Category Archives: Festivals

Baltimore Beer Week Begins Today

Today is a holiday in the City of Baltimore. It’s not the usual thing for a holiday to be on a Thursday, but… wait; is today Thursday? Who cares! It’s a holiday. A high holy day. A high holy week. And by week, we mean like 2 weeks. Eleven days to be exact.

Today marks the opening festivities for the third annual Baltimore Beer Week with the Star Spangled Banger Parade kicking off at high noon. They’re going to muster up at Fort McHenry with the eponymous banger, a giant ceremonial cask-cracking mallet. The parade itself is somewhat, er, ambitious; rivaling this Spring’s Schaefer Tour in terms of scope.

The Star Spangled Banger... a mighty symbol of Baltimore's thirst for liberty. The liberty to drink beer, that is.

Billed as a walking pub crawl, the parade begins in Locust Point, but includes stops as far-flung as Alonso’s, Grand Cru, and Canton. We’re kind of dubious that people are walking that far for a pub crawl. Carrying a giant mallet all those miles would be part barhopping, part Olympic torch relay, and part Stanley Cup showoff fiasco. We wouldn’t be surprised if the Charm City Pedal Mill were somehow involved.

For those drinkers not of the pedestrian persuasion, the parade ends at Power Plant Live at 6 pm, where the official opening ceremony will take place and the first firkin of heavy seas will be cracked open. After that, Baltimore Beer Week is pretty much a free-for-all with more than 300 separate events from which to choose.

We made the trip to Oktoberfest last year, and it ended up exactly like we said it would. We might even make it back this year, who knows? The truth is that we’re thoroughly incapable of writing one of those elementary school style essays on the theme of “What Baltimore Beer Week Means to Me,” but one thing is certain, with that many events happening, we’re definitely going to sample a few new brews even though we’re decidedly not a beer snob.

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How to Stage a Boycott, Hon

Most of you probably well remember the Great Hontroversy of December 2010, in which Denise Whiting trademarked the term “Hon” in various forms, and crowed about it in the media in an attempt to drum up publicity for her newly opened tacky souvenir shop, just in time for stocking stuffer season.

Ink was spilled and the fat was chewed (and not just in the restaurant), Facebook groups were formed and street protests organized, but in the end all it really amounted to was a collective “Yeah, fuck that lady.” Fast forward to June 2011: Honfest is upon us again, and Whiting has managed to piss people off even further by banning the sale of cat’s eye sunglasses and cans of hairspray and telling people that their political opinions and religious beliefs are not welcome. Everyone shall worship at the altar of HON, and all hail the mayor of Hon Town.

A visual approximation of our sentiments toward Honfest.

So we’re Skipping Honfest this year. This isn’t really news, since we’ve never actually been to any of the previous Honfests. Shitty grandpa music and overpriced Heinekens aren’t really our cup of tea, and we’re put off by anything that’s so cartoonishly self-referential and clichéd, especially when it’s organized by one of Baltimore’s most hated people. Honfest is not so much a festival to be enjoyed, but a product to be bought, paid for and consumed.

We wouldn’t call it a boycott though, and we bristle when we hear other people use the term. Most people in the modern age have a poor understanding of what a boycott actually is, let alone the skills or wherewithal to organize one successfully. Before you go calling for a boycott this weekend, or anytime, it’s a good idea to know what the keys to a successful boycott are:

  • Fight a grievous wrong. It’s difficult for any boycott to be successful without broad public support. It helps if what you’re fighting against is universally seen as an injustice. Child labor or unsafe working conditions are good grounds for a boycott. While Hon, Inc. has shown an incredible amount of hubris and alienated the community many times over, it’s hard to argue that there’s much actual injustice being done here. Some, but not much.
  • A pre-existing organizational structure. Some of the most successful boycotts in history haven’t been carried off by people coming together, they were won by people who were already together. The Montgomery bus boycott was only possible because churches and civil rights groups were already well organized, and were able to mobilize their members. Ditto with the California grape boycott, the core of which was the United Farm Workers’ Union. A Facebook group by itself is not an organization. It’s merely a tool for disseminating information among an organization.
  • Strong Leadership. At the head of every successful boycotting organization, there’s strong leadership. MLK. Cesar Chavez. Gandhi. Leading an actual boycott is a full time job. It’s not something to which you dedicate half an hour of internet time a few nights a week.
  • Dedicated foot soldiers. A true boycott of Cafe Hon, if it were to have any economic impact at all, would require people standing out on the Avenue morning, noon, and night wearing tee shirts, carrying signs, handing out literature, and making a case to the general public of the grievous wrongdoing we mentioned before. Any volunteers?
  • A manifold boycott strategy. You don’t just send an email blast, show up on a streetcorner and yell boycott. Who are you anyway, Jesse Jackson? A successful boycott requires a lot of advance planning. Even with something as small scale as a restaurant or a festival, if success is expected, there are enormous organizational, logistical, fundraising, and public relations challenges to consider. Do you just want to skip the festival, or do you want to boycott its sponsors as well?
  • An attainable set of goals. Part of that strategy should be a set of goals or reasonable demands. The idea of bringing the big bad evil corporation to its knees by crippling it economically is as cartoonish as the beads and beehives that are about to take over the Avenue. The goal of a boycott isn’t bankrupting anyone, it’s getting your target to change its behavior, e.g. integrating buses or paying farm workers minimum wage.
  • A viable alternative. Key to any boycott is not just saying “Don’t buy that” but saying “Buy this instead.” Fortunately, in the case of Cafe Hon, we’ve already got that covered.

Organizing a legitimate boycott is a lot of work, and can be a very long-term undertaking. When the faux-Hons invade the Avenue this weekend, we won’t be boycotting. We’ll be protesting in a truly homegrown Baltimore way- talking shit, holding grudges, and counting down the days to Hampdenfest.

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Flowermart, Kinetic Sculpture Race, MD Film Festival Today

Today is a big red letter day in Charm City. It’s the second day of Flowermart, the third day of the Maryland Film Festival, and Kinetic Sculpture Race day.

What does this mean to you? It means if you’re going to any one of these, have fun. If you’re not, you probably shouldn’t leave the house at all, because you’re going to be looking at the biggest traffic clusterfuck since Baltimore Marathon day. Charles Street and Monument will both be closed in Mount Vernon all weekend, traffic will be slow through Station North, and South and Southeast Baltimore will see staggered delays and parking problems from spectators and moving sculptures, and those things aren’t fast.

God help us, we’re going to try to cruise through flowermart on the way to see some sculptures, if it doesn’t rain. As you can see from the photos, the race looks like more fun in the sun.

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Spring Meet Opens @ Pimlico This Weekend

So, we wrote a whole big blog post last year about how we were going to put on our Sunday best and go to Pimlico and piss away a few bucks and fake-it rich. As it happened, we got called up last minute to help a friend move. We swore we’d get up to Old Hilltop the next week, and then one thing led to another and long story short, we never made it to the races at all last year.

Well, the Spring meet is here again, and this year, goddamn it, we’re off to the races. We suggest you check out some live racing too, any day except the Preakness. Don’t go to Preakness.

Kegasus, and by extension the Preakness itself, is an embarrassment to our city before the eyes of the nation.

The Preakness organizers have failed miserably in recent years, and this year they’ve more than outdone themselves with the God-awful, thoroughly embarrassing Kegasus campaign. We’ll say first off that we’re no big fan of Danny McBride or any of the white trash, delusional, substance abusing memes surrounding his characters. It was bad enough when Keystone Beer ripped him off entirely, but this rip-off of a ripoff with a horse twist is more watered down than Keystone Beer itself.

Unfortunately, the Jockey Club and their ad firm Elevation Ltd. have decided to make an ‘outside run’ at the highly prized 18-25 male demographic, and don’t mind alienating anyone and everyone who doesn’t fit that demo along the way. The funny thing is, they had those customers locked up in the BYOB days, and blew it all to hell by discontinuing that policy. We understand that they’re trying their hardest to divorce the Preakness from actual horse racing by making the infield a generic rock music-and-shitty-beer festival, but as we’ve already pointed out, there are hundreds of festivals in Baltimore every Summer. Frat boys don’t need Preakness as an excuse to get drunk outside.

The way we see it, the Jockey Club blew a golden opportunity last year when they came crawling back to 18-25 year old males. They should have followed the example of Churchill Downs and divided their infield into sections.

Note: this is not actually Pimlico.

Even a very simple division like this one would make a lot more sense than having a handful of random frat bros wandering dumbly from tent to tent looking for the shortest beer line. We would have liked to see them make the backstretch the collegiate/rock concert/ all you can drink area while reserving the third and fourth turns for the Media pavillion (to which tickets could also be sold, because that’s a lot of real estate. Make the clubhouse turn some sort of family friendly picnic-type area, and market tickets to church groups and the like, and make the home stretch and starting gate area some sort of liquor company sponsored glutton’s paradise with food trucks, tents set up by regional restaurants, mircrobrew beer gardens and the like. Sell passes to each section at different prices, with premium charges for “2 section” passes, and even an “all access infield” pass for people who want to see the bands and get the best fare and best views.

Is this a brilliant revolutionary idea? No. But it’s a good idea. It’s a workable idea. It’s an idea that would make us seriously consider buying Preakness tickets, and it took us about one minute to think of it. If the Maryland Jockey Club would trouble themselves to think seriously about the Preakness for one fucking minute, their sport and our tradition would both be better off.

As it is though, we’ll be watching our racing with the pensioners on the non-stakes days, Irishing up our coffee and going two across the board on a maiden.

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All Tomorrow’s Festivals

We’re getting a little tired of hearing about festivals. Especially out of state festivals that we have no interest in, and couldn’t get to if we wanted to, like SxSW, Coachella, Glastonberry, The (Gainesville) Fest, etc. Recently the Atomic Books Blog ran a post about local festivals. We found it timely, since Festival Season is already underway, and lasts from now till forever.

As much as we hate to admit it, the Chop is getting a little old to enjoy festivals, and music ‘fests’ in particular. When we plan on attending a show with more than 3 bands on the bill, it’s almost a given now that some of them will be skipped entirely. Even at the last festival we attended, we showed up 3 hours late and spent a couple more hours in Club Charles and Joe Squared waiting for the headliners. We just don’t have the patience for multiple bands anymore, no matter how good they are.

Festivals are fun. 100,000 Hippies can't be wrong.

We also take issue with beer festivals, which are wonderful, but all seem to run from noon to 5 pm. When we start drinking at noon, we want to keep drinking all night. Otherwise we’ll just fall asleep.

But as we like festivals less and less, there seem to be more and more of them. We found Atomic’s festival list woefully incomplete, and in honor of the Maryland Film Festival beginning tomorrow and running through Sunday, we will now present you with your general festival going options in Baltimore.

Music Fests

41Go Fest
Aural States Fest
Born to Be Doomed Fest
Charm City Music Fest for Hatian Relief
Defenders of the Old Fest
DNA Test Fest
Electronicus Rex Fest
Golden Westival
HFStival???
High Zero
Insubordination Fest Pre-Party
Insubordination Fest
Jersey Mike Fest
Knives Out Cookout
M3 Festival
Maryland Death Fest Pre-Party
Maryland Deathfest
Megapolis
NoVo Festival
PowWow
Philly Invades Baltimore Fest
Preakness Infield Fest
Starscape
Station North Spring Music Fest
Transmodern Festival
Virgin Freefest
Whartscape

Other Festivals

Amnesty International Human Rights Fest
Artdromeda
Artscape
Asian Spring Family Festival
Baltimore African American Heritage Festival
Baltimore Book Festival
Baltimore Boychoir Festival
Baltimore Caribbean Carnival Festival
Baltimore Carnival
Baltimore FestAfrica
Baltimore Green Week
Baltimore International Festival
Baltimore Irish Festival
Baltimore Korean American Festival
Baltimore Playwrights’ Festival
Baltimore Russian Festival
Baltimore Ukrainian Festival
Beer, Bourbon and Barbecue Festival
BitGen Gamer Fest
Capital Jazz Fest
Charles Village Festival
Citylit Festival
Citypaper Brewfest
Clipper City Beer & Bacon Fest
Comic Con
Cruelest Month Poetry Fest
Dogfest
Federal Hill Spring Block Party
Fells Point Funfest
Flower Mart
Greek Festival
Hamilton Street Festival
Hampdenfest
Heritage Fair
Highlandtown Wine Festival
Honfest
Hopkins Spring Fair
Karmafest
Ladyfest
LatinoFest
MARNA (nudist) Fest
Maryland Film Festival
Maryland State Fair
Max’s Craft Beer Fest
Max’s Belgian Beer Fest
MICA French Comics and Animation Fest
Native American Festival and Pow Wow
Nostalgia Convention Film Fest
Otakon
Polish Festival
Pride Fest
Privateer Day
RenFest
Robot Fest
Save-a-Limb Bike Festival
Small Press Expo
SoWeBo Festival
Susie Fest
Tigerfest
Towsontown Spring Fest
Under Armour Running Festival
Videopolis
Wobfest
Youth Media Fest
Zero Film Fest

Some of these have happened already this year. None of them are independently confirmed. They have all happened recently, and it’s reasonable to expect that they will all recur this year although some might not. Hard as it might be to believe, we still feel like we’ve missed a few. If you know of one that’s not on this list, post it in the comments.

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