The Fell’s Point Fun Festival, an event that attracts upwards of 500,000 people to the historic neighborhood, is scheduled for Oct. 4-6 and promises some big changes for 2013.
Most notably, the large beer garden at Harbor Point is officially out, being replaced by parking for 500 cars, and the previously Latino-focused mini-festival on Broadway is being supplanted by an international village that will focus on a range of east Baltimore ethnicities, including Polish, Italian, Latino, and Greek. And, for the first time in decades, the festival, which supports the Preservation Society, will allow attendees to walk within the festival perimeter with open containers.
The Harbor Point site will now be used for parking vendors’ and impacted residents’ cars, according to Mike Maraziti, president of Fell’s Point Main Street, the organization that is running the festival this year. After the residents and vendors have spaces, the other 500 or so will be available to festival attendees for a $20 fee.
The international village is being organized by a group of nonprofits including Education Based Latino Outreach and the Polish Home Club, says Maraziti.
“It will feature ethnic foods and entertainment including bands and an ethnic-food-eating contest, among other activities.”
Some other changes to this year’s festival include a steamed crab garden, which will be located near John Steven Ltd., and a wine garden in the Broadway Square. There will also be a food truck rally on Broadway.
“We have at least a dozen food trucks at this point,” Maraziti says.
Maraziti notes that Fell’s Point Main Street is also gradually trying to introduce more of a historical component to the festival.
“It’s my goal for the festival to eventually incorporate the history of the ethnic groups that settled the Fell’s Point area. I would like the festival to function as a history lesson. We didn’t get the festival until February of this year, so I had less time to pull it together. But next year, will be different,” Maraziti explains.
The biggest change to the 2013 festival is allowing drinking throughout the festival grounds, not just in a beer garden or bars.
“When you’re walking around with your drink, you behave better than you do if you’re sitting in a beer garden all day,” says Maraziti, who owns One Eyed Mike’s, a bar and restaurant in Fell’s Point.
The practice of temporarily allowing public drinking is common at urban festivals such as Artscape, summer socials at the waterfront, and the festivals Little Italy hosts throughout the year.
The three neighborhood associations in the area—Fell’s Point Residents’ Association, Fell’s Point Community Organization, and Fell’s Prospect Community Association—did not oppose Main Street in this change and signed a memorandum of understanding outlining the festival’s footprint, drinking policies, age verification, festival security, hours of operation, and liquor licenses.
Festival attendees who are 21 and over will be allowed to walk with their drink within the festival perimeter (Thames St. from S. Caroline to Wolfe St.; S. Broadway from Thames St. to Eastern Ave., and Aliceanna St. from Bethel to Regester St.) both inside and outside of the designated beer and wine gardens and in bars and restaurants within the festival perimeter, if they purchase an official festival cup.
The cups cost five dollars and hold a little more than a pint.
“The cups, essentially, are the licenses to walk the festival with a beverage, “ Maraziti says.
“Fells Point Main Street shall be responsible for 100 percent ID check/age verification at all alcohol pouring stations controlled by FPMS,” the MOU states.
To minimize the festival’s impact on the neighborhood, Maraziti has ordered additional port-a-pots and will place them throughout the festival area where attendees will be walking, not just near the beer and wine gardens.
“We’re shooting for 200,” he says.
He’s also bringing in the Waterfront Partnership to help with cleanup. Main Street employs six to eight Waterfront Partnership staff members every weekend in Fell’s Point and will add an additional 10 during the festival weekend.
“They will be emptying trash and sweeping throughout the day,” Maraziti says.
To reduce the burden of refuse, the city is providing an additional 50 trashcans for the event.
“Next to every trashcan we will have a recycling container. We’re hoping that people will do the right thing and recycle,” Maraziti adds.
With the festival only four weeks away, Maraziti plans to host a town meeting for Fell’s Point residents.
“It will be in mid-September, probably at the Polish Home,” he says. “At the meeting, residents will learn about the festival footprint, parking regulations, and other matters that affect them. It will also be an opportunity for residents to sign up to volunteer, to become involved. I would really like to see that: to see Fell’s Point residents stay in town for the weekend. The festival is changing. I want them to see firsthand what we’re becoming.”
by Danielle Sweeney