Every year on the first weekend of May, downtown Baltimore's streets bustle as tens of thousands of moviegoers visit local theaters to watch films shot, directed, and edited around the globe. The Maryland Film Festival, like a freakish hurdle sprinter, runs for five days and showcases about 50 feature films and 75 short pieces—ranging from documentaries to animations—many of which are presented by their respective filmmakers or celebrity guest hosts. Past hosts have included Ian MacKaye and Branford Marsalis, and legendary filmmaker John Waters regularly makes an appearance at the festival, hosting a feature film of his choice. Attendees may also stimulate and expand their sensory palates with special events that have included international flicks, three-dimensional movies, and vintage silent films synced to live music.
Forty varieties of bourbon and 60 beer draughts flow freely from taps into souvenir glasses, slaking thirsty throats with unlimited sips as guests tear through smoky meat concoctions at the Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival's tasting stations. Once stuffed with ribs, brisket, and sausage, attendees can retire to the tasting theater to take in a seminar from pit masters and gourmet chefs on preparing fine barbecue or brewing stellar bourbon. Live rock, blues, and bluegrass bands set the airwaves quivering from the main stage with wailing tunes or announcements drawn in barbecue sauce. A cigar tent provides a smoky haven for puffing on fine tobacco products, and big-screen TVs beam the latest sports action directly into eyeballs.
Attracting more than 170,000 art enthusiasts to its events in 2011, the Sugarloaf Crafts Festival showcases original work from hundreds of artisans showcasing everything from handcrafted pottery, sculpture, and metalwork to jewelry, fashion, décor, and photography. Audiences can witness art being made live during educational demonstrations as artisans sculpt clay, whittle wood, forge metals, and imbue baskets with the power of speech. Hungry crafters can also sniff out specialty food items to sample or purchase while dancing across the sprawling venue to live music.