The Best Fests
updated 05/28/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 05/28/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT
At any point below the Mason-Dixon Line it'll be hard to miss the surreal impact of this year's world's fair, the $360-million Louisiana World Exposition (now through Nov. 11) in the South's most beautiful city, New Orleans. Although the fair has been plagued by unanticipated costs and lagging ticket sales (which some blame on the anticipated hot weather), 23 countries will show off their food and culture in theme pavilions. Among the home country's high points: the world's largest Ferris wheel; the space shuttle Enterprise; and, to top it off, a 360-foot-high, 3,600-foot-long-gondola ride across the Mississippi.
If all that seems too big to take in, try this: the ninth annual Sand Castle Contest (July 21) on the grainy banks of the Arkansas River in Tulsa, Okla. There, hundreds of professional architects will abandon all propriety for a day and join hundreds of adult amateurs and children to design and sculpt temporary creations, such as last year's winning Puff the Magic Dragon. Who knows, the next Bauhaus school could emerge from a group kneeling in the Tulsa sand.
Devotees of older Americana won't want to miss the annual Song of Hiawatha Festival (July 27, 28, 29 and Aug. 3, 4, 5) at Pipestone, Minn., where a cast of 200 will act out Longfellow's verse. But for a combination of past and present nothing could top the Fourth of July Liberty to Liberty Triathlon. In this competition, entrants will jump off from the Battery into New York Harbor (presumably holding their noses) and swim around the Statue of Liberty to Liberty State Park, N.J. From there they will bike 90 miles to Philadelphia, where they'll run a 12-mile course that will finish, where else, at Independence Hall, facing the Liberty Bell.
Still, for the true essence of summer, it will be hard to beat Baltimore this year. On July 8 the Baltimore Symphony will perform Frank Proto's Casey at the Bat at Pier 6 pavilion, narrated by Rick Dempsey, the Orioles' star catcher and MVP of the 1983 World Series champs.
Whoever said "Wait'll next year"?