In Brief

IN BRIEF

November 02, 2008|By From Baltimore Sun staff reports

Renaissance Festival in search of a new, larger location

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The Maryland Renaissance Festival, one of the largest celebrations of 16th-century English culture in the country, is looking for a new home.

The festival - which in its 32nd season is enjoying great success despite a nationwide economic downturn - is looking to expand. Organizers saw record crowds this year at its 135-acre site in the Crownsville area of Anne Arundel County, and though they are happy with the current location, they are hoping to find a larger space, said Jules Smith, the vice president and general manager.

"It's a form of escapism," Smith said, explaining the allure of the festival. "You can come here - and close to 20 percent of our customers come in costume. Here's a chance to be someone you aren't regularly in life. Here you can be a lord or a lady, or a pirate or a wench - maybe someone a little grander or a little riskier than in your own life."

The festival, which spent its first eight years in Columbia near Merriweather Post Pavilion, features a 25-acre 16th-century English village, with a 5,000-seat jousting arena. There are more than 100 craft shops, more than 40 food booths and 10 stages.

This season, which ran from August until last weekend, attracted 23,000 visitors a day at its peak, Smith said, adding that the optimum amount for the site is about 18,000.

Smith said he has been looking to expand for about a year and has looked at 30 sites, seven seriously, in Anne Arundel, Calvert, Prince George's, Frederick and Howard counties.

Gary Westholm, a consultant Smith hired for the site search, said the Renaissance Festival currently leases its land and its "strong preference" would be to buy a plot of land outright, calling 150 acres "perfect." Festival organizers are looking for about 80 to 90 acres of cleared land and 25 acres of "mature woodland," Westholm said.

Nicole Fuller

W. Baltimore Street section to close today

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Baltimore transportation officials are planning to close a portion of West Baltimore Street today for a crane operation. The closure - planned to start at 3 a.m. and last until 6 p.m. - is expected to extend from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to Poppleton Street. Officials are urging motorists to take alternate routes; detours will be posted.

Baltimore County to hold two flu clinics today

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The Baltimore County Health Department will hold two flu vaccination clinics today. The first clinic will be a drive-through from 10 a.m. to noon at Franklin Square Hospital Center on Franklin Square Drive in Rossville. Information: 443-777-7000. The second will be an indoor clinic from noon to 2 p.m. in the Noppenberger Auditorium at St. Joseph Medical Center, 7601 Osler Drive, Towson. Information: 410-337-1536.

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