Artists and vendors battle heat in preparing for Artscape (WBFF)

As Baltimore prepares for the 36th Artscape, billed as the country's largest free arts festival, artists and vendors struggled in the sweltering heat to set up their exhibits. The three day festival begins Friday but dozens of workers were busy laying cable and erecting booths. Baltimore Artist Steve Bunker says he and friends built a huge campfire exhibit late Wednesday night to avoid the heat.

Baker says he has plenty of advice for those planning to attend the festival. "Drink a lot of water, try to stay cool as much as possible, no matter who you are, you're going to burn so swear some sunscreen, wear a hat," said Baker. He says he hopes the heat will not deter people from attending Artscape which routinely draws more than 300,000 visitors each year.

Baker says those worried about excessive heat during the day should attend the festival in the evening. "You know you beat the heat by not being in the heat, stay in the cooling tents." Gerald Riley, a city employee who was working at Artscape says he's used to Baltimore summers. "It really don't bother me when you get used to it, really the sweating is good for you really," said Riley. But last year in Baltimore City, five people died of heat related illness.

Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen says excessive heat can be a silent killer. "So watch out for signs of hypothermia, which is high body temperature, and dehydration. "Stay indoors when possible in air conditioned spaces when it's going to be the hottest," said Dr. Wen. Artscape is open 11am to 9pm Friday and Saturday and 11am to 8pm on Sunday.

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