Letters To The Editor


June 17, 2008

Honfest honors city's heritage

Give me a break, hon. I cannot believe that with all that we have to worry about (war, energy costs, etc.) there are those who want to do away with Hampden's Honfest ("Hon-estly, hon, it's just fun," June 13). Why?

It is only one weekend a year, and many of us enjoy the fun and laughter it offers.

People cannot seem to laugh at themselves or with others these days. Perhaps that is what is wrong with the world today. But life is too short to be taken too seriously.

As for John Waters, April Camlin and any others who would like to see Honfest go away, I say: Get a life and enjoy the simple pleasures while you can.

JoAnn Parrish, Glen Burnie

Are there really no valid issues or causes to fight for in Baltimore? It would appear so, judging by the "backlash" against Honfest.

I moved to Baltimore five years ago because it was a fun and affordable city. We all know that the latter is no longer true. And now it seems there is a movement to ruin the fun.

I look forward to Honfest every year like many Baltimore residents. I couldn't care less about those people who choose to sit around overanalyzing festivals, particularly a wealthy movie director.

Working-class people don't spend their time debating the merits of a local festival - they are too busy working.

When work is over, they like to have fun, and many did so at Honfest this weekend.

Matt Golden, Baltimore

So, John Waters no longer celebrates the "hon" and thinks no one else should. Has he now become our guide to acceptable social conduct?

The critics who bemoan the class character of Honfest are the ones being condescending to the very diverse crowd of residents and visitors who have a fun and happy experience at the festival.

Stephanie Charles, Baltimore

As a homeowner in Hampden for the past eight years, I read the article about the Honfest backlash with interest. And one thing The Sun's reporter missed is that many residents were not too pleased in 2007 when Honfest organizer Denise Whiting received permission from the city to expand the event to Sunday.

A one-day festival is OK. But having your neighborhood overrun for a whole weekend by gawkers looking for colorful locals is too much.

I hope that the city returns Honfest to a one-day event in 2009.

After all, this is not a civic undertaking but a privately run festival that disrupts life for hundreds of taxpaying homeowners.

Jack Purdy, Baltimore

Gas is $4 a gallon, the cost of food has increased exponentially, parts of the country are experiencing tornadoes and floods - and some people have a problem with a two-day party?

Where would we be without a little therapeutic release celebrated with beehives and beer?

Kudos to Denise Whiting.

Jay Block, Pikesville

Honfest's kitschy mix of history and myth has irked some Hampdenites, both longtime blue-collar residents and newer ones, since its inception - a fact I learned when I began interviewing people at Honfest 2002.

However, for a core group of women in the area, dressing up for Honfest is a method of honoring the memory of working-class women in their families, many of whom lived in Baltimore for generations.

While the women who dress up may no longer be working-class, Honfest is a safe space where they can resurrect these women of the past, even if their homage is done through the humorous use of beehive hairdos and blue eyeshadow.

This is especially critical when we consider how little acknowledgment is paid to the history of working-class women in this city and most others.

The textile mills that spawned Hampden in the early 19th century hired many women.

After they closed, Hampden women went to work where they could - factories, diners, stores- in jobs that were often monotonous and dull, which may explain why getting their hair done and dressing up became so important to many of them.

While history may not be foremost in the minds of the thousands of people who come to Honfest, some women are raising those issues in a subtle way. This should be encouraged and connected to the contemporary situation of Baltimore's working women.

Honfest, which may be the city's largest neighborhood festival, is a complicated event in a neighborhood with a long, complicated history.

For that reason, there can be no one right perspective on it.

All perspectives should be considered, including understanding how some women use it to connect with the past.

Mary Rizzo, Jackson, N.J.

The writer is associate director for the New Jersey Council for the Humanities.

Denial won't solve our energy shortfall

Republicans seeking to gain political advantage during an election year by blaming Democrats and environmentalists for a squeeze in oil supplies seem to assume that the Earth is a huge jelly doughnut filled with an infinite supply of oil ("Fast ways to ease gas prices ignored," June 11).

I'm sure we'll be drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge sooner or later, unless we find a way to run our civilization on something other than oil and natural gas.

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