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Score one for the anti-hons

Look away, ye who are weary and heavy laden with hontroversy posts. I did swear off again, but, despite what the small-minded think about The Baltimore Sun in general and this blog in particular, we are committed to factual accuracy. Thus this follow-up.

The Baltimore Business Journal reports that this year’s Honfest drew a crowd estimated at 40,000, down substantially from the 60,000 or 65,000 estimated in previous years.

You will recall that The Sun’s Jessica Anderson filed an article on Saturday for Sunday’s editions saying that there was a goodly crowd at Honfest that day, despite rain in the morning. And I referred back to that article in a post. Neither of us said that this year’s crowd was the same as a previous year’s—and in fact could not comment definitively on a comparison. First, The Sun does not count crowds but reports what organizers of events such as Honfest and Artscape announce as their attendance estimates. Second, we were writing Saturday, before Honfest was over. Nevertheless, it is clear that attendance this year was reduced.

The campaign to boycott the festival must have had a considerable impact beyond @BoycottCafeHon’s 23 followers on Twitter (though that number is up from last week’s 14, a 64 percent increase!). While it wold be churlish to deny 94-degree weather some of the credit for discouraging attendance, the anti-hon campaign can count its efforts at least a partial success. The event went on but was diminished.

A private communication from a Hampden business owner confirms that he had substantially less custom. Collateral damage, I suppose.



Posted by John McIntyre at 1:53 PM | | Comments (5)


John: I am sure that the controversy over Ms. Whiting (which she mostly stirred up herself again) and the heat had something to do with the decline in attendance. But I will offer a third reason. As long as I can recall (and I have lived in Hampden nearly 11 years) the management of the Rotunda opened up its chained lower parking lot and let people park there. That didn't happen this year. Instead, people were told to park at the old Zurich Insurance building, now occupied by Hopkins, and were charged $5. Don't underestimate the tightfistedness of Baltimoreans suddenly asked to pay for something that was long free.

I have really been disappointed in your Denise Whiting/HONtroversy fetish (or is it just your secret plan to increase your own followers/drive traffic to your blog) and have found you to be small-minded and uninformed on this subject yourself. (Oh if twitter followers were the measure of a man/subject, than Anthony Weiner would be king indeed. You seem to ignore the thousands of anti-Cafe-Hon Facebook group members).

All that being said, I appreciate your piece today and agree with the conclusion (I live in Hampden, saw lower crowds, with the same heat as years past, easier on street parking and I have talked to several merchants about reduced business).

But as you recently pointed out in another piece, judge you on the facts. The BBJ claimed over 40,000, Denise Whiting may claim 50 or 60,000 (which would be over 40,000), but BBJ provided no measures or how they came up with their numbers.

One could next year measure against paid Hopkins parking revenue, or this years with past merchants or vendor revenue or even Denise Whiting could compare beer sales year to year.

I am not sure how Denise Whiting or BBJ or anyone else can verify the attendance claims (although one thing was clear from observation, there was a much larger police presence than in years past).

And just to respond to a previous question about who has been harmed by Denise Whiting, Honfest and her HON trademark stuff?
1. Many longtime residents and women have been insulted and mocked.
2. The neighborhood has been imposed upon by one private business for it's own benefit and this was pushed to the limit with the expansion of Honfest to a streetclosing 8 years ago and the expansion to two/three days 5 years ago (at Honfest 1/3 of the merchants do slightly to greatly better, 1/3 do the same as usual, 1/3 do worse, with several that are normally open closing for the weekend..most spa's for instance).

3. There have been many important private and public events (birthday parties, weddings, funerals and other events) that have been displaced (not a small thing if it is happening to you or your family).

4, Not only does Denise Whiting and her Cafe and trademark benefit, but most of the vendors are outside vendors who work the community fair circuit offering the same Gyros and Beef BBQ as anywhere else.

5. The Hon image only reflects/helps a small portion the merchants and hurts the images of the diverse businesses which range from Atomic Books to fine wine bars and stores and restaurants.

6. Finally, the trademark issue limits real creativity for a cultural term that is shared (it was not an original creation of Denise Whiting), 10 years ago at Hampdenfest I bought a small heartshaped piece of slate on a leather string on which was painted in script "Welcome Hon" to hang by my front had nothing to do with DW or Cafe Hon, it had to do with Baltimore, but it would not be allowed to be sold at HONfest or Hampdenfest today.

I will also note that vast majority of the opinion pieces by Denise Whiting defenders in the Sun the last two days have been by people attracted to Hampden in the last decade and who ignore that it has had a proud history and sense of community, imperfect as that may be, for the the 150 years before Cafe Hon existed.

Good day sir.

Seems to me that if I were merely whoring after page views, I'd do better to attack Denise Whiting myself and engage the loyalty of the whole pack.

As to the numbers, I'm assuming that the BBJ got the 40,000 from the Honfest organizers. Where else?

As to the dismissal of the right of "outsiders" to hold any opinion at all, I believe I already addressed that.

If you were actually committed to factual accuracy, you might have cited the 1,954 who follow the Boycott Cafe Hon page on Facebook rather than Twitter. But why bother mentioning facts that don't support your preconceived point?

I believe you when you say you aren't whoring for page views. I'm sure it's just reflex.


And after I urged people to follow that Twitter account, too.

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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