Story: Jalisa Hill
Multimedia: Brittany Twyman
About 450,000 people attended the annual Fell’s Point Fun Festival on Oct. 6 and 7, according to Ellen von Karajan, Executive Director of The Preservation Society.
On Sunday it was cold and raining, so attendance was lower than The Preservation Society had hoped for, but several Preservation Society volunteers could be seen taking donations at the festival.
“There’s probably 20 volunteers out here every hour collecting donations because we helped put this on,” Preservation Society volunteer Lisa Willis said. “We’re here trying to make sure the festival goes well.”
The Preservation Society is a non-profit organization who held the first Fell’s Point Fun Festival in 1966. The Society was established to stop the extension of I-95 across the Inner Harbor which would diminish Federal Hill and Fell’s Point Communities and block the development of the Inner Harbor.
After a ten year effort to prevent the road extension, The Preservation Society successfully seized the proposal. Fell’s Point was listed as a National Register Historic District in 1969, making Fell’s Point the second historic district in the United States.
The Preservation Society continues to have Fell’s Point listed in the National Register Historic District each year. The festival seeks to highlight the fun and importance of Fell’s Point’s preservation.
“The main purpose of the festival is to celebrate Fell’s Point as a unique waterfront community rich in history in a way that is enjoyable for families,” von Karajan said. “The Fell’s Point Fun Festival also provides 85 percent of The Preservation Society’s operating budget.”
The festival has brought a lot of revenue in for the organization as well as for local artists and vendors.
“This is the first show I did five years ago and I always do well here, “ photographer, Tom Snyder said. “It’s a fun show to do. [There’s] a lot of Baltimoreans here.”
Many people come to the festival for the entertainment and food while others come with plans to buy new items.
“I like it because it’s a good variety of higher price things that are nice but you can also get something that’s inexpensive that’s cute and different,” Angela Lansioni said as she admired a bracelet in a jewelry tent.
Some people have been coming to the festival for years. Many people create lasting memories at the festival.
“People now married tell us again and again that they either met at the Fell’s Point Fun Festival or were proposed to here,” von Karajan said.
In addition to memories, the festival also offers unique pieces, such as bracelets made from nuts and bolts, or elegant vases made from recycled materials, and a variety of artwork.
It caters to different ages and ethnicities within the community. One area consists of rides and games for children. Another area has Latin music vibrating through the speakers and several Latin food vendors in attendance. Another area consist of local ballroom dancers and American food vendors selling hot dogs, Philly cheese steaks and pretzels.
“We had some new things at the festival like a Brewfest-Funfest on Friday night in Broadway Square with many craft brewers in attendance,” von Karajan said. “We had the Food Truck Rally and [the] Jumbotron for the big games in the Big Beer Garden on Sunday. We also added a Bucket Brigade to solicit donations for Fell’s Point’s historic buildings.”
The festival continues to be successful each year. It helps bring in more business for Fell’s Point bars and restaurants, most are usually at full capacity during the festival, according to von Karajan. Some residents, employees, and customers are inconvenienced by the lack of available parking during the festival but people manage for the weekend.
“Our clean-up staff tries to leave Fell’s Point looking cleaner after the Fell’s Point Fun Festival than before,” von Karajan said. “Every effort is made to have minimum negative effect on residents and businesses.”
If the extension of I-95 had taken place, there would not be a Fell’s Point Fun Festival and more importantly the fun historic community of Fell’s Point would no longer exist.