Since ancient times, the festival was a sign of society’s prosperity, a time to gather and celebrate the arts. The Baltimore Book Festival has become a staple event for the city, offering the chance for established/beginning writers the opportunity to interact with the community and share in their passion for writing. It’s an event that is not exclusive to the book medium however. Rather, the event itself offers a good time for anyone looking for a day outside- or three. In addition to the draw of books, The Baltimore Book Festival also offers free (yes free) entertainment and reasonably priced food.
The festival takes place in the heart of Baltimore itself. Centered in Mt. Vernon, it occupies several blocks which are closed to allow pedestrians easy access to the expansive tents and other stations. Parking can be a little burdensome so be on the lookout for spaces on the street, I would not suggest lot parking unless you plan to make it a day trip (one of them wanted $14 for a day spot). There are meters all around the area and on Charles, but some free spots can be found on Read Street. Of course this broad layout means there’s a lot of activity to partake in.
The primary draw for this event, of course, is the literature. The festival features several booths that offer a broad selection of books and comics at very low prices. There’s a good chance if you like to read, you’ll be walking out with several. In addition to the steal-deals, the Baltimore Book Festival brings together journalistic presses, independent publishers, writers, and more. Again, dialogue is a major factor of the festival; local authors and literature promoters like City Lit are major contributors. This is a great chance to find new authors and works to explore. In addition to local flavor, the Baltimore Book Festival also brings in authors and publishers from other states. This is a good opportunity for the writer to expose him/herself to the industry.
In addition to the informational booths and food vans, are open panel discussions. These panels range in topic and feature professional editors, publishers, and published writers. Together the panelists discuss their work and experience in the publishing industry- but more- they open the floor to questions about book writing. On Friday (the first day of the festival) I attended a panel discussing mythological influence in contemporary novels, and an informational on how to go about publishing fiction. Both offered an abundance of valuable insight on the book industry today. The panel on mythic influence was a collection of fantasy writers who were eager to share their techniques and work with the audience. They also shared their views on current fiction-trends and encouraged discussion with those gathered. In kind, the publishing discussion brought together professional editors and publishers sharing information on how to successfully complete the publishing process. For my readers who desire to become published writers, this is a great event to network; you will take a lot from the experience.
Between panel hopping and book shopping, there’s a lot to eat and drink. The festival offers a wide range of festival food, including a wine bar. Now one of the gems of the event is that it hosts live music, all of whom were very talented. One of the groups that really stood out was the Andy Poxon Band, who spiked the event with some blues music. Their sound was vibrant and signature to their creative talents. Poxon led the band with dynamic guitar riffs and a finger-picking style resurrected from the golden age of blues. They are a definitely a band worth checking out.
The Baltimore Book Festival will continue all day Sunday as well. Be sure to check out the link to plan what panels and events you want to attend. Remember that opportunities like this offer the potential for new stories and new experiences.