Baltimore, Maryland is certainly known for hosting some very wacky, and fun, events. And summer is a great time for many of those events.
HonFest, held in June each year, is really both an extravaganza and contest. It is a flamboyant recreation of the look, attitude, and behavior that director John Waters, a Baltimore local, so engagingly memorialized and satirized in the original 1988 “Hairspray” .
Hampden’s “Hairspray” celebration brought celebrity to the Hampden neighborhood where the festival is held, neither of the “Hairspray” movies was shot there. The original “Hairspray” was filmed in East Baltimore, not in Hampden. Still, the Hampden community is considered “Hon Central”.
The “Bawlmer” term of endearment, Hon, short for “Honey”, embodies the warmth and affection bestowed upon neighbors and visitors alike by the historic working-women of Baltimore.
The festival is really an annual celebration in their honor. “HonFest is really an annual celebration in honor of the warmth and affection bestowed upon visitors by the historic working-women of Baltimore.”
The growth of this festival from a tiny Baltimore’s Best Hon Pageant held behind Café Hon, to a nationally recognized festival has been amazing. It now covers four city blocks along Hampden’s 36th Street and lasts for two days.
Acknowledged nationally, the festival has been covered by The New York Times, Rachel Ray’s Tasty Travels, Nightly News with Brian Williams, The New York Post, Southern Living, The LA Times, HGTV, CNN, and The New Yorker. It seems as though all of Baltimore along with bus-loads of tourists come dressed for the event.
The Best Hon
Women, of all ages and sizes, wear vintage spandex pants, heavily applied blue eye shadow and any item of clothing or accessory that has a leopard print.
Above all, the participants, sport outrageous beehive hairdos which are teased as high as possible and supported by layers of hair spray.
Visitors who don’t have a beehive can get their own hairdo done in the Glamour Lounge. They can listen to talented local musicians, or view the work of local artists while having their hair done.
So Much Fun To Watch
I found it fun to watch people as they get their fingers sticky. There were lots of hair spray and lots of complimentary makeovers for the participants.
It seemed like many of the young contestants got last-minute touch-ups from their anxious parents. The Glamour Lounge is made available to anyone who wants to become a “Hon” for the day. Some may even decide to enter one of the contests themselves.
The contest categories include “Little Miss Honette” (ages 3-7), “Miss Honette” (ages 8-13), “Best Baltimore’s Beehive” and the coveted “Baltimore’s Best Hon” .
This event has evolved into one hugely entertaining 60’s- themed costume party and pageant.
The festival was on Saturday and Sunday. Over 30,000 visitors flocked to the promenade. It is a four-block strip, fondly referred to as “The Avenue.”
This area was closed to motor traffic for the day. The street was lined with outdoor stages where local music groups play nonstop.
Most noteworthy is their repertoire which features everything from the original “Hairspray” soundtrack to more recent numbers. The “Hairspray” theme is definitely all about you at HonFest.
Maybe, I forgot to mention that there is also a Mustache Contest for the guys? Something for everyone!
I thought to myself, what would an event be in Bawlmer without promoting the 2012 Super Bowl Champions, The Baltimore Ravens? I noticed so many Ravens fans at this event.
For tourists coming to Baltimore for the first time, I can only imagine what they must think. Imagine them seeing some of the Hons on their way to the festival. Attending this event, is like traveling back fifty years. Now “Bawlmer” can be a really wacky, and fun city, so be sure to put this on your “must-do” list and visit the next Best Hon event.
If you are in Bawlmer during Father’s Day Weekend, take a trip back to the ’60s and come to HonFest. It is a fun event for the entire family.
Additional photos are on myImagez.com/honfest2014