HONfest celebrates its 25th birthday - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

HONfest celebrates its 25th birthday

Before the skies opened up around 3 p.m.,with a showery 1/2 hour downpour, HONfest, in Hampden, was off to a pretty good start, on Saturday. It was mostly a sunny day.

Fortunately, that short burst of rain didn’t make much of an impact. The annual street festival is celebrating its 25th year of family-oriented food, music, and fun.

The festival, a two-day event, is featured “On the Avenue,” 36th Street, in the neighborhood of Hampden, for four blocks, between Chestnut Avenue and Falls Road. Think of it as a “summer festival” fit for one of America’s finest cities, also the home of the Orioles, the Ravens, Edgar Allan Poe and historic Fort McHenry.


The word “HON,” according to the program notes is a classic term of endearment. Local Baltimore, aka Bawlmer, residents have been using it for generations to greet “visitors and neighbors alike.” For example: “What would you like to drink, Hon?”

There were plenty of food vendors serving all kinds of goodies, along with music galore for entertainment purposes. Try 36 talented and “live” artists on three different stages. And, if you really got loosened up, there was room for dancing, too.

I enjoyed a delicious crab cake and downed two bottles of fresh, cold water. For the second water, the server kindly said to me: “This one is on the house, hon!” I responded in my best Elvis’s voice: “Thank ya very much!”

Absent the festival, my usual haunt to get a quick bite is Frazier’s Bar and Restaurant. It also carried my fave drink – an O’Doul’s beer.

Of course, there were plenty of beehive hairdos and cat-eye glasses adorning the ladies in attendance along with their very colorful outfits. It always reminds me of scenes from  John Waters’ 1990 film, “Cry-Baby,” which starred the one and only -Johnny Depp. Waters is a Baltimore icon.

A lot of that film was shot in Hampden itself. I recall it fondly since I had a deep background role in the courthouse scene which was filmed at the old Northern District, located in Hampden right over on Keswick Road. (William Dafoe, as a demented jail guard, was also in that scene.) In 1988, Waters gave the world, the classic “Hairspray,” with was also filmed mostly in Baltimore. It has a rebirth as a Broadway musical.

I was sure to make a stop on my festival visit at Rick Santiago’s “Art Under Ground Studio,” on the Avenue, to check if he had any special sales going on. Indeed, he did. In front of his store, the popular artist Paul Mintz was drawing portraits for customers. Don’t miss a chance to have Mintz do your portrait. You won’t regret it.

Further down “The Avenue,” I had a chance to chat with another pretty darn good artist Matt Muirhead. He was exhibiting some of his excellent works for the public. Ms. Stacey Chambers, a busy entrepreneur was, also on the scene. She’s the owner of the popular “Gogo’s,” a large bus filled with the latest ladies’ clothing lines. It was parked for business at Elm & “The Avenue.

HONfest will also be open tomorrow from noon to 6 p.m. Check out the show times, especially for its main stage, which is located in front of the Bank of America. The schedule of events, show times and HONfest’s history, along with the history of Hampden, can be found at HONfest.

More of my photos can be located on my Facebook page.

About the author

Bill Hughes

Bill Hughes is an attorney, author, actor and photographer. His latest book is “Byline Baltimore.” It can be found at: https://www.iuniverse.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001196414&fbclid=IwAR03ZtJUDcRHVjcF3DUSQUbKKrv-2VLWo0zDya5lqIm4eCQL2at-GV2QhfY Contact the author.

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