First Sunday Arts Fest

Artists close off the brick streets of Annapolis on the first Sunday of every month for a celebration of crafts, live music and fine dining. The best part of this festival is that it takes on a different theme each month, culminating the year with a holiday spin in November and a chocolate celebration in December.

Julia and I recently experienced the Fall Arts Festival in October. My dad (who assiduously tracks my movements on google) called me as we were heading down.

“So, you’re heading to Annapolis today?”

“Yup”

“Sounds good! The only thing I worry about is the parking. You know it’s the power boat festival this weekend?”

And so it was, but we found plenty of parking (free!) at the Whitmore Garage, which is at the epicenter of the arts festival. Even with a late morning (11a) arrival.

We began by browsing the crafts along Calvert street. There were many beautiful paintings and sculptures that I considered buying, but this was her day, so we bought a cupcake-shaped $7 bath bomb instead.

Along the way, we spotted a face-painter ($12), who gave Julia her first dose of lipstick (ack!)

She must have sensed my consternation, because she said, “Daddy, you think I’m beautiful with no makeup on my face. But you’re ok with me getting a little makeup, right?”

I told her that was all true, and it was definitely ok with me if she was having fun.

After all the art, Julia was feeling a bit peckish, so we strolled down Main street looking for a place to eat. Julia wanted Oysters (which, bless her soul, she still calls ‘moistures’) so we settled on McGarvey’s Saloon and Oyster Bar, a family-friendly pub right off Ego Alley on the waterfront.

As is so often the case, the lipstick began to fade as the day wore on.

Beyond the freshest oysters I’ve had in a long while, they also had excellent beer (for me) and a Shirley Temple for my favorite First Grader. To the infinite credit of this place, they honored her request to sit at the bar with the sailors.

At one point, she asked about the flight helmets over the bar, and I used that opportunity to tell her about the many famous woman fighter pilots and astronauts who have graduated from the USNA.

The best thing about Annapolis is the historical beauty tucked just behind the curtain of the tourist shops. Although the power boat show did leave Main Street packed, we found the next street over to be so completely abandoned that we were able to walk right down the middle of the road.

Julia and I eventually wended our way back to the Arts Festival (where we experienced more great food and music), via the former grounds of the US Capitol (now the Maryland State House).

Julia was enamored with the winding brick paths and gardens at the heart of this magnificent city.

Although ostensibly a celebration of art and culture, I think Julia was most impressed by Annapolis’ long history of heroes — men and women — who have stood up to defend our great democracy for the past three centuries.

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