Another year, another Hampdenfest. Or Fallfest as some people still call it. It's interesting, Hampden's fall neighborhood festival has been officially called Hampdenfest for almost four times as long as it was called "Fallfest," but I still hear a person now or again call it by the older name.
Regardless, Hampden's neighborhood celebration of arts takes place on Saturday, Sept.10, on The Avenue, 36th Street from Falls Road to Chestnut Avenue. And it runs all day, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
This year's festival promises more of what got it voted one of Baltimore Magazine's 10 best city festivals, plus some new twists and the return of an old favorite.
Plus, for the first time in a long time, the Hampden Merchants Association and the Hampden Community Council are cooperating in putting on the fest.
More than 35 musical performances are expected on three stages at the festival, and a deejay tent is planned..
The Angry Viking Stage, managed by local show promoter Neal Page, will be located at 36th and Chestnut and will feature Desert Boys (with Geoff Danek from the restaurants Holy Frijoles and Rocket To Venus), as well as Mickey Free (of the Golden West Café), plus bands like Hollywood and The Pilgrim.
The Friends Records Stage, featuring bands from the local record label Friends Records, will be located at 36th and Elm Avenue, and will feature Winks, Television Hill, Lands and Peoples, Height, Weekends, Sri Aurbindo and more.
The Atomic Books Stage will bookend the festival at 36th and Falls Road. and will feature Lennon La Ricci and the Leftovers, the 20-year reunion of the Eastern Shore cult show band Hog Wild, the reunion of one of the Baltimore area's first punk bands, Red Die No. 9, and Squaaks (featuring Elena Fox from Charm City Cakes), Deep Sleep (with Tony Pence from Celebrated Summer Records), among other acts..
And finally, the More Or Less deejay tent will be spinning all day, featuring music from Godfather Sage, Craig Sopo, Lance Spicer and more.
And that's just the music. The second annual Toilet Bowl Derby will run down Chestnut Avenue, and the Hampdenfest Filmfest will be a great way to check out local short films and beat the heat.
Also planned is a cookoff, the Great Baltimore Mac-Off, as contestants battle to make the best macaroni and cheese, and we, the festival goers who get to sample the entries, are the real winners there.
Café Hon is sponsoring a bread-eating contest that promises to be as much fun to watch as it will be to participate in. Dreamland is hosting a Vintage Carnival Cabaret with burlesque performers, fortune tellers, sideshow performers and, of course, vintage fashion.
The Avenue Skate Shop will host a Street Skate skateboarding obstacle course and stunts display. Urban Baby and Soft And Cozy Baby are getting together to put on The HampdenFest KidZone and parents of students at Hampden Elementary School will also be hosting activities.
The festival will have an array of craft and food vendors. The beer will once again be provided by Brewer's Art. But this year, The Wine Source will be set up too, as will Traveling Tiki Trucks, providing icy, frou-frou rum drinks.
But the thing I'm most excited about is the return of Hampden Idol. Not only is Hampden Idol back after a several-year absence, but organizers (of which, I am one) are bringing back beloved host Keyboard Man (Kevin Hoffman), who moved toPhiladelphia.
There are a couple of ways to participate in Hampden's American Idol-esque karaoke competition. The best way is to go to http://www.hampdenidol.com, create a profile and get your friends and family to vote for you. A handful of slots will be open during the festival to sign up on a first-come, first-served basis. Celebrity judges will decide who wins the crown and the title of Hampden Idol 2011.
For more information, go to http://www.hampdenfest.com.
See you next Saturday.