Baltimore’s Hampdenfest canceled, organizers blame BOPA for shifting Artscape festival date

Aug 16, 2023

BALTIMORE — The organizers of Hampdenfest announced online Tuesday that they had to cancel their plans to hold 2023 festivities, in part because a larger festival had absorbed the city’s resources.

In a statement, event organizers say their application to hold the annual festival on Sept. 23 was declined. City officials wanted organizers to change the date of the festival, but a “viable second date” is not available, organizers said.

According to event organizers, they have been anticipating a possible negative impact on their festival following a decision by Artscape to move its festival date to September.

“September is historically a very busy neighborhood festival season,” the statement said. “On top of that, with an extra holiday falling on a weekend, it rendered several weekends unusable right off the bat.”

“I mean, we moved here because the neighborhood is so lively, so we were looking forward to attending Hampden Fest,” said Hampden resident Whitney Stewart.

Event organizers said they waited to see if Artscape would be able to successfully pull off its plan to host an event in September given that its staff had a few planning “misfires.”

“As we considered moving forward with the planning, several city officials signaled their encouragement for our festival to take place on our intended date, so we proceeded,” the statement said. “We figured, if Artscape did happen, maybe we could still pull off a smaller, more stripped down version of Hampdenfest.”

Artscape’s organizers have been gunning for a festival comeback following a hiatus prompted by the worldwide spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. WJZ is a proud sponsor of this year’s Artscape festivities.

Prior to the pandemic, the sprawling free art festival was held in the month of July. The Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts decided to move it to September.

BOPA has faced scheduling difficulties and other issues over the past year, including the resignation of its CEO Donna Drew Sawyer. She left BOPA not long after Mayor Brandon Scott publicly demanded her resignation.

Scott made the demand after BOPA officials announced that its annual Martin Luther King Jr. parade would once again be canceled.

You could read more of this CBS News article here.