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A weird and wonderful Hampdenfest

George Peters Jr. was dethroned Saturday as toilet race champion of Hampdenfest.

Peters, of Hampden, last year's winner of the potty-themed soapbox derby, vanquished several opponents, including a gallant team of Charm City Roller Girls, to reach this year's final.

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His vehicle, the upgraded Golden Throne 2.0, with a gold-colored toilet seat on its Hummer-like frame, faced a rail-thin racer ridden by Jonathan Rashidi, of Millersville.

Rashidi, a hairy man, wore nothing but a diaper, negating the need for a toilet seat.

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With pushes from their friends, they rolled down Chestnut Avenue from 36th to 35th streets on the first sunny day the region had seen in a week. But Rashidi nosed ahead, cut in front of Peters and led to the bales of hay at the finish line.

More than 1,000 cheering spectators lined both sides of the race route, including longtime area resident Tom Kerr, who observed, "When you think you've seen it all in Hampden, you haven't."

The toilet races were just one of the events at Hampdenfest that fell into that category.

On the Atomic Books stage at Falls Road and The Avenue, the Amazing Fish Boy, masked as a fish head and wearing a green cape, belted out Chicago's "Look Away" during the karaoke contest Hampden Idol.

Andrew Boyd and "Raygun Robyn" Anderson of Hampden called themselves The Away Team — as in far, far away.

"It's good to be back on Planet Baltimore," Boyd told the crowd.

Boyd and Anderson did a bouncy but Star Trekkian version of the MTV classic, "Video Killed the Radio Star."

They called it "Romulans Killed the Radio Star."

How did that come about?

"Today," said Boyd, 37, a game developer.

Anderson, 30, said they were limited to the karaoke songs provided for the competition.

"We really wanted to do 'Major Tom,' but they didn't have it," she said.

As if toilet races and a karaoke singer dressed up as a fish weren't weird enough, Dr. Apocrypha P. Necrosis stood in the middle of The Avenue like a carnival barker — a dead one — with his face painted white and black.

His carnival-style booth, "Moloch's Midway and Cabinet of Internal Mysteries," displayed posters of characters such as "Ratgirl" and "Madam Grizella Ruxpin, the Pig Lady."

He also had the game Zombie Brain Toss (three tokens for a dollar), as well as able assistants such as the Rev. Sinister Twitch (Andrew Stone) and Zagam the Vile, who wouldn't give his real name.

"I'll show you a trick if it'll help," Zagam said, hammering a nail up his nose.

Mr. Necrosis, aka Mike Johnson, 38, of Hampden, an artist and a media technician at the University of Baltimore, first honed his portable midway in his basement and then took it on the road for the first time at Artscape in July.

"We're doing it for the love of it," Johnson said. He said he would be happy "if we make enough money for the beer."

New this year was the Great Baltimore Mac-Off, a kind of chili cook-off for macaroni and cheese dishes. Prices were so low, samplings so generous and varied, and lines so long that cook-off organizers were hard-pressed to keep up, and worried about running out of food. Denise Whiting, owner of Cafe Hon, helped out with two employees, according to Genny Dill, Hampden Community Council secretary and a cook-off organizer.

The winners: Lucia Treasure's mac and cheese with Natty Boh and Dijon mustard won the critics' choice award in the amateur category. Corner BYOB's lobster mac and cheese with truffle oil swept the critics' choice and people's choice awards in the professional category.

The cook-off raised at least $500 for the Hampden Food Pantry, said Genny Dill of the Hampden Community Council, who helped organize and staff the cook-off.

But the biggest hit at Hampdenfest was the second annual toilet race, perhaps typified best by "Honey Pot," the name of an outhouse on wheels, the racing entry of Chris Doiron, ofBolton Hill.

Graffiti scrawled on and above the door advised, "Please be neat and wipe the seat," and warned, "Abandon all hope, ye who enter."

But the outhouse was eliminated earlier in the competition.

"I don't think it was built for speed," said Charlotte Hays-Murrray, owner of the store Charlotte Elliott. "I think it was built for gawking at."

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