Last weekend was Honfest, one of Baltimore’s most popular street festivals. It conveniently takes place only a few blocks from my house. Honfest is a celebration of the Baltimore “Hon”, a kind of kitschy personality that was common in Baltimore in the 1950s-1960s, especially in Hampden, the neighborhood where I live and in which the festival is held. The streets are filled with beehive haircuts, loud prints, lots of pink and leopard print, and cat-eye glasses. There’s about five blocks of vendors selling everything from crab cakes to rat t-shirts. Crabs, rats, Natty Boh man, Old Bay, and Maryland’s distinctive state flag are the most popular themes due to their associations with the city.
The festival was started by the owner of Cafe Hon, a woman who has been effectively disowned by the neighborhood after she attempted to copyright the term “Hon”, and whom has been made famous in an episode of Kitchen Nightmares. Though it started off as a small celebration of the quirky nature of Hampden, it has grown quite large and is now visited by people from all over the city and state.