Keeping It Weird: Hampdenfest, Ever-Enchanting in an Ever-changing World

The weather is suspiciously lovely on this late summer day in Hampden when an imposing sandy-blonde haired woman who looks like she could give Dog The Bounty Hunter a wedgie and get away with it gruffly asks “Do you make shirts”? My reply is scattered and incoherent. She cuts to the nitty gritty: “Do you make dinosaur shirts?” I see a guy standing behind her with a collared short sleeve dress shirt covered in ’80s dino prints and I say “Why don’t you ask him?” She turns around, taking note of the man’s dinosaur shirt, and gives a deep grin and laughs.

It’s Hampdenfest and even with all its forest-to-table eateries and countless “cafés,” Hampden still retains its old gumption. You can find it at Frazier’s with its deep battered fish and cozy booths; or Phillie’s Best where diehards know you can still get a chicken tikka pizza if you ask nice; or the antique shops who always seem to be selling the same assortment of attic-bound odds and ends from the late ’70s, like sun-damaged records and pale yellow plate sets with a few minor chips.