Flowermart: Spring Fest Still Fresh At 92

April 30, 2009|By SUSAN REIMER

You should look this good at 92.

That's how old Baltimore's Flowermart is this year.

And the city's rite of spring, set for Friday and Saturday in the cobblestone square beneath Robert Mills' monument to George Washington, looks much like it has for years - lemon sticks, maypole dancers and lots of flowers.

The Flowermart has been preserved in time, changing little over the years and comforting Baltimoreans with its appealing sameness.

Even so, Flowermart always has a fresh-start feel to it. Former Mayor Kurt Schmoke once said the celebration gives Baltimore residents a chance to see their city anew.

Until 2006, Flowermart was scheduled for one day, in the middle of the workweek, and drew schoolchildren and office workers playing hooky.

But in that year it was moved to Friday and extended to Saturday, giving families a chance to enjoy the first of the city's seasonal festivals.

Long ago, Flowermart was the province of the city's garden club matrons, whose idea of gardening was to hire someone to do it and then arrange the finished product in a vase in the drawing room.

Now, it reflects the diversity of city life and city residents. Only the outrageous hats worn by the visitors to Flowermart recall the days of the fancy ladies.

Likewise, booths operated by flower vendors have given way to booths selling crafts or providing health screenings. The flower vendors now are schoolchildren and their volunteering parents, raising money for projects and trips.

And it is the schools in the Baltimore area that provide the entertainment, including this year's theme song, "It's Spring in Baltimore," written by Pat O'Brennan and recorded by the Ridgely Middle School Honors Chorus.

Flowermart does have something new this year, though even this change celebrates the past.

At 7 p.m. Friday, there will be a dance contest.

A '50s and '60s dance contest.

if you go

Baltimore's 92nd Flowermart runs 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday in Mount Vernon, at the base of the Washington Monument at Charles and Monument streets. Admission is free. For more information, including street closings and a full entertainment schedule, go to flowermart.org.

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