Soft Shell Spring Fair, noon-5 p.m. May 27, City Dock, Crisfield, (410) 968-2500, www.crisfieldchamber.com/events.htm. Sick of banging the shit out of a dozen crabs for a morsel of meat? Here's a way to shove the whole thing in your mouth without choking on a claw. The shells are soft at the soft shell festival, and there are bands and games.
Wheeling Feeling, 11:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. June 2, Wheeling's Heritage Port, 12th and Water streets, Wheeling, W. Va., www.chilicookoff.com. Beans, beans the musical fruit, the more you cook, the more you loot. Get cookin' because prizes are up for the takin' with money and trophies awarded to Best Chili, Best Booth, and the People's Choice. Plus live bands, children's activities, and a classic car show to keep ya'll busy. Cool beans.
Taste of Coastal Delaware, 1-4 p.m. June 3, Millville Town Center, Route 26, Del., (800) 962-7873, www.bethany-fenwick.org. Live jazz by the Pam Miller Band is the soundtrack to this foodie event where you can sample the delights of 20-plus of the finest restaurants such as the Blue Crab, Matteos Salsa Loco, and Steakhouse 26. After purchasing your ticket, check the list of participants for pre-game specials the night before the main event.
Zoomerang, 7:30 p.m.-midnight June 8, Maryland Zoo, 2570 Druid Hill Park, (443) 552-5287, www.marylandzoo.org. $250. "Top Hat, Tusks and Tails," oh my! The Maryland Zoo's annual black-tie affair for adults 21 and over, that means get a babysitter folks. Nothing's better than eating, drinking, and dancing the night away, all in the name of a good cause. This year's gala celebrates the zoo's two African elephants, Dolly and Anna. Party like an animal, with the animals.
Taste of the Town, noon-10:30 p.m. June 16, Reston Town Center, Market Street, Fountain Square and the Town Center Pavilion, Reston, Va., www.restonchamber.org., $1. Get your belly ready for the largest food-sampling event in the region, featuring more than 30 restaurants. Scrumptious snacks with tastes of Mexico all the way to Asia. The Monster Band will be there with all your favorite cover songs, from Prince to Aretha Franklin.
Delmarva Chicken Festival, June 22-23, Byrd Park, Snow Hill, (800) 878-2449, www.dpichicken.org, free. Don't be a chicken, get your tail feathers over to Byrd Park. (That's funny). There are lots of activities, arts, crafts, and home and trade shows to get caught up in. So tell the family if anyone gets lost, meet back up at the giant frying pan.
Tilghman Island Summer Seafood Festival, June 23, Kronsburg Park, Tilghman Island, www.tilghmanmd.com. This event is catered by a professional crab cooker who brings his own steamer and recipes. And, attention all ladies and little ladies, the crowns for Miss and Little Miss Tilghman are up for grabs, so be careful and don't get any Old Bay on your dress once you're there.
The National Pork Championship, 11 a.m.-7:30 or 9 p.m., June 23 and 24, Pennsylvania Ave., between 9th and 14th streets, Washington, (202) 828-3099, www.bbqusa.us, $5-$10. Politics take a back seat to the other white meat when the 15th annual National Capital Barbecue Battle comes to town. Grill masters get pretty darn serious when $25,000 is at stake. Sweet smoke will be rising from every single kind of mouth-watering BBQ and more trimmings than a Christmas tree. Plus, three stages with over 25 rock, R&B, jazz, and blues bands.
Gospel Music Crab Feast/Raise the Praise Fest, noon-4 p.m. July 14, 21, 28, and Aug. 4, on the waterfront, Inner Harbor, (410) 484-5600, www.crabfeast.com. $59. Raise the praise! Bless the Lord for bestowing upon us the sweet meat of Maryland steamed crabs. Top praise dancers show you how to work what the good Lord gave you. Gospel comedy keep the spirit light and collard greens, corn on the cob, and desserts keep our bellies full. God bless the good life.
Food for Thought, 7 p.m. July 15, Community College of Baltimore County, 800 S. Rolling Road, Catonsville, (410) 869-7168, www.mdhc.org, free. History comes alive in a Chautauqua tent. Come see an actress portray the life and times of the late Julia Child. We are thankful for Mrs. Child because she wanted to show the world (our moms) that cooking is an art form and not a dreaded chore. Bon appetit and rest in peace.
J. Millard Tawes Crab and Clam Bake, 1-4:30 p.m. July 18, Somers Cove Marina, 7th St., Crisfield, www.crisfieldchamber.com/events.htm, $35. All you can eat sounds pretty sweet. See what you can do with a menu of clams, fried fish, steamed crabs, corn on the cob, onion rings, and watermelon. Wash it all down with lots of beer. Space is limited to 5,000; it's first come, first served, and your ticket includes a mug and mallet to remember the day you ate the afternoon away.
Pork, Peanut, and Pine Festival, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. July 21-22, Chippokes Plantation State Park, 695 Chippokes Park Road, Surry, Va., (757) 294-3625, www.dcr.state.va.us/parks/prkevntz.htm, free. Held at one of the oldest working farms in the United States, this is celebration of the three main cash crops in Surray County. What do yah know, they all begin with "p." A low-key (no alcohol), relaxed family day to be had, with two stages a-rocking with country, bluegrass, and gospel. Bring some lawn chairs or a blanket and find a plot of shade under a cedar tree--should smell nice. Beware of lots of hugging and kisses, for many clans hold their family reunion during the weekend.
Surf and Turf Festival, noon-7 p.m. July 22, Carroll County Farm Museum, 500 S. Center St., Westminster, (410) 386-3880. Maryland's famous seafood and "landlubber" cuisine. Land and sea, no morsel is left behind. And no beer left behind either.
Crab Days, 10 a.m.-5 or 8 p.m. July 28-29, Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Mill Street, St. Michaels, (410) 745-2916, www.cbmm.org, $11 each day, members free. Cooking demonstrations and live music should sufficiently to get your appetite worked up for all-you-can-eat crab anything and everything under the sun. And as that sun is setting, hop aboard a boat that awaits to take you on a sunset cruise down the Miles River. Worked up that appetite again? Good, go get more crab cakes, crab soup, and steamed crabs too.
Old-Fashioned Corn Roast Festival, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Aug. 4, Union Mills Homestead, 3311 Littlestown Pike, Westminster, (410) 848-2288, www.unionmills.org. You may only receive one portion of fried chicken, applesauce, sliced tomatoes, a buttered roll, and ice tea or lemonade, but you get all the roasted corn that you can eat. In addition to all dat, you get all the jazz you can listen to and all the art you can feast your eyes on. City Paper sizzlin' hot tip: Pick up some stoneground flour from the mill.
Havre De Grace Seafood Festival, 11 a.m.-7 or 8 p.m. Aug. 11-12, Tydings Park, Havre De Grace, (410) 939-1525, free. Free is a very nice price for a day on the bay with food, artisans, crafters, and entertainment. Wouldn't you say so?
Sweet Corn Festival, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Aug. 25, Cherry Crest Farm, 150 Cherry Hill Road, (717) 687-6843, www.cherrycrestfarm.com, $11.95-$14.95. How corny would we be if we started making a bushel of corn jokes right now? No seriously, nothing beats the smell of sweet corn in the air. Start melting the butter and get your teeth ready to typewriter your way through a couple cobs, because it is impossible to leave this place without some stalks. Keep your "ears" peeled for games and contests with prizes. Listen, don't blame us if you can't find your way out of the incredible corn maze.
Berks Celtic Oyster Festival, noon-9 p.m. Aug. 25, St. Benedict's Picnic Grove, 4541 Morgantown Road, Mohnton, Pa., (610) 562-5765, www.celticoysterfest.com, $7, children free. Failte! That's "welcome" in Irish and it's pronounced "fall-cha." This festival is brought to you by people who really listen. It's their fifth year throwing this party and they strive to make it better every time. This year they have added another stage and double the amount of Celtic food stands, beverage stands, and oyster stands. If anyone should be standing, it's them, to take a bow. Bravo!
Taste of Hamburg-er Festival, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 1, Downtown Hamburg, (610) 562-3106, www.hamburgpa.org, free. Finally, a day to honor the greatest thing to happen to buns since they were sliced: the hamburger. It looks like this festival is going to bring all the things that have been missing from fests of yore. They've got a cow painting contest, hamburger trivia, "hokey human tricks," and there's a mooing contest. Chances are you will probably have a burger or two, too. Sorry vegetarians, you might wanna sit this one out.
National Hard Crab Derby and Fair, Sept. 2-4, Somers Cove Marina, Crisfield, (410) 968-2500, www.crisfieldchamber.com/crabderby.htm,$4, kids $2. Do you always pick the most meat with the fastest time when having a crab feast with friends? Maybe it's high time to win a prize for your efforts. Bring your talent down to the Somers Cove Marina and if you happen to meet some competitors with more game, there's always the crab race or cooking contest.
Bird-in-Hand Bakery, 2715 Old Philadelphia Pike, Bird-in-Hand, Pa., (800) 665-8780, www.bird-in-hand.com/bakery. This Smucker family would be a match made in heaven with that other Smucker's family. Hello homemade biscuits and jam. Until then, fill up on their famous red velvet cake or marble, yellow, and spice. Pretend you need to sample them all for a special occasion that you have coming up. They specialize in those.
Bomboy's Home Made Candy, Inc., 329 Market St., Havre de Grace, (410) 939-2924, www.bomboyscandy.com. This candy is the bomb, boy! They've been working hard making chocolates and whatnots since 1978 and are in no need for a break. Break us off some.
Crab Place, 384 W. Main St., Crisfield, (877) 328-2722, www.crabplace.com. Have you been craving some king crabs legs ever since you got hooked on that hit show Deadliest Catch? Wait no longer, indulge. Don't let those boys literally kill themselves for nothing. And this sounds kinda funny but it really is a brilliant idea: You can get fresh seafood shipped to your house.
Dolles, 1 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, Del., (302) 227-0757, www.dolles-ibachs.com. What better way to distract yourself from the fact that you are driving away and not towards the beach then to squish some saltwater taffy between your teeth? That teenie-weenie grain of salt in every bite is very reminiscent of hours ago in the sand. Or if you have dentures, they also have a wide variety of brittles and chocolates, but that's probably not a good idea either.
Dumser's Dairyland, 49th Street and Coastal Highway, 124th Street and Coastal Highway, (410) 524-1588, www.beach-net.com/dumsers. We scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! (All that yelling is probably from brain freeze.) Maybe you should chill on the frozen treats, with something nutritious from the not-ice-cream menu. Like pepperoni sticks or Maryland fried chicken.
Fisher's Popcorn, 200 S. Boardwalk, Ocean City, (410) 289-5638, www.fisherspopcorn.com. Boy, does the boardwalk keep dentists in business or what? You might as well just get a bucket of this stuff, because no one can eat just one handful. And you might as well make it the biggest size, cuz then you get a super tacky tin to commemorate your favorite summer place.
Hepburn Orchards, 557 E. Main St., Hancock, (301) 678-6060, www.hepburns.com. Check every single item off your grocery list right here. Country ham, check. Freshest of fruits and vegetables, check. Very berry pie for dessert, check. Friendly faces, check.
Hershey's Chocolate World Visitor Center, 800 Park Blvd., Hershey, Pa., (717) 534-4900, www.hersheys.com/chocolateworld. This is a reoccurring dream come true: a tour through the sweetest place on earth aboard an old time trolley with a singing conductor. When you think you might pass out from so much excitement, have a seat in the theatre for a trippy 3D show, where chocolate bounces off the screen and you sure as hell aren't running from it. Don't forget souvenirs for those poor unfortunate souls that couldn't be there with you. Personalize the plume of a gigantic Hershey kiss and try not to eat it on the way home. Or just tell `em it melted in your mouth, not in their hand.
Homestead Farm, near Poolesville, (301) 977-3761, www.homestead-farm.net. Fruit that's ripe for the pickin'. Summertime brings a harvest of strawberries, tart berries (whatever they are, they sound delicious), blackberries, peaches, nectarines, and assorted vegetables. Turn up the AC on the car ride home, otherwise your gonna have a sticky mess on your hands and your seats.
Tom Sturgis Pretzel Store, 2267 Lancaster Ave., Reading, Pa., (610) 775-0335, www.tomsturgispretzels.com. Many modifications and new additions have been made to the factory to keep it old--old fashioned, that is. Apparently Reading is the pretzel capital of the world, so we think that makes Tom Sturgis the pretzel king of the world. City Paper sizzlin' hot tip: you can order online, too, and the web site is very cute.
Thrasher's French Fries, several locations on the Boardwalk in Ocean City, (410) 289-7232. Thrashers doesn't have any catsup, whatsup with that? That's what you may think before you devour more than your fair share of fried potatoes with the only condiments worthy to grace the treasure of the paper cup: salt and vinnie.
Baltimore Farmers' Market, 8 a.m. Sundays, Holliday and Saratoga streets, www.bop.org. If Sundays nights aren't make-the-nicest-of-dinners-with-the-freshest-ingredients date night for you, maybe you should reconsider. Head under the bridge and hunt down everything you need, it shouldn't be too hard. Just get there before everything sells out around noon. City Paper sizzlin' hot tip: they accept WIC and senior FMNP checks, according to the web site.
Belvedere Square, Belvedere and York Roads, (410) 464-0740, www.belvederesquare.com. Things are headed in the right direction with this place--it feels like New York City or Italy or any city other than the one that bleeds. It's refreshing and satisfying and extremely efficient: you can get your produce, baked goods, meats, cheeses, specialty sodas, wine, imported beers, and flowers all as fresh as fresh can be. Too bad you're not at all hungry when you get home because if you were, you'd relax with a steaming hot bowl of soup. Made that same day, of course.
Calvert Country Market, open daily, 98 S. Solomons Island Road, (410) 414-9669, www.calvertcountrymarket.com. If you want something done right, do it the country way. A lot of love, kindness, and refined skills passed through generations of family and friends goes into anything with the country seal of approval. In edition to the edibles, you can find yarn, jewelry, rugs, baskets, dolls, and candles at this market.
Carroll County Summer Farmers Market, 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays June 3-Nov. 18, Agriculture Center, 700 Agriculture Center Drive, Westminster, (410) 848-7748. Super Fresh our ass--you want super fresh you come here. Talk to the person who grew it--they can answer any questions you have. At the grocery store, they can barely tell you what aisle to look in (no offense).
Cross Street Market, 7 a.m.-7 p.m. every day, Cross Street between Market and Light streets, www.southbaltimore.com/shop/crossmkt.html. Step inside this little world; if you like to shop in a hustle bustle, move it or lose it setting this is your joint. Thirty different stands with everything from Kwon's fresh produce to cigars, Mr. Sausage to Kathy's Bakery, and Bruce Lee's chicken wings to Big Jim's overstuffed sandwiches. Get to know these fine people and their goodies.
Freshfarm Market, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Sundays, 1500 block of 20th Street, DuPont Circle, Washington, (202) 362-8889, www.freshfarmmarket.org/markets.html. These guys are the fresh-patrol: strict policies state that farmers and producers are only allowed to sell what they farmed and produced. This doesn't mean there's less--it's quite the opposite. When the market bell rings, shopping time is over and schooling begins with "Chef at Market" demos by renowned chefs, cookbook authors, and passionate home cooks. They're going to show you what to do with that reusable shopping bag of groceries on your hands.
Historic Farmers Market, 310 First St., Roanoke, Va., (800) 635-5535. Picking up fresh groceries isn't reason enough to head all the way to a farmer's market? How `bout we throw in some antiques, galleries, and a Fire Museum? Now we got ya!
Hollins Market, 26 S. Arlington St., (410) 276-9498. Whoa, this market has been running since 1836. Damn they must be doing something right. With all those years of hard work they deserve a day off once a freaking week. So it's high quality goods everyday except Monday, umkay?
Lexington Market, 400 W. Lexington St., (410) 685-6169, www.lexingtonmarket.com. Get your Lex on! Not down with the lingo? Simply stated: seafood, cakes, the cookies Berger makes. Plus, hotdogs, fries, the show at Omlet's Side, produce from Lefty's and Han's, , Konstant's Nuts, and chips from the Utz. Flowers galore, music, movies, and the Dollar Store. Kwik Connect, shoes, banks, and a Tobacco Outlet. Follow the rhymes and spend some dimes. Make some deals and have a good time. Thank you, thank you, thank you very much
Waverly Farmers' Market, 7 a.m.-noon Saturdays, the 400 block of E. 32nd Street, (410) 366-6362, www.32ndstreetmarket.org. Did you ever have a good time on a Friday night and found yourself next to someone you don't know Saturday morning? Here's what you do, instead of being flat out rude, or trying an awkward breakfast one-on-one, head down to farmer's market, cruise around and maybe get to know each other. If things go well, break open that baguette, cheese, and grapes you just bought for a little picnic. Then it's back to your place, if you know what we mean.
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201