Thai New Year Water Festival
When: Noon to 6 p.m., Sunday
Where: Carroll Creek Linear Park, Frederick
Cost: Free (food and drinks will be available for sale)
What to watch for: A Thai beer garden, lotus folding demonstrations, and raffles with a chance to win Sumittra gift cards.
Jib Phakam, the owner of Summitra and Lazy Fish in downtown Frederick, is ready to bring Thai culture to the forefront. This year, he’s partnering with the Asian American Center to throw the first-ever Thai Water Festival, a slightly delayed celebration of the Thai New Year.
“We knew we wanted to do it on the creek, but April is too cold,” he said with a laugh. “So, we decided on June, instead.”
With some help from the Thai embassy in D.C. and the Wat Thai temple in Silver Spring, he’s bringing in traditional performances like classical Thai dancers and Muay Thai kickboxers. It’s only one part of the six-hour program, which opens with a blessing ceremony from Buddhist monks. Hosting the festival on the creek is no accident, Phakam said. Thai New Year is known for its water festival, and the Frederick event will offer plenty of chances to get wet.
“We’ll have a whole area set aside for water gun fights,” he added. “It’s just like what you find in Thailand.”
The festival will also showcase lotus folding, another Thai tradition that’s often used to beautify the religious offerings. Attendees will get the chance to fold their own paper flowers along the creek and learn about traditional arrangements. Later that afternoon, the festival will host a fashion show with 50 years of Thai costuming, from traditional Thai silks to more contemporary — and more Westernized — outfits, Phakam said.
Food-wise, Sumittra will be offering Thai street snacks along with six other vendors. Phakam is especially excited to host a Thai beer garden with Singha, a brand that’s unbiquitous in Thailand but hard to find in the United States. It’s a good way to loosen up before a dance party later than afternoon, soundtracked by a DJ and Thai cover bands.
Maryland Doom Fest
When: Thursday, June 20 to Sunday, June 23
Where: Cafe 611, 611 N. Market St.; Guido’s, 543 N. Market St., Frederick
Cost: $89 for a weekend pass; $35 for a Friday or Sunday pass, $40 for a Saturday pass. The official pre-Fest party at Cafe 611 costs $30 per ticket or $15 with a weekend pass.
What to watch for: 50 local and international metal bands, including Pentagram and Conan, split between Guido’s and Cafe 611.
The fifth year of the Maryland Doom Fest has more. More bands, more attention — even an official Spotify playlist.
“We’ve just gotten bigger and bigger,” said organizer JB Matson. “I think there’s just more and more people getting interested in the scene.”
That scene is doom metal, a specific subgenre known for its slower tempos, low-tuned guitars, and a “fuzzy” sound that’s meant to invoke a sense of impending dread (think Black Sabbath or Candlemass). Matson said there’s no state better known for it than Maryland, where bands like Pentagram, The Obsessed, and Internal Void all got their start.
For him, the scene starts and ends with Internal Void, a Frederick-based band that’s been playing together since the late 1980s. Matson discovered them as a teenager when his parents moved him from Silver Spring to Boonsboro — an effort to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.
“I was devastated,” he said. “I thought it was the worst thing in the world.”
Until he met Internal Void at a party and quickly became one of their biggest fans.
“They opened my eyes to the genre,” he said.
He went to every show Internal Void ever played, but he also decided to take up the drums and form his own doom metal band. He started Outside Truth, then War Injun, and spent years playing with the same groups he adored as a teenager.
Over the years, the original scene faded. But in 2015, Matson and his friends realized they missed the camaraderie and talent of those early years. He reunited Outside Truth and convinced another Maryland band, Unorthodox, to reunite for the festival. Internal Void agreed to perform. The first-ever Maryland Doom had five bands on the lineup and still attracted guests from Norway and Austalia.
“Believe it or not, I think the Maryland doom scene is even bigger overseas than it is here,” Matson said. “When I started announcing we had reunited bands like Unorthodox and Minds Eye, people started buying tickets to come here.”
This year, even some of the performers come from outside the country. Matson booked the band Conan from Liverpool, England, to headline the third night of the festival, along with native up-and-comers like the Dallas-based Mothership. The Australian band Interitum was scheduled to perform until its members ran into some issues securing their visas, Matson said.
Still, there’s 50 other bands and a pre-festival party to look forward to. The Thursday event kicks off at 2 p.m. with nine bands, including the Maryland-based Earthride. Matson collaborated on the event with Stoner Hands of Doom, another long-running festival that was one of the first to unite the local doom scene.
When: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, June 22
Where: Carroll Creek Linear Park, Frederick
What to watch for: Drag performers, local bands, and a service from the youth pastor who confronted the United Methodist Church.
It was only seven years ago when Frederick Pride wasn’t called Pride at all. The first festival, in 2012, was euphemistically dubbed “Picnic in the Park” — largely out of trepidation on the part of the LGBTQ community, said Kris Fair, the chair of The Frederick Center.
“It’s the same reason why The Frederick Center has this very innocuous name,” Fair added. “The student who founded our organization, Austin Beach, wanted to create a safe space for kids to gather. And Austin was really a visionary. He thought, ‘I’m going to call it something innocuous so nobody can pick up on it, except fo the people who are looking for it.’”
The Frederick Center kept its name, but it only took two years for “Picnic in the Park” to blossom into a fully realized Pride Festival. This year, it’s taking on a special significance — along with other pride fests across the country — by falling on the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots. The infamous June raid on the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village kick-started the contemporary fight for LGBTQ rights after patrons at the well-known gay bar fought back against police harassment and bigotry.
For Fair, honoring the event adds an extra layer of significance to this year’s Pride. It’s been less than a decade since the LGBTQ community in Frederick made the conscious decision not to hold the festival on Carroll Creek, fearing that attendees might be outed or harassed for celebrating publicly. The very first “picnic” was held for around 300 people at the Ballenger Creek Dog Park, he said.
And despite the gains made over the last 50 years, the LGBTQ community — especially the transgender community — has been increasingly marginalized by the decisions of the Donald Trump presidency. In late May, members of the administration announced plans to roll back civil rights protections for transgender medical patients. A month earlier, a ban went into effect for anyone taking hormones, or who had undergone a gender transition, from enlisting in the military.
“The point of Pride — the whole reason for it — is to allow people to celebrate who they are,” Fair said. “To fight those stigmas and create a safe space where no one has to be afraid of violence or harassment.”
In Frederick, he added, that’s been accomplished with help from the city’s police department. The Frederick Center has made a conscious effort to solidify its relationship with officers over the years, despite the pride movement’s legacy of resistance against law enforcement.
“It’s a perception thing,” Fair said. “It helps send a message to LGBTQ youth that Frederick is a safe place to live.”
In 2017, the Frederick Police Department signed a memorandum of understanding with the nonprofit to provide a liaison officer, a position now held by Officer Sean Geiser. The Frederick Center has a representative on the Chief’s Forum, and the department is part of the security detail for Frederick Pride. At certain points, their presence has been a relief for the community, Fair said. In 2014, officers isolated about a dozen Ku Klux Klan protesters who were shouting slurs at the festival. Two years later, the department intensified security at the festival when it fell just two weeks after the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting.
“I don’t think people fully grasp that we celebrated Pride literally days after 50 people were killed at a gay nightclub,” Fair said. “And that year, we had armed officers on rooftops. We had more than 30 on site. I cannot say enough to highlight the importance of their role.”
This year, organizers can focus more on the event itself. Fair already confirmed that the speaker for the 11 a.m. Interfaith Pride Service will be J.J. Warren, the youth pastor who delivered an impassioned speech for acceptance in February when the United Methodist Church voted to oppose same-sex marriage. Tatianna, of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” fame, will be the festival’s headlining performer. The Frederick Center is also debuting its first-ever Pride Art Show at the Delaplaine for the LGBTQ and allied community.
“We really want to highlight that we’re part of this community and contributing to this community,” Fair said. “And it’s more important than ever for those voices to be heard.”
Frederick Food Truck Festival
When: 1 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Saturday, June 29
Where: The Frederick Fairgrounds, 797 E. Patrick St., Frederick
Cost: $15 online, $20 at the door. Free for children younger than 7.
What to watch out for: 14 different food trucks and nine different local performers.
Festival founder Alexandra Gushard-Edwards isn’t going to pretend she knew about a 2017 ordinance that allowed food trucks in Frederick to set up at local breweries, wineries, and distilleries. But she was savvy enough to notice the ensuing surge of vendors.
It gave her an idea. The Frederick Food Truck Festival is nearly two years in the making, about the same amount of time it took for Gushard-Edwards and her partners to expand the scope of the festival. At first, the plan was to book five food trucks and hold the event in August of 2018. But a month into planning, it became very clear there was more interest than they expected.
“We started to see how much work there was but also how much potential there was,” said Christian Phillips, who planned the event with Gushard-Edwards and Lorenzo Nichols. “So we had the idea to say, ‘Let’s scrap this and hold off for next summer.’”
It’s a good thing they did. The first-ever Food Truck Festival now has 14 different vendors, from the hyperlocal — Pizza Llama and Gambrill Mt. Food Co. — to regional offerings like 2 Soul Sisters and London Chippy. Gushard-Edwards is especially looking forward to Bebo’s Mac Shack, a Westminster-based truck with more than half a dozen kinds of macaroni and cheese.
Tickets to the event cost $15 in advance, a cover that includes a drink voucher from sponsor Rockwell Brewery. Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard will also be selling wine at the event. Items from the trucks are purchased separately, but the cost of admission includes performances from nine local bands, including ANF, Luna, Blue Heaven, and daMOOD, a hip-hop/rock group that released a new album — “Yellow Sound Era” — earlier this month.
The organizers also partnered with PopUp Frederick to book local artisans for the festival, including local ceramicist Janet Greer and handmade soaps from Nut N Fancy Farm. They’ll join the food trucks on Lot R, closest to gates 3 and 4 at the intersection of Highland Street and Monroe Avenue. It’s small for now, but the organizers are hoping to fill the infield in the next couple of years.
“We want to make it an annual thing — something that people look forward to,” Nichols said. “Just continue to grow so it becomes a staple here in Frederick.”
Follow Kate Masters on Twitter @kamamasters