The location may be suburban, but those who attend this year's 15th annual Jewish American Festival in Owings Mills will find the same foods, arts and entertainment that made the festival one of the city's most popular during the years it was held in Baltimore.
This year's festivalgoers also will find a bigger festival. Tami Schultz, the festival's public relations chairwoman, said moving the event to the parking lot of Owings Mills Mall means room for fTC more vendors.
"Rash Field used to be about 100 yards," she says. "We'll double that this year."
Leonard Schleider, festival chairman and owner of Schleider Caterers and Cameo Caterers in Baltimore, says the decision to take the festival to the suburbs was not a difficult one. The festival has been held in several different locations in the city, but each site has become less convenient.
Rash Field is no longer available. Hopkins Plaza is too small. Festival Hall is too noisy, Mr. Schleider says, "like sitting inside a drum with someone banging on it." Druid Hill Park, he says, "is envisioned by many as not being a safe place to go."
Mr. Schleider dismisses the idea that the festival's suburban location will exclude non-Jews who would attend the festival if it were held downtown.
"Seventy-five percent of the people who attend are Jewish anyway," he said.
Mr. Schleider expects last year's attendance of 20,000 will more than triple as a result of the new location.
Ethnic food, including falafel, which is mashed chick peas, spiced and fried and served in pita bread with a tasty sauce; knishes, which are made of rolled thin dough filled with mashed potato or meat and seasoning; and other delicacies will be available at the festival.
Artisans from around the country will display wares including prayer shawls, challah covers, jewelry, vases and Seder plates, which are the special plates used during Passover.
Entertainment by the Russian Children's Choir, the Ethan Halpern Dance Troupe and "Bravo Baltimore," an original musical revue extolling local culture and events, will be featured during both festival days.
Mall officials are preparing a parking and traffic plan to make festival travel smooth.
The 15th annual Jewish American Festival be held from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 6 and 7 in the parking lot of Owings Mills Mall. Admission is $3. Children under 12 will be admitted free.