“Think about what the city would be if all this was gone,” says Denise Whitman in her Fell’s Point office.
She refers to the 1960s plan to demolish Fell’s Point to make room for more interstate highway.
The idea does seem pretty extreme today.
“It was a different mindset in the 60s,” says Whitman. “It wasn’t about preservation, but all about transportation.”
In 1966, the first Fell’s Point Fun Festival was held to raise awareness of the historic neighborhood. Forty-six years later, the festival remains, along with Fell’s Point itself and its celebrated buildings and sites.
The festival, which runs this weekend, Oct. 6 and 7, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., has taken on a life of its own. Whitman estimates that 600,000 people usually attend when the weather is good. Geographically, the Fun Festival spans Thames St. all the way to the Harbor Point parking lot, and runs up S. Broadway to Gough St.
“The festival’s a monster,” Whitman says.
New this year is the Funfest Brewfest, on Friday, Oct. 5, 5-9 p.m. For a $30 ticket available at missiontix.com or at the entrance on the day of the event, attendees will get to sample over 50 craft brews, plus enjoy live music.
“The brewers will be there, and they will tell you about the beers and how they’re made,” says Whitman.
Another attraction is Sunday’s Food Truck Rally Tailgate Party.
“Say that fast five times,” says Whitman.
Local food trucks, including Gypsy Queen, Chowhound, SouperFreak, GrrChe (gourmet grilled cheese), and Iced Gems (cupcakes) will converge on the big beer garden near Harbor Point. There will also be a jumbo-screen TV for viewers to enjoy Sunday’s Ravens Game.
“That thing is amazing; it’s like being on the field,” says Whitman.
The festival also features a children’s show, including Professor Horn’s “Punch and Judy” puppet show and Alberti’s Flea Circus. Carnival rides are in the 400 block of S. Broadway. On the 500 block is La Plaza Hispana, with Latino music, salsa dancing lessons, and food and items from South America.
Classic cars, arts and crafts, and international bazaar, nonprofit organization booths, and the Fun Fest Flea Market are additional attractions.
There will also be five stages for bands to play all kinds of music. Acts include Will Hill, Community Groove, Emma White, and many more.
The Fun Festival benefits the Fell’s Point and Federal Hill Preservation Society, the group established during that successful effort to keep Fell’s Point from becoming a highway.
“We’re the group that saved Fell’s Point,” says Whitman. “Quite frankly, I believe we’re the group that saved Baltimore CIty.”
She first got involved with the Preservation Society and the Fun Festival in 1976.
“I fell in love with the area and moved here soon afterward,” she says.
Some festival volunteers, including Barb Cromwell and Doug Franz, have been part of the effort since very early on, according to Whitman.
“We’re very fortunate to have people that have such long memories of the festival,” she says.
For more information on the Fell’s Point Fun Festival, the Facebook page, www.facebook.com/FellsPointFunFestival.
by Erik Zygmont