival will make a comeback on Sept. 19 -- the same weekend that the City Fair was to have been held until planners decided to cancel it due to lack of funds.

On the next day, Center Stage Theater will kick off its 30th anniversary season by holding a street festival on Monument Street between Calvert and St. Paul streets.

During the mid-1960s, the Read Street Festival was Baltimore's answer to Woodstock or Haight Asbury, a spontaneous event each fall that epitomized the era of hippies and flower power. It ended in the wake of the late 1960s civil disturbances that also put a temporary end to the Flower Mart in Mount Vernon and other downtown events. Groups made efforts to revive it in the 1970s and again in the mid-1980s, but the festival was last held in 1986.

Joseph Hyman, a Mount Vernon resident and chairman of the Read Street Festival, said he isn't interested in promoting nostalgia but in using the festival to highlight what the area offers today. The recent opening of the light rail line from Timonium to Camden Yards, he said, provides an ideal opportunity to attract people from the suburbs to come into town for the day.

Sponsors say each event is designed to show that the Mount Vernon area still has plenty of life in it.

"We're trying to get a lot of county-ites to take the light rail, walk around Mount Vernon, spend some money and see that the city isn't dying," said Mr. Hyman. "The area has a lot to offer -- museums and restaurants and parks and unusual merchants -- that you can't find anywhere else."

The fair is scheduled to run from noon to 6 p.m. on Sept. 19 on Read Street from Howard to Cathedral streets, with food, beverages, a flea market and displays.

Sponsors include the Read Street merchants, the Health Education Resource Organization, the Waxter Center and the Gay and Lesbian Community Center.

Betsy Kunzelman, public relations director for Center Stage, said the theater festival will be held from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sept. 20, assuming city officials issue the required permits. It will feature face painting, a caricature artist, a "white elephant" sale of used theater props and costumes, and backstage tours of the theater.

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