"Ela Moré, It's Just Baltimore..."
July 5, 2005
Over the past few weeks, we’ve had occasion to make it up to Baltimore for a few Greek events, which is the most we’d been to in more than a year. The relationship between the DC and Baltimore Greek communities has always been an interesting one, with the traffic primarily, if not paradoxically, flowing from Baltimore to DC for most events. This is surprising if only for the fact that Baltimore has a Greektown and DC doesn’t. A Greektown is supposed to easily provide the two things that you need to make a successful Greek event – people and venues.
Baltimore Greeks travel as well if not better than any other group of young adults. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Greek Night on a Saturday or a Third Thursday, they’ll drive the hour it takes to get down here. At national events, like Clearwater, there will typically be more people from Baltimore than from DC. And the contribution that Baltimore has made both in helping organize and attending the DC YAL Weekend has been invaluable. (Let’s not forget the fantastic job that Baltimore did in hosting the National YAL Convention in 2003.) But when it comes to everyday sorts of events in Baltimore itself, folks from DC rarely return the favor and in some instances Baltimore Greeks themselves won’t even support them.
Last month we went to the Friday night of St. Nicholas’ Greek Festival in Greektown followed by a Greek Night at Jimmy’s Seafood. While we were impressed by the turnout of young adults enjoying a unique atmosphere by DC standards, those in the know complained of a weak turnout. For those of you haven’t been, imagine cordoning off the end of a street and a parking lot and turning it into a Greek festival. The closest comparison about two hours south of DC in what Richmond does with their festival. Later at Jimmy’s Seafood, the turnout was even more disappointing, which was even more surprising given the great lead-in not even two miles away and how well Baltimore Greeks are represented at Greek Nights in DC.
Over the last three weekends, the 1st Annual Baltimore Greek Festival was held at Johns Hopkins University to reported crowds of only twenty or thirty Greeks and Philhellenes. Now granted a Greek Film Festival isn’t primarily marketed towards young adults, so it’s not surprising that there weren’t many young adults there. But the fact that this event was open to more than just young adults is what actually makes the reported turnouts even more disappointing. Maybe the young adult population from Baltimore isn’t large enough on its own to support your average Greek event in Baltimore? (There are days in DC where we ask the question of the population here.) But the presence of a Greektown means, or should mean, that there is a concentration of Greeks of all ages that would be interested in this type of offering.
Does the existence of a Greektown make Greek young adults from Baltimore take events in Baltimore for granted? Are Greeks from the DC area intimidated by the trip to Baltimore in ways that Baltimore Greeks aren’t about a trip to DC? Regardless of these questions, Baltimore has too much to offer Greek young adults for it to be ignored. Next time you see an event on the calendar that takes place in Baltimore, make an effort to check it out. For anyone planning on having an event in Baltimore, please make sure that it makes it on the Events Calendar and if it is on a weeknight or a Friday night, that it starts late enough to make the drive around the Beltway and up 95 realistic and worthwhile for the DC crowd.