Last year, Mayor Catherine Pugh was catching flak for cutting AFRAM back from a two-day downtown event attracting crowds of over 200,000 to a low-key, one-day affair at Druid Hill Park featuring local acts.
This year, after restoring Baltimore’s annual celebration of African American arts, music and culture as a two-day event, Pugh has been promoting it enthusiastically.
And today, to kick off AFRAM 2018, Pugh was in Druid Hill Park walking with a marching bands and waving to the crowd.
“I’ll give it a chance. I like the shade, compared to down at the stadium, and I think the music is going to be better this year,” said Sheryl Simpson, of East Baltimore, who was strolling up to the festival midway with her 13 and 15-year-old daughters.
Simpson said she was looking forward to this year’s headliner, British R&B singer Ella Mai.
Other scheduled performers include Carl Thomas and Jacquees today and, tomorrow, Dru Hill, Vashawn Mitchell and Baltimore’s own “The Voice” finalist (and city youth-arts consultant) Davon Fleming.
As in the past, the celebration includes arts and kids’ activities, as well as exhibits on financial literacy, employment, job training, health and wellness and more.
DETAILS: Runs today until 8 p.m., tomorrow from 12 noon to 6 p.m. in Druid Hill Park, 3001 East Drive. FREE. aframbaltimore.com.
What Happened to the Lake?
Some festival-goers were startled today at the bedraggled appearance of Druid Lake.
“What are they doing to the lake?” asked Simpson said, looking down at the half-drained west end, a muddy landscape of pumps, construction equipment and rock piles.
The short answer is: installing covered water tanks to comply with federal regulations meant to safeguard the reservoir from environmental contamination and other threats.
The project, scheduled for completion by the end of 2021, will result in a significantly smaller Druid Lake to be maintained by the city for recreational purposes.
But the project has been mired in trouble since last fall, including the discovery that fine particulates were migrating across a “turbidity curtain” and into the reservoir drinking water at the east end of the lake.
As a result, consultants working on the project for the Department of Public Works had to take the reservoir “offline” in January.
Problems at the Druid Lake project only escalated when inspectors from the Maryland Department of the Environment discovered that highly chlorinated water was being dumped into the Jones Falls.