Friday, October 4, 2013

A Trip to the Baltimore Book Festival 2013

Baltimore Book Festival Entrance
This past weekend, Erica and I (along with friends Kelly, Sam, Sarah, Michael, and Nolina at various points) hung out for a bit at the 2013 Baltimore Book Festival. Despite living here for four years, this was my first time going, because honestly, I was usually too busy.

I made the time this year, and I am glad I did. It's really awesome to see a city like Baltimore, which has quite a few issues when it comes to its priorities, come together to celebrate the act of reading of all kinds.

And that was the thing I liked about this festival--whether it was romances, kids books, anarchy, or even cook books--the focus was on the printed/digital word. Even the vendors were primarily focused on books, with plenty of opportunities to grab used or new books for cheap, try out a indie author looking to break out into the next big thing, or even subscribe to a newspaper. Comics were sorted out into their own area, which is either good or bad, depending on your outlook, and of course the Pratt Library was out in full force, doing their "get carded" program.

The Short Fiction in Sci Fi Panel
Because of the variety, it seemed like the festival was serving a huge proportion of the Baltimore reading community, and I was pleased to see that it was a multi-racial affair. In fact, being blunt, it's about the most integrated I've ever seen Baltimore. (Readers are cool that way.) While walking around, I saw the tents containing the programming full to the brim almost everywhere, with the biggest crowds for the Romance and Science Fiction folks. (Fans of genres are nothing if not passionate.)

While I personally did not do a lot of panel-sitting--I'm notoriously bad at this if there's things to look at (see my visits to comic cons over at Panel Patter)--my friends did, and they came away very impressed with the quality of the presentations. One told me she'd learned a lot and was going to start putting certain ideas she got at the show into immediate practice to improve her writing craft. I realize I'm a bit biased because of the moderator, but Sarah Pinsker did another spectacular job running the short fiction panel, picking good questions and keeping all members of the panel on task and involved.

The Baltimore Science Fiction Society
I also appreciate that there's always a place for the more radical side of Baltimore to speak at the show, though I missed their stuff this time around. Another booth had a person talking frankly of the race issues in Baltimore and his experiences, which I thought was great.

For various reasons due mostly to jet lag, I didn't spend as much time at the Festival as I might have normally, but what I saw I thought was well run, with few hiccups or annoyances. The number of cops did give me pause (did they think there'd be a book riot or something?) and they need to turn the music down at the bandstand, but otherwise, I would recommend this little outdoor con without hesitation. It's free, pretty easy to get to by Baltimore transportation, and even worth the drive if you're just outside the area.

This will almost certainly be my own trip to the Baltimore Book Festival, but it was a good one, and I hope it continues for many years to come.

You can find a complete set of my pictures from the Baltimore Book Festival 2013 here.

No comments:

Post a Comment