Not that a hon can afford to let her looks go, or her vocabulary. Asked what makes a hon, Sophia thinks for just a moment before answering, "I guess a hon would be a person who speaks a Bawlamerese accent, dresses from the '60s and has a lot of hairspray."

Tracy Turnblad, the hero of John Waters' "Hairspray," couldn't have explained it better herself.

Sophia, who lives in Mount Washington, came in second among last year's Honettes — her best finish yet. She has her fingers crossed for this year, even if there's a wrinkle in her plans. A friend, Eva Caplan, has been at her side for two Miss Honette contests, but she's not going to be able to make it this year. Fortunately, another friend is waiting in the wings, willing to help out.

Maybe she could even get her mom, Laura, up there on stage with her?

"I have tried," Sophia says, sounding just a touch exasperated. "She's going to dress up this year, but I don't think she's going to have her hair done."

That's too bad. When it comes being a Hon, clearly, half-measures won't do.

"It can take me anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour to get ready," Sophia says. "I think the hardest part is getting my hair done, having to brush out my teased hair."

But it's worth it, she says. Even mom thinks so. "My mom likes getting all the pictures," Sophia says.

The trendsetter

It'll be hard to miss Stephanie Murdock up there on the Baltimore's Best Hon stage this weekend. Odds are, she'll be the only hon riding a skateboard.

"I keep trying," she says, noting this will be her fifth year of being a hon on wheels. "I'm hoping this might be the year for Skateboarding Hon."

Already, 2014 has been a pretty good year for the 31-year-old Parkville native. In May, after years of fundraising and promotion, Murdock finally got her Skatepark of Baltimore opened, in Hampden's Roosevelt Park. So yeah, maybe this will be her year.

For her, the hon is a complicated, and wholly admirable, Baltimorean. "A hon to me is a blue-collar working woman that really knows how to get things done," Murdock says. "Somebody that isn't necessarily always dressed-up in their Sunday best, somebody that's going to wear an outfit where they can chase the kids around the neighborhood, take out the trash and recycling, but also be in the kitchen making dinner, taking care of things around the house. She's kind of an empowered woman."

Murdock has had plenty of opportunities to study hons up-close. She moved to Hampden five years ago, to engage herself more fully in the Skatepark crusade. She's spent a lot of time working on her accent, which she believes is "pretty good." And she's always one of the first women to sign up for the annual hons contest, so her enthusiasm certainly isn't the issue. But maybe, Murdock allows, her outfit is.

"I think that could be part of the problem," she says. "I've been wearing the same dress every year, because it's my hon dress. I think I got it at a yard sale. I don't know that it's quite as fancy as some of the outfits — I think I try to lean more heavily on the accessories, like my skateboard and Band-Aid earrings, stuff like that.

"Maybe they're not ready for a skateboarding hon."

Ah, but if they only knew how tough life can be for a skateboarding hon. "It's hard enough to balance," Murdock notes, "without a two-foot wig on your head."

chris.kaltenbach@baltsun.com

If you go

Honfest 2014 runs 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday and noon-6 p.m. Sunday in Hampden, along 36th Street, east of Falls Road. Included in the festivities are the Little Miss Hon Contest, for girls 3-7 (11 a.m. Saturday), the Miss Honette Contest, for girls 8-13 (11:30 A.M. Saturday) and the Baltimore's Best Hon Contest (2:20 p.m. Saturday and 2:05 p.m. Sunday). Admission is free. Information: honfest.net.