Honfest Is This Weekend, But Some Are Boycotting

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Honfest takes over Hampden this weekend, but not without some controversy.  Debate over festival rules and trademarking continues. 

Gigi Barnett explains that’s causing some to boycott the annual street event.

Honfest is Hampden’s celebration of the quirky, beehive and boa-wearing Baltimore hon.

“This is my second year, hon.  I don’t go down the ocean anymore.  I come down to Honfest,” said one attendee.

Every year, the street festival draws thousands.  But this year, some boycotted it.  They’re against Honfest creator Denise Whiting’s list of rules sent to vendors earlier this month.  Already upset that Whiting took out a copyright against almost every play on the word “Hon,” protesters say the letter crossed the line because street vendors can’t sell anything with the “hon” logo.

“This is our word.  This is our city and now it’s owned by one person,” said one protester.

Even cat eye glasses are on the do-not-sell list.

“It is not unusual for a festival to have exclusivity, whether it be bottled water or whatever the product is,” Whiting said.

Earlier this week, Whiting met with vendors, promising changes to the list.  But she added that the rules were written to protect the festival.

“You want to make it unique and fun for each and every individual who comes here.  If they go and see the same booth of things over and over again, it gets old,” she said.

Even with a boycott planned, Whiting says she still expects to see the same amount of people who attended last year’s Honfest.  That’s about 60,000 during the two-day event.

When it comes to profits, Whiting says Honfest breaks even every year.

More from Gigi Barnett
  • RedDonnaAnn

    “It gets old”? How much more old could the tired, degrading , entirely plastic image of decent Baltimore women HonFest promotes get? Geez, Whiting, give it up already.

  • gm

    I think that the “Honfest” is important to people who grew up like me, in that fun and wonderful time of life. The way the world is today, we can see the terrible way this country has gone downhill over tha last 30 or more years.I am glad that people get ot have some kind of fun and think that Whiting is way out of line.

  • Carolyn

    We come every year! I have come to know Denise personally, and if you were the one who created a trademark you would protect it as well. She has shared her success with a community. Everyone profits in some way. I wish people would stop trying to be so negative. Show some love and respect for a change. You will live a happier, and healthier, life.

    • RedDonnaAnn

      What trademark would that be? The word “hon”? The community of Hampden has success not only because of Denise Whiting, which may come as a surprise to her. She simply turned it into a cartoon mall. The Avenue is lined with successful businesses, as are the cross-streets.

      When the very people who live in the community you’re “sharing your success with” despise you, it’s time to take a look at your actions. Whiting would do well to show some love and respect.

      Glad you enjoy making fun of my family. Or is that fambly to youse? Sheesh.

      • sam

        u said it right girl she shouldn’t be aloud to do that its been around longer then her how dose that give her the right to own a word!!!!!!

      • Lance

        You hit the nail right on the head with that comment RedDonnaAnn

    • Matt

      what do you mean she created a trademark? she may put on the festival, but she in no way created a trademark. Whiting should listen to the people of Baltimore and stop with the antics, it’s not protecting Hon fest. I wish she would stop trying to make a buck and let Baltimore enjoy one of the last good tings it has going for it.

  • Stupid Is as Stupid Does

    Baltimorians are angry because they feel they are losing something. This sense of loss is hightened, because they feel they have very little left.

    Denise has not taken anything from Baltimore; she has created something. Anyone can create a trademark, according to the laws that have existed in Baltimore for over 200 years. Very few people are aware of this fact. Even fewer folks in Baltimore know how to make any change (legally).

    When all of the anger and stupid, uneducated comments have been sifted for content, what remains is a lack of knowlege and initiative, on the part of those who are angered. -Interesting…that the same words could be used to accurately describe Baltimore in general.

    Denise used long-standing laws to legally trademark an intrigal part of her business, as thousands of successful business owners have in the past.

    Seriously people, if you feel overwhelming anger because you feel you have been robbed of a defining part of your identity, you are living in a very sad state of decline.

    When people speak of boycotting one business, it brings ill-will and negativity to a time-honored tradition in the city of Baltimore. As a result, the entire tradition, businesses, and enjoyment for everyone declines. I won’t be attending the festivities, because I don’t want to be subjected to the sight of angry protesters. I will take my family and money elsewhere. I am sure I am not alone in this observation.

    What Whiting did, is minute by comparison to the damage that the bickering has brought about. Way to go Baltimore!

    • whatnow

      Are you related to her or something? Sure, the laws were there for anyone to us but everyone else had fun with it. This woman has usurped a tradition and tried to make money off of it. One woman claiming all the rights to the word hon? Give me a break. Frankly, I think Honfest (oh no, did I infringe on a trademark) is stupid and outdated.

  • Barb

    The main picture is not funny at all. It is a crude characterization of native Baltimorean working class women. They are turning these hard-working women into court jesters and clowns and purely making fun of them. That is all. They are not celebrating a damn thing. As John Waters put it- most of the real women these characterizations are based upon are either in nursing homes in their 80s and 90s or dead. It’s sad that Whiting and Honfest profits off turning Baltimore neighborhoods into a freak show for out-of-town suburbanites, yuppies, and hipsters to gawk at those “endearing hons”. It turns my stomach.

  • sillyman michaels

    the only thing denise whiting is out for is herself only thats why so many people
    hate her..plus her food sucks garbage taste better then her food

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