Hampdenfest survives date change to be one of best ever [Hampden Column]

So I'm physically exhausted, but my editor is waiting on this column. Yesterday was the annual Hampdenfest, and I'm drained. But by all accounts, it was one of the most successful Hampdenfests ever. Thousands of people lined Chestnut Avenue to enjoy the Toilet Races and to watch bands, including headliner Future Islands.

By my personal tally, I was running on four hours of sleep, and, eventually, three Diablo donuts and six raw oysters. I walked nearly 22 miles, traveling the length of the festival back and forth all day.


The postponing of Hampdenfest so as not to interfere with Baltimore City's Star Spangled Celebration actually worked out to Hampdenfest's benefit. While it rained on the originally planned Hampdenfest date, Sept. 13, the weather was absolutely beautiful for Hampdenfest on Sept. 20.

Many merchants, vendors and even performers all agreed they had their best crowds ever. Hampdenites, Baltimore residents and visitors from nearby counties and distant states all agreed that this year's Hampdenfest was a magical day.

The racing team Stool Pigeon took the championship in the Toilet Races, and in the new Hampden's Got Talent contest, YOLOman, aka John Bennett, upset the apparent crowd favorite, a woman dressed as a singing chicken and clucking out classical music while her trainer looked on, clad in a gold lame jacket.

Cast members of the HBO series "Veep" were seen walking the streets of the festival, including Tony Hale (also of "Arrested Development"), who was busy tweeting pictures of toilet racers. You can see the photos by going to (

Iconic Baltimore filmmaker John Waters was seen posing for pictures with bands like Future Islands and festival goers. You can see those photos by going to

Here are some comments about Hampdenfest from those who attended:

"It was phenomenal," said Patrick Storck.

"Best day! Thank you!" said Matt Muirhead.

"It was one of the best days ever, for sure!" said Nadja Atalanta Tathata Martens.

"... Best party in town!" said Kathryn Bright.

"Only wish there were three of me to see more bands and hang out with all the amazing people I got to run into at Hampdenfest yesterday ... Remind me that if I ever leave this city, I will always need to come back for the best day of the year," said Sheila Wells.

"Thanks for a great day, Hampdenfest, we had a blast!" said Tracey Buchanan.

"Killer day at Hampden Fest ...  A perfect day!" said Brian Gilbert.

"What a great fest. One of the best ones I can remember," said Charles Cohen.


"What a great Hampden Fest this year! So many women in bands, too," said Shirle Hale Koslowski.

"Great weather, great bands and our great neighborhood," said Dave McDonough.

And possibly my favorite quote:

"This was the kind of event that, if you were from out of town, you'd wonder why you don't live here," said Patrick Smith.

While waiting for next year's Hampdenfest, here are some other events to watch out for.

On Thursday, Sept. 25, Justin Sirois will be at Atomic Books, 3620 Falls Road, from 7-9 p.m., to celebrate the release of the final volume of his app-based thriller, "So Say the Waiters," which has been optioned for a TV show and which the website IMDB already lists as "in development" for a 2015 release.

Hosts Benn Ray (that's me) and Kathy Flann will chat with Sirois and book cover illustrator Nolen Strals about their collaboration, Baltimore, and TV options.

And later on Thursday, you can then head over to the Golden West Cafe, 1105 W. 36th St., for "I've Got Your Number Bingo," starting at 10:30 p.m. It's free bingo hosted by Nolen Strals, Rowen Frazer, Samantha Dolores and deejay King Gilbert. You can win prizes from a number of local businesses.

On Wednesday, Oct. 1, Bmore Local presents a 25th Street Station Battle Happy Hour from 6-9 p.m., at Eightbar, 3620 Falls Road. Eightbar will donate $1 from most beer and wine sales to help pay off legal fees for area residents who are fighting to keep a Walmart store out of the planned 25th Street Station shopping center in Remington.

Friday, Oct. 3, is First Friday in Hampden. Atomic Books will be participating with an art opening by local photographer Rob Brulinski, a Baltimore native, who is also a videographer and writer His work has been featured on National Public Radio The Atlantic magazine, Slate and the Washington Post, among other media outlets. Most of his work explores personal identity within a convoluted society.