When Rock Hall FallFest takes place on Sat., Oct. 8 for its 25th anniversary event, the annual small-town street fair that celebrates the “return” of the mighty oyster, as well as a legacy of great live music, will feature even more music this year.
A total of eight acts will perform on our two stages, with no repeat performances this time around, and a toe-tapping good time from start to finish during the 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. event.
If you love music, and don’t mind wonderful acts with no admission price, then our iconic, throwback Main Street is the place to be. There is plenty of free parking nearby and even a shuttle service to get you to the heart of the action.
Rock Hall FallFest is more than just music, of course. Local shuckers will open 4,000-5,000 oysters on the half-shell, and all manner of traditional fair food will also be available, including fried oyster platters from our good friends at Chester River Seafood.
Main Street is closed down to create a casual pedestrian thoroughfare where you can explore our many shops, and discover delightful craft and gift ideas from dozens of local artisans who line the street with their creations.
Children of all ages will delight in the Kids Kourt, with its jugglers, magicians, games, prizes, wildlife exhibits, pony rides and the occasional dinosaur.
It’s a full day, full of fun for this Kent County tradition, but the music takes center stage, or, in our case, center stages. Highlights include the return of The Blake Thompson Band, as Kent County native Blake Thompson brings his virtuoso guitar licks – think Stevie Ray Vaughn – back with a rocking group that slides from rock to blues, all the way to pop, soul, and a little bit of country.
On the acoustic side, the talented Eastman String Band provides a set that ranges from straight-ahead bluegrass to Americana and alt-grass. Led by multi-instrumentalist Tim Finch, who shifts between banjo, guitar, mandolin and pedal steel, the Eastman String Band ranges across the great divide between old-time mountain music and a cutting-edge exploration of new ideas on traditional instruments.
The Dixie Power Trio, a longtime favorite at FallFest and in concert at The Mainstay, celebrates its third decade with a set of “swamp rock” that employs a little bit of Zydeco, a little bit of Dixieland, and a whole lot of musical inspiration. Leader Zack Smith, whether showing the way on trumpet, guitar, or washboard, has kept this group vibrant for a long time and we’re lucky to have them back.
Unknown Legends might be the area’s best classic rock cover band and they’ll show you why with a range that includes the Stones, J. Geils, Bob Seger, Doobie Brothers, Creedence Clearwater, Allman Brothers, and a host of others. They play the hits and they hit them hard.
The Heather Pierson Trio brings you two acts in one. Heather and her group travels the long road from Appalachian folk to New Orleans blues. One reviewer said The Heather Pierson Trio plays the best “piano-based folk since early Joni Mitchell.” High praise, but not out of line for this master of the keyboard.
As always, a FallFest highlight and annual favorite is the Catonsville High School Steel Band, appearing for the 23rd time at our event. This magical group of students that plays the traditional steel pan instruments of Trinidad and Tobago always mesmerizes the crowd with its range and ability. If you’ve never seen this group, you will be amazed.
One of our opening acts for FallFest is The Chestertown Ukulele Group, organized a decade ago by Jamie Hurley and Ford Schumann, a brother-and-sister act that has grown to include dozens of members. Maybe you’ve heard good ukulele groups, but not one whose repertoire includes Fats Waller, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Johnny Cash, among others. This is just a good time waiting to happen.
Rounding out the musical offerings, in the middle of the day, is a short concert by the Rock Hall Elementary Kazoo Band. The band was first organized by Tom McHugh, the local music legend and teacher who founded or co-founded both Rock Hall FallFest and The Mainstay, our unique concert venue that serves as the town’s “living room” throughout the year.
Tom passed away in 2021, and, as a tribute, a portion of proceeds from this year’s FallFest will benefit The Mainstay, funding a number of new initiatives to make the venue and its offerings even bigger and better for the future. FallFest is a non-profit that always uses proceeds to support programs and facilities in and around our historic Main Street.
On The Mainstage Stage, the schedule is: The Chestertown Ukulele Group, 10 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.; The Eastman String Band, 11 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.; The Blake Thompson Band, 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m., and The Dixie Power Trio, 2:15 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.
On the Bayside Stage, the schedule is: The Heather Pierson Trio, 10:30 p.m. – 11:45 p.m.; Rock Hall Elementary School Kazoo Band, 12:15 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.; Catonsville High School Steel Band, 1:30 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.; Unknown Legends, 2:30 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.
Please plan to join us Oct. 8 for all this music, all those oysters, and all that traditional street fair fun that Rock Hall FallFest has brought for 25 years. For more information on Rock Hall FallFest in one, handy, web-friendly place please visit www.rockhallfallfest.org for directions, a full list of offerings and activities, and, if you need to work up an appetite, a link to register for the Run For Character 5K that takes place at 9 a.m. at the harbor bulkhead.
See you in Rock Hall on Oct. 8. Bring your smile and don’t forget your dancing shoes.