This past weekend, the people of Bawlmer gathered to let their hair down—or, rather, gather it in a beehive—and show their pride for their city. HonFest, a Baltimorese celebration of culture, took over the Hampden area on June 9th and 10th, as it has every year since 1994. The colorful festival once again created space for the aforementioned ‘60s style beehives, brightly colored eyeshadow, and cheetah-print attire that so clearly represents the “hon” image, as well as the fronted “oh” vowel sound, Old Bay seasoning and Natty Boh that we in Baltimore proudly call our own.
HonFest’s many performances spanned three stages: the main stage, the Falls Road stage, and the Bacardi Lounge Umbrella Radio stage. There were the beloved costume contests, styled after fashion shows and designed to reveal “Bawlmer’s Best Hons.” The Glyndon Area Players commemorated the B-More-based musical “Hairspray,” Michael Butler sang “Charm City,” attendees competitively danced the mashed potato, and both the Baltimore School of Dance and the Cindy Velle Dancers (among others) showed off their finessed elegant moves. Food was provided by vendors and was generally sinfully greasy and delicious, and store owners’ open doors displayed their vintage clothes, kitschy collectibles, and Maryland memorabilia.
The music of HonFest was all provided by local acts. An eclectic mix, performing musicians ranged from blues band the Hypnotic Panties and psychedelic rock band The Transporters to electronic band Voodoo Pharmacology and singer/songwriter/emcee QueenEarth. Fans of alternative rock radio standards might have dug the sounds of Vital Verve, while goatFISH may have appealed to folksier folk (too much?).
HonFest exists to embrace a stereotype. The Best Hon contest exemplifies these goals in its self-proclaimed aim to (quoted from HonFest.net) “honor the working women of America,” as does the constant endorsement of the Baltimore accent, which in the eyes of others can indicate a commoner’s lifestyle and, therein, a lesser existence. All the Baltimoronic fun can actually, then, serve a pretty important purpose, by celebrating a background that is sometimes forgotten.
Photos by Theresa Keil:
Photos by Larry Cohen: