Arts District

Ten Things Not to Miss at This Year’s Baltimore Book Festival

There will be more than 100 exhibitors, live concerts, and cooking demos by top chefs.

Every fall, bibliophiles from all around Maryland flock to the Inner Harbor to experience the annual Baltimore Book Festival presented by the Baltimore Office of Promotion and Arts (BoPA). On September 28-30 there will be more than 100 exhibitors, local authors, and live music along the mile-long stretch of the Inner Harbor.

“We have a really amazing schedule this year,” said book festival organizer Kathy Hornig. “Some years you luck out and things come together in a really cool and special way, and I really think this is one of those years—people are just going to be blown away.”

It can be hard to get in everything in just one weekend, so here’s a list of the must-do and see things at this year’s festival:

The Storybook Parade kicks things off.
The festival wouldn’t be the same without its annual storybook parade. Beginning Saturday morning at 11 a.m. at Rash Field, the parade will feature attendees dressed up as their favorite storybook character marching to the World Trade Center in celebration of literacy. Actors from the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company will also be in attendance dressed as characters from famous plays written by The Bard.

April Ryan chats it up with Bill Whitaker from 60 Minutes.
The Baltimore-born White House correspondent has a unique story to tell as the only black, female reporter in her new book, Under Fire: Reporting from the Front Lines of the Trump White House. She has also authored award-winning books The Presidency in Black and White and At Mama’s Knee: Mothers and Race in Black and White. She will be joined by Bill Whitaker of 60 Minutes to discuss her recent book and the current atmosphere in the White House. “With all the beef and back and forth with Omarosa [Manigault Newman] this summer, it will definitely make for a lively conversation,” Hornig said.

Local chefs whip up dishes in the Food for Thought Demo Kitchen.
Each day of the festival will feature cooking demos from local chefs recreating some of their most popular dishes. On Saturday, chef and co-owner of Gertrude’s Chesapeake Kitchen John Shields will be taking over the stage to debut his new cookbook, The New Chesapeake Kitchen while bringing along a few of his friends to perform some demos as well.

Hosts of Lit!Pop!Bang! record a live podcast.
The Baltimore-based podcast hosted by writers and educators Anthony Moll and CeCe will be recording live from the CityLit stage. The duo discusses everything from what they’re reading now to the latest in pop culture to what literary figure they would have dinner with. During the live episode, they will talk with 2018 Baltimore Youth Poet Laureate Maren Wright-Kerr and 2018 HyperBole Youth Poetry Slam champion Ailish Hopper about racism and intersectional identity.

There will be plenty of books to buy, of course.
With more than 100 exhibitor and author tents lining the promenade where festival-goers can buy any type of book imaginable, the festival’s selection is endless: romance, novels, biography, historical fiction, sci-fi, and more. “One thing that we’re really proud of here is that book festival is not one of those events where folks get to and go, ‘Where are the books?’” Hornig said.

Local food vendors provide day-of grub.
“We’re a literary feast with gourmet eats,” Hornig said of the book festival. Buying books can definitely work up an appetite, so pull up a seat and grab a bite while checking out your latest purchases. Vendors include Crepe, Ekiben, Smokin’ Joe’s, Farm To Face, and Zeke’s Coffee. Charm City Pops, a gourmet ice cream pop company, will also be there to provide the “fruit” for the new Baltimore Book Festival’s signature sangria. “The sales from the bar are one of the ways in which we earn revenue to keep the festival free and open to the public,” Hornig said. “You can enjoy a glass of sangria or a beer and be doing good at the same time.”

Get a birds-eye view atop the World Trade Center.
For the entire weekend, the Top of the World Observation level will be free and open to the public to take in the sweeping views of Downtown Baltimore. As part of this experience, Pets on Wheels will be providing therapy dogs and cats that will sit and listen to children reading them their favorite books.

Students from the University Writers’ Program read their work.
Now in its fourth year, the program features the next generation of poets, memoirists, and fiction writers from ten area schools—Coppin, Goucher, Johns Hopkins, Loyola, MICA, Morgan, Stevenson, Towson, the University of Baltimore, and UMBC—showcasing their talents in this creative writing program.

Hear about a compelling murder case from Tim Junkin.
Author and attorney Tim Junkin wrote a book, Bloodsworth, about the true story of Kirk Bloodsworth’s exoneration—based on DNA evidence—after being sentenced to the gas chamber and spending nine years on death row. Attendees will get a chance to be a part of the conversation between Junkin and the subject of his story in this unique event.

Listen to tunes at the Baltimore Book Festival Music Stage.
Not all who flock to the festival are avid readers so that’s where the music stage comes in handy. With lineups including Baltimore City Public School students, The Shrapnels, Joi Carter, Super City, and Outcalls, there’s something for everyone all weekend long.