Summer Savings! Get unlimited digital access for 13 weeks for $13.
North Baltimore
News Maryland Baltimore City North Baltimore

How 'hons' came to be and other tales from the 20th annual HonFest in Hampden

The prevailing wisdom is that 'hon' is short for honey, a term of endearment for the working women of Baltimore.

But a new, radically different theory emerged in a large sign that leaned against a psychedelically painted bus, converted to a mobile clothing boutique store and parked on The Avenue during the 20th annual HonFest in Hampden.

According to the sign, "Hons originated from the icy tundra as a group of beehived female Vikings known for killing leopards with their spiked heels and wearing the pelts. It was theorized that they decorated their faces with lipstick, rouge and eyeshadow to strike fear in the hearts of those who crossed them ...

"No one lived to tell the tale."

Or not. This was, after all, HonFest, the quirky festival with national buzz where women wear high hair, pink feather boas, leopard-patterned clothing, house coats, slippers and cats eye glasses.

HonFest 2014 lived up to its reputation on a sun-soaked weekend that gave the festival a relaxed vibe. Festival goers danced in the street. Hons shopped for earrings and looked at their cell phones. Bands banged out songs on three separate stages, including one sponsored by Loyola University Maryland radio station WLOY.

"I like the laid-back feel of it," said Deborah Patterson, director of Hampden-based Artblocks, a nonprofit that specializes in creating community art spaces and recently installed life-sized elephant sculptures in Druid Hill Park. "It's more HampdenFest-y," she said, referring to the neighborhood's fall festival.

Michal Makarovich, owner of the store Hampden Junque, attributed the feel of the festival to "beautiful weather" and, "We're down-to-earth Baltimore."

Rick Santiago of the Art Underground studio laid giant eyeglasses on top of green felt carpeting in the middle of the street.

"It's just a display, just for fun," he said.

New Jersey seniors Rita Arnold and Gail Carson had a public bench to themselves as they posed in full hon regalia, down to the leopard-patterned umbrella that shielded them from the sun.

"Love it," said Carson, 70. "What a neat place."

"And we found a place to sit," exclaimed Arnold, 69, who was in town visiting her daughter, Susan Arnold, of Hampden.

A mishmash of national and local vendors, many of them Hampden merchants "spilling out" with tables and tents in the street, sold everything from Bohemian bracelets and toy assault rifles to chorizo burgers.

Sugar, the sex toy shop that recently moved into the old HONtown space on The Avenue, couldn't exactly spill out. For legal reasons, its windows were covered, making it hard to tell if it was even open, and underage festival goers weren't allowed in.

But inside, the store, previously in Hampden Hall, appeared to be doing brisk business, and owner Jacq Jones said she was happy with her new, more visible digs.

"It's good to be more spread out and serve more people," she said.

HonFest was so free-spirited that Theda Mayer, of Relay, and her nephew, Nolan Geppi, 17, a student at Catonsville High School, did an impromptu swing dance in the blocked-off street as a band played "Heard It Through the Grapevine."

HonFest director Lisa Davis, who by midday Sunday had walked more than 43 miles up and down The Avenue wearing a pedometer, threw an arm around 2003 Bawlmer's Best Hon contest winner Rita Moore, and they posed for a picture. Moore, wearing her winning banner over house clothes and her hair in curlers, said she has been to every HonFest since she won, except for 2012, when her house in the Wilson Point neighborhood burned down.

"We rebuilt," she said, smiling.

At St. Luke's Evangelical Lutheran Church, Vicar Jim Muratore's Sunday morning church service was decidedly informal. It was held on the front lawn, overlooking The Avenue.

In recent years, the church has complained about the festival and its music starting during services. This year, HonFest didn't officially start until noon and the church, which is in transition without a full-time pastor, co-existed peaceably with the festival, as a small group of congregants gathered on the grass.

"I'm gonna get a sunburn today," said Bill Herd, of Hampden.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • Veteran hons prepare for Honfest 2014 [Pictures]

    Veteran hons prepare for Honfest 2014 [Pictures]

    Since 1994, Hampden's Honfest has been celebrating the archetypal Baltimore hon. Women -- and some men -- have flocked to 36th Street (if you're a local, you know it as the Avenue) for the sole purpose of winning the title of Baltimore's Best Hon. But what separates the true hon from the mere pretender?...

  • Mosby derailed program to analyze Baltimore homicides

    Mosby derailed program to analyze Baltimore homicides

    Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby recently derailed an initiative to bring together city leaders, law enforcement commanders, academics, public health officials and others to identify real-time homicide trends and develop targeted responses — the latest crime-fighting program to falter...

  • Five stats to know about Baltimore's July homicides

    Five stats to know about Baltimore's July homicides

    In July, Baltimore marked a gruesome milestone, recording 45 homicides — the highest monthly tally in more than four decades. Here are some other statistics on city homicides, according to data since 1970.

  • Charles Village grocery store holds its own on St. Paul Street

    Charles Village grocery store holds its own on St. Paul Street

    I often drop into the Eddie's of Charles Village Market for a quart of milk and wind up discussing the neighborhood grocery history of Baltimore with the store's owner, Jerry Gordon. Gordon has been at this store, on and off, for 51 years. His late father, Eddie Gordon, bought it in 1962.

  • Meadowbrook swimming enjoys postseason success

    Meadowbrook swimming enjoys postseason success

    The Meadowbrook Tomatoes are not lacking depth, which was evident in the postseason. Meadowbrook won the Straehle Invitational and followed that up with a strong showing in the Central Maryland Swim League Division I championships.

  • Stormwater fee measure continues to spring leaks

    Stormwater fee measure continues to spring leaks

    The devil is in the details, goes the old saw, and there's nothing more bedeviling to the state of Maryland with details at present than the stormwater management fee, also called by some "the rain tax." We are now in the third year of acrimony and confusion over this measure, which the General...

Comments
Loading
72°