The French have a saying: "The more things change the more they stay the same." This is certainly the case this weekend when Baltimore celebrates the new autumn season with two festivals that are throwbacks to the 1970s.
Charm City Fair, an effort by new commercial operators to revive an annual Baltimore tradition under a new name, will run today through Sunday at the parking lot of the old Eastern High School, across from Memorial Stadium on 33rd Street.
The three-day carnival will feature arts and crafts, carnival rides and live entertainment by such oldies groups as the Drifters and Marvelettes. If it takes off, the fair may become an annual event, just like the original City Fair which folded its tent last year.
Ever since the Orioles flew to their new roost at Camden Yards this spring, the Memorial Stadium site has been begging for new uses. A popular flea market is already drawing good crowds there every weekend. We hope the Charm City Fair will be so successful that other festivals also decide to relocate to Memorial Stadium, which is well known, centrally located and blessed with plentiful free parking.
A defunct one-day autumn festival will also stage a comeback this weekend. Throughout the 1970s, Read Street Festival was a strongly hippie-flavored happening. From noon to 6 p.m. tomorrow, community organizations and merchants on that Mount Vernon area boutique street hope to revive the tradition with mimes, clowns, arts and crafts and of course much and varied music.
To those who are relative newcomers to the Baltimore area, this is a good opportunity to get acquainted with Read Street (and with Howard Street's Antique Row, around the corner). If you go, make sure to peek into Tyson Street, a short and narrow stretch, which boasted examples of successful residential renovations bTC years before the dollar houses of Stirling Street, Otterbein and Barre Circle became the rage.
Tyson Street is also a good starting point for a stroll through the changing neighborhoods around the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and the University of Baltimore. After years of decay, those areas are finally coming back. We know of one planning professional who has bought an old stable along an alley and moved there with his grand piano and collection of exotica. With the university expanding, this neighborhood promises to get only better.
Another excursion that can be easily done by foot from the Read Street area is to the Walters Art Gallery, its current special exhibit of ancient Russian icons and permanent collections of European and Asian art. And don't forget the nearby Maryland Historical Society, which is always a good bet for a visit.