So this is it — the big pre-Hampdenfest column to provide you with all the information I could dig up on Hampden's award-winning neighborhood festival that attracts visitors from all over the world (well, last year there was a Japanese TV crew filming a documentary on a world-famous model they were following though the festival). It also won a 2012 City Paper award for best festival.
This year's Hampdenfest is Saturday, Sept. 14, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., rain or shine. It runs the length of The Avenue (West 36th Street) from Falls Road. to Chestnut Avenue, and saunters partially down Chestnut.
There will be three stages of music, located at Chestnut and 36th, at 36th in front of Bank of America, and at 36th and Falls. Bands include Celebration, ADVLTS, Balkan Falcon, Chester Stacey (reunion!), The Creepers, The Idle Gossip, Kurt Deemer Band, Sal Bando, Sick Sick Birds, The Stents, Wild Honey, Landspeedrecord, Monster Museum, Jaabs, Little Rib, Paper Dragons, Raindeer, Small Apartments, Sick Thoughts and more!
Hampden Idol, a karaoke competition, returns to the streets of Hampden. If you missed the auditions, you can still sign up by visiting hampdenidol.com. Or, if you'd prefer, there will be a small number of slots reserved for walk-ups the day of the festival. Just sign up with Keyboard Man at the festival information booth.
The Toilet Races start at 2:30 at the intersection of Chestnut and 36th, behind the stage. Make sure you have you have your Instagram updated. It's a cornucopia of great photo opportunities.
You can taste entries in the Great Baltimore Mac-Off until 3:30 (or until tickets sell out), but if you want to vote, judging and tallying will start around 2 p.m. This is your chance in having a say in who has Baltimore's best macaroni and cheese, as long as you say it before 2 p.m.
Moloch's Midway & Cabinet of Infernal Mysteries brings back the bizarre fun of the circus sideshow. Atomic Books' art toy show, Vinylmore, returns in a special edition. There will be a giant vinyl Munny that festival-goers can contribute artwork to, and a second giant Munny that a curated group of artists will be working on throughout the festival.
Cafe Hon's Bread Pudding Eating Contest returns, as does the Inter-Restaurant Battle, aka the waiter/waitress races.
This year, the beer will be provided by Brewer's Art and Union Craft Brewing (who have collaborated on another Hampden Rye for his year), as well as National Bohemian.
And of course, there will be the usual array of vendors, food, art and Hampden merchants all displaying and selling their goods.
For more information, be sure to visit Hampdenfest online at hampdenfest.com.
See you on The Avenue!