Artscape 2012: Rainy and roomy

Would it be cool if this ferris wheel was outside Penn Station everyday?!

Did you go to Artscape this year? I had a blast! The weather certainly made a huge impact on the experience didn’t it? Considering Artscape usually falls on one of the hottest weekends of the summer, the combination of heat and intense crowds can make the festival overwhelming for some. This year may have been rainy, but I’ll take damp shoes any day if it means more space to walk and enjoy the festival!

World's largest John Waters.

The new Station North Stage

Some highlights that I enjoyed—although I did not by any means see everything!—included the always-entertaining Baltimore Rock Opera Society, founded by and starring fellow Goucher graduates; the new Station North Stage, extending the festival all the way up to North Avenue; the (much) larger-than-life head of John Waters; the awesome shipping-pallet installation by Morgan State students; free films at the Charles; and of course, festival food. I thought the theme of “Roadside Attractions” was clever and really gave the Art Cars an opportunity to shine!

 I have volunteered for the past few years but after always walking away utterly exhausted, I decided to just enjoy it as a spectator this year. BOPA, their many partner organizations, and all of the volunteers who make it happen deserve a big thank you. What a huge task it must be to organize—they do a brilliant job!

Speaking of art: have you heard about Open Walls Baltimore, the initiative that's been painting all of those colorful murals around Station North? I'm a big fan of this one on the side of a parking garage, but the whole project is wonderful in my book!

Here’s to Artscape 2013!


Ice Cream Trail-Blazing

Have you heard about the Maryland's Best Ice Cream Trail? The Maryland Department of Agriculture has put together a "trail" of seven family-owned, independent creameries where you can buy farm-fresh ice cream and have your "passport" stamped this summer. "Trail blazers" who visit all seven by September 7 will be entered to win a DVD of the documentary The Maryland Harvest as well as the Dishing Up Maryland cookbook (which I've had my eye on for a while--it looks great!). There is a geocaching feature as well but I must admit, I don't quite get the whole geocaching component.

Timmy and I set out on this important mission last Saturday--when, luckily, it finally dipped below 90 degrees--with the Baltimore to Cecil County leg of the journey. Our first stop was the Prigel Family Creamery in Glen Arm, Baltimore County:

According to their website, the Prigel family has been farming in the Long Green Valley portion of Baltimore County for five generations.

Inside, the shop was buzzing with Saturday-afternoon visitors, mostly families and young couples on double dates. They offer blankets for guests to have picnics outside (sadly, we didn't take them up on that this time around) and many families seemed to be enjoying the lovely day.

Timmy was absolutely delighted that they carried Cheerwine, the North Carolinian soda which is surprisingly hard to come by in Baltimore. He ordered a Cheerwine float and could not have been happier!

In an effort to save my ice cream appetite I finished off the bottle instead of ordering my own ice cream treat.

They were hosting a BBQ that evening with food from Clementine. Of course, we would have loved to have stayed but we had more creameries to explore! After leaving the beautiful rolling hills of Glen Arm, we took back roads to Broom's Bloom Dairy, just outside Bel Air in Harford County.

The interior of their shop was bright and cheery.

I was surprised to see a whole bunch of solar panels in their parking lot, on top of the shop, and even in the fields. How cool!

There was ample outdoor seating, either on the big porch or in the cornfields.

I opted for one scoop of Orange Cream, which only came to $2.50! It was so refreshing.

We spotted this lovely blue barn on our way out of Harford County.

Our final creamery of the day was Kilby Cream, which I have been hearing about for a few months. Their farm just outside Rising Sun, in Cecil County, celebrated its seventh anniversary over the weekend.

They use this truck for home deliveries of milk, eggs and butter.

How fun is their ceiling?

Timmy chose the "Independence Explosion" and I had their amazing blueberry cheesecake.

This farm would be a delight to visit both for little kids and their parents. In addition to delicious, fresh ice cream, they also had a petting zoo and a playground!

That pony! So tiny!

I adore how they've painted a giant pink ice cream cone on the silo!

One of my favorite parts of the day was taking the Lower Susquehanna Scenic Byway around Susquehanna State Park on the way home. I'll be honest, this portion wasn't necessarily planned--we mostly just found ourselves on it and decided to follow the path. It was amazing.

Views of the river, just north of Havre de Grace, were lovely and the greenery was full.

There were lots of families enjoying the park by fishing, hiking, picnicking and kayaking.

There is so much rich history in this part of the state that I never knew existed! For instance, we stumbled upon the Rock Run Grist Mill--an amazing structure that has been operating in Harford County since 1794! Demonstrations take place between 1-4 PM on weekends from May to September; of course, we got there after 4:00 so we'll have to return another time. The park is also home to a former railroad--you can walk along the tracks, which are now a path--and the Steppingstone Museum. We also enjoyed driving through Darlington, a cute historic community along this route.

Our next leg of the Ice Cream Trail will be in Western Maryland, including our friends at South Mountain Creamery (Timmy worked at their stand at the JFX Sunday Farmer's Market for three years!). I can't wait to sample more of Maryland's Best!


Take a ride through Baltimore's history!

Readers, have you ever been to the Baltimore Streetcar Museum? Perhaps you've seen it while biking on driving on Falls Road, or seen the crumbling old railroad outbuilding from the Light Rail, and wondered what goes on there? It is definitely worth your time to check it out! It is a really unique museum that would has something for streetcar enthusiasts of all ages! Admission is reasonable at $7 for an afternoon of riding historic streetcars--the very same ones that generations of Baltimoreans rode before you. For $7, you can to chat with adorable old men who take their streetcar-conducting very seriously, stopping at every stop sign:

You are given these beautiful, intricate tokens to board the trolleys:

And then you get a real vintage ticket as a transfer, so they can be sure everyone has paid their fare:

 You are surrounded by amazing vintage advertisements in each car:

You can browse the small museum itself, with detailed dioramas such as this one of a streetcar line I'd find useful today:

And you can talk to the volunteers who operate the museum and have restored these historic vehicles simply because they want to share their passion with future generations: 

All in all, I found the history to be fascinating and the interactive experience was certainly memorable. Considering the average age of the volunteer staff had to be at least 75, I'm not sure what the future of this museum holds. It seems crazy to me that Baltimore, like many cities, once had an extensive network of streetcars--but removed them in favor of auto transport. Such a step backwards! I know there were many factors at play, including the auto industry's financial influence, but it is remarkable to think about what streetcar travel throughout Baltimore used to look like.

By the way, have you heard about the Baltimore Streetcar Campaign (formerly the Charles Street Trolley)? Despite my love of streetcars, I am not quite sure how I feel about adding a trolley line to a route already serviced by busses--but their website and design scheme is really snazzy and it's definitely worth a look! How do you feel about their proposal for a modern-day streetcar system?


Sailabrating the War of 1812

I sincerely hope everyone in the Baltimore area has taken advantage of the historic, monumental commemoration that has engulfed our city for the past few days! If not, go check out the tall ships before they leave tomorrow morning! I am not a connoisseur of tall ships--nor am I a huge fan of the Blue Angels, as their booming sound and uncomfortably close proximity to buildings freaks me out--but I have been totally loving the Star-Spangled Sailabration! The festival has been a genuinely exciting way to kick off the War of 1812 Bicentennial and show off our city to a wide swath of visitors. For someone who truly loves history, being able to share my adopted hometown's rich heritage with so many interested visitors was a dream come true!

One my favorite moments of the festival was attending the Star-Spangled Symphony, my first time hearing the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, (Governor) O'Malley's March, or the U.S. Navy Chorus. I absolutely love that tickets were only $15, opening the doors to the gorgeous Meyerhoff Symphony Hall to new audiences (including me). The Philip Glass premiere was very exciting, but the rousing American tunes that followed truly made my heart swell with patriotism and pride (the huge 15-star, 15-stripe flag draping the back of the stage probably helped too). O'Malley's March was pretty darn cool--the Governor has a gift for songwriting and some serious stage presence (no surprise there). The finale, of course, with red, white & blue confetti was really something to remember!

In addition to the symphony, I loved wandering around the Inner Harbor admiring the tall ships and of course, people-watching too. I have seen so many awesome American flag shirts and sweaters in the past five days (seriously, I love Americana and patriotic kitsch). The festival set-up at Fells Point was a delightful surprise as well. I didn't make it to two of my favorite places in Baltimore--Fort McHenry or the Flag House--this weekend but I am sure they were packed with enthusiastic visitors. 

I can only imagine all of the many, many hours of hard work that went into planning this event of international proportions--kudos to all involved at the War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission and Star-Spangled 200! I can't wait to celebrate the Baltimore of Baltimore in September 2014!

Here are some photos from the weekend. I realize there were many great photo ops but I seemed to have missed all of them! I went a few different days so that explains the change in lighting...