As September approaches, Hampden starts to get super-busy. There's a lot going on, so let's get right down to it, shall we?

Hampdenfest is coming up on Saturday, Sept.14, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., on The Avenue. If you are interested in vending or competing in any of the competitions, including the Toilet Races and the Great Baltimore Mac-Off, visit http://www.hampdenfest.com.


This year will again see the return of our neighborhood karaoke competition, Hampden Idol, hosted by the world-famous (not really) Keyboard Man. There are several ways to qualify if you'd like to bring your mad karaoke skills to the stage at Hampdenfest, starting with two Hampden Idol karaoke auditions at Frazier's on The Avenue, 919 W. 36th St.

The first audition starts Saturday, Aug. 24 at 9 p.m. The second audition is Saturday, Sept. 7, also at 9 p.m. You can also sign up online at hampdenidol.com.

And, there will be a limited number of slots open the day of Hampdenfest for walk-ups.

This year's Hampdenfest looks to be one of the largest I can remember, so I'll have much more on it in the next installment of this column.

There's a back-to-school drive for supplies through Sept. 6 for Hampden Elementary and Middle School. Donations including #2 pencils, crayons, glue sticks, two-pocket folders, composition notebooks, safety scissors, lunch boxes, erasers, primary writing paper, rulers, calculators, hand sanitizer and Elmer's glue — can be dropped off at Cafe Hon and the HON Bar, 1002 W. 36th St).

On Sunday, Aug. 18, at 4 p.m., there's a Town Square Open Mic at Minas Gallery and Boutique, 815 W. 36th St. This installment will feature Clarinda Harriss, Steven Levya and Michael Salcman from Little Patuxent Review to celebrate the launch of the summer 2013 music issue.

On Thursday, Aug. 22, the Wine Source, 3601 Elm Ave., will host a wine tasting featuring Vina Errazuirz, of Chile.

And on Thursday, Aug. 29, Atomic Books, 3620 Falls Road, kicks off the inaugural installment of its new poetry reading series, Poets Under the Influence, hosted by local writer Elizabeth Hazen. In this series, poets will share their recent poems and talk about the forces, including other writers, works of art, music, movies, politics and pop culture, that influence their work.

Poets Under The Influence starts at 7 p.m., and features Jane Satterfield, Ned Balbo and Richard Peabody.