Baltimore’s Book Fest brings out the best

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I had a terrifying experience on the Streets of Baltimore this weekend. It happened somewhere in Mt. Vernon.

I was walking along with my friend, just minding our business, when we were approached by someone very intimidating. He was at least 6 feet tall and hairy. His eyes were black and glassy looking and he carried a large blunt object that, at first, I didn’t recognize for what it was.

He was coming right for us. We both saw him at the same time and had the same feeling when we did. It was a feeling of dread that our psyche’s reserve for only the creepiest of things.

Peter or the Velveteen Rabbit – I’m not sure. (All photos by Bill Hughes)

Now, I have no idea if it was Peter or the Velveteen Rabbit because I didn’t stick around long enough to find out.

I made a bee line for the cooking tent where I could get my head around what was happening there – ravioli.

The makeshift kitchen was set up just west of the Monument so that passers-by could stop in and watch a cooking demonstration and sample the wares.  I liked that.

The kitchen was surrounded by cookbooks that covered every manner of culinary delight from vegan dinner parties to smoking meat.

On the East side of the Monument was the Radical Book Pavilion where Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan and others presented stories of uprisings and occupations.

Speaking of uprisings, I saw tents dedicated to remembering the War of 1812 and the Civil War and some folks even dressed for the occasion.

Romance writers offered samples of chocolate and fiction to make you swoon.

And there was erotica. I was actually offered a Sex Sandwich. (I passed, thank you very much.)

I love the book fest. It brings out the very best in Baltimore: musical and dance performances at the Peabody; art lectures at the Walters; food and drinks on every corner and books.

Books were for sale- books were being given away for free- books were traded. It was like I died and went to heaven.

The authors were there, too. They shared their experiences of writing, read excerpts of their work and taught workshops on how to improve the craft.

I ran into a man who was from New York. He was drinking a beer. I had a mimosa and we were strolling along Charles Street to the haunting sounds of Ian Hessford’s didgeridoo

“I can believe we can drink openly here.” He said.

“This is Baltimore.” I replied. “We love music, art, books and booze.”

He nodded, a reverent nod, and I felt his respect mounting.

Now you can always take in some theater or music or readings in Baltimore on any night of the week but it’s a special weekend that lets you take it all in at once in a centralized location.

I was proud of my city this weekend as I meandered through crowds of folks who were intelligent and curious and talented.

It was a lovely weekend to stroll along with a literary walking tour of the historic homes of famous authors and poets and editors from the city.

Yes, Baltimore has its down side. Some scary things are here but if we can get past the children’s book section with those three giant pigs waving and grinning at us and, of course, that terrifying rabbit, then I think we’ll be fine.

Time to snuggle in for the winter and read!

Check out more of Bill Hughes of Baltimore’s Book Fest at flickr.



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