Hampdenfest offers a fun look at local neighborhood

By RENEE SCAVONE | September 7, 2017

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Gavinst.ours/cC BY 2.0 Local vendors selling food, clothes and more line the streets of Hampden during the festival.

The school year is just starting to rev up, which means it’s time for a few of my favorite things: fresh stationery, taking notes for the first 30 minutes of class and Hampdenfest.

I like to think that Hampdenfest is a rite of passage for any Hopkins freshman, but I’m annually shocked by how many of my upperclassman friends have never been.

Whether you’re a freshman or a senior, take the time to venture out and see all that Hampden has to offer.

The festivities start this Saturday at 11 a.m., and there’s a ton to do and see.

As an unapologetic foodie, I always love trying the street vendors from different Hampden restaurants. Over 20 vendors will be present, selling everything from ice cream to oysters to Thai food.

One of my favorite spots is Cafe Hon, also known as the restaurant with the giant flamingo outside of it. If you stop by, be sure to try the roasted veggie sandwich.

If you want a little bit more excitement to go with your meals, consider registering for the Dangerously Delicious Pie Eating contest.

Sponsored by Dangerously Delicious Pies, the objective of the competition is simple: Eat as a many pies as you can.

If you win, you get a free pie every month for a year. If you lose, you get to have eaten a ton of pie. Not a single bad outcome.

If flaky crusts and happiness aren’t for you, then spend your time dancing to music played by local bands at one of three stages.

While you’re listening to those great tunes, check out the many shops that Hampden has to offer.

If you’re looking for books, clothing, soap that smells like whiskey (you never know!) or anything else, you’re sure to find it somewhere in Hampden.

Furthermore, be on the look out for exclusive Hampdenfest deals and outdoor discount racks.

Alternatively: You’ve survived the school year thus far, so don’t be afraid to treat yourself!

The vendor I look forward to seeing every year is the Rat Czar. Putting a positive spin on the rats that come with city life, Rat Czar celebrates these furry little friends with shirts, mugs, stickers and more.

You should also check out their novelty Baltimore knickknacks, many of which I’ve used as particularly unique presents for the family back home.

Of course, if you want something even more hip than rats, you can check out a number of other independent vendors too. Not only are you getting a unique product, you’re supporting actual residents of Charles Village’s neighbor to the west.

Perhaps the most unique event of the entire festival is Saturday’s Toilet Bowl Races.

The races are exactly as they sound — done on toilet bowls. Teams can register with a racer made out of “at least one clean human defecation device.”

Teams compete in brackets, competing against each other drag-race style through a 600-feet course.

Winners get honor, glory and the chance to say that they rode a toilet through the streets.

Hampdenfest is a wacky celebration of all things Hampden and an absolute must, whether you’ve never tried it out or have been going for years.

For freshmen who’ve yet to venture out beyond Charles Street (or, for the very brave, St. Paul), the walk to Hampden is a nice way to adventure and explore your city and it provides a great break from studying.

If it’s too warm outside or you’re just too lazy to walk, you can also utilize the Blue Jay Shuttle to get you there. However you get there, don’t miss out on this great yearly festival.

Whether to sample food trucks, check out vintage jewelry or indulge in the great American pastime of watching objects that shouldn’t be raced be raced, going to Hampdenfest is worth your time and is a great way to celebrate starting another school year!

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