Controversy Over Glasses At Honfest

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Honfest, a street festival in Hampden, has generated some controversy this year.

As Mike Schuh reports, the organizer of Honfest says she’s heard the uproar and is making changes for next year.

 Honfest has been taking over the streets of the Avenue for 18 years.

Denise Whiting opened Cafe Hon and in turn started Honfest. Since she started Honfest she has six rules all vendors must agree to. Rule number two states: No cat eye glasses can be sold on the street. Whiting sells them as a fundraiser.

“It is not unusual for a festival to have exclusivity, whether it be bottled water, or whatever the particular product is,” said Whiting. “We didn’t want anybody with a big booth out on the street doing what we do.” 

For five years, not a single person has caused a fuss over her second rule…until now. Some of the merchants think the cat eye glasses exclusivity is a bit much. 

“Just because you have the right to do something doesn’t mean you always should do something,” said a merchant.

Due to the controversy, Whiting arrived at the annual Hampden Business Association meeting with a compromise.

Whiting proposed that the “cat eye glasses” rule would be for the outside vendors only, not for local businesses. And next year, the entire business community can help write the rules.

“It’s an opportunity to start a Honfest event committee and involve the merchants. The merchants haven’t been involved in a couple of years,” said Whiting.

Whiting’s business is successful and known worldwide. She said she organizes Honfest because she loves Baltimore and without it 50,000 people would be  disappointed.

“Is it difficult? I’d be lying to say, ‘No, it’s a piece of cake’…it’s not,” said Whiting. “There are a lot of things that go into this for everybody and we’re not going to be perfect every time.”

This year’s controversial rules or not, Honfest is still a go. This year’s Honfest is this Saturday and Sunday in Hampden.

Honfest is a nonprofit corporation that donated $30,000 to the Hampden area causes and charities.

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