Towson's street party

Annual Towsontown Spring Festival has grown from a few exhibits to real shindig

Outside

May 03, 2007|By Christina Lee | Christina Lee,SUN REPORTER

The Towsontown Spring Festival - once a small college art exhibit on a single street, now a major fair that draws 200,000 or more - promises even more attractions this year, its organizers say.

This weekend, the festival honors area men and women in the armed forces. Saturday's opening ceremonies feature a U.S. Air Force flyover, a bagpipe procession and a Color Guard salute.

In the NASCAR area, an exhibit introduced last year, 15 cars from drivers Casey Mears and Maryland native Donnie Neuenberger will be showcased along with others from Dover Brooks Hotel & Casino and Huff Tire Co. at the corner of Washington and Allegheny avenues. Long-established favorites of the festival include four stages of music, dozens of classic cars and hundreds of vendors carrying artisan goods, food and more. Great Train Robbery and Kelly Bell are among the scheduled music performers.

With some of the new additions, the Towson Chamber of Commerce hopes to attract as many as 250,000 people to the Baltimore County seat, said Nancy Hafford, the chamber's executive director.

"I think what happened is, every year, another little piece was added," Hafford said. "At first, it was just an exhibit with young kids, but a year or two later, someone said, `Can I sell lemonade?' The next year, someone said, `Can I sell cotton candy?' and the next year, someone said, `Can I sell hot dogs?' Then someone asked, `I have these crafts, can I sell them here, too?' Every year, just a tiny little thing was added." This will be the festival's 40th year.

More than 400 vendors are offering crafts such as specialty baskets, paintings, handmade jewelry and clothing. Many are from the region, but some are coming from other parts of the country.

"The nice thing is, there is such a major cultural blend," Hafford said. "There is something representative of every single cultural group in Maryland."

Her involvement with the Towsontown Spring Festival began nine years ago as a volunteer. This event, among other activities, has kept her anchored in Towson for 19 years.

"At first I thought, `What am I doing here?'" she said. "And now, I wouldn't move.

"The people around you get you," she said. "You hear the music in the background, and you see kids run around while the parents sit and listen to the music. I can't pick just one part. I love the whole thing."

The Towsontown Spring Festival 2007 runs 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, 1 p.m. -7 p.m. Sunday. The festival occupies downtown Towson from York Road to Bosley Avenue, and from Susquehanna to Allegheny avenues. No pets allowed. Call 410-825-1150 or go to towsontownspringfestival.com.

christina.lee@baltsun.com

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