Walking into Hampdenfest is kind of like witnessing a miracle on Food Network.
A chef opens up the pouch of ingredients to find a mango, six pieces of bacon, extra dark chocolate, cereal, French fries and an uncooked steak, and somehow still manages to pull out a meal you'd probably order twice.
Instead of cereal and steak, Hampdenfest offered an array of people and personalities, ranging from young to old, from punk rockers to hipsters (both the trendy and dirty types), from skater kids to artists.
In short, everyone comes to Hampdenfest.
If you have not been to Hampden, it is within walking distance of campus. Just walk through the forest west of campus, you'll get there eventually.
Using Google maps to get to 36th street works too.
All of 36th street was closed to traffic for the festival.
Instead, a variety of interesting tents representing stores from around the Baltimore and Hampden area were selling their wares down the middle of The Avenue, the main street of Hampden.
In addition, many of the tents showcased local Baltimore artists selling their pieces.
Baltimore's own James Pollock, and Hampden's Matt Muirhead, a featured Bakers Artist Award winner, were among those included.
In true Hampden spirit, a miniature skate park was set up in the middle of street, where kids aged eight to 18 showed off their skills and spills to the crowd.
In a designated area in front of one of the three music stages, seven to 57 year-olds hula-hooped.
On these three stages, dozens of local (and some national) bands and DJs, spanning every musical genre, performed.
There was also a film festival, The Great Baltimore Mac Off (a cooking competition) and a Toilet Bowl Race.
Naturally, I gravitated towards the Toilet Bowl Race.
The basic premise of the race is to build a cart or vehicle using a toilet bowl as a seat.
Then you race it down a hill and compete for the much coveted bronze, silver and gold plungers and toilet seats.
It's a little embarrassing to admit, but this was actually my first toilet bowl race I'd ever seen.
Hopkins was represented in the race; the team members – Chris Mogni, Eddie Brooks, Marie Hepfer, Jessica Noviello, Bert Turner and Natalie Byers – are all physics or engineering majors (big surprise, eh?).
With some of them running on only four hours of sleep, they explained how they started at midnight last night in an "undisclosed physics lab somewhere on campus" – no worries, apparently they cleaned up after themselves.
Their vehicle was a glorious red soap box with two kiddie toilet seats.
Appropriately inscribed on the front of the vehicle was the famous Obi-Wan Kenobi quote with a nerdy, Hopkins-esque addition – "Let the F=ma be with you."
Undoubtedly, the theory behind their racer was fool-proof. Regrettably, theory didn't translate into reality, and the team suffered a first-round elimination.
That being said, our Hopkins team, dressed in lab coats and kiddie costumes, bibs and binkies with billowing capes, did us proud.
I very much enjoyed the five hours I didn't spend at the library, and will definitely be making subsequent trips to Hampden.