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I went to the German Festival for the first time in three years. I almost missed it until I saw an ad for it on Saturday (which was the first day of the festival). I decided to go on the second and final day on the spur of the moment after I went to church that morning.

The German Festival ran the same weekend as Artscape but I was lured to the former by the fact that it was held indoors in an air conditioned building. (There was a massive heatwave that had been blanketing the area for at least two weeks.) Besides I still have less-than-fond memories of my last attendance at Artscape when I met two people from my childhood in Glen Burnie whom I did not want a reunion with.

I drove to the light rail stop in North Linthicum then took the light rail all the way to the Maryland State Fairgrounds. It started to rain the minute I got off the light rail but I brought an umbrella with me so it was no big deal. (It was another reason why I’m glad I didn’t choose to go to Artscape this year.) There were practically no lines so it was no big deal getting inside. It was basically a nice event with many of the same vendors as my last attendance in 2014. I ate sauerbraten with noodles for lunch followed by a slice of black forest cake. Before I left I purchased two freshly baked cinnamon sticks to eat later. I also took a few pictures, which you can see below.

German Festival

German Festival

German Festival

German Festival

German Festival

German Festival

German Festival

German Festival

German Festival

German Festival

German Festival

German Festival

German Festival

German Festival

German Festival

German Festival

German Festival

Last Saturday I decided to attend the annual German Festival at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland for the second year in a row. Last year I attended the first such festival in a number of years and everything seemed new and novel for me. I returned this year only to find that it’s pretty much the same. There were maybe a new vendor or two but, otherwise, it was pretty much the same as last year. I still enjoyed myself despite this and I took a bunch of photos with my smartphone.

When I first arrived, I saw a long line forming outside the building, which was unlike last year (when I basically only had maybe two or three people ahead of me. I was behind this young woman who was in cosplay garb and she looked more like she was on her way to Otakon (the annual anime convention which will be held in Baltimore next month). We were all in the sun with the temperature reaching the high 80’s.

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

But then we were directed to stand closer to the building in the shade, which was a bit of a relief. Eventually the lines started to move a bit faster. I later learned that there was only one person at the door taking money and the festival organizers had to quickly find more people to staff the entrance. In any case, I still remained behind the cosplayer with the pink wig and the Pokémon backpack.

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

When I got inside the first thing I did was to use the women’s bathroom. I went inside the handicapped stall (which I tend to use a lot these days since my original hip replacement back in 2008) where I found two toilets sharing the same stall with no wall between them. I thought it was pretty strange.

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

Here’s a panoramic shot of the entire festival to give you an idea of its size.

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

There were people of all ages dressed in traditional German outfits along with German dancers (at one point there was even a group of dancers demonstrating the Funky Chicken complete with hand gestures) and people playing traditional German instruments.

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

I arrived late enough in the afternoon that I was able to eat an early dinner. I treated myself to a pork schnitzel sandwich followed by a giant pretzel. For dessert, I ate this Black Forest Cake slice.

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

I walked around the festival but I didn’t buy much because money is still too tight for me. There was a new vendor this year who sold some treats that combined chocolate and bacon. I was too broke to buy anything from that table and even if I had the money, I’m not sure I would have the guts to try something like this.

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

There was also this booth that sold treats that I wouldn’t even try even if I could afford them, such as Fried Twinkies and Fried Moon Pies.

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

I have to admit that the vast majority of the food that was on sale was pretty normal and a lot of it looked very tasty.

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

Basically when I wasn’t watching the musicians and dancers, I was walking around the festival looking at the various arts and craft tables as well as information tables regarding the various German-American organizations throughout the Washington, DC area.

 

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

 

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

After a while I grew tired and I decided to leave. On the way out I noticed this rock climbing wall outside the hall where the festival was held. It was one of the children’s activities that was part of the festival yet I didn’t see anyone using it. I think it’s due to the fact that it was hot outside with the temperature in the high 80’s.

German-American Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, July 26, 2014

When I was growing up outside of Baltimore, I can remember a time when many ethnic groups used to have festivals in Rash Field, located in the Inner Harbor throughout the spring, summer, and fall. That was in the days before Harborplace opened in 1980. There were German Festivals, Italian Festivals, Polish Festivals, Irish Festivals, Lithuanian Festivals, Jewish Festivals, African American Festivals, etc. I can remember when I used to go to many of these festivals with my family while I was growing up. The admission was free, there was a lot of entertainment for people of all ages, there were all kinds of food and crafts on sale.

Even after Harborplace opened, the ethnic festivals used to continue in Rash Field. Many people used to go to the festivals then head to Harborplace to cool off (especially on hot and humid days). But when an indoor complex known as Festival Hall opened in the Inner Harbor, many of those festivals shifted to that building. Festival Hall was air conditioned so it was an improvement over Rash Field. I still remember soon after I was married when my husband and I went to the Irish Festival that was held in Festival Hall and we met up with my parents there.

When the Baltimore Convention Center decided to double its original space, Festival Hall was torn down to accomodate the expansion. On top of it, the city of Baltimore began to charge fees for public events like ethnic festivals, so many of them migrated out of Baltimore. I was sad when this happened because the ethic festivals were pretty fun to attend.

Recently I was driving to Lutherville-Timonium. My plan was to go to Sea Breeze Pet Center, where I originally got my pet hedgehog, pick up some food for Spike, then drive south on I-83 to Baltimore so I could drop off my artwork that would be on display in the currently running Station North Arts District Salon Show.

I was pretty disappointed when I saw that Sea Breeze had gone out of business. At that point I decided to head on to Baltimore. I drove past the Maryland State Fairgrounds when I saw a giant banner advertising the German Festival that was being held that weekend starting the following day (Saturday). I began to kick myself for not waiting until the next day to make the trip (the art show also had hours on Saturday where people can drop off their art) where I could’ve been so disappointed about Sea Breeze’s closing that I would’ve decided to make the short drive to the German Festival, stay there for about an hour or two, then go to Baltimore.

The next day I woke up and I began to think about that German Festival banner I saw the day before. I remember my fond memories of attending the German Festival when it was held in Rash Field and it would be a rare opportunity for me to eat German food and revel in German culture. (That’s because I live in an area where Salvadoran, Peruvian, Mexican, Japanese, Korean, Italian and Chinese restaurants are more prevalent.) The downside would be that I would be making another long car commute to the Timonium area for the second day in a row. Despite that downside, I decided to go for it because it has been a long time since I ate anything at a German restaurant and it has been several years since I last attended the German Festival when it was still held in Baltimore.

Besides, I had one great-grandfather, Wilhelm Karle, who immigrated to Baltimore from what was then the German region of Alsace-Lorraine (which is now part of France).

Here’s the building on Maryland State Fairgrounds where the German Festival was held.

German Festival, Timonium, Maryland, July 27, 2013

The rest of the photos show all the aspects of the German Festival. There was plenty of German beer and wine to choose from. There was prepared German food for eating at the festival or for takeout. (I even took a photo of this slice of Black Forest cake that I purchased for myself). There was packaged German food for future meals and snacks. There was German music and dancing. There were information tables about the German American Associations in Maryland. There were German crafts. There were also Polish-style ceramic cookware and Russian matryoshka dolls. There was even a Punch & Judy puppet show for children. I managed to stay around for a few hours and enjoy myself.

German Festival, Timonium, Maryland, July 27, 2013

German Festival, Timonium, Maryland, July 27, 2013

German Festival, Timonium, Maryland, July 27, 2013

German Festival, Timonium, Maryland, July 27, 2013

German Festival, Timonium, Maryland, July 27, 2013

German Festival, Timonium, Maryland, July 27, 2013

German Festival, Timonium, Maryland, July 27, 2013

German Festival, Timonium, Maryland, July 27, 2013

German Festival, Timonium, Maryland, July 27, 2013

German Festival, Timonium, Maryland, July 27, 2013

German Festival, Timonium, Maryland, July 27, 2013

German Festival, Timonium, Maryland, July 27, 2013

German Festival, Timonium, Maryland, July 27, 2013

German Festival, Timonium, Maryland, July 27, 2013

German Festival, Timonium, Maryland, July 27, 2013

German Festival, Timonium, Maryland, July 27, 2013

German Festival, Timonium, Maryland, July 27, 2013

German Festival, Timonium, Maryland, July 27, 2013

German Festival, Timonium, Maryland, July 27, 2013

German Festival, Timonium, Maryland, July 27, 2013

German Festival, Timonium, Maryland, July 27, 2013

German Festival, Timonium, Maryland, July 27, 2013

German Festival, Timonium, Maryland, July 27, 2013

German Festival, Timonium, Maryland, July 27, 2013

German Festival, Timonium, Maryland, July 27, 2013

German Festival, Timonium, Maryland, July 27, 2013

German Festival, Timonium, Maryland, July 27, 2013

Ramadan

A few weeks ago I took part in the Baltimore chapter of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School that was held at The Wind-Up Space. During the evening, the hostess announced this upcoming multi-venue art show that was taking place in the Station North Arts District and The Wind-Up Space was among the participating venues. Basically it was an open non-juried show and the only criteria is that 1) one had to live in the Baltimore area and 2) each participant was limited to a maximum of four submissions.

I decided to take part. At the same time I noticed that my pet hedgehog Spike was starting to run low on his Pretty Pets food. Even though, for the last few months, I’ve been getting Spike’s food at Today’s Pet because the commute was shorter from my home, this time I decided to make the longer commute to the pet store where I originally purchased Spike from: Sea Breeze Pet Center located in Lutherville-Timonium.

I’ll admit that on January 29, 2012 I wasn’t fully right in the head when I first got Spike mainly because my husband had abruptly walked out on me the month before (just three days after Christmas) without even indicating that he was unhappy in our marriage. I got Spike the same day that I received devastating news from friends that they saw my husband with another woman whom I thought was a friend of mine (but I guessed wrong on that "friend" part) and she’s also the same friend who has serious mental health issues.

I did a lot of driving in the hours following that revelation. I ended up driving from the Washington, DC area to the Baltimore Beltway until I ended up in the Lutherville-Timonium area and I visited Sea Breeze. I found that it was a local family-owned pet store that had been in business since 1968. I also became smitten by the store’s latest arrival of pet hedgehogs and, well, you can guess the rest.

Even though Spike came with a hedgehog starter kit that included hedgehog food, I didn’t give much thought about the fact that I would have to replenish Spike’s food supply mainly because I was such a nervous wreck from the drama that was swirling around me that I temporarily lost the ability to think rationally about the long-term of being the owner of an exotic pet like a hedgehog. When Spike started to run low on food, I went to the big box pet stores in my area (Petco and PetSmart) since there were no locally owned pet stores in my immediate area and I found that the stores didn’t stock the food that Spike ate. So I had to make the hour-long commute to Sea Breeze where I made a habit of buying Spike’s food in bulk so I wouldn’t have to make such a long commute very often.

In time I learned that Today’s Pet also stocks the food that Spike ate and since that store was only a half-an-hour’s drive from my home, I began to go there instead and I only went to Sea Breeze if 1) Today’s Pet was out of stock on hedgehog food or 2) I was going to be in the vicinity of Sea Breeze for a different reason and I figured that I might as well go there for Spike’s food since I was going to be in the area anyway.

There were times when I went to Sea Breeze on the way to going to the Baltimore Dr. Sketchy’s event mainly because it was a short 20-minute drive down I-83 from the store to The Wind-Up Space. So on the day I made the submissions to the Station North Arts District show, I decided to go to Sea Breeze first to get Spike’s food then drive to Baltimore to submit my art. I arrived at the shopping center only to see that the front windows were mostly covered with brown paper yet the store still had the Sea Breeze sign up plus a smaller sign on the door that listed the store’s opening hours.

Sea Breeze Pet Center After Closure
Sea Breeze Pet Center After Closure

At first I thought that it was one of those instances where the store is remodeling yet it remained opened to the public while it undergoes its makeover but then I tried the door and I saw that it was locked. I peeked into the door and saw that the whole space was not only emptied of everything but the walls and the ceiling looked like they were completely stripped of paint and tile.

Sea Breeze Pet Center After Closure

I wasn’t sure if Sea Breeze was temporarily closed while it went through a radical remodeling or if the store had shut down for good. A day later I looked online and saw that its website was still up and running like there was nothing wrong. I called the number listed on the site only to get one of those recorded voice messages from the phone company announcing that the number was no longer in service. I tried searching online for any clues as to what caused Sea Breeze to close its door for good after being in business for 45 years and the closest I got was this one negative review on Yelp.com from someone who claimed that she visited this store on the last day before it closed for good and she received poor service from the staff.

I can’t verify if this person was telling the truth or if she was just an Internet troll with too much time on her hands. (After all, why bother with writing a negative Yelp.com review about a store that had gone out of business within days of that store closing its doors for good?) All I can say is that my direct experiences with the staff of Sea Breeze have always been positive ones. The first few months after I got Spike (when I went to Sea Breeze more often), the red-haired woman who usually worked the cash register whenever I was there would ask me how my hedgehog was doing as I was purchasing his food. When I once mentioned to that woman about Spike’s nasty habit of using his exercise wheel for both its intended purpose and as a toilet, she told me that she noticed that the hedgehogs in the store typically do the same thing when they are on the exercise wheel.

The last time I visited Sea Breeze before it closed was back in June and that was when I was trying to get some Ultra-Bites Fruit & Veggie Treats for Spike. Today’s Pet was out of Ultra-Bites and when I went to Sea Breeze, it was the same red-haired female employee who told me that the company had discontinued manufacturing Ultra-Bites. She helpfully found a substitute fruit/veggie side treat that was originally made for chinchillas and Spike seemed to do okay with the substitute. It was during that visit when I saw this sign outside announcing the recent arrival of new baby hedgehogs and they were available for sale. I took two photos of the babies with my smartphone because they looked so tiny and cute.

baby hedgehogs
baby hedgehogs

Now that Sea Breeze is closed, my only non-Internet option for getting hedgehog food is Today’s Pet. At least that store happens to be the one that’s closer to my home so it’s not quite as bad a hardship as it could’ve been had Today’s Pet been the one that closed and making the hour-long one-way commute to Sea Breeze was my only non-Internet choice. But I feel a bit sad for Sea Breeze’s demise mainly because that’s the place where I got Spike from and the place is now history. 😦

So I was a bit annoyed and pissed over having made the long trip to Lutherville-Timonium for nothing so I got back in the car. I drove past the Maryland State Fairgrounds and saw a large banner for a German Festival that was starting the following day and I began to kick myself because had I waited a day I could’ve gone there right after being disappointed over Sea Breeze’s closure. In any case, I made the 20-minute commute down I-83 to the Station North Arts District in Baltimore.

I made the rare appearance in that area in daylight and, for once, I arrived there without stepping one foot inside The Wind-Up Space. Usually I would go to the area to attend a Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School event at The Wind-Up space and I would be there right at the time when it was twilight. The last time I was in the area in daytime was when I attended Artspace last year. (I didn’t go to this year’s Artspace mainly because it happened while the entire Baltimore-Washington, DC area was still blanketed in this nasty heat wave that included high humidity. The heatwave broke after Artscape ended.)

The North Station Arts District is a mix with the Maryland Institute College of Art overlooking abandoned buildings, art murals painted on some of these abandoned buildings, and newer businesses trying to make a go at helping to revitalize that area. Here are my photos of that area that I took on the way to and from dropping off my artwork.

Station North Arts District, Baltimore, Maryland,  July 26, 2013
Station North Arts District, Baltimore, Maryland,  July 26, 2013
Station North Arts District, Baltimore, Maryland,  July 26, 2013
Station North Arts District, Baltimore, Maryland,  July 26, 2013
Station North Arts District, Baltimore, Maryland,  July 26, 2013
Station North Arts District, Baltimore, Maryland,  July 26, 2013
Station North Arts District, Baltimore, Maryland,  July 26, 2013
Station North Arts District, Baltimore, Maryland,  July 26, 2013
Station North Arts District, Baltimore, Maryland,  July 26, 2013
Station North Arts District, Baltimore, Maryland,  July 26, 2013
Station North Arts District, Baltimore, Maryland,  July 26, 2013
Station North Arts District, Baltimore, Maryland,  July 26, 2013
Station North Arts District, Baltimore, Maryland,  July 26, 2013
Station North Arts District, Baltimore, Maryland,  July 26, 2013
Station North Arts District, Baltimore, Maryland,  July 26, 2013
Station North Arts District, Baltimore, Maryland,  July 26, 2013
Station North Arts District, Baltimore, Maryland,  July 26, 2013
Station North Arts District, Baltimore, Maryland,  July 26, 2013
Station North Arts District, Baltimore, Maryland,  July 26, 2013
Station North Arts District, Baltimore, Maryland,  July 26, 2013
Station North Arts District, Baltimore, Maryland,  July 26, 2013
Station North Arts District, Baltimore, Maryland,  July 26, 2013
Station North Arts District, Baltimore, Maryland,  July 26, 2013
Station North Arts District, Baltimore, Maryland,  July 26, 2013
Station North Arts District, Baltimore, Maryland,  July 26, 2013

As for the art show itself, it’s being spread over several different venues located throughout the Station North Arts District but the Single Carrot Theater was the centralized location where all the art was submitted. The theater itself had this interesting wall mural that included this quote from artist Paul Cezanne from which the theater got its name.

Paul Cezanne Quote in the Single Carrot Theater, Baltimore, Maryland

The main focal point of the Station North Arts District is the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). My late grandmother on my father’s side of the family actually attended that school for a few years although I’m not even sure if she ever graduated from there. (She was then known as Grace Evans when she was a student.) Here’s the strange part. I didn’t know that my grandmother attended that school until a few years after her death. She never once mentioned to me that she attended that school while I was growing up, not even when I used to visit her and I would show off my latest drawings that I did during those visits. She didn’t seem very encouraging of my artistic talent and she sided with my mother on her insistence that I take two years of typing in high school instead of taking more art and music electives (like I wanted to). I only learned about my grandmother’s earlier life when my mother mentioned it a few months after my father died in 2000 because, after all those years, my mother finally came to the realization that I would benefit from taking some art classes and I could pursue art as a hobby and she encouraged me to do so. My grandmother and parents didn’t say a word to me about my grandmother’s art school days while both my grandmother and my father were still alive and, to this day, I don’t know why that was kept a secret from me. (My only theory is that maybe my grandmother didn’t like that school and she hated it so much that she dropped out and refused to even discuss it.) I have to admit that, from the outside, MICA looks more like an industrial revolution-era factory than an institution of higher learning.

Maryland Institute College of Art
Maryland Institute College of Art

The Station North Arts District is a cross between small thriving bars, restaurants, art galleries, and nightclubs co-existing alongside boarded up buildings and MICA. One minute you see a boarded-up and decrepit building that looks like it had seen better days while the next minute you see something that leads you to believe that the area is trying to emerge as a viable area.

Station North Arts District, Baltimore, Maryland,  July 26, 2013
Station North Arts District, Baltimore, Maryland,  July 26, 2013
Station North Arts District, Baltimore, Maryland,  July 26, 2013

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