Update: Hampdenfest is back on. That's right. After temporarily being canceled, the festival will be pushed back a week later to Sept. 20. The festival was rescheduled with the help of organizers and City Council members Mary Pat Clarke and Nick Mosby. The new date means the festival will be losing some of its regular attractions and competitions, but organizers are working hard to put together something great.
Hampdenfest 2014, scheduled for September 13, has been canceled because Baltimore City’s Sailabration event is taking place the same weekend, as the city will be unable to provide the necessary resources.
“They [Baltimore City] cannot give us the manpower to put up stages, generators for our bands, and putting up lights and banners,” said Steve Baker, owner of the WhollyTerra art studio, who runs the popular toilet races at the festival.
Hampdenfest organizers announced the news in a statement on their website:
“After careful discussion with our festival partners, the organizers of Hampdenfest are saddened to have to announce that it won't be possible to put on Hampdenfest in 2014,” the website statement reads.
Benn Ray, president of the Hampden Village Merchants Association and one of the festival’s organizers helped make the final call and said he is upset the city notified organizers last minute.
“Our festival is the second Saturday of every September,” Ray said. “Everybody knows when it is and to switch it like that two months before the festival just creates more work than it is to actually put on the festival.”
Had the city come to the organizers at an earlier time of the year, Ray said they would have been able to reschedule a later date. But Baker still wants the event to go on despite it probably having to be truncated.
“We could not do some of the things that we usually do, which is having multiple stages for bands and having power supplies for all the vendors,” Baker said.
He also says canceling the event would hurt local businesses.
“A lot of businesses are losing money,” Baker said. “Our vendors are losing money. This festival is a business and moneymaker for people. When you don’t have a festival, it creates a buzz of ‘Oh, they’re not invested’ and it changes people’s mentality.”
Still, Ray is not giving up on holding the festival, even if it is on a smaller scale. In 2012, a similar situation occurred, but a last-ditch effort resulted in the festival being held. The same could happen this year.
“We’re going to have a meeting with organizers to see what exactly it is that we can do,” Ray said. “We’re going to see if we can figure out a way to have it on that day and just bring in resources from outside the city . . . and see if we’ll actually have the volunteers to help us in this endeavor.”
City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke is also doing everything she can to help organizers hold the festival.
“I hope that we can restore this festival to its rightful place on the city calendar,” Clarke said.
Similarly, we’re hoping this conflict gets resolved and that Hampdenfest 2014 will happen in some form or another.