FallFest returns to Main Street Rock Hall this Saturday, Oct. 14, for the 26th-annual edition of the rollicking event that celebrates the arrival of autumn, the “return” of the oyster, and a full day of live music to suit every taste.
Live music and the Mighty Oyster have always been the focus of FallFest and that’s truer than ever this year. Six award-winning professional acts will perform on two stages during the length of the 10 a.m.-4 p.m. festival, and approximately 6,000 local oysters will be shucked and served on the half-shell to honor our bayside heritage.
FallFest is a rain or shine event, and showing up even if it’s a little cloudy is a good way to pay tribute to the watermen who battle the elements every day. Admission to FallFest is free and there is plenty of free parking near Main Street.
The event is totally non-profit, and made possible by the generous support of residents and the local business community. Over the years, FallFest has benefitted many local civic initiatives. This year, as a further tribute to oysters and music, a large portion of proceeds will go to both the Kent County Waterman’s Association scholarship fund, and to The Mainstay, the iconic music venue that is the beating heart of Main Street.
The raw oysters and fried oyster platters are provided by our friends at Chester River Seafood, but we also know there is someone among your family and friends who might say, “But I don’t like oysters.” While this is a serious character flaw, we are prepared to make sure everyone is happy at FallFest.
The food court that pops up for FallFest near the foot of Main Street will have something for the whole family and more. Papa Smurf BBQ will be dishing out brisket, pulled pork, ribs, Philly cheesesteaks, mac and cheese, hush puppies, baked beans and potato salad. Nearby, BBQ Bueno brings south of the border to North Main Street with nachos, tacos, burritos and burrito bowls.
There will be a wide variety of bakery items from Sweet Cheeks, and snowball treats from Kate Cole Hoots. Our good friends at Lighthouse Ministry bring it with hotdogs,
sausages, sea trout, clam strips, crab cakes, burgers, fries, and chicken tenders. More? Sure. Samm’s Lymphoma Fight Foundation will be raising money by dishing out smashburgers, sausages, and something sweet for dessert.
FallFest visitors can stroll Main Street with their goodies and check out our unique local shops as well as the dozens of craft and artisan vendors lining the street. For the younger set, the Kids Kourt will have a magic show, live animals, a stilt walker, balloon animals, games, prizes, face-painting and more, and it’s all free.
The soundtrack for a full day of fun will be the free live music on Main Street. The entertainment begins with Wicked Sycamore, an all-female acoustic roots and Americana trio that was recently honored with a WAMMIE award, presented by the Washington Area Music Association. The High and Wides, a local bluegrass favorite, are next to the stage; followed by Pat Wictor & Bob Beach, who will feature blues-based rock on dobro and harmonica that brings to mind the best of Hot Tuna.
Highlighting the middle of the day is the annual appearance of the Catonsville High Steel Band, playing the unique tuned pan instruments of Trinidad and Tobago. The good times continue with The Blake Thompson Family Band, featuring the guitar hero Kent County native, his wife, and four of their children tearing through rock, blues, pop, and a little dash of country. More than a little dash will be provided by The Good Stuff, a straight-ahead country band that is the latest project of multi-instrumentalist and crowd favorite Phil Dutton.
The schedule is: Mainstay Stage – Wicked Sycamore, 10 a.m.; Pat Wictor & Bob Beach, 12:30 p.m.; Blake Thompson Family Band, 2 p.m.; Bayside Stage – The High and Wides, 11:15 a.m.; Catonsville H.S. Steel Band, 1:30 p.m.; The Good Stuff, 3 p.m.
If you are looking for a souvenir from FallFest, our merchandise tent will be offering T-shirts and hats, as well as suitable-for-framing prints of our annual promotional poster. This year’s poster features an image of oyster boats taken by award-winning local photographer Heather Davidson, who passed away in 2022. The limited run of prints are numbered and bear an authentic reproduction of Davidson’s signature.
For more information about the free event, including directions and parking locations, as well as registration forms for the morning Run for Character 5K, please visit www.rockhallfallfest.com. See you there, rain or shine. Bring your appetite and your dancing shoes.