When thinking about summer festivals in Baltimore, most probably visualize toilet bowls racing down The Avenue at Hampdenfest, or children sucking lemon peppermint sticks at FlowerMart in Mt. Vernon. These community events have become time-honored traditions in neighborhoods all across the city. And now, Remington is following suit by launching its own annual summer soiree.
“The more we thought about it, we were really the last neighborhood in Central Baltimore that didn’t have its own festival,” says Greater Remington Improvement Association (GRIA) board member Peter Morrill, who has lived in the community for the past six years. “Hampden has two of them, Charles Village does their thing, and now Pride has moved to Old Goucher. Everyone’s got one except us.”
To celebrate the area’s rich history and bright future, the GRIA is partnering with many of Remington’s small businesses to host Remfest on Saturday, May 12 from 12-9 p.m. The community’s first-ever large-scale festival will feature local music, food, beer, and street vendors set up from 27th to 29th streets along Remington Avenue.
Morrill says that 2018 is a great year to host the inaugural event—not only because of the various developments in the neighborhood over the past two years (including food hall R. House and the Remington Row apartment building), but also because this year marks the centennial of some of the area’s most celebrated properties. A portion of 27th Street, as well as the 2800 block of Howard Street, were built by a developer named E.J. Gallagher starting in the summer of 1917. The buildings later sold in the spring and following summer of 1918.
“Initially, I just wanted to do a centennial block party for our neighbors,” Morrill says. “But then I started thinking about all of the new things popping up and all of the huge changes. It’s interesting—we have all of these 100-year-old buildings and one-and-a-half-year-old buildings all right next to each other.”
Though details are still in the works, many local businesses have been pitching in during the planning stages of the festival. For example, Liz Vayda, who opened her indoor plants shop B. Willow on 27th Street last year, has been organizing all of the vendor applications. And the team from the Ottobar, which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary on North Howard Street, has booked the music lineup. Featured performers will include art rock quintet Surf Harp, soul singer Joy Postell, new wave rockers PLRLS, indie-pop group Raindeer, and more.
Festival-goers can also expect food from neighborhood eateries like Charmington’s, R. House, and The Dizz. Beer will be provided by Union Craft Brewing.
“We’ve been trying to get as many of our neighbors who make things and do cool things to get involved with it,” Morrill says. “Our biggest focus is keeping it local. It will be fun to get everybody to come out whether they’ve been here for a long time, or they just moved in.”
As the population continues to grow in Remington, the GRIA is persisting with its various initiatives including facade-improvement programs, working to rezone the area’s corner stores for commercial use, and promoting a master plan that supports inclusionary housing. Though the association has hosted smaller block parties in the past, Morrill says that, given all of the improvements, it “feels like the right time” to upgrade to a larger event.
“We’re really lucky to have some of the most motivated people in the city here getting things done,” he says. “It’s going to be a great event to talk about all of the work we’ve been doing and get excited about what’s to come.”