This is a new Graw Days Festival in many ways. And I guess, since I'm the Chair of this year's event, I'm feeling pretty good about all the extras this year.
Let's start from the bottom up.
We're having a street party! Yes, this year's Graw Fest goes until 10 pm and those evening hours will be filled with the sounds of Higher Hands, a most amazing sound mix of vintage funk, jazz, classic soul and hip-hop. The evening hours will also have a fantastic live auction (how does a Margarita Cruise up the Susquehanna sound?) and several silent auction items. The Speakeasy will be serving six different artisan beers, wine from the Vineyard Wine Bar and food from our favorite local restaurants: Tidewater Grille, Laurrapin Grille, Coakleys Pub and Price's Seafood.
The daytime hours will also be about the music. We have a new band headlining the morning, Ben Mauger's Vintage Jazz Band, along with JD Sage, Old, Crippled & Crazy, and our returning Peabody Jazz Ensemble! This is live music from 10:30 to 6:30 pm.
At the old Opera House, the Tidewater Players have concocted a really hot new show called Buddy Bentleys Legendz. Who will you see there? Mae West, Shirley Temple, Al Jolson, George Cohen, and many more ... that show will be repeated every two hours: 11 am, 1 pm, 3 pm & 5 pm. Across the street, at the historic St. Johns church, the Maryland Conservatory of Music will present music through the decades at 2 pm & 4 pm.
The beautifully restored First National Bank building at 321 St. John Street (now known as La Banque de Fleuve) will be transformed into a historical mini-museum called History @ the Bank with many racing artifacts, memorabilia, and prints. We will also have an fantastic fine art photographic display by John R. Franco. Our annual Speaker Series is the best array yet with Martha Hopkins & J. William Boniface starting out the day and then ending with two authors, Michael Veitch (from the Sarasota Racing Museum) and Patrick Smithwick, author of Flying Change. Throughout the day, we will also have a tours leaving on the half hour to visit the old Graw Racetrack (now on the property of the National Guard). This was a huge hit last year and we have acquired a bigger van to accommodate our visitors!
The Opening Ceremony will begin promptly at 10 a.m. with a brass ensemble led by Janis Katsu, and then highlighted by a dramatic entry with our Grand Marshall, Martha Hopkins (recently seen as a dancer for the Center for the Arts). Mayor Doughtery will welcome everyone and then the festivities will begin.
Stroll along the Graw Way and enjoy the many artisan vendors, special offerings in local shops and cafe seating.
New this year: don't miss the vintage cars! We have asked cars to come that are in the period of the Graw (1912-1950). If you are a car enthusiast, then do come up to Pennington Avenue, directly opposite the Main Stage.
For families, we have the Little Rascals Roundup where Congress Avenue will be turned into a kids paradise: bouncy houses, carnival games, period games, crafts, pony rides, and best of all this year? Their own Little Roundup stage with performances by a variety of talented teenagers including C. Milton Wright, Tidewater Teens, Patrick Sommers, and Chris Monaghan.
This is 2012 Graw Days, the centennial of the old Racetrack is sponsored by Havre de Grace Main Street, Inc, an organization devoted to revitalizing our downtown. Come on down and see what's happening. Costumes welcome! Good times for all. Our last fling before winter sets in. Rain or shine! But it's going to be a beautiful day.